Reta eased her running, slowing the treadmill, as she let her muscles relax in relief.
Two minutes later she went back to her mat and continued to do her cooling down stretch exercises, nimbly extending her legs and arms as far as she could.
Then she lay still, flat on her back on the yoga mat, the exposed part of her body – only her face and palms, glistening with the sweat she had worked up.When she had started, it had been cold. So she was dressed appropriately. She was wearing a black seamless lurex pullover and a high-waisted legging with her feet ensconced in a Nike running shoes. She lay for a few minutes savouring the rush of the warm blood course through her taut veins as her muscles relaxed after a two hour long onslaught.
Her reverie broke only when she heard her phone buzz for the umpteenth time. She never picked up the phone when she was working out and all her contacts knew her routine. She sighed contentedly and stood up and walked over and picked up the phone from the window sill. She looked at the caller name and her shoulders arched up.
“Hallo” She said softly, trying to hide her excitement.
She heard the caller say something on the other side and she cut in, “That’s great…”
But her face fell a few minutes later, her glowing pretty face suddenly losing colour and turning into a frown and then sinking further into a distressed woebegone look. Her eyes crinkled up.
“Oh,” is all she said, and then she continued to repeat herself – inserting an “ok” now and then, in-between the dialogue.
“Ok,” she said again for the final time.
She heard some more and then ended the conversation with, “Yeah sure! I am getting into it.”
Gone was exuberance she had felt when she had finished her workout. She felt drained and incapacitated. She looked through the window and saw the ocean churning a frothy tide. Some distance away she could see the other houses by the cliff. And further way down, a few miles away, she could see the white beach trying to get one over with the sea. It was still daylight. She turned to look at the other end of the window and could see the wind gaining speed as the shrubs and the few barren trees swayed dangerously.
She looked at the phone again, tempted to make a call, but seemed to be undecided. She put the phone down and walked out the fitness room. She crossed the living room and into the open kitchen and poured a glass of water from the jar on the table. She sipped the water slowly, her face still reflecting a numbed feeling.
“What do I do?” She was telling herself. “Talk to John and end it once for all?” She had waited long enough. This was getting ridiculous. After everything this! When everything seemed to be going fine! She was getting agitated and even more upset.
She put the glass down and walked down to her bedroom. Damn, this was not the end! She went inside the closet and absentmindedly picked up the colourful Kanga that lay on the edge and tied it up around her waist. Then delved through her packed wardrobe and pulled out a sleeveless woolen top and pulled it over her head. She walked out and looked through the bedroom and shivered involuntarily. It was going to be cold and windy outside. She thought for a while. Should I? She wanted to go out. Clear her head. Do something other than think of what she had been told. No, I will go out. She went again into the closet and picked out a cap and put it on her head and walked out the bedroom.
She was about to walk out the front door when she froze. She smiled wanly at herself. And then walked back to another room, opened the door and peeped in. She sighed with relief and then gently walked to the cradle and check if the baby was breathing. She walked out and back to her gym room and picked up the baby monitor on the yoga mat and put it in her pocket in her top.
Walking out of the house she peeked at herself in the large mirror by the door and saw that she had become pale. She tried to smile and pinched her cheeks. She tried to smile, failed and shook her head at herself, at her own naivety and walked out.
She walked slowly, trying to ignore the cold and wind. The sun was setting fast, lending to the gloom around her. The path was rocky and the shrubs and the grass around the area were losing their colour. She did not see anything – her mind still not coming to terms with the new situation. The edge of the cliff from her house was hardly a hundred feet away. After a turn here and a upward stride there she was soon at the edge of the cliff over 300 feet up from the ground. The rocky cliff itself fell ninety degrees straight into the rocky edges where the Atlantic Ocean met Africa.
She stood at the edge, the wind whipping her kanga into a frenzy, she looked back at the lights in her house, checking if John was back. But no, it didn’t look like that. She took out the baby monitor and held it to her ear, to see if it was working. It was. She out it back into her pocket and turned back and stared into the cold Atlantic Ocean that seemed to be frolicking with the wind. Her kanga fluttered wildly threatening to come loose. She felt her waist to see if it was tucked in securely. Her kanga was going wild and it reminded her of the stoat’s so-called ‘dance of death.’ She had watched it on the National Geographic Channel – the stoat– a puny animal that looked like a mix of a rat and a beaver or a weasel. Her Kanga was behaving like a stoat doing its famed dance: flapping and swirling around with frenzied leaps and upward rolls at dizzying speed, creating a psychedelic vision that was at once riveting as well as dizzying.
She looked up and shook her head, clearing her head of the vision of the stoat and her unruly kanga. The cold was now penetrating her skin. Her face was going numb but she did not seem to realise it. There was a lump in her throat and then the tears flooded down her cheeks and she cried loudly. The howling wind helped her along. No, she had to do it. She told herself grimly while trying to control her sobbing. It was just two feet away. She told herself. And she took one step. The wind seemed to support her decision. She paused and then the baby monitor came alive.
“Her Love! Where are you? I am Home!” The cheery voice of her husband broke through the wind.
She stepped back and turned around to look towards the house. She had to wait for a few seconds before her husband come into view on the porch, with the baby in his arms. He seemed to be scouting for her but it was getting darker and she doubted whether he could see her.
She put the monitor away and walked swiftly back to the house.
“So there you are!” John exclaimed kissing her on the cheek while trying not to suffocate the baby.
“Yes,” She replied. “Was by the cliff – Phew it is cold and windy!”
“So any good news?” John asked as both of them walked back into their warm and cozy living room. Reta took the baby from him and cooed into her face making baby talk. There was no sign of her old gloomy self. The light was back in her eyes and her skin glowed in the light of the fireplace.
“Sure is.” Reta replied. “I am being called for another screen test tomorrow.”
“Swell!” John said. “Congrats – and what role is this for.”
“That screenplay we read together.., of the love triangle? I am being offered the wife’s role. You know – the one who is supposed to be schizophrenic and suicidal…”
“Nice.” John said. “You will get the role surely.”
”Of course I will. I just had a practice run by the cliff and I was awesome.”
Reta had a flair for dramatics at short notice.