THE CLEAN-LIVING DEAD

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6 YEARS AGO

"Hey!" greeted Umed as he sat in the opposite chair.
"Hi" said Neha as she took off her glasses.
"Um...what would you like to order?" he asked.
"Uh, what about a chocolate smoothie" said Neha.
"Yeah, I'll place it. I'll be back in a jiffy!" he said as he went to the counter to order. It was a very uncomfortable conversation.
"Yeah, I ordered!" said Umed as he sat back in his chair. Both of them remained silent. It was very awkward.
"So,...how is your career?" started Umed.
"Well, yours?" asked Neha.
"Yes, I'm a journalist and I'm making good money, yours?" he asked.
"I'm a....sales girl" said Neha as she shamefully bent her head.
"Oh" he said. There was an awkward silence again until the waitor brought the order.
"Order for two chocolate smoothies!" said the waitor as he placed the tray on the table.
"Remember Baldev sir, our Computer teacher? He used to fart in class" started Umed.
"Yes! He was funny and, yeah! Mrs Roy! Oh god, she used to sometimes cut marks for spelling mistakes in math!" said Neha. They started to speak up.
"And Amar used to exchange lunchboxes with me! And that Megha na,....hell!" said Umed as he laughed loudly.
"Haha! Yeah! And you remember, you always got bread for breakfast!!" exclaimed Neha.
"You remember?" asked Umed with a smile on his face. Neha's smile vanished.
"Uggghh! Did I need to talk unnecessarily????" thought Neha.
"What happened?" asked Umed.
"Nothing, just......nothing" replied Neha. Suddenly, Umed placed his hand on her hand and looked down.
"Where have you been all these years? We were best friends, and, you shifted here! I tried getting your phone number at least, but.....I was of no luck. You could have at least told me your new address and phone number right?" said Umed. Neha looked up into his eyes. Yes! He was the same old Umed she knew!
"What happened at my side was different. I didn't know we were moving and the next morning, we were packing suitcases and it was a long vacation. I didn't have your number and I didn't come to school either, so....... everything changed now. We used to be very close and now, we are hesitating to talk to each other. Time changed everything. But don't see me as the same old playgirl now! I'm not ok!" said Neha as she laughed at her own joke.
"Hahaha! You were funny!" said Umed as he laughed and laughed until he choked on his smoothie.
They talked for an hour and then, their conversation ended with Neha's phone ringing.
"Oh! It's my friend. I think I should go now!" said Neha as she smiled with her white teeth contrasting with her red cheeks. Umed stared at her. He could not let go.
"Leave my hand now!" said Neha as she continued smiling brightly.
"Bye, Neha..." he said as he smiled with his dimples curving in.
"Bye" she said. She got on her scooter and raced away.

"Eh Neha! I'm going to the Mall to do your shift! Where on earth are you?" called Aesha on the phone.
"I came out to the coffeehouse and sorry, I couldn't do my shift today!" Neha replied.
"Wait, why are you at the coffeehouse? You hate coffee na!" asked Aesha.
"I came with a friend" said Neha.
"But Amoli and Aneeldeep are here na!" said Aesha.
"Umed" replied Neha in a low voice.
"Really??? Neha!?" exclaimed Aesha.
"Why did you call?" Neha wanted to divert the topic.
" You fir--"
Neha had cut the call. She did not want to continue.
"It seems different! We have met after 13 years and he still keeps his hands on me to show that he loves me......What a shame, I do not know how to be seductive......."
Neha laughed at her own joke and got down at the mall entrance. There, she saw Taran standing.
"God why!!?! This buffoon can't stop coming to the Mall!!?"
She immediately raced back in a U-turn and was about to speed off, but unfortunately, her phone rang and Taran looked at her.
"Uggghh! He noticed me!!"
She begged her phone to stop ringing and pressed the switch off button. But by then, Taran was in front of her.
"What?" asked an arrogant Neha.
"What what?" asked an equally arrogant Taran.
"Ok fine! I was trying to escape from my shift and you, I agree. But you promised to leave me that day!" surrendered Neha.
"Which day?" asked Taran.
"No! no! no! I don't have time for this. How dare you act as if you forgot our deal??! What's your damn problem weirdo???" she screamed.
"Should this wierdo call you jobless rogue?" commented Taran as he laughed at his own so called joke. Neha's eyes turned red. She could stand it if people called her bad, but couldn't if they commented on her job. She slapped him right on the face and boiled with emotion.
"You rascal! You comment about my job? What's yours good for? Flirting with girls and drinking? What are you good for!??? Nothing! You know my job is rare and precious you idiot! Who's jobless? You, checking online dating sites all day!! Who's the rogue? You are! Absolutely you!!"
This was the result of Neha's temper. She walked away into the mall leaving a bruised Taran on the sidewalk.



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