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The station clock read 23:06.

The tiles reflected the bright station lights, the large fans stood still. Aniza stared at the vast stretch of open sky seen above the train tracks. The wind carried out a sodden stench like that of soil after rain. It was a local station with a few shops lit up here and there, hushed lost whispers and a moonless night.

Aniza clutched her scarf tighter and dialed his brother’s number. He should’ve been here by now to pick her up. The call ringed on and on, the ominous silence of the station was gnawing at her back. Pick it up Bhai.

“Waiting for someone?”

Aniza’s hand flew to her chest calming her thumping heart. The man casually deposited himself beside her. She clutched her phone tight.

“Aniza.” He said.

Aniza found herself staring at two distinctly clashing eyes. One that of wet dirt and the other of the ravenous blue ocean under rumbling clouds. Mesmerizing. She thought.

“Excuse me, How do you know my name?” She realized her words have quietened to a murmur.

“Oh no,” he puts his hand to his chest feighning offense. “So you really don’t remember me. You have wounded me deep miss.”

“Iam sorry.” She looked at him baffled.

Do I know him?

Aniza sketched the man in her conscience. His tall profile, longish hair, and small beard peppering his jawline. And most importantly his contrasting yin yang eyes. This is not the kind of man she would forget.

The man’s eyes turns deeper as though saddened by Aniza’s confused expression. “Piety, after all you were a memorable part of my junior high.” He smiled and Aniza noticed the deep dimple it forms in his cheeks.

“Zoraiz. Remember?”

Like a vivid dream that consumes you. It was vivid to Anisa. But like awakened to the morning sun, the dream turns muddy and hazy, like a breeze. Gone. Like a beginning of a thought, that wasn’t even formed. Such was this name to Aniza. Known in the thresholds of the unknown.

“I’m sorry-“

“I used to be a quiet kid-” the man cut her off, hands supported on his knees, head hung low. Anisa realized how smooth his voice sounded.

“I used to stutter a lot. I was a what you will call- no used to call a dumb kid. Remember?”

Aniza blinked at the guy unsure, a fire suddenly brewing in the pit of her stomach.

“I used to be picked on a lot. Yeah man it was tough! So u really don’t remember me?

What changed him so. She thought. Because she can’t imagine this man as weak. What did people hate in him. Because she found him quite admirable. Butterflies fluttered in her heart and she found herself bashed.

“I guess you didn’t because I wasn’t memorable. But let me tell you Aniza-” he looked at her- “I remember you very well.”

“What makes you remember me so?” Her heart beats went a little abnormal.

“Everybody followed you, liked you.” He smiled. You were the star kid of the school so normally, you would set trends. Who you called dumb was dumb, who you befriend was a friend for all. I was the dumb kid because you named me so.” The man- Zoraiz chuckled humorously.

Aniza didn’t.

It is tough, so terrifying to get face to face with a mirror who reflects the most ugliest parts of you. Of your soul. Aniza felt like she should leave. Perhaps the page that is being turned are filled with lines her conscience has blurred.

“Don’t you remember me?” He looked at her in longing. “I was the play thing beside the school cafeteria. You and your friends, well. . . pranking me.” He shrugged.

“It embarrasses me to remember quite frankly. I hope you haven’t still kept my pictures.” He laughed nervously.

His voice vanished into a silence that pricked her heart like needles and Aniza begged to hear him again even if it was the reminiscent of her past.

“I think I remember,” she said. “A bit.”

“You used to make fun of my short height,” he chuckled. “I just annoyed you, everything about me, I was too quiet and frail for a bo-“

“I think there’s a misunderstanding, we were childre-“

“No.” He cut her off.

“You told me so, clearly. Everyday. Remember that one time you made me remove my shoes and refuse to give me back. Man! I had blisters when I returned home.”

Aniza sat still. “I’m sorry.”

“One time- Oh my God!” he laughed. “I was stuttering too much so you punched me so hard I got a nlack eye. Man you were strong. Are you still so strong miss?”

He looked at her suddenly and Aniza found herself lost in an abyss. Zoraiz was behind the glass of her fogged up memories, her past, her identity. And he was cleaning the mist revealing what will truly haunt her nightmares.

He was like a scent she knew so well but can’t pinpoint, a situation she lived, a feeling she felt, something so vivid, what is it called? A deja Vu.

She remembers, bit by bit but not enough, she don’t want to anyways . The mist clearing. The white lines in her black dress gets blurred. One drops then too. “I am sorry.” Aniza realized she’s crying.

“I’m sorry. . . Zoraiz.” Her voice broke.

The past she ran from, the ugliness of her character nobody was aware of. The sin etched into her very soul. Countless nights, and nightmares vivid. Of lives she destroyed and hearts she torn.

But maybe it isn’t so bad, she looked back in his yin yang eyes. Perhaps Zorais is her redemption and now, she can perhaps- truly cry.

“You have changed.” Aniza found herself blurting.

Zoraiz grinned till his canines glinted in the dimming station lights. At that moment, Aniza found him a very beautiful man.

“Wanna have coffee with me? It’s on me.” he said standing up.

Aniza found herself silently following him. She forgot the world for a moment. How dark the night is, how empty her surrounding is getting and where is her brother who haven’t yet arrived. She wanted to be here in this moment. She wanted a second chance, to be forgiven.

He walked and she followed until the station swooped to a level. The train tracks to the left and the dirt road ahead. In the distance a little shop lit up. Aniza looked up at twinkling stars embroidered in the dark blanket of the night. Without a moon they shine bright. The gravel crunched under his boots and Aniza took one last look back at the station.

Aniza entered the small restaurant. Small yet cozy. The light inside was mild and any fragrance absent. Zorais sat on a table overlooking a large glass window, reflecting the inside of the restaurant with the lack of light outside. She noticed nothing but the man infront. Her morals tell her to not be here but the voice grew feeble. The brown eyes almost black and the sea colored ones reduced to a darker shade. He ordered two cups and Aniza noticed how his hair looked so soft in the ambient light.

Aniza felt as if she’s in a vision floating in space. It felt like a dream, all of it.

“You have changed too.” Zoraiz spoke after a while. His eyes, distant.

Aniza shifted on her seat. “Zorais, I. . .I remember, not all of it but some. Some things. They aren’t you know they aren’t something goo-“

“You stutter a lot.” Zoraiz remarked.

The coffee smells like- nothing, the cloud of smoke rose and vanished in swirled shapes. Aniza held onto the cup seeking warmth. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry, I know I was a horrible person. But now, I’m struggling too. I know I was the reaso-“

“Yeah I know,” He cut her off. “You were the reason I didn’t want to come to school, had no friends, always got in trouble for things I never did, been silent, for too long. I was an orphan and I wanted to not exist.”

The coffee misted into the air, the brown and orange of the coffee table turned blurry. Tears after tears rolled down and fell with a tip. Until it was all she could hear. One after another. “Zoraiz.” She looked at him.

“Don’t cry Aniza.” His voice sound like a faraway lullaby. “I understand. I understand.”

“Zoraiz.” She looked at his blurry image going in and out of focus.

He leaned towards her and gazed into her eyes with a softness she couldn’t comprehend.

“I understand.” He slid the napkins towards her.

Aniza cleaned her tears, her heart suddenly feeling light. “I. . .I can’t believe you have forgiven me even after all this.”

No.” Zorais smiled. “I haven’t.”

At that moment Aniza felt her surrounding turn cold. His yin yang eyes suddenly looked so empty and lifeless, the butterflies that once fluttered in her stomach crawled up her throat choking her.

I will never forgive you Aniza, never.

All mist disappeared and Aniza found herself standing in front of the mirror of her past. Remembering it. Remembering all of it. Remembering the truth that her own conscience protected her from. Cold beads formed in her forehead, her hands and feet numb. Her thoughts incoherent. Her brown irises shifted to the large window that reflected the insides of the restaurant.

The reflection was dim, it was beautiful. The ambient cozy coffee shop. A brown table with two coffee cups. Fresh flowers and an ashen looking girl sitting numb at one side. The other side, empty.

There was no zoraiz.

Zoraiz, was long dead.

~to be continued

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