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Between the Time
By Vatsal Surti
Opening Images. The city. The streets. Crowds. Objects that look like caught moments between time, like in Cartier-Bresson pictures. An existential aloneness.
The cab drives alone. We don’t see the driver. We see his hands. Close. Moving. The scenes moving behind. Silence.
The cab stops. Two people enter in. They are going somewhere. She has a suitcase she puts at the back with the driver’s help.
They sit inside. They entered laughing as if something happened a moment ago between them but we don’t know what that was. It was between them.
Suddenly the cab starts to move. And between them laughing, the boy suddenly falls in silence, looking at her through the empty air.
A subtle line of sadness emerges on his face. The girl, still laughter upon her lips, looks at him, as if asking what happened.
Boy: “Suddenly remembered you are going.”
She, as if to distract him, “You remember how we met for the first time?”
Suddenly they both fall in silence. Remembering. So precious the memory is it needs a moment to be felt.
Girl: “You kept talking to me. And kept hitting at all the right places. Even though I was already in love with you. Like some kind of magic. Even in the first moment, so close, as if we were already lovers.”
She looks out, her elbow on the window. Fingers touching lips and her eyes dreamy.
The boy is still agitated. His eyes keep searching for her, even though she is sitting right next to him. His hands trying to touch but holding, as if there is already a distance.
“I didn’t want to lose you,” he says.
A little silence.
He looks out. She looks at him as his eyes wander through the lonely streets of the city.
Girl: “That night, I couldn’t sleep that night. What happened outside all night long I felt it in my heart. I have always been so alone. I could never have imagined.”
She holds his hand.
“It’s so strange,” she said. “I can picture at this moment what I was at the moment I met you for the first time.”
A moment’s silence. They keep looking at each other wide-eyed.
Girl: “But people change. Our thoughts are not in our hands. And life is so short.”
She moves slightly, slightly away but still facing him.
Boy: “Then why are you going?”
Girl: “That is not the question. That is not the question.”
She shakes her head slightly. Slightly anxious.
Boy: “Tell me, please. I know it’s not just about the internship. Give me something, a thread, anything (to stop myself from falling apart).”
Strong emotions appear on his face. For a second he is quiet. Then he says, “I thought everything was fine. I thought you loved me.”
All of a sudden the atmosphere is tensed. She looks at him. No words.
Boy: “Tell me, why are you leaving me?”
“I need to know who I am.”
She says nothing else, her eyes stare at the passing images outside.
Boy: “Isn’t that what we were doing? Can’t we know you together?”
She leaves his hand.
Girl: “It’s not that simple.”
Boy: “Do you think we are right for each other?”
Girl: “I don’t know.”
She shakes her head indecisively.
He tries saying something but stops.
“I don’t understand so many things,” she says, still staring outside. “All of a sudden, I started to feel so alone last night. So alone I was breathless. The world seemed so scary. And I felt as if I will never be happy with anyone. And I, I don’t know. How could I feel alone? I was with you. You were there, weren’t you?”
Boy: “I don’t know. I just don’t want you to go.”
She looks in his eyes for an unusually long time. No movement.
Boy: “How long will you stay there?”
“I don’t know.”
“I still don’t understand why you want to leave me.”
Girl: “I don’t want to leave you.”
“Then what is this?”
They are both silent for a while. Then the girl says: “There are times that tell us the need for a change. Like seasons. And if we don’t act upon it, every memory of now becomes a regret of yesterday.”
She stops talking for a moment, as if to think.
“I wonder. I wonder how two imperfect people can create perfect love. I feel like, everything we do -- no matter what it is, in the end we are so alone. There is an existential void inside me. I can’t, I can barely tell other people. It seems like something important is happening around me. And I am not old enough to grasp what it is. And it scares me. And I think of you. And us. Where are we now? Where are we going? Nothing is making any sense to me. And I was thinking, all I know is that I love you. But this is such a vague feeling. It follows with nothing. Sometimes I feel close to you. But do you know how rapidly things are changing? It’s not like high school anymore. Things are no longer in the future now, and I feel thrown to the present. And everything that seemed perfect just until yesterday is falling apart.”
A pensive silence follows once she stops talking, like always. And it feels like suddenly the world has been deprived of all sounds.
Boy: “This doesn’t feel right. This doesn’t feel fucking right.”
She says nothing.
“And one year is such a long time.”
Girl: “You might meet someone else.”
“That’s not what worries me. I’m worried about not having you in my life for one year.”
Their gaze meet. A meaningful long glance.
“Please don’t go.”
She looks outside at the passing scenes. The street is bleak and foggy. London. After a while, she looks at him again.
“I am scared. This is the only thing I have. I can wait forever but. If it is broken, I… I have to go.”
“Do you want to break up with me?”
She is surprised. This is not what she had in mind. The surprise surprises him.
“But you don’t want to stay with me.”
“For some time. Yes.”
“I don’t understand you.”
“You want to breakup with me?”
“I thought you wanted.”
“When did I say?”
“So what should I take this as?”
“Space. I just need some space.”
“And then you will come back?”
Silence, again. Waiting for her answer, but she is silent.
Anger appears on his face. “You only care about yourself.”
Anger on her face.
“How can you say such thing?” she says. “Tell me. How can you say that? After all I have told you. Everything I said…”
The cab stops. He is angry. He does not move. She looks at him once, a brief glance. It seems like she will say something but she does not. She stares at him for a while, but quietly gets out of the cab when he says nothing. The driver helps her take out her suitcase. We don’t see her. She left. We see only the boy. He is sitting still. From the front sit we see how quiet it has suddenly become. No one is there. Little time goes but because of stillness it looks forever and ever. This stillness is like the stillness of the world before they entered it. But this is human aloneness. Someone he loved has left. There are no objects, only lines upon skin.
Then he goes out. Our eyes move within the cab. Through the slightly foggy glass we see him running. He stops her. She puts her suitcase down. He says something to her, which she listens without any movement. Suddenly she begins to move. She talks a little. He takes it all with lowered face. Then he looks up at her with a playful smile in between. She is still speaking. What is so funny? And he kisses her. A stolen kiss. Our eyes fade slowly in between their conversation.
#Unreal #Fiction #Relationship #Conflict #Memory
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