Part VI: Reflection
Ever since their first date, Annalise and Gale began to spend more time together, either in the nearby park or in their homes. A month later, they each – individually – reflected upon the happenings of the past few days.
Annalise was sitting at the window-seat in her room and gazing out the window. It was ten in the morning, after Breakfast. The day was a Sunday, so her parents were out and she was alone at home. As she stared unseeingly at the road below her, she recollected her past with Gale.
Gale was three years older to her, and they had met because their parents had been best pals during their college days. The two little children lived in adjacent streets of the same locality and thus, had attended the same school for twelve years of her life. By the time she had finished her senior school, Gale was already in his final year graduation, equipped with a passport to study abroad. He had taken a good care of her and she vowed she would never forget it.
As it turned out, though, she did not have to make the vow at all!
Annalise still remembered the day Gale had left her. A week before that day, he had told her that his flight ticket was confirmed and that he would probably return after three years. With much paternalistic love in his eyes, he had asked her if she would be okay with the arrangement.
She had giggled at that. “You’re asking me for permission to study abroad?”
He had given her his million-watt grin. “Of course! After all the time we’ve spent together, this is the least I can do!”
“You do sound just like the gentleman you’re growing up to be!” she had joked. “Of course you can go, silly! Three years is such a short time – it isn’t like you’re going away for good!”
Annalise had come to regret those words just a few months after he had left. Without him around, living itself became a burden for her. She had to stop herself from breaking apart, with cherishing as many memories of Gale as she could possibly recollect. She even had an entire album with just photos of them together, and, sometimes, with their other friends.
Those three years were unimaginably agonising for her – to the point that she had been almost definite that he was never coming back to her. She wondered now how it was possible for her to let him go in the first place.
However, now that he was back, all was well. Her heart was plastered back the way it had been before he had left and she had a great time with him.
Suddenly, Annalise sat straight and turned her face away from the window, as a thought occurred to her:
’Have I always been in love with him?’
Gale lay on his bed, headphones on his ears and plugged into his phone. He was listening to some English country songs; music helped him think.
The past few days had been a lot of fun.
Annalise had grown into quite an elegant young woman, with some of her childhood qualities still in place. He clearly remembered the first time he saw her: a baby just born in the warm hospital room, crying for all she was worth. Her mother had been trying to calm her down, but that baby would not keep quiet…till her father had held her. Baby Ann, as they eventually came to call her – till she was about five or six – used to stare at her father as if he had landed in the room from a different planet.
Now, staring unseeingly at the ceiling above his head, he fast-forwarded to the time when she first joined the school he had been attending for a while. The first day, he had not seen her. However, as soon as he had arrived home, his mother had told him that Annalise had gone home crying and would not tell her mother why. Would he please go over and talk to her?
He had done so, more out of respect for his mother than anything else. Also, he had been to the school for at least four years now and he knew how things functioned there. And to sensitive children like Annalise, things would not be rosy.
Therefore, having obtained directions from his mother, Gale left to see Annalise. By then, they had not been very comfortable in one-another’s company, so he was expecting little notice from that girl.
But, that very encounter was to transform both their lives…
Soon, Gale had found himself spending more and more time with Annalise, who began opening up to him. She told him tales that she had heard in school – besides all the things she learnt there – and also, about all the friends she had finally made.
A year later, his parents had quietly told him to watch over Annalise, as she was a very delicate girl and too young to take care of herself. He promised he would and made sure he would fulfil it. By then, he had started liking her cheerful chatter, as he had begun to understand her better; her very presence began lighting up his entire day, no matter how horrible it had been before he saw her.
As they grew up, although they had their own separate group of friends, they made sure to spend at least an hour alone together. This had continued till it was time for him to leave the country.
Abruptly, Gale jumped to sit up on his bed, as a thought struck him out of the clear blue:
’Have I always been in love with her?!’