That night, we all ate dinner in different corners of the house.
Nathan had bought take away from a fast food joint in the town cause he believed nobody was in the right mood to cook nor was the house set up completely for it to function.
Millie on the other hand, retreated back to her room, never to come out for a few hours.
Nathan said he’d go give her share of the food at her door, while asking me to search for Vinnie, who was nowhere to be found.
After having searched for a while, I gave up, picked up my dinner and went back to my room to complete some amount of work that was still pending for the day.
It had been almost six years since I’d started working for this content writing agency called Pixels, and though the workload was fairly satisfying to provide me an adequate income, I’d always felt like something was in short.
I opened a word document that was scattered in the middle of several scrap documents inside a zip file. It had been months since I’d finished working on this draft after having spent almost three years writing, editing and formatting it. Nathan knew I was up to something, but he had no clue about its progress. I scolled down the pages, taking in everything I’d written; the excitement of creating a world, and characters full of different strengths and flaws rushing back to me once again. I was about to close it, when I heard a knock.
Millie stood at the door, looking very distraught.
“Can I have a word with you?”
“Sure, why not” I said as I stepped out, closing the door behind me.
“Was I too offensive?” Millie asked, turning around and walking towards the yard.
Following her, I said “I don’t think so. Maybe Vinnie was just tired from all the travelling. But don’t worry, she’ll be fine by tomorrow. Her anger hardly lasts for more than a day cause I’ve never known her to hold grudge irrespective of who you are to her.”
We sat down on the steps that lead to the common yard, that had a lot of overgrown weeds. I was afraid that we’d find snakes while cleaning it the next day but my stream of thoughts was abruptly stopped by Millie speaking.
“I’m not sure if I want to stay, Arav.”
I turned to her and tried to take in what she must be thinking but it felt as though there was much more than what Vinnie had caused. A part of me perceived that she was seizing any opportunity that would let her go back.
And why wouldn’t she? She hardly knew the three of us and all this must be very strange to her.
I could feel my irritation towards Vinnie’s dumb, unplanned pursuits coming back.
“Look.” I said. “I understand it was totally unreasonable to bring you all the way here only to insult you. So I will not pressurize you into staying. But I need to request you to give it another chance so that you don’t judge Vinnie too harshly.”
“It’s not really about what she-“
Millie’s sentence was stopped midway by a loud clang from behind us.
Turning around, I realised it came from my room. Taking my leave from Millie, I got up to go back and check what was happening.
On returning, Nathan stood at the entrance of the room, in his sprinting position, an annoyed expression on his face that was directed at Vinnie who had dropped her plate and was crawling around the dusty floor to pick it up.
The moment he saw that I’d returned, he let out a loud, tensed laugh.
“Hey, Arav is here! Look I found Vinnie!”
Vinnie finally managed to pick her plate up and stood grinning at me.
“What are you guys doing here?” I asked.
“Oh” Nathan hesitated.
“Oh, nothing much.” Vinnie replied instead.
“I’d escaped into the wilderness behind your room and I thought I’d give you a fright from the window. But turns out it was Nathan who was in your room, so I ended up scaring him-“
“You did not!”
“Yes I did.”
“Anyway, he pulled me back inside the house through the window-“
“He did what?” I asked, astonished at how easily she said that.
“And after giving me your towel to clean my dirty legs-“
“My towel?” I asked again, and was conveniently ignored yet again.
“He asked me to wash your plate in your bathroom since you’d already finished your dinner and accompany him back to the dining hall to have my share of the food. We’re short on utensils, you see. So I’ll have to borrow yours for now.”
She then pushed her way through us and left in the direction of the hall.
Nathan, before leaving, gave me a strange smile; that implied he was proud? Or was I too strained to have imagined that?
But on returning back to my laptop, after the two of them had left, I might have realized the reason behind his expression after all.
To be continued->