The urge to interrupt him before he has finished is overwhelming. There are so many things I can relate to; it’s as if we are soul-mates. It’s as if we were born from the same star. Oh man, I can complete his sentences. But I remain quiet, lost in the bliss of his warm and pacifying voice.
We both are kept in different cells, but the walls that separate us have been kind enough to let our voices reach each other. We’ve never seen each other. His voice is the only thing I can feel. It is the sole proof of his presence. I can listen to him all day.
Talking to him isolates me from all the stress. I can’t bear to stay away from his vicinity even for a second.
“It’s a good change of scenery, don’t you think?” He says, in a ‘matter-of-fact’ tone.
“It’s a prison cell!”
“I know, I was being sarcastic.”
“Oh, I hate this place,” I say in disgust
“I guess this is what is written in our fate then, isn’t it? Meeting in a prison, never seeing each other, dying together.” He says in a serious tone.
“I don’t think all of that is true. Maybe we’re destined to see each other too. I heard some prisoners yesterday saying that the army forces are planning to retreat. This war could end. We could be free again,” I speak in a reassuring tone.
“Yeah. Maybe. I’ve almost forgotten how is it to be free.”
“But for me, talking to you is freedom,” I say and blush. “Well,” I continue, “ what do you think we might do after, say, we are finally released from this shitty area?”
“Ummm. I could talk to your dad regarding us. And then land up in prison again.” He says. I can sense his grin.
“Yeah, my dad would have a hard time believing the fact that for all this time, I was on a blind date with a guy in a prison.” We both laugh. “But for now, I do hope he’s fine.”
“He will be.” He says, trying to comfort me.
We’re both talking when suddenly I hear some strange voice. Of men. Two of them I guess. They have entered his cell, of what I can judge from the distance and angle of their voice. They are talking amongst themselves in a language I don’t understand. And now the voice dies. They have left the cell.
“Who were they?” I ask.
To my surprise, I don’t get a response.
“Hey, are you there?”
Holy shit, what just happened in there?
And I suddenly feel all the tension. All the dreadful thoughts begin to crowd my mind. I call out for him multiple times but he doesn’t respond.
What’s taking him so long?!! What if he doesn’t return?!
The thought is so horrific, I can feel my throat swell and ache as a huge knot forms there, almost choking me, matching the fear that is balled tightly in my stomach. He is probably the only thing I am left with at this moment. I can’t lose him come what may.
But then I hear someone’s keys rattling inside his pocket. I can sense some people approaching. Is that him? Oh, I wish. Please, let it be him! I get up and run towards the bars of the cell and try to peep out, but the angle doesn’t allow me to see who the person is.
Desperate, I begin to hover around in my cell, waiting for his voice. Why isn’t he speaking? Probably he’s waiting for other people to leave so that he can be alone. Yes, this must be it. And then I hear some steps retreating. Maybe they’ve all left. He can talk to me now.
Tears prick my eyes. This is not what he would’ve done. I know. Has the time come for him to..? No. The thought is crippling.
My breath catches in my throat and my heart starts thumping so loud that I hear the blood pounding in my ears.
“Ray, you there?”
I wait for an answer.
“Raymond, this is not a joke! For the love of god, tell me if you’re there!” I shout, tears oozing from my eyes.
I drop to the floor on my knees, my head bowed, tears now out of my control.
This is it, I guess.
The next thing I know is that some strong men are carrying me along with them like I had forgotten to walk. In that bitter cold, with bitterness hissing in my ears, I can barely stand on my feet. From time to time, I search for him. My warm, steamy breath curls around my throat and lingers in the freezing air above my head like hangman’s knot.
We stop in an open area. Despite a lot of people being present there, it is agonizingly quiet. We stand there for a couple of moments, my body shaking in the cold darkness. I don’t want to be here. Where’s he?
Then all of a sudden, someone steps out of the crowd.
“Come on, brothers! Let’s get rid of cancer!” he shouts as he turns his face to a lot of men standing in close vicinity.
He pulls a man by his arms and makes him stand in front of the crowd. The man stares at me.
I realize I’m holding my breath. But we just continue to stare at each other. His expression is raw, full of some unnamed emotion.
His eyes bore into mine, and agonizingly slowly, the atmosphere changes. The tension is increasing so that I can sense our connection, the charge between us.
He mouths a word at me. I can make out what it is. It’s him! Why is he standing there?
A creeping cold fear grips my heart, and my scalp prickles as each and every follicle on my head tightens with terror.
It feels like a century has passed while I process all this, though in reality it is only a split second.
People suddenly start moving around him, setting up some equipment and announcing things. I ignore them and gaze at the beautiful man standing right in front of me. I keep looking at him, I don’t realize for how long. The concept of time has deserted me.
I know he’s going to die. And I can’t do anything. I’m looking at him. He’s smiling back.
I’m unaware of everything else going on around me. It’s just him.
And then, just as they’re about to do it, I close my eyes and fall on the ground. I’m unable to bear the heaviness of my emotions. I don’t know how I feel. My subconscious swoons into a dead faint.
And for the first time, they all see a prisoner smile at his death.