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The International Writers Magazine: Friendships

The Mysterious One
• Michelle d'costa
Maya stayed quiet unless spoken to. I have always been intrigued by quiet, mysterious people. She was one of the few reserved people in class.


Myself being pathetic at small talk, I ended up breaking the ice by asking her about her ‘relationship status’ though I didn’t really give a damn about it.
She replied as if it was something so common, ‘I am in a live-in relationship since two years.’
Her tone was what astonished me more than her words. She wasn’t awkward about it, nor condescending or defensive or ashamed. Just casual.
That’s when we became friends.

After hearing so much about her boyfriend I wanted to meet him if only for a moment but she said he worked from home and preferred to work in solitude. Damn these people always held onto some mystery or another about their life. That only increased my desire to meet him.

She never showed off her happy relationship, like most of the other girls did intentionally or unintentionally when they happened to speak of their relationships, which was almost all the time. But I somehow got to know more about him in the most unexpected way, on her birthday. I was bored in class and I took to staring at her bag and then I notice a book peeking from the bag’s open zip.

I pulled it out and stare at the title ‘Happy Birthday Darling’. It was a printed and bound book. I slip it under the desk, rested it on my lap and turned the first page to start reading. By the time I reached the end of the page I had already wanted to meet her boyfriend and hug him and obviously want him for myself.
What a genius he was! It was their love story in the form of a graphic novel. The sketches were amazing. So were the dialogues in the speech bubbles.

She noticed me when I turned the page to the read the next scene. She grabbed it from me assertively but politely.
I asked, 'Is this his birthday gift to you?’
‘Yes. He thought I could read it on the bus ride.’
‘Oh... how thoughtful..’ I just had to meet him now.
Hadn’t she revealed that they lived together?
‘Maya I am heading your way today I need to meet a friend who lives by your place. So I’ll join you in the bus.’
She smiled unaware of my intentions, ‘Oh good.’

She kept her word on the bus ride after college and read the graphic novel while I looked out of the window wondering if I’m doing the right thing or not. If only she would be willing to introduce me to her boyfriend voluntarily but I couldn’t resist anymore and curiosity isn’t a sin right?

We alighted at her bus stop.
I told her I would be heading a little further so we parted ways.
I waited till she entered through the front door and then I slipped behind her house, into the shadows of her garden.
I waited there for how long I do not know but I had to dare and peek into the window. Silently hoping the curtains were not drawn and that she wouldn’t be around to see me.
I slowly lift my head to the window’s edge and peek.

She is sitting on the sofa and talking to someone. I look to her left where she is facing. There is no one there. She has the book in her hand and from her expressions and hand gestures it looks like she is praising the book, but to whom?
And then she spread her hands wide as if about to hug someone and then she hugs the air.
I fall down.
Then it all strikes me. Her boyfriend was imaginary.

Should I tell someone? Would anyone believe me? Was she crazy due to a trauma? Did she ever have a boyfriend? I wrote it down on the last page of my book about what I had seen so that I would remember that I wasn’t just making it up.

I forgot to take it out of my bag before school the next day. The next day, my classmate got her hands on the book and everyone found out.
Maya came in, looked around at everyone and then she looks at me.
I couldn’t meet her eye, but then I managed to and she knew everything. Her look said it all. She knew I had lurked behind. She knew that I knew.

She says loudly enough for all to hear, ‘Priya, wasn’t your Mom a schizophrenic? Didn’t she commit suicide when you were born, thinking that an alien had planted you inside her? I guess no one told you that till now.’

Then she whispers in my ears. ‘My boyfriend is very real. I was rehearsing how I would praise his work when you saw me through the window. Let’s assume for your amusement that it is true that he is imaginary, who’ll ever believe you? You schizo.’
Michelle D'costa April 2015

Michelle Michelle D'costa has had her work published in journals such as The Bombay Literary Magazine, The Bactrian Room, The Commonline Journal, Big River Poetry Review among many others. She blogs at

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