It was a cold winter evening. I was sipping a cup of hot chocolate and watching Two and a Half Men, a show I have never hesitated to refer to as one of my all-time favourites, despite being judged for liking a character like Charlie. I mean, what do you expect? I would like Alan?
He texted me. Hey, how are you?
I tried to play it cool, though I could feel the sudden urge to reply immediately. It took me a lot of self-convincing and taunting voices in my head asking me to stay away from him.
Oh, what will I lose if I simply reply politely?
Hello, I am okay. How are you?
It was as if he was waiting with his reply already.
I am okay too. So… when are we meeting?
Damn! This is what the rebuking voices in my head had been warning me against. It was as if I had lost my self-control.
Umm… I don’t know. I am busy.
Yeah, right! Busy re-watching a show I have already watched 8 times.
Oh, okay. I am coming to your city, so wanted to meet you. Just a coffee maybe.
I felt rude and immediately replied.
It’s fine, don’t have to pretend to be polite. You don’t sound excited or happy to hear that I am coming to your city.
No, no! Why did it seem like he was suddenly slipping away. I was only trying to play cool.
Sorry, didn’t mean to sound rude. Let’s meet. When are you coming?
Tomorrow. Can we meet at Theos around 11?
Umm… Okay! Sounds good. Theos, tomorrow, 11. Done!
The voices in my head rebuked me again, this time I could imagine hearing an ominous sound too.
The next day, I reached Theos at 11 AM. He was already waiting there. How could somebody look so irresistible?
The voices in my head asked me to control my feelings.
Hey, how have you been? Long time!
He hugged me casually. I wanted to ignore the voices in my head for at least an hour!
Oh, yes. Long time, indeed.
While we ordered brunch, I couldn’t help feel his piercing glance. I knew I was blushing; my cheeks were burning. I was feeling too shy to catch his glance.
So… what brings you here?
I had something urgent. But I guess that work won’t happen.
I was tempted to ask if he was here only to see me.
Can you do me a favour?
Yeah, sure. Tell me.
So… I was supposed to handover this book to somebody, but he cancelled last moment citing a family bereavement. I don’t know when I can come again. May I give the book to you? If it isn’t an issue, can I ask him to get the book collected from you sometime?
Anything for you, I almost blurted out.
He handed over the book. It was a copy of David Copperfield. I was wondering why he would come all the way to give this.
After the meeting, I went home. He texted that his friend will collect the book from me the next day.
The next morning, I was woken up by police sirens downstairs. The bell rang. I opened the door, and was greeted by some men. One of them flashed his ID card.
What’s an ATS officer doing here?
You need to come with us for interrogation.
They rampantly searched my home, and found the copy of David Copperfield.
What’s going on?
The officer told me that there was a blast in Theos around 12.15 PM the previous day. They opened the book. I was shocked. There was a note with I am sorry, I had to do this. Never be attracted to the flame, you’ll get burnt written inside.
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