Millie usually got up around 6 am. After which she proceeded to go sit down on the steps leading to the backyard and do a couple minutes of guided meditation.
I remembered how eagerly she’d talked about it on the day I’d asked her curiously as to why she scurried away secretly, to the yard everyday.
“I love the ones where they speak of gratitude. It really opens up your mind to understand how much you do have in life, rather than complain about what you don’t.”
Then she had continued to blabber on about how negative visualisation had helped her deal with her inferiority complex. She’d animatedly explained to me that it dealt with imagining a life without all the things you have now, while deeply concentrating on your breath. The aim of the meditation, according to her was making yourself humble and grateful towards everything you were blessed with.
So everyday, whether she’d do anything else at all, meditation was definitely on her to- do list. It ranged from tackling stress and procrastination, helping her to focus better on her work to something she’d call the loving kindness meditation which dealt with directing feelings of warmth and goodness towards everybody you know, friends and enemies alike as well as to those who you didn’t know.
I could listen to her talk about all these for hours on end without ever having the need to get a word in. It felt different somehow, compared to Vinnie’s constant yapping and Nathan’s drunk talks.
I’d soon realised, without even having to pry much, but just by her demeanor that she had had to battle a lot of inner demons, and she had chosen to show only the brave side that resulted out of all the adversities which she’d faced at an young age.
And I respected her for that.
But today there wasn’t time to dive into that. The only goal that I was focused on currently was to get this whole situation with Vinnie and Millie sorted out.
So, the next day I had to pull Vinnie out of her bed early in the morning, only for her to cuss gibberish at me for disturbing her sleep and running into the front yard and literally dropping dead on the ground, curling up into a fetus position and go back to sleeping.
I had no idea how that tactic was going to help but I’d no time to find out.
Waking her up again I dragged the half awake, reluctant Vinnie back to the hallway leading to the backyard and asked her to shush.
I peeped to check if Millie was already there and she thankfully was, fidgeting with her tangled earphones ready to start her meditation.
I turned around to face Vinnie and explain my plan and tell her everything that she had to say.
But Vinnie was gone again. I let out a small, inaudible scream of frustration and went back to the front yard.
After almost fifteen minutes of chasing, I finally got hold of her. She was no longer sleepy by the end of it, just irritated and having fun by watching me run.
Now we stood silently behind Millie as she meditated. Vinnie brought her palm forward. It was filled with sand and she dropped very microscopic amounts on Millie’s face.
I’d requested her not to do it but she’d said she’d only agreed to my conditions if I’d allowed her to do this, leaving me no choice.
Millie’s face slightly twitched everytime Vinnie dropped a little sand on her. For some reason, the sleep deprived Vinnie giggled a lot and she was fighting so much to control herself from bursting into laughter. I, on the other hand stood there, rolling my eyes at her, waiting for her to get it over with.
And without a warning, she dropped all the sand on to Millie’s face who let out a squeak and jumped in fright, coughing.
After she’d somehow managed to get the sand off her face, she glared down at the laughing Vinnie, who looked like she’d fall down giggling and go back to sleep right away.
Millie then turned to me with a shocked expression which soon turned to a stern look.
“Care to explain yourself?”
“Look, I tried to convince her not do it but she wouldn’t listen-“
“I don’t care!” She said, throwing her arms into the air.
“I really don’t. I’m leaving. I’ll book my tickets today, and I’m leaving.”
Millie tried to walk past me angrily, but I held her by the hand and stopped her. She turned her head to look at me and I felt a sudden stillness in the air. I knew it wasn’t the right time, but I couldn’t get myself to let go.
And she wouldn’t stop staring back.
Vinnie coughed and I suddenly released her hand as if my reflexes had finally awoken.
Millie folded her arms and stood looking at the ground. Vinnie stepped towards her, now completely sober, due to some mysterious forces that acted on her in such a short gap.
“Millie, I’m sorry we had to disturb your meditation, but this jerk here chased me down the entire length of the beach for this conversation to take place and I really think you shouldn’t discard it so easily.”
Millie lifted her head, giving me a side glance and a very miniscule smile as if to say she approved me of having tortured Vinnie like that. Then she directed her attention to Vinnie.
“I apologise for the way I behaved on the beach the other day.” Vinnie said, in a sincere voice.
“It was completely uncalled for and it came from a place that had nothing to do with you. You just happened to be at the recieving end of something that was absolutely not your fault. So I’m really sorry about that.”
Millie’s face relaxed.
“That’s alright. I had my own stuff going on and your way of speaking so lightly towards my problems just aggravated everything and that’s why I fought back. That was one messed up conversation.”
I found myself heaving a sigh of relief.
“And about that scholarship-” Millie started.
“You don’t need to accept it if you don’t want to. But please do consider it with a calm mind once.” Vinnie said, reaching out for her hand.
“I know it wasn’t in my place to take your life decisions for you without even discussing it first. But I can assure you that, I did that out of genuine concern. And not out of pity. I just, I didn’t want you to end up like-” her voice trailed away.
“End up like what?” I asked, curious.
Vinnie looked up at me, her face blank as if she’d forgotten what she was about to say.
“Never mind that!” She laughed back.
She turned to Millie and smiled.
“I missed our little gossip talks, you know. I know we don’t have much of a history, but I’d really like to listen to you talk about all those books on the Goldfinch that you’ve read, again”
“Oh my god, she’s told you about them as well?” I said excitedly.
“Yes, oh good gracious. The horror!” Vinnie turned to me and screamed as Millie raised an eyebrow.
“I know right!” I screamed back. “I thought it would never end.”
“Thank lord, I know another survivor now. It was really hard being on my own and dealing with it all having noone by my side and wondering why should I care that goldfinch signifies abundance and prosperity.”
“Oh my god, yes!” I laughed my head out.
Then we began to mock Millie’s way of saying “prosperity” while she replied with a “I’ll poision you both” look on her face.
“Are you guys done?” She said shaking her face and trying not to grin.
Then she looked at me and gave me a smile.
That being an unexpected gesture, the awkward person that I am, I stumbled on my own feet, took my leave hurriedly and penguin- waddled out of the room before my body would proceed to the next stage which involved standing rooted to the ground and blush like an idiot.
I wasn’t even out of hearing shot yet, when Vinnie asked Millie something that made me stop in my tracks.
“So Ms Millie Bhagwat, tell me this. Do you fancy that jerk?”
I knew for sure she would just push away the question or change topics.
“Yeah.” She giggled back. “He’s cute, I’ll give you that. But he really can’t take a hint.”
“Ah, that’s very evident.” Vinnie replied in a demonic voice, now having got a piece of leverage to get back against me.
I don’t know what made me do it, but I headed back to the backyard, made an excuse that I had come back for my pullover that I’d put to dry on the railing. And I couldn’t help but, give a smirk and nod at Millie before I left.
To be continued–>