Even though the weather prediction said it was going to be a sunny day, it was raining. She stepped out of Westminster Station to see tourists like her standing in the shade and waiting for the rain to stop so they could go and see the London Eye. And so she waited. A woman standing in front of her took out raincoats and gave one to each of her kids. Looking at the woman made her miss her mom. If it wasn’t for her mother, she would have never forgotten her umbrella. The rain stopped for a while and she was able to take a walk and ponder over the beauty of the London Eye. She was quite sure this was what she wanted to do on the weekend but she no longer wanted to do the same. Looking at the magnificent London Eye, she pondered and realized what had changed.
Even though she stood in the glorious city of London, she no longer felt like going to a cafe, sipping on coffee and lighting a cigarette by herself. Or spending her day on a bench in a park reading a book. She wanted to go out on dinner dates with him. She wanted to cook his favourite dish and go sunbathing with him in Greenwich Park. And she wanted to travel and go places with him. And that was what had changed – she missed him.
Her phone beeped. “I’m on the bus,” said the message.
Even after all these years, she would still get excited like a little girl when he was on his way to see her. She admired the view for a while and impatiently took a few pictures on her camera when it started to rain again. She rushed back to Westminster Station to save her camera from getting wet, not knowing that she was only using the rain as an excuse to get to him early.
A feeling of serenity took over her face as she saw him. It was almost dusk, and the city lights were slowly brisking over the sun. They sat at the parapet of South Bank, watching the transition of Thames from a grey, harsh river to a soft black one, reflecting the twinkling city lights like stars. The air was filled with the distant chatter and laughter of the tourists. An artist sang a happy song while playing his ukulele. She could see his face, half lit by the dim street lights, staring into space, zoned out as he was most of the time. And she stared and adored him until he turned to her and smiled.
Two years back, this would have been a completely different scene. The silence would not have been comfortable. He would have felt an urgency to persistently entertain her, make her laugh and hold her hand. And she would have found it obligatory to hold on to his arm and leave soft pecks on his cheek while walking. But it was two years later and they weren’t doing any of it.
They resumed their walk towards Southwark Bridge and further to London Bridge. On arriving at London Bridge, she announced that this was it. They were officially standing on it.
He laughed and said, “This is not the London Bridge! That one is.” He pointed towards Tower Bridge.
“No, it’s not! Come, I’ll show you.” She pulled him to the end of the bridge and pointed at the painted wall which said, “London Bridge.”
He pushed his phone in her face showing the images of the Tower Bridge when he googled “London Bridge”.
They argued their way to the centre of the bridge and laughed out loud at the subject of it.
“If this is London Bridge, my whole life was a lie.” He tried to win her attention back, as she had zoned out staring at the magnificence of Tower Bridge.
She transitioned back and smiled at his adoring ways of seeking her attention. She would have kissed him if it was her a few years back. But she did not kiss him, she only stared and smiled. Passion was taken over by care, lust was taken over by comfort and the two were not the same anymore. In the bustling walkway of London Bridge, they stood staring at the glittering city lights in the distance. The monuments, the people and the city had changed their ways of love. It felt like it was a degrading transition at first, but it wasn’t. It was the start of a new phase which came with provocations, challenges, adventures and happiness.
“This might have been the most peacefully I’ve slept in my entire life,” he murmured, rising from her lap.
“Happy Birthday.” He kissed her.
Her phone rang for the nth time and she gave out a deep sigh. Unlike every other year, her birthday did not involve cakes, gifts and parties this time. He saw a different version of his girlfriend. His pampered girl was not excited by all the attention and material gifts she was going to get. She did not even want to do anything special; it was just another day for her. He had asked her a million times about what she’d like on her birthday. And every time she had only asked to be with him and said that it was enough of a gift for her.
He lovingly held her in his arms and asked what she wanted to do for the day. He knew she must have a plan, for she always did. Her day, her career, her life – it was all planned. She always knew what she wanted and how she was going to get it. And he loved her for the headstrong, unshakable woman that she was.
“I don’t know. I don’t have a plan, we’ll just see how it goes,” she said.
He knew she wasn’t bluffing or joking around. She really didn’t have a plan this time. He knew how her sudden change of careers had transformed her into a spontaneous person. A few years back, she had thought of teaching at a university or working in a lab somewhere in the States. But here she was, in London, doing something entirely different.
But he still loved her. Even though she was not the same woman he fell in love with, he still loved her more than ever. The adamant woman transformed into an ad lib one was now his companion in spontaneous adventures and unplanned expeditions. He couldn’t have been happier about it.
The day passed and the two slowly cuddled their way into an afternoon nap. He softly moved out of the bed when he woke up in the evening and tiptoed to his bag to take out her gift. She woke up confused to find him sitting with a grin at the side of her bed.
“What is it?” she murmured.
He pushed the box to her and sat excitedly waiting for her to open it.
“I told you not get me anything!” she chirped and opened her box.
A board game of Monopoly. That’s what it was. He remembered how much she loved playing the game with her brother and how much she missed him. She opened the board to find different areas of London in each box of the game.
“London themed Monopoly. This couldn’t have been better.”