On a Christmas eve, in a dark abandoned valley where none inhabits or celebrates the birth of the Christ, I walked through the unlit light posts blowing my cigar smoke into the cold winter breeze stretched throughout my lungs humming a lullaby which never made my eyes jump deep into the ocean of dreams, which left me wondering ‘when did I turned into this spineless NEET from a first ordered student.

In that black cloaked street I heard a voice, a choking in a gradually decreasing volume, that made my neck crawl and my eyes burst out in fear. I ran through the road and ran fast towards the fading sound thinking if I could reach there in time.

At the end of the alley I found myself a step away from a rundown church with broken glasses and burned pews. There in the middle of nowhere I saw a brown haired girl who was staring at the full moon as the ceiling fell down and cleared the path for the moon light to bestow upon her, like it was the will of the sacred hall to show her to my gloomy dull eyes.

While I walked towards her she sensed the vibration of my calm foot-steps and turned towards me with eyes filled with tears running down her cheeks.

‘Huh! So the choking sound was her crying’. While my steps passed a broken photo frame, she stood up and ran towards me with a desperate expression and an aggressive posture, she took up the frame and ran away from me holding it close to her chest and hid behind a burned table with an intense look in her eyes. Her hands were skinny and had burning marks all over her dress. But her face is unscathed. I head towards taking my jacket off my shoulders as I saw her inflamed towards me.

I put the jacket on her and said

There is a coke and a pack of chocolates in the pockets. Help yourself

She quietly took them out and had them without hesitating. I guess she was hungry. I sat on a pew and took out a cigarette from the packet I had in my pocket and lit it without considering where I was, maybe that’s because I was never the who believed in god and miracles. I always had and will have only one motto

“Miracles don’t exist in this world. There are only inevitable and accidents, and what you are going to do. That’s it.”

After she finished eating, she spoke in a shivering manner “Thanks!”

I dropped my cigarette and stepped on it to put out the flakes. She saw that and uttered

“You’re a good person. Not everyone would put the flames they ignited.”

Hah! What was that all about? It was a simple act of dropping a cigarette and yet she recognised it. Oh! Now I get it. She is one of the victims of the fire accident happened a few days ago in the Wakaba town of the trost district nearby. It was all over the news about how the flames rose into the town’s hall and fooled the whole town with fire. Some teenager who lit a cigarette for the first time dropped it on a dry maple wood floor and eventually the flames spread to the cans of kerosene and grease in a nearby automobile shop and burned the houses in the vicinity causing a massacre around the town.

“The curiosity of an under aged chump lead to demolition of a whole town”

So said the news papers headlines. They said that there were no survivors and hence the rescue team returned empty handed. I guess they slaked off on their work. If they did their part, I wouldn’t be here giving company to this lone survivor.

Wait! Isn’t this the town’s church where there is supposed to be a wedding held on the day of this pyre calamity.

No way!! Was she the bride? Alas! The day which is supposed to be the most beautiful day of her life has turned into most miserable day. And to think that I came into this town with the same filthy act which ruined it.

“What an idiot! She must be furious of my presence here”

{I walked towards the church door taking out the pack of cigars from my pocket}

This 3 inch door step to hell, I’ve been hanging on to it, even when I knew that it would kill me eventually. I kept it around thinking ‘if I were the one who suffers from this then it should be my decision to carry this or not’ and decided to take the habit. Now I get it. It would not only destroy my life but can also burn down a whole town and seal away fates of many people. NOW THERE IS NO REASON TO KEEP IT AROUND.

Thinking so, I tossed it into a burned trash can and walked away

While I stepped up towards the end of the street I could hear sour feet- foot steps closing on me from back. When I turned back she was there.

I tried my level best to be as polite as possible in asking her

“Did you need anything?”

She replied “there is no reason for you to pity me!”

So… my politeness turned into pity when the words reached her.

I repeated myself and she answered ‘did you throw your pack of cigars out of pity in me?’

She noticed it, and she is concerned about her self-respect because of an action made by a stranger. But, I wonder, where did that concern go whiloe she ate my chocolate. Well that’s none of my business.

‘No! That wasn’t. It was a self-generous act of throwing away a bad habit which led to a good encounter.

Ha! When did I become a person of good words?

“There is nothing good ‘bout this meeting. Tell me did you ever think of meeting a helpless girl in a burned down town. A miserable maiden who was about get married lost her family, friends and ever her fiancé who tried to protect her from the raging fire which swallowed everything that the girl knew and lived in. Tragic isn’t it?”

So, she defines her situation to be tragic huh! Wait, why am I being so formal?

“Anyway, thank you for the food and the drink. I’ll definitely pay back for that. Now that I have some strength I have to move on and start living on my own two feet”

What? What is she talking about? Pay me back! What, for the coke and chocolate I gave her! That’s ridiculous. And, she says she is going to live on her own two feet. I tried getting a decent job for 2 years and having no luck finding one. How does she think she can get it?

‘And how are you going to do that?’

“I’ll go to the city and take any job. Anything will do. In a desperate situation there will be a helping hand; that much I can count on the god. He had taken everything from me. Now he has to give me something in return. Don’t you think? I had shed as many tears as I can for my loss, it’s time to gain something from the loss”

She is very optimistic, and she is willing to do any job to survive and move on with life.

Life is just like that. It is so fortunate one minute and so unfair the next. It’s just the way of the world.

Wait! What am I saying? Haven’t I been dwelling to get a great job worthy of my grades and live a lavish life? Haven’t I been ignoring silly little job offers and wait for a call from a prestigious company? But now; why am I muttering these inequalities in life? Moreover, if I knew that there are inequalities in life then why didn’t I apply them to my own life?

No! It’s not like I didn’t know them. I didn’t want to apply them to my life. I didn’t want to think that I won’t live a life that I dreamt of; and I was too naive to think like that.

Now I know what to do with this meaningless rusty life. I’ll give my best in the job I get and go for it. I had a fortunate school and college life, now it’s time for me to face the unfairness of this world and life and bring the best of it.

“Thank you for your help. Please come here at New year if you can, at the same time. Good-bye.”

‘I am the one who must thank you. You were the reason I found a sense of my life. Thank you and Good-bye’ — I couldn’t say those words. She took off before I could. Well there is always next time. I am going to thank her on the New Year.

A week has passed since Christmas night and I am enjoying my work right now. After the X-mass have passed I went to an interview I was called before and I ignored. The interview was quite easy so I was recruited immediately to a higher position than they offered in the application. The work was easy and finished in the evenings, after that I would just go to my place, fall back on my bed and think about how I should thank her. But I couldn’t come up with one good way to do that, and the day came for which I was waiting for.

I went out at 11:00 P.M. and still found a cab. Of course I can find a cab that late at night; its New Year’s after all. I mentioned the town and told him to get there fast. I can’t help it. I was too anxious to meet her. I thought I shouldn’t make her wait. On the way I told him to stop at a cards store and bought a beautiful New Year greeting card along with a chocolate; the same one I was carrying that day and gave her to eat.

As the car stopped at the town’s gate, I paid the cab driver and rushed towards the church.

She wasn’t there.

I thought I would wait for her but she didn’t show up and it was about to be 12 O’ clock.( it was 11:55). I looked around the church — inside and outside but couldn’t find her. Just when I thought that she wouldn’t show up the clock rang 12 beats and there was a basket in the middle of the church under the moon light where for the first time I saw her. It wasn’t there when I got there. So she must have put there when I went looking for her.

So she doesn’t want to meet me’

There was a blank card on top of the basket. When I turned it over it had the words –

“Wish you a Happy New Year and Thank you”

There were chocolates, the same ones I gave to her and a coke. ‘Her intention was to thank me and wish me but not to stay and talk to me.’

It’s funny; how I came to thank her and she came to thank me. Hers reached me but mine is still wandering around that church unable to find its destination. It’s okay though. There is much gratitude that isn’t shown; mine will be a small portion of it.

I smiled and took the basket and left the note with my own message

‘Thanks for everything, it changed who I am’

and walked away to celebrate the New Year of my new life and new self.

This is the story of :- “The Girl I Met