I wrote this short story as a response for the above picture prompt.
“I waited for your call, for long. Don’t tell me that you were too busy to send at least a message!!!”
Arun sank into the chair, not responding to Anija’s barbs. He dropped his bag on the floor and patted on the adjacent chair, a silent invitation for Anija to sit.
Anija sat, not bothering to untie her barista’s apron. She had been waiting for Arun to pick her up. He was expected an hour ago and she got tired of checking her phone every 2 minutes for at least a message explaining the delay. She knew that his boss has an important presentation coming up and naturally he would be anticipated to stay back beyond regular office time.
“ I am sorry baby. We were on the finishing touches for tomorrow.” Said Arun
Anija did not reply. She got up to collect his espresso and her café mocha.
“Do you want a slice of apple pie? I can ask Rajni to warm it up for us.” Arun’s tired and pained expression had cooled Anija down.
Anija was preparing for her SAT exam and was working part-time at the Café. Friday nights were movie nights and she had already booked two tickets for them to watch the evening show. Arun was expected to pick her up at 5 pm so that she could go home and dress up for their romantic evening. It was 6:30 already and Arun looked like all he wanted was to go home and sleep.
“Why are we like this Arun? Another date cancelled. It has just been a year together and all we do is argue. “
“You have a milk mustache,” said Arun, pulling out a napkin for her.
“You didn’t answer my question, Arun”.
“Who is that old couple?” asked Arun happy for the distraction.
Anija turned back to look at the couple seated at the farthest corner next to the glass panel facing the busy road.
“ I don’t know their names. But they are our Friday regulars. They are here every Friday evening. I don’t know if they are married. He always comes early and carries flowers. I have no idea where he gets them. Definitely not from a shop. Looks like wildflowers to me. They have their coffee, cappuccino with extra cinnamon and no sugar. She carries this book which she reads out for him sometimes. Or they just sit together looking outside. They stay here for more than an hour and we don’t disturb them. They seem to be so much in love.” Anija said glancing in their direction
“Look, they are asking for the bill. Should we talk to them? Maybe we can take some tips from them, you know.” said Arun
“I don’t know. Won’t it look weird, if we try to follow them? They may not be staying together, you know, because they come at different times and leave together.”
“But there is no harm in trying. We could meet them outside. I don’t look like a pick-pocket, do I? Moreover, they must know you by sight. Let’s go. They will be out in another minute.” Arun grabbed his bags and went out. Anija followed him reluctantly.
They waited near the pavement for the couple to exit.
They came out and walked together, the man looking to hail a cab.
“This is our chance, “whispered Arun walking towards the couple
“Hello. I am Arun and this s my wife Anija “said Arun, extending his hand for a handshake.
“Hey, I know you. You are Anija from the café,” said the old man smiling.
“He read your name tag” added the old lady with a wink, as an answer to Anija’s surprised look.
“Oh, Umm…We were wondering about you both. I see you every Friday in the café and you look so happy in each other’s company”, said Anija.
The man laughed. “I am Antony and this is my wife Sindhu. We stay nearby.”
“I can see that question on your face. We walk into your café separately, so that it feels like our first date” answered Antony with a smile.
“Yeah, we were pen-pals for two years. We met in this café for the first time. He was seated in that very place we always sit. He was putting an act of reading a newspaper without realizing that he was holding it upside down, “said Sindhu with a smile.
“Amazing. What is it that I see you read to him?” asked Anija
“That is the manuscript for our book. We have compiled our letters to each other and our son is getting it published. From Duke to Lima with Love. That will be the title” replied Antony.
“That is great. How do you guys manage to stay so happy this long?” asked Arun.
They looked at each other. Antony took Sindhu’s hand in his and said, “Staying in love isn’t easy. When in doubt, all you need is to remember, why, and how you fell in love. Then revisit and relive those memories. That’s what we do. It helps.”
“Let’s go. Our cab is here, ” said Sindhu.
“We will talk again next Friday. We need to go now”
Arun and Anija stood watching; as Antony opened the door of the cab for Sindhu tucked her trailing shawl inside and moved in after her.
“ It said ‘ Rebel With a Cause”.
“Your t-shirt. The one you were wearing when you walked in through that door of the café and almost tripped on my bag which was on the floor. Your tee had Rebel With a Cause written on it.” said Arun taking Anija’s arms.
“I am a Rebel. That’s why I am with the Cause, you idiot,” said Anija bumping Arun with her side as they walked towards their home hand in hand.