I just punched a girl in the face. Not just any girl. My best friend. My roommate.
Well, as of five minutes ago, I guess I should call her my ex-roommate.
Her nose began bleeding almost immediately, and for a second, I felt bad for hitting her. But then I remembered what a lying, betraying manipulative person she is, and it made me want to punch her again. I would have if Vikrant hadn’t prevented it by stepping between us.
So instead, I punched him. I didn’t do any damage to him, unfortunately. Not like the damage I’ve done to my hand.
Punching someone hurts a lot worse than I imagined it would. Not that I spend an excessive amount of time imagining how it would feel to punch people. Although I am having that urge again as I stare down at my phone at the incoming text from Lakshya. He’s another one I’d like to get even with. I know he technically has nothing to do with my current predicament, but he could have given me a heads-up a little sooner. Therefore, I’d like to punch him, too.
Lakshya: Are you OK? Do u want to come up until the rain stops?
Of course, I don’t want to come up. My fist hurts enough as it is, and if I went up to Lakshya’s apartment, it would hurt a whole lot worse after I finished with him.
I turn around and look up at his balcony. He’s leaning against his sliding-glass door; phone in hand, watching me. It’s almost dark, but the lights from the courtyard illuminate his face. His dark eyes lock with mine and the way his mouth curls up into a soft, regretful smile makes it hard to remember why I’m even upset with him in the first place. He runs a free hand through the hair hanging loosely over his forehead, revealing even more of the worry in his expression. Or maybe that’s a look of regret. As it should be.
I decide not to reply and flip him off instead. He shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders, as if to say, I tried, and then he goes back inside his apartment and slides his door shut.
I put the phone back in my pocket before it gets wet, and I look around at the courtyard of the apartment complex where I’ve lived for two whole months. When we first moved in, the hot Mumbai summer was swallowing up the last traces of winter, but this courtyard seemed to somehow still cling to life. Vibrant blue and purple hydrangeas lined the walkways leading up to the staircases. The fountain affixed in the centre of the courtyard saw a steady stream of youthful visitors.
Now that summer has reached its most unattractive peak, the water in the fountain has long since evaporated. The hydrangeas are a sad, wilted reminder of the excitement I felt when Kritika and I first moved in here. Looking at the courtyard now, defeated by the season, is an eerie parallel to how I feel at the moment. Defeated and sad.
I’m sitting on the edge of the now empty cement fountain, my elbows propped up on the two suitcases that contain most of my belongings, waiting for a cab to pick me up. I have no idea where it’s going to take me, but I know I’d rather be anywhere except where I am right now. Which is, well, homeless.
I could call my parents, but that would give them ammunition to start firing all the We told you so’s at me.
We told you not to move so far away, Ragini.
We told you not to get serious with that guy.
We told you if you had chosen law over music, we would have paid for it.
We told you to punch with your thumb on the outside of your fist.
Okay, maybe they never taught me the proper punching techniques, but if they’re so right all the damn time, they should have.
I clench my fist, then spread out my fingers, then clench it again. My hand is surprisingly sore, and I’m pretty sure I should put ice on it. I feel sorry for guys. Punching sucks.
Know what else sucks? Rain. It always finds the most inappropriate time to fall, like right now, while I’m homeless.
The cab finally pulls up, and I stand and grab my suitcases. I roll them behind me as the cab driver gets out and pops open the trunk. Before I even hand him the first suitcase, my heart sinks as I suddenly realize that I don’t even have my purse on me.
I look around, back to where I was sitting on the suitcases, and then feel around my body as if my purse will magically appear across my shoulder. But I know exactly where my purse is. I pulled it off my shoulder and dropped it to the floor right before I punched Kritika in her overpriced, surgically enhanced nose.
I sigh. And I laugh. Of course, I left my purse. My first day of being homeless would have been way too easy if I’d had a purse with me.
“I’m sorry,” I say to the cab driver, who is now loading my second piece of luggage. “I changed my mind. I don’t need a cab right now.”
I know there’s a hotel about a half-mile from here. If I can just work up the courage to go back inside and get my purse, I’ll walk there and get a room until I figure out what to do. It’s not as if I can get any wetter.
The driver takes the suitcases back out of the cab, sets them on the curb in front of me, and walks back to the driver’s side without ever making eye contact. He just gets into his car and drives away, as if my cancelling is a relief.
Do I look that pathetic?
I take my suitcases and walk back to where I was seated before I realized I was purse-less. I glance up to my apartment and wonder what would happen if I went back there to get my wallet. I sort of left things in a mess when I walked out the door. I guess I’d rather be homeless in the rain than go back up there.
I take a seat on my luggage again and contemplate my situation. I could pay someone to go upstairs for me. But who? No one’s outside, and who’s to say Vikrant or Kritika would even give the person my purse?
This really sucks. I know I’m going to have to end up calling one of my friends, but right now, I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone how clueless I’ve been for the last two years. I’ve been completely blindsided.
I already hate being twenty-three, and I still have 364 more days to go.
It sucks so bad that I’m . . . crying?
Great. I’m crying now. I’m a purse-less, crying, violent, homeless girl. And as much as I don’t want to admit it, I think I might also be heartbroken.
Yep. Sobbing now. Pretty sure this must be what it feels like to have your heart broken.
“It’s raining. Hurry up.”
I glance up to see a girl hovering over me. She’s holding an umbrella over her head and looking down at me with agitation while she hops from one foot to the other, waiting for me to do something. “I’m getting soaked. Hurry.”
Her voice is a little demanding, as if she’s doing me some sort of favour and I’m being ungrateful. I arch an eyebrow as I look up at her, shielding the rain from my eyes with my hand. I don’t know why she’s complaining about getting wet, when there isn’t much clothing to get wet. She’s wearing next to nothing. Well, I might be exaggerating a bit, okay, a lot maybe
Could this day get any weirder? I’m sitting on almost everything I own in a torrential downpour, being bossed around by a b***cy girl – I – hardly- know
I’m still staring at her shirt when she grabs my hand and pulls me up in a huff. “Lakshya said you would do this. I’ve got to get to work. Follow me, and I’ll show you where the apartment is.” She grabs one of my suitcases, pops the handle out, and shoves it at me. She takes the other and walks swiftly out of the courtyard. I follow her, for no other reason than the fact that she’s taken one of my suitcases with her and I want it back.
She yells over her shoulder as she begins to ascend the stairwell. “I don’t know how long you plan on staying, but I’ve only got one rule. Stay the hell out of my room.”
She reaches an apartment and opens the door, never even looking back to see if I’m following her. Once I reach the top of the stairs, I pause outside the apartment and look down at the fern sitting unaffected by the heat in a planter outside the door. Its leaves are lush and green as if they’re giving summer the middle finger with their refusal to succumb to the heat. I smile at the plant, somewhat proud of it. Then I frown with the realization that I’m envious of the resilience of a plant.
I shake my head, look away, and then take a hesitant step inside the unfamiliar apartment. The layout is similar to my own apartment, only this one is a double split bedroom with four total bedrooms. Mine and Kritika’s apartment only had two bedrooms, but the living rooms are the same size.
The only other noticeable difference is that I don’t see any lying, backstabbing, bl**dy-nosed person standing in this one. Nor do I see any of Kritika’s dirty dishes or laundry lying around.
The girl sets my suitcase down beside the door, then steps aside and waits for me to . . . well, I don’t know what she’s waiting for me to do.
She rolls her eyes and grabs my arm, pulling me out of the doorway and further into the apartment. “What the hell is wrong with you? Do you even speak?” She begins to close the door behind her but pauses and turns around, wide-eyed. She holds her finger up in the air. “Wait,” she says. “You’re not . . .” She rolls her eyes and smacks herself in the forehead. “Oh, my God, you’re deaf.”
Huh? What the hell is wrong with this girl? I shake my head and start to answer her, but she interrupts me.
“God, Radhika,” she mumbles to herself. She rubs her hands down her face and groans, completely ignoring the fact that I’m shaking my head. “You’re such an insensitive idiot sometimes.”
Wow. This girl has some serious issues in the people-skills department. She’s sort of a b***c, even though she’s making an effort not to be one. Now that she thinks I’m deaf. I don’t even know how to respond. She shakes her head as if she’s disappointed in herself, then looks straight at me.
“I . . . HAVE . . . TO . . . GO . . . TO . . . WORK . . . NOW!” she yells very loudly and painfully slowly. I grimace and step back, which should be a huge clue that I can hear her practically yelling, but she doesn’t notice. She points to a door at the end of the hallway. “LAKSHYA . . . IS . . . IN . . . HIS . . . ROOM!”
Before I have a chance to tell her she can stop yelling, she leaves the apartment and closes the door behind her.
I have no idea what to think. Or what to do now. I’m standing, soaking wet, in the middle of an unfamiliar apartment, and the only person besides Vikrant and Kritika whom I feel like punching is now just a few feet away in another room. And speaking of Lakshya, why the hell did he send his psycho girlfriend to get me? I take out my phone and have begun to text him when his bedroom door opens.
He walks out into the hallway with an armful of blankets and a pillow. As soon as he makes eye contact with me, I gasp. I hope it’s not a noticeable gasp. It’s just that I’ve never actually seen him up close before, and he’s even better-looking from just a few feet away than he is from across an apartment courtyard.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen eyes that can actually speak. I’m not sure what I mean by that. It just seems as if he could shoot me the tiniest glance with those dark eyes of his, and I’d know exactly what they needed me to do. They’re piercing and intense and—oh, my God, I’m staring.
The corner of his mouth tilts up in a knowing smile as he passes me and heads straight for the couch.
Despite his appealing and slightly innocent-looking face, I want to yell at him for being so deceitful. He shouldn’t have waited more than two weeks to tell me. I would have had a chance to plan all this out a little better. I don’t understand how we could have had two weeks’ worth of conversations without him feeling the need to tell me that my boyfriend and my best friend were screwing.
Lakshya throws the blankets and the pillow onto the couch.
“I’m not staying here, Lakshya,” I say, attempting to stop him from wasting time with his hospitality. I know he feels bad for me, but I hardly know him, and I’d feel a lot more comfortable in a hotel room than sleeping on a strange couch.
Then again, hotel rooms require money.
Something I don’t have on me at the moment.
Something that’s inside my purse, across the courtyard, in an apartment with the only two people in the world I don’t want to see right now.
Maybe a couch isn’t such a bad idea after all.
He gets the couch made up and turns around, dropping his eyes to my soaking-wet clothes. I look down at the puddle of water I’m creating in the middle of his floor.
“Oh, sorry,” I mutter. My hair is matted to my face; my shirt is now a see-through pathetic excuse for a barrier between the outside world and my very pink, very noticeable bra. “Where’s your bathroom?”
He nods his head toward the bathroom door.
I turn around, unzip a suitcase, and begin to rummage through it while Lakshya walks back into his bedroom. I’m glad he doesn’t ask me questions about what happened after our conversation earlier. I’m not in the mood to talk about it.
I select a pair of yoga pants and a tank top, then grab my bag of toiletries and head to the bathroom. It disturbs me that everything about this apartment reminds me of my own, with just a few subtle differences. This is the same bathroom with the Jack-and-Jill doors on the left and right, leading to the two bedrooms that adjoin it. One is Lakshya’s, obviously. I’m curious about who the other bedroom belongs to but not curious enough to open it. Radhika’s one rule was to stay the hell out of her room, and she doesn’t seem like the type to kid around.
I shut the door that leads to the living room and lock it, then check the locks on both doors to the bedrooms to make sure no one can walk in. I have no idea if anyone lives in this apartment other than Lakshya and the Radhika, but I don’t want to chance it.
I pull off my sopping clothes and throw them into the sink to avoid soaking the floor. I turn on the shower and wait until the water gets warm, then step in. I stand under the stream of water and close my eyes, thankful that I’m not still sitting outside in the rain. At the same time, I’m not really happy to be where I am, either.
I never expected my twenty-third birthday to end with me showering in a strange apartment and sleeping on a couch that belongs to a guy I’ve barely known for two weeks, all at the hands of the two people I cared about and trusted the most.
I’m Shruti, a new member here and i love to write fan fictions, recently i started writing one about RagLaK and my friend Anvita suggested to post it here. I really hope you guys like it.
Lots of Love 🙂