As their lips parted and he made his way towards the car, Rachel looked wistfully at the sky and sighed to herself. “Why do I have to bear partings always… Why does he have to go away?”
Richard looked behind, waved at Rachel and as the car went down the lane, Rachel took all her time to turn back, adjusted her jacket, and brought the hood closer to her ears as the sedan took a turn and disappeared into oblivion. The early morning mist around made it even more difficult to trace the car until the end of the road.
She looked at the beautiful orange leaves on the trees and made her way towards home, happy, but wistful that she had to spend yet another fortnight without him. Rachel and Richard had been together now for seven years and it had been a long glorious way down the memory lane. She was happy in his company the most and Richard had her as the “confession” box as he used to call her. Both of them from the same Universities and today settled in their respective lives as successful professionals. Work separated them as Richard had his assignment at a nearby rainforest region where he had to trace the movements of animals and research on them.
Rachel was happy with the biographies she used to write on people she met casually on the streets. Life was perfect and Rachel and Richard were engaged to get married soon, once their commitments at work were done with.
Nothing ever seemed to thrill Rachel more than being with Richard, tending him, spending hours talking to him about nothing, while he used to sit and “hmm’ while working at the laptop. Much as Richards’ “hmm” used to irritate Rachel, yet the incessant banter continued. Time was when Rachel had pounced on Richard once while they were studying together in her house, and had professed her love for him. The only complaint Rachel had was the manner in which Richard used to doze off during conversations. It had taken Richard a year to express his love for her and soon they were in a relation. Time flew after High School and Rachel found herself protecting Richard from every new girl in town. For the tall, handsome hunk that he was, he was always the target of all the girls. Of course, Richard liked all the girl attention and oft found himself in arguments with Rachel regarding the way he was with these girls.
First Sandra, then Maggie, then Shyla, then Pat, and a quick fortnight with Nysa, and then there was Katherine who was the most challenging. Katherine had even attempted to kill herself for his sake. Rhea was another feature who he also thought of marrying, much to Rachel’s disdain and soon he was off her. Yet there was so much chemistry between Rachel and Richard that they always got back together. They laughed together, spent time writing on stuff, which never mattered and had every thing under the sun to share. Richard liked to paint, he used to paint on any topic, soon Rachel egged him to create his own paint site, and there it was Colours Unlimited his website that never gained popularity initially. But Rachel egged him on, and soon it was well on the way to becoming popular. It was a happy pair they made, they were quite settled, and then Penelope came in. She was Richard’s cousin’s friend. Hours on end, they used to talk much to Rachel’s frustration. He used to tell her he was going to sleep (something, which was unusual, for he used to drop off to sleep) and then the next moment, Rachel called; she used to find the phone engaged. Bickering, fights, arguments started over Penelope and Rachel strictly told Richard not to meet Penelope when he came down the next time to meet her. As she held his hand and drew closer, they kissed but there was no warmth. They hugged but there was no comfort, they made love but it was only for the sake of it. There was something that had snapped and Rachel missed it.
Penelope? Rachel wondered. She asked Richard about it and he apologized and came back to his earlier ways and said he would make it up. Once on one of his trips he was going back, after making up with Rachel, when he was taking the bus back home. He saw Andy his friend in college also taking the same bus. Richard was happy he had company but was woe befallen when he saw the beautiful looking girl beside Andy, Patricia. After a few minutes, he spoke to Rachel and then suddenly told her “I am going to call Penelope.”
Rachel was shocked and dissuaded him but he asked her not to interfere and insisted he wanted to talk to her at the dead of night. Rachel gave it up quite knowing it was seeing Andy with a girl which had led him to do something like this. Richard always had the feeling that he had missed out on fun as he was steady with Rachel since High School. From then on, anything regarding any girl in his life was taboo and she never discussed about it.
She waited this fortnight for him, but he said Natalie was coming with her friend and he had to take her around. Natalie was their friend in college who had once taken Richard out on a lovely and memorable evening out as a farewell treat. Natalie had already invited Richard once for a weekend out to nearby Lake Hashing on a campout and Richard was almost going for it but didn’t after Rachel and his friend Ted had stopped him from going, seeing through her intentions.
Now Natalie was back with her friend, as she wanted to see the place around. Richard was not coming for the weekend. Rachel let it pass when he told her he was out with Natalie for the evening. Around midnight, Rachel called to wish him a good night for she always did, but Richard did not pick up. She assumed he had gone to sleep.
The next morning, Richard called her and said he had slept over at Natalie’s and slept with Natalie.
Rachel felt the world crumbling down and her faith in shatters.
She had now reached the point of no return.
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