Marge heard the distant buzzing of her cell phone. She had fallen asleep on the couch itself and woke up the following morning with a thudding headache from all the alcohol she had gulped down yesterday. She felt along the floor to find her purse. Finally, she stumbled on to the bag. The cell still vibrated. With one eye barely open she peek-a-booed at the phone. It was Marc. Marc was the love of her life- well atleast till yesterday.
Yesterday; Marge walked into her room and switched on the answering machine for the calls and it was precisely at that moment that she knew. Something was definitely wrong. Phil had left a message. There a million things Phil could do to for her, but not this. It was just a guy thing. He never left her messages. He never texted her first, never. He only replied to hers and that too when he was pressed for time. And even those would be just one-liners. ‘Yes, 8’s gud’ or ‘Dinner? M famishd’ . That sort. Marge wasn’t like that at all. In fact that’s why she liked Phil. He was Italian and rich and just not like her. He made her want to be better. She used to send long texts to people even if it would have sufficed if she just said two words. She liked to read e-mails that filled the screens, she wrote letters on pink sheets, she cried while seeing sci-fi movies, she loved diamonds and surprises. She was the kind of girl Mills and Boons protagonists are like. She was the perfect girl. The ‘I-wear-stilettos-who cares-if-it-hurts’ kind of girl, get it? And Phil was the macho, muscle-man, sculptured to perfection, only protein diet kind of guy.
They were literally poles apart. He lived across the street from her place. She’d moved in January- The worst time to move, really. It was cold and it snowed and the roads were always blocked with that very snow. And all the sales were over by then. So was Christmas! Marge was annoyed with everyone at her place…her ex-place. They’d thrown her into this new place just when she’d begun to adjust to that place. Life always did that to her, apparently. She always felt victimised, she always felt spied upon, conspired against- paranoid almost. But, she was also super-confident about finding the love of her life in every street she wandered. An ardent believer of the movies, she wanted to find her man in the weirdest of moments. She dreamt of him without a face each day!
Whatever, coming back, she moved into 1245th street, Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein! She winced at the name and the thought of having to get the spelling correct each time she wrote a letter to someone. Her move was quiet by her standards but not by Philippe’s. She had ordered an entire lot of trucks to carry her clothes, jewellery, stuff toys, shoes, books and the other insignificant stuff like furniture and electronics. She created just a tiny ruckus in the neighbourhood while moving in because no one was letting her know where her house was. The teenagers just laughed, the oldies waved at her and asked her the time. She was standing in the middle of the street, staring hopelessly into a traveller’s map. That’s when Phil quit laughing and decided to help her out. He took her by the shoulder and turned her around a 180®. There it was- her house. Only, she needed to turn her tiny arse around! She felt embarrassed and felt the familiar warmth that she felt way back in 8th grade when Joshua had ignored her in front of the entire class after she confessed her admiration for him.
Though this was different. She’d grown up and held a firm belief after that Joshua incident that ‘confession’ was a guy-thing. Marge was like that. She classified, categorised and then lost the list! She had a whole catalogue for what was a guy-thing and what was not. For instance, getting drunk at a sports bar was a guy thing but not at a party. It was only a girl-thing to drink at parties and the guy’s job was to drive her home. Get the drift, right?
So, after the initial flush of red-cheeks, Marge finally croaked out her name. She did not croak because she was embarrassed but because the new place had a weather that could be compared to Micheal Jackson’s doctor and his prescriptions; the weather had gifted her with laryngitis. Phil smiled and Marge immediately fell for his childish voice. He seemed to be much older than Marge thanks to all his muscles and the winter wrinkles, but really he wasn’t. He was perfect for her. She knew that she liked him. They exchanged phone numbers, though Marge did not have a no. they still ‘exchanged’ numbers. Then after the long drawn goodbye, Marge had stepped into her new, hopefully permanent for a few years, house. She stepped into the house and the steps echoed her movements. She breathed out. The air froze in its course, Marge smiled. That had happened to her after a long time. Her job had placed her in Miami for the last few years. Make that last 4 years. It was her first job. A job she loved. She got to be with all the rich people and wear branded things, drink till she retched and stay up till 5 am everyday. It was her dream job. She’d applied for it from her friend Julie’s place just for fun and she actually landed the job! And she had the party of her life until she violated the most important rule of the company. She dated someone who was their client and then broke up him which caused significant losses for the company. So, that’s why she came to Liechtenstein from Miami. A huge downhill leap for her. But she was happy. She was confident of doing something here as well. What could be worse than a place called Liechtenstein, right?
Marge’s stuff had been delivered a day back and the cardboard boxes stared back at her. The dull brown and ugly things were waiting to be opened up and waiting to adorn the walls of her new house. ‘Home’- She said it loudly as if to make her accept it. A sigh and another quick sip of Redbull later she opened her first box. And the whole day, all she did was open boxes and arrange things. She categorised, classified and ordered everything while packing them. So it was easy enough to just open up the boxes and throw them in their rightful places. Two days later she was ready. No, her house was ready for the first ever and her only acquaintance here- Philippe. She made an effort to look appealing. She put on some make-up to hide her pale face behind the blush-on’s red. She wore a white shirt and jeans- She didn’t want it to look like it was an effort. The bell rang and her heart leapt to her mouth. She opened the gate, welcomed him in and did the regular. ‘Hello, nice evening. Drink?’ She was a hostess by profession, well not directly, but she was the personal manager for the Rich Spoilt Brats association of the world’s super-rich men and women!
And the evening went off fine which ended with another date fixed for their next meet. Phil asked her this time, which was a good sign. She liked it when men asked her. She liked them to be in control where she wanted them to be, without being told.
The next date was at a bar. A sports bar- typical of a guy. Especially a guy like Phil who was into sports so much that she imagined him sleeping with a football by his side! Besides, she knew that Phil did not want it to look like an exact date. He just wanted to ‘get to know her’. So as soon as she walked into the bar, a waft of alcoholic smoke washed her lungs and made her cough. She looked around to search for him. She could not see even one metre away from where she stood. A Man-U versus Chelsea match was on. She wondered why Phil insisted on meeting there on ‘such an important match day’. She squinted her eyes and looked further away. He waved and called her name. ‘Marge’- It had been the first time he’d called her name out loud. She felt good. Mills and Boons had this scene exactly. Okay, maybe a little different. She felt giddy. Not because he called her name, because of the smoke actually! She walked towards him, creating room for herself amongst the sweaty men who screamed and shouted like wild hounds while Chelsea defended a goal. 68 minutes of the match were up. Just about 25 minutes were left for the match to wind up. Now she knew why he ‘gave up’ a match for her. He just timed their meeting according to his convenience. This put her off. She frowned on reaching him but he looked at her with the most gorgeous brown eyes she’d seen in the longest while. She forgot her anger and smiled back at him as she sat down. 23 minutes later, Man-U won. Drinks were on the house and that made Marge smile. She noted the name of the place and made it a point to reach there every time Man-u registered a win that season. She was addicted to Southern Comfort and could actually kill for it. And that’s what she sipped while Phil and she ‘got to know each other’.
Then followed the hunky dory things: Meeting every weekend, gifting mushy things, then the proposal. Not the best Marge had got but definitely passable. He did something utterly non-sensical really. He just asked her out blatantly like , ‘Hey, I like you, you know and would you like to, umm, hang out with me?’ It’s passable because it was sincere and well, from the heart. Or so she felt.
So she said yes. And more hunky-dory things followed. More gifts, more mush, more staring at the moon and as Phil said ‘crap like that’. But Marge was thrilled. She was living her Mills and Boons dream in a place whose name she couldn’t spell correctly!
It was June when Phil got a job in Norway as a trainer for some hot-shot sportsman out there. And he took the job. ‘Obviously darling, I have to do something. So I took it. We’ll manage US’ was what Phil said when Marge looked sullenly at him after he made the announcement. But she knew it wouldn’t have lasted as it is. He was not the man she loved. Was he, now? That day Man-U won some amazing cup and so after dropping Phil off at the airport she came to that Bar. And got mugged by someone. Lost everything. Even the keys to her house. Stranded and stolen off her money, she vowed never to visit that bar again. Her social life had really got stuck up because of Phil and her work. This was the time to catch up with Julie. Only if she had her keys. She had to break into her own house and then all she did was cry that night.
The land phone rang. It was Marc. Her –ex. What made him call? She spoke to him nonetheless. Cordially, the way one should talk to their –ex. But she still did love him. He was her MnB dream in Miami. So, she spoke more and more often. Often neglecting Phil for Marc.
Then there was the day Phil returned to Liechten-something. The day it all came crashing down. The day Marge realised what a mess she had made out of her serene life. She marvelled at her capability to de-classify, to disorganise. She cursed herself for everything she had done to Phil. She was never rude to anyone. But she had definitely been rude to Philippe. The one man who actually held her hand and stabilised things for her in the alien place she had been thrown into. Yes, he was not like her. But that was the plan right? If she wanted someone like her, she could have dated her reflection in the mirror that too without any consequences. But this had consequences. Not for Phil but for her.
Marc and Marge had grown increasingly close while Phil was away. In the initial months, Phil used to call everyday-twice. Then when Marge stopped receiving most of those calls, they diluted to around 3 a week and ultimately he stopped calling. He just left one message for her. ‘I am returning on 6th’.
That’s when she knew that she’d rid herself of him. She was supposed to feel happy. But only, she did not. Because that message was given to her on 5th July. The day she’d heard it was 8th July. Phil was still not in Liechtenstein. But the thing that was in Liechtenstein was a crashed airplane. That’s when Marge knew that she should not have played God. She shouldn’t have broken up with him the way she did. But she did not know that he wouldn’t even come back to her for that. That the real God would play such a dirty trick on her. She did not know. She did NOT.
Marc left Marge for Chloe- The newest Personal Manager in Miami. Marge preferred the ‘newest bitch’ to that.
She had nothing to look forward to. She lost Phil to Death. She lost Marc to something. She was in Liechtenstein. She could spell it now and she knew that she would have to stay here for a long, long time to come. She did not want to. She missed Phil in the house that she could see. She cried herself to sleep every single night. She felt like a stone. She’d always been that way. She was always fake. She wore fake diamonds, fake watches, rented bags- just to stay in the league. But she did not deserve this. She was real with Phil and Marc. She was real. Really. But that earned her tears and sorrow.
But that also made her realise the importance of living the real thing. She cried for Phil and herself. She cried for them. She just had to receive that call and then maybe, just maybe, he would have been alive. He may not have been hers, but he may have been alive and there with her in the world to hold her hand and turn her around, again. He would have been there to wave at her in a congested bar. He would have lived for her to dream about. But now, all she had was a distant and vague memory to live with. Forever.