I should have said it, but I didn't, as I was too scared to admit it. She made me feel like a baby, wrapped up in a blanket, tucked away from the demons under my bed. It's almost funny how I feared losing her by expressing what’s in my heart but I ended up losing her anyway.

Her name was Amber, much to the contrast of her jet black hair that had streaks of auburn. She wore kohl that enhanced her eyes like the fire in an iron furnace.

We had a close-knit relationship from our early teens. She often told me she loved me, but not in the sense I wanted her to. Albeit I never told her or anyone else, as I feared we would drift apart, or worse, she would hate me. But it happened.

How much ever I tried to hide it, I failed. She came to know of it through surfacing rumours, and honestly that was so much worse.

Had she heard it from me, I would have had a chance to explain myself, but instead it all happened so fast. One day we were laying in my bed staring at the incandescent glow of the stars on my ceiling, and another day she flinched at the very sight of me.

Today is her 25th birthday. I remember how we used to talk about adulthood, living in a big house with a pool in the backyard. She’d be a mom of two and I’d be the rich cat lady.

Oh, how the tables have turned! I think about her often, sitting in my garden chair, as my wife and kids run around the pool taking turns diving in. I read about Amber in the newspapers. “A successful woman entrepreneur living her dream. She doesn't have kids, but a labrador.”

Well, she wasn't much of a cat person anyway.

Author: Manaswi Priya

Editor: Adwita Chaure

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