A Hard Bargain
She flicked her cigarette and looked at the man lying beside her.
She knew it was wrong.
She knew it wasn’t meant to last.
She knew he would leave her.
Yet she kept coming back to his bed.
She was in love. He was in lust.
All their differences were normalized by one common factor-they satisfied each others cravings.
The reluctant romance worked.
As her cigarette turned to ash, he got out of bed, kissed her lips-inhaling in her smoke-and went for a shower.
‘I thought you were going to get rid of this nasty addiction.’ He stopped on the way to the bathroom.
‘Which one are you talking about?’ With a raised eyebrow, she looked at him meaningfully.
He rolled his eyes ‘Spray some air-freshener on your way out. I don’t want the room to smell like cheap smoke.’
‘Sure! Will you call me tomorrow?’ She asked him, collecting her belongings that were spread around the room.
‘Can’t say anything for sure.’ He shut the door.
Every time she leaves, she deliberately leaves behind one of her personal belongings, hoping it would remind him to call her.
It has always worked.
This time she decided to leave behind a white scarf in commemoration of their anniversary-the very first thing he took from her exactly one year back, right before taking her heart.
As she placed the scarf on the side table, her gaze fell on his family photo-a group of 3 siblings and parents laughing carelessly. It stirred a deep longing within her that she suppressed forcefully.
Halfway through the door she turned back, took out his wallet from his pants and extracted a 5000-rupee note.
With a last look at the disheveled room, she walked out the door.
“This 5000-rupee note will be yours the day you decide to leave me.” He drew a small heart at the corner of the note marking it with the date.
“But” he continued, “I can give you a lot more if you decide to stick with me, exclusively.”
It was a smart transaction at first, but she gave a lot more than she bargained for.
As she walked out the building, she gave the 5000-rupee note to the beggar on the footpath and repeated her mantra for the umpteenth time: “Hookers don’t fall in love.”
Genre Romance, Story 2