He walked out of the apartment. He was determined not to turn back.
But, he knew, from habit, that she would come to the door, and call him back again.
So, he closed the door behind him, and fumbled in his pocket for his keys.
She would need to go back to get her keys, or maybe she won’t. She would know that he was gone.
He heard her approaching footsteps, as he turned the key in the lock.
He shoved the keys back into his pocket, and took a hasty step forward. Just one step.
Her footsteps had silenced. He stopped.
He was determined not to turn around.
He couldn’t move.
He was tempted to peep in through the key-hole.
But, no, he won’t turn around. He stood there. He waited for the sound of her footsteps. Forward or backward, in any direction, would do.
But there was no sound.
The two of them stood few feet away from each other, separated by the teak-paneled door.
No one moved.
She was stunned. Shocked.
“Get out”, she ordered, her voice trembling with anger.
He hated her, but his body always obeyed her. He hated his body for that.
His knees stretched, his feet gripped the floor, and one by one, they led him out of the room, across the corridor, to the door.
He turned the door-knob and stepped out. He stood there, with his back facing the door wide open.
She came, silently.
She swung the door shut, with a loud thump.
He spiraled back and thrust both his hands on the teak panels. He banged his head on the wood.
He screwed shut his eyes, and tried to listen to her footsteps.
Instead, he heard a scraping sound against the wood. The sound travelled downwards, as his cheek traced the sound.
Then, the sound of her sobs.
He didn’t want to say anything.
He always hated talking.
His nails scratched against the teak and he slumped down on the floor of the dirty hallway.
He wasn’t the one who cared about cleanliness.
It was early morning. He ran up the stairs. He never took the elevator when he was in a hurry. In spite of his self-claimed tech-dependence, he always trusted his limbs more than anything else.
Panting, he reached the second floor.
He never pressed the door-bell, either.
He was about to call on her phone, from his cellphone, when he saw it.
The door was already open. Wide open.
He called out her name. He couldn’t explain the loud thumping in his heart, whether it was fear or the breathlessness from running.
Trying to hold himself together, he staggered into the rooms, one by one.
She was nowhere.
A fresh sticky note lay on the refrigerator.
He didn’t notice it, amongst all the paper stuck on it.
He leaned his head the fridge, and heaved a heavy sigh. He called out her name again.
She was nowhere.
There was a sound. It was her ringtone. He found the phone ringing deep inside the bedcovers.
It was her father calling.
He answered the call.
No, he didn’t know where she was.
No, he had just come in.
Yes, the door was open. Wide open.
Yes, he would go to the police station.
No, not right now.
Okay, right now.
Yes, he would call them up as soon as possible.
His feet carried him towards the teak-paneled door.
So, she was right.
She was always right.
One day, she would leave. And leave no trace behind.
But, she was wrong.
He wasn’t indifferent.