I marked the page of the paperback that I had recently started on, put it back on the nightstand, and turned off the reading lamp. My eyes were drawn to the beautiful flowers beside my bed but then suddenly my gaze fell on the digital clock on the table. It was nearly two in the morning and I had an early day tomorrow. The conference room had been set up for the 11 o' clock meeting and I had sent the details of the Robson-Clark case to Ms. Ross already. Now all I had to do was sleep tight and make sure that I was at her desk by nine at the latest.
I slipped under my blanket and tried to clear my mind of all thoughts. Thoughts of a certain man who had dominated a large part of all of my waking hours for a solid two days, and was threatening to do the same with my nights as well. It was thoughts of Neil that had kept me up for a much longer time than I would have liked. It was thoughts of him that had forced me to pick up the book, when I, as a rule, did not read in bed before a huge day at the office.
After he had left me at my doorstep the day before, I had nearly floated my way up the stairs and had still been in a daze. I kept repeating his departing words inside my head, which were as vivid to me as a flashback in a cliche teenage movie. A first date, that's what it was. A first date with Neil. I giggled, or smiled, or alternatively shivered whenever those words crossed my mind. I was deliriously happy with my life at present.
The whole of Sunday had passed by in a daze, punctuated with coffee and calls to my family. Mama chided me when I slipped into my daydreams, twice, while talking to her. Vidal was miffed because I did not express my usual delight on hearing the stories of his training sessions with the new kids on the team, and Papa was just worried that he hadn't seen me for two weekends in a row. I did my chores and had some leftover pasta for lunch. While I was leaning over the kitchen sink, elbow-deep in soapy water, the buzzer clashed loudly. Wiping my hands with the dish-cloth, I went over to press it, secretly hoping that it was Neil at the door.
"Who is this?"
"Delivery for Ms. Sehgal. From Buds and Blossoms.", came a cheery voice from the speaker.
"Okay, come on up", I said, wondering about the delivery.
I put the dish-cloth back in its place at the sink and headed to the door when I heard the bell peal. Unlatching the door, I saw a red-haired teenager, with a couple of nose-rings and eyebrow piercings holding a large bunch of multi-hued tulips wrapped in a clear plastic sheet, and held together with a pink ribbon. The name-tag on the lapel of the boy's shirt read 'Andrew' and he had a big, toothy smile.
"Ms. Sehgal?", he asked.
"Yes, that's me."
"These are for you. And I was told to hand over this card to you."
"Thank you. Who did you say they were from?", I asked him, while taking the bunch from his hands.
I reached for the card, as he told me, "I think the details are in the card. Have a good day."
As he climbed down the staircase, I hurriedly locked the door and carried the flowers and card inside. Keeping the flowers on the kitchen table, I rummaged through the bottom shelf of the cupboard and pulled out a beautiful crystal vase that my school friends had given me as a farewell present. I filled it with water and unwrapped the flowers. Deliberately, I placed the flowers in a haphazard manner, and doing just that menial task filled me with a sense of immense joy.
I carried the flowers and the card into my bedroom and placed the vase on the table beside my bed. I sat at the edge of the bed and with slightly shaking hands, I opened the heavy cream-and-gold card. It read: Hey Rosalyn, I had the greatest time yesterday and hope you did too. Hope that our second date comes along soon. See you Monday. Cafeteria. XX, N.
Recalling the day's events suddenly made me sit up in bed, clutching my blanket around my waist. I had not even decided what I was going to wear tomorrow. The thought of having to run about deciding my apparel choices in the morning made me throw off my blanket and climb out of bed. I flipped on the lights and headed to my closet. Peering inside, I discarded the first couple of outfits in my line of vision. It had to be something special because I was meeting Neil for lunch. I reached for my favourite cream-coloured silk shirt and paired it with a rose pencil skirt.
Laying them both out on my bed, I picked out a pair of stockings that matched with the outfit and put it alongside the clothes. Heaving a sigh of relief, I switched off the lights and crept under the blanket. With a jolt, I remembered the door of my closet standing ajar in the middle of the dark, silent room. I slid from under the blanket and shut the closet, my mind still muddled with a few too many thoughts.
And my last thought was one of counting sheep in my mind's eye....With Neil.