This is the second of a three-part series titled “High Heels and Old Friends”. You can read the first part here.
At the registration desk, she spotted one of her classmates. She remembered her being awarded the scholarship. Yes, Denise was the smart one, and it seemed like there was no deterioiration. Sharon thought back to the time when she topped her class, but then witnessed a small decline, which was when Denise caught up. There were no hard feelings there; Sharon was sure she never wanted to be the smartest. She was just proud of the fact that she had managed to balance her studies with her social life. Sharon immediately recollected being the one to help Denise solve an Excel problem in IT class. She still held pride in that and cunningly wondered if she should lead their conversation with that. “Denise! Long time! When was the last time we met? Was it in the IT lab when I helped you?” Sharon smiled to herself, knowing fully well that she would never stoop that low.
“Sharon! Welcome! How have you been?” She had been ready for this – seemingly shocked faces amidst short excited screeches. Denise didn’t let out a screech but Sharon could hear them from inside the ballroom. “Denise! It’s been going good, can’t complain,” Sharon replied with a smile, “how are things with you?” It was then that she wondered if she really cared. “Oh they are going great… Just in the midst of being headhunted by a rival bank. You know how it is. Heard you’re a writer in India. What have you written? Anyway, I’ll catch up with you inside. Don’t want to delay the line,” Denise abruptly ended. Sharon was ever thankful. She almost contemplated running out of the hotel. “Can I really get through a whole night with people second guessing my occupation, throwing their success in my face, and claiming they want to read my work,” she thought as she edged towards the entrance of the ballroom. “Well, here goes nothing!”
She barely had both feet in the room, when she noticed that the distinctions in school still prevailed. The fashionistas were huddled together, with a guy on their arm, the bookish ones were formally dressed, like they had just flown in from a meeting with the President, and before Sharon could take a good look around the room, she spotted him – her high school crush. Unfortunately, he always remained just a crush; she could never muster the courage to tell him. In high school, he did all the right things – he was in the school football team, played the guitar and had a voice that almost compared to Vedder’s and that itself was more than enough to bring Sharon to her knees. “Could he still sing like that? Did he start a band like he told me he wanted to?” Sharon thought, as she went back in time. They had common friends, so they had hung out at parties together a couple of times, and even though they got along really well, Sharon never thought of telling him she was crushing on him. She feared rejection too much. Standing in the balloom, she looked him up and down and wondered if there was anything more to him that the guitar and his soulful voice. After all, music was all they ever spoke about in school.
Her reveries was disrupted by shrieks which erupted from her right. As soon as she recognised one person, she immediately knew who all she was about to meet. Despite always being together in school, they didn’t come across as being the tightest group in school. Sure, they had their ups and downs, but Sharon remembered thinking that most of their interactions with each other seemed fake. Fake – the reason she had left this city, the reason she never felt the need to return, the sole reason she felt most uncomfortable attending this gathering. They began exchanging pleasantries – What are you doing, where are you staying, etc. That didn’t last for too long; within about 5 minutes, Sharon had caught up with the whole group. Then came the only thing they had in common now – school. While they animatedly spoke about the teachers and principal, Sharon drifted off. She looked at each of them and realised that had she not come for the reunion, she would have been able to guess what they were doing – one was married, the other engaged, another laughed at the two in a committed relationship; she was the carefree one. It seemed like they stepped right out of Sex and the City. What intrigued Sharon was that while she spoke about her job and life in Mumbai, the entire group spoke about their relationship status – perhaps that was why she found them to be so fake – the peak of their lives was just that.
As she excused herself in search of anyone who she truly got along with, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She didn’t have time to process her thoughts before he sang in a husky voice, “And I don’t want the world to see me, cause I don’t think that they’d understand. Sharon! It’s truly been a long time.” Sharon found herself blushing just like she did 15 years ago at this guitar-playing, soulful-singing high school crush of hers. “Wow! His voice has definitely matured, if that was even possible,” she thought to herself, as she flashbacked to the day they spoke about the song. They had met each other at a common friend’s barbeque at the beach. Just after the first batch of meat was ready, they had taken their plates and wandered off together to the spray of rocks that dotted the beach. Standing in front of him today, she couldn’t believe that he actually remembered that night.”Duncan,” she laughed as she hugged him, “so nice to see you again!” As they pulled away, she remembered how flustered she used to get every time she met him in school. But circumstances were different now. They immediately caught up with their lives, and to her utmost disappointment, he wasn’t in a band – that dream never materialised. He was an investment banker. What reassured her was that he did occasionally strum his guitar. As she started telling him about her books, he interrupted her saying that he had read her books, much to her surprise. Yes, the blood rushed to her cheeks as she blushed again. As they walked to the bar to get a drink, they discussed how both their lives had taken a complete turn since high school. Sharon had never showcased her writing in school – everything she wrote was too personal back then. Duncan had never been financially strong either. But here they were, investment banker of a top bank, and an author of 3 novels. Times had definitely changed. After what felt like just a few minutes later, a girl interrupted them, and Sharon recognised her as a senior from school. Duncan introduced her as his fiance; they had met at his previous company, and immediately bonded. Six years later, here they were – ready to take the plunge. After being cordial for a few moments, she thought back to the day in school, when she had found out he was dating someone. She had been crushed to say the least. She laughed about it as she politely excused herself.
As she walked away, she heard a familiar voice call out to her from the other side of the bar, “Looking for someone?”
Who calls out to Sharon? And does she really want to meet them? Read on here…