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The birthday.

                   Their unbridled laughter reverberated around the deserted restaurant. This was the way they had celebrated each other's birthdays, right since childhood. The girls had always been there for each other, through all their highs and lows, supporting each other; an anchor to the other in times of need.

             Swapping stories of their lives over a chocolate cake, they were oblivious to the world around them, deeply engrossed in their conversation, when a ding on J's phone interrupted them. She threw a casual look at the screen, when the smile that had illuminated her face just a few moments ago, faded instantly. She drew in a deep breath and let out a sigh.
       "Is it..?" asked S, with a knowing look.

        "Yup. Surprising!" whispered J, fiddling with the instrument, and then dropping it on the table.

         "What does he say?"

         "Nothing. Just a "Hi". It's been long since I heard from him" she replied, when another message arrived.
        Without picking up her phone, she stole a look at it,"You look great!" it said.
        Dumbstruck, she looked up at her friend and began scanning her surroundings, when her eyes stopped at a spot, and her face drained of its colour. For, there, sitting two seats away, was the man she had once  loved, and lost; a friend, who had meant more to her than anything else in the world.
       Her breath quickened, her mouth went dry.  She wet her lips, and blinked a few times, as if to make sure she had not seen  an apparition. Absentmindedly, she reached for her phone and began fiddling with it, biting her lips, shifting in her chair nervously.   Her eyes caught her friend staring at her, and then went back to him, looking  away, almost instantly. She seemed to be fighting with herself: should she go, meet him, or, stay where she was, and wait for him to come to her?  She had waited for him, sobbed  in his arms professing her love for him, and all she had got in return was, that he had always considered her just a friend.
        And, now, here he was, looking at her with yearning - a look she had known too well.  But, this time she would not fall for it. She would not  get all weak-willed, and give  in to anything  even remotely related to him.
         "I missed you so much," came another message.
          She blinked away the tears that threatened to weaken her resolve and looked away, back at S, who nodded in agreement.  Calling out to the waiter, she asked him for their bill, paid it, and left, without a second glance at the man, who had left her with a broken heart and a shattered life.



  1. Shilpa, this is one of your finer pieces. I love the taut emotion, the expert handling of phrases and the suspense in the storyline. Very well written.

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