Close as Strangers

(By Sonam Sharma, Fiction Editor, Paprikashta)

He tightened his coat as the wind blew faster. He shivered and looked down at his feet as he walked down the street thinking about the tasks he had yet to finish and the people he had yet to call.
She was lost. She shivered as she clenched her street map tighter against the wind and tried to figure out where she was and how she’d get to 49th street.
They bumped into each other and mumbled sorry at the same time. Their eyes widened with recognition and their mouths fell slightly agape. She recovered first and cleared her throat. He gulped and tried not to look at beautiful face. He couldn’t help it. It’d been three years since he’d last seen her. He stood aside as she tried not to blush under his gaze and looked around for her map which had flown out of her hands. “Are you lost?” He asked and she just nodded. Even after all these years, his presence still had that same effect on her. He smiled and said, “I’ll help you. Where were you going?” “I gotta get to 49th street. Do you know the way?” She asked hopefully. “Yeah I do. In fact, I am going there myself. You’re actually walking in the wrong direction” He chuckled softly. She looked confused but simply said, “Lead the way.”
They both walked in silence. Minds rushing back to their past. All the times she’d caught him staring at her and all the times she’d flirted clumsily with him; they both couldn’t stop thinking about it. But they knew, they weren’t made for each other. At first, she’d waited for him to ask her out but then she realized they never could be.  They were two people who weren’t meant to fall in love with each other, but they did. Oh, how they did. He took a deep breath and looked at her as she did the same. They could see the love in each other’s eyes but didn’t make a move. Instead they just smiled and continued walking. It was as if they were as close as strangers. Maybe in a parallel universe they were together. But as of now, here, in the present – they weren’t. But at the same time, in their hearts, they were.

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