Chris was sitting on his bed with his cell phone in hand, his thumb gingerly rubbing the green ‘send’ button. The conditioning was on at full blast to remove all traces of humidity inside his room while it rained cats and dogs outside the 5 by 5 glass window on his left.
It had been an year since he had met Sarah on the first day at college, and they had hit it off instantly. Over the year they got to know each other more and more, and discovered they had compatible personalities. Well, almost. She was the college diva, all gorgeous and beautiful. He was a loner, not too much of a talker. They would often meet in the canteen, him sitting alone and she coming to join him after breaking away from the diva group. It had been a slow start, but Sarah had taken a liking to him immediately and they had talked more and more sitting at a table in the canteen every day. Apart from that, Sarah attended lectures with a touch screen iNote while he scribbled on paper. He used dial up, while she surfed on wi-fi. He used the bus service, while she drove an Audi convertible. There worlds were different. But there were two things that they shared- their love for novels and physics. The first time she had spoken to him about 3 dimensional vectors, he had dropped his plate of pasta on the table and stared at her long enough for her to tell him it was rude. And when he told her he loved Nicholas Sparks and Paolini’s novels, she had hugged him and gave him a lift in her Audi convertible to his home so that she could borrow all his books.
It was Sarah’s birthday today, and even one full year’s acquaintance couldn’t make him send a message to her at midnight. What if she is disturbed? Chris hardly believed people stayed up that late, except for Physics assignments of course. That was what he believed though. 95% of teenage population believes night time shouldn’t be wasted, there’s enough time in college to catch some sleep. He reread the message on the screen.
“HaPpY BiRtHdAy Sarah!”
Taking a deep breath, he looked at the time on the screen and decided to send it. 00:03 a.m. He pressed the button and realised too late that the screen was now blinking and displaying- “Sarah calling”
Uh oh. He quickly put the speaker to his ear. “Hey! Ha-”
“I’m not talking to you!” The melodious voice on the other side was Sarah.
“It’s my birthday dumbo, who’s supposed to give me a call and wish?” He could almost feel Sarah pouting her lower lip like a kid.
“But... but I was just about to-”
“Oh yeah, go ahead with your excuses now. Hmph.” The voice on the other side was not angry, that much he could tell. She was messing with him, and he knew nothing about how to get out of that mess.
“I’m...sorry?” He spoke uncertainly.
“You’re sorry? All you can say is you’re sorry?”
What am I supposed to say? “Well, I...”
Sarah looked at her cell phone in astonishment. What’s with guys? Can’t they understand anything at once? How could they be so naive?
She shook her head in amusement. “Just wish me a happy birthday silly.”
She heard an audible sigh of relief on the other side. “Happy birthday, Sarah. Many, many happy returns of the day.”
“Thanks Chris. You’re the first one to wish me on my eighteenth, you know that?”
She was the one who called, not me.
Chris wanted to be cautious. “Is it supposed to mean something?” He asked tentatively.
Oh. GOD! Sarah rolled her eyes and fell down on her four poster bed, her free hand slapping the forehead audibly. Boys...
“It’s kind of special, you know... But- never mind. How about coming to my birthday party tonight?”
“Right now? I mean- it’s raining and I...”
“Tonight means today when it gets past 8 pm... It’s past twelve.”
“Oh, right. Of course. Will see you tonight then.”
“8 pm, don’t forget.”
“I won’t. Promise.”
“’kay then, see ya.”
“See ya. And...krrrch...Sarah?”
“Ouch, what was that?” She rubbed her ear as the static boomed in her headset.
“Dunno. Happy birthday once again. Sorry I didn’t call.”
“No problem. Good night.”
Sarah slid down the screen and pushed her cell under the pillow. Chris was good looking, and cute in his own way, though she had never had romantic ideas about him. Their frequency was just so matching; she was more comfortable talking to him than anybody else. Even her best friend Jessie was not as easy to talk to as Chris, mainly because he did not pretend to be someone. He was what he was, inside out. And he liked physics and novels, which was the rarest combination to find on campus. She couldn’t believe she had really called him up to get a birthday wish. Maybe because he was the only genuine person amongst her friends.
Sarah turned off the conditioning and pressed the button on the remote to open the windows. As they slid open, wind brought the smell of wet mud into her room and the rainstorm raging outside lulled her to sleep.
Chris looked at the screen for a long time after it had turned off glowing, thinking what he couldn’t figure out. What’s there to not talk if someone forgets your birthday? It’s just a mistake after all. He decided that radioactive isotopes were easier to figure out than girls. As if he hardly talked to any other except Sarah, and even that was the other way round. She talked to him. He switched the window AC to sleep mode and soon fell asleep.
The rainstorm raged outside, hardly an inconvenience to those living in concrete houses. The downpour was so heavy that light from the streetlamps seemed to be confined to a conical boundary from the lamp to the road. Apart from the continuous patter of the raindrops, there was no sound on the road. The puddles were so muddy that one could see his reflection properly in them if anybody dared to venture out in the storm. In the Springfield Amusement Park one such puddle had formed. All of a sudden, when a signal transmitting a boy’s voice saying “and” was travelling in the atmosphere, a lightning went right through it and struck a puddle at right angle, and was reflected straight up to its point of origin. The air was singed where the lightning had passed twice, and a small stitch appeared in the world, as if the air was merely a screen and someone had made a cut in it with a razor. Five hundred million joules of energy passed twice in 30 millionth of a second, heating the air to twenty thousand degrees Celsius twice, three times the temperature of the sun’s surface and created a nick in time.
A nick in time.
Between a balloon stand and a coffee stall, stood a thin black line extending from the puddle on the ground to the clouds, and a soft sound was coming from it. Like wind whistling through a small opening.