Short Fiction–The Space Between Us

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Author’s note: I wrote this story as part of a trilogy with each story representing an Ayurvedic medicine dosha. This story represents Vata (space and air).

The Space between Us

By Patricia Herlevi

As Anetti ambled on the cobblestone alleyway, she heard the comforting sound of church bells in the distance and a set of chimes hanging on a storefront singing in the wind.  The bells and chimes soothed her nerves and she hadn’t felt so relaxed in days due to the windy weather that swept through Seattle and caused her bones to tremble. Her eyes roamed the alleyway in search of a warm lit cafe and the fragrance of roasted coffee beans to bring her back to herself.

Work had not gone well and Anetti felt crunched with deadlines and little breathing space to maneuver.  As it turned out, autumn weather only exasperated her nervous tension, and she stayed awake at night chasing away worries about money.  Her relationship with her partner, (who spent more time traveling for business than he did with her), also kept her awake. Rumbles occurring all around her, she heard change in the wind whispering to her.  Holiday brochures grabbed her attention too.  If only.

Meanwhile, the wind picked up and threw its weight against Anetti’s thin body and her thick black hair came out of its pony tail hitting her in the face.  One of her high heel boots caught on the cobblestone and nearly sent her into a brick wall.  Tumbling forward, she bumped into an attractive Indian man, dressed in casual business attire.  She guessed that he worked for the software company hidden in the loft near the nightclubs.

Funny she had never seen him before, not that she would or should have noticed. After all, her partner Neil had proposed to her.  A discussion of wedding plans was scheduled for the next week after the fiancé returned from France where he promoted his life coaching DVD.

Not able to dredge up pre-wedding bliss, Anetti reflected on the lack of spark she felt with Neil, not that she desired one of those unpredictable magical relationships between soul mates.  But then maybe she did. She never bought into all that new age stuff, that there’s one partner in the world for her and she’d know when she encountered him. She met Neil at Green Drinks and found that he could hold an intelligent conversation even after downing three glasses of organic red wine.

Her own mind buzzed on all the dark chocolate she had consumed. And everything after that moment fell into the groove of predictable, grounding, and comforting.  An astrologer once told Anetti that her triple Gemini threat needed grounding energies.  So she hooked up with a double Taurus and at least he satisfied her in bed, even if his thought process seemed stuck in molasses some of the time.

The Indian man held onto Anetti for a few moments longer.  His dark eyes gazed into her green ones causing an erotic stirring in her body that she brushed aside.

A slow grin widened across his face as if he was pleased by the woman who materialized in front of him.  “Are you okay now?”

Stepping back and away from the man, Anetti nodded.  “Thank you for saving me from hitting my head on that wall.  That’s all I need.”

“This weather makes walking difficult.” He pointed to a café, “I was just going to grab a cup of tea, would you like something?”

The man’s English accent captivated her and she enjoyed the way he wrapped his tongue around the word “tea,” but she now felt an urgency to return to the office. “I’ll take you up on your offer next time we bump into each other.”

Weeks past by and Anetti and Neil chose the wedding gown, the cake, and invitations. They decided to hold the ceremony at Deception Pass State Park, weather permitting and set the wedding date for the end of May.  While Anetti enjoyed scheduling gown viewings and meeting with wedding planners, something felt off.  Did she want to spend her life with Neil? It’s what her mother would prescribe for her restless soul, but the bigger picture sent chills through her.

After a day of sneaking in time to browse caterers’ websites, Anetti slipped out of the office to grab a coffee.

When she approached the long line of business people and tattooed hipsters, she noticed the Indian man ordering his chai tea. She decided to ignore him unless he noticed her first.  So she scrunched down and hid behind her wool coat, hoping he wouldn’t see her and at the same time wishing he would.

As the man turned away from the cashier, his eyes darted over to and locked on Anetti. He approached her. “Remember when I saved you from the wind.  I’m Sanjay.”

Anetti blushed, not because she felt virginal but she wondered if Sanjay’s penetrating brown eyes could read her erotic thoughts. “I’m Anetti.”

Sanjay pointed at a corner table that had just cleared.  “Join me?”

Anetti’s fought with her usual indecision and thoughts of consequences as she projected herself far into the future.  Sanjay’s request was simple and innocent enough.  He wasn’t sending out sexual vibes.  For all she knew, he was probably already married or had an arranged marriage pending in India.  You never could tell with foreigners, especially those that worked for software companies.  Here today and gone tomorrow.

Glancing at her watch, she noticed she had a few minutes of lunch break left and sat in a chair across from Sanjay.  He eyed her while he sipped his chai.

“So do you work at an office nearby?”

Anetti looked for a ring on Sanjay’s finger but noticed his fingers were empty of any jewelry. “I work at Rialto Graphic Design.” She pointed to an orange façade just outside the window.

“Do you enjoy your job?”

“Lately it’s been one deadline after another and I wonder if the headaches are worth it.”

Sanjay smiled gently.  “I know of a cure for headaches.  Do you have one now?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact.  I thought that a cup of black coffee would remedy the problem.”

“Do you mind?”  Sanjay walked behind Anetti and massaged the base of her neck.  His gentle hands wove in and out of her thick hair. The massage did the trick and a little more.

As the weeks flowed into each other, Anetti found herself having lunch with Sanjay.  She knew that she felt more than friendship, but refrained from going further by reminding herself about her upcoming wedding.  Then one rainy afternoon everything changed.

Anetti rode a bus to work and as she waited for it, a torrential downpour soaked her through to the bone. As she stood shivering, Sanjay approached her.  “First the wind storm and now this rain, the weather doesn’t agree with you.”  He chuckled. “I have an apartment near here.  Do you want to go there and dry off? Then afterward I can give you a ride home.”

Water rolled into Anetti’s eyes blurring her vision.  Hunger rumbled in her stomach and passion stirred in her groin. Against her best judgment, she found herself not only in Sanjay’s apartment but also his bed. Rationalizing that she hadn’t betrayed Neil, she felt that she fulfilled her own needs. Sanjay felt grounding and exciting, a combination she’d never experience with Neil.  Come to think of it, she hadn’t experienced any real passion with her fiancé either.

But what would she choose in the end, a passionate love affair with an unknowable future or the predictability of a life with Neil? Destiny had spun her around in a different direction then she previously sought, but it wasn’t as if she never saw the warning signs. Perhaps she wasn’t free to choose her own fate. In that moment as she stretched her bare legs under silk sheets and felt Sanjay’s warm kisses on her neck, she felt at home for the first time in her thirty years.  The wind stopped hounding her brain and she found the center of a storm.  Nobody thought that was where it was supposed to go.

##

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