A secret regret

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“I hate being broke”
This was the first thing I knew about you. We met via a web forum where you were a regular contributor. I was redirected there by an ad

I responded to your comment with genuine empathy. I was not expecting a response but you surprised me. And this is how everything started.
We added each other on MSN messenger but our primary method of communication was email. This was because you could only access the internet at home and I wasn’t allowed to use the internet for personal use at work.  The downsides of pre-social network and pre-smartphone era!!

Around three months after our first conversation, I suggested meeting up for a coffee in the town and you accepted abruptly.
Our date was set at what I thought to be a well-known cafe in the centre of the town.
I still find it funny how, despite giving you detailed instructions, you ended up waiting outside the wrong café. To your defence, the cafe did have a similar name, but it was almost half a mile away. I finished my coffee and went to the second café. You were waiting outside patiently.
The first thing I noticed was your beautiful smile.

You had short hair and you were wearing a black cardigan, blue jeans and a pair of pink trainers.
It wasn’t love at first sight. And there wasn’t any spark either. Then again, I wasn’t looking for anything.
We went inside. You opted for a coffee. I got myself a beer.
Your nervousness was visible.

We didn’t talk a lot, yet I enjoyed your company and hoped you did too. After finishing our drinks, we planned a second meeting. I was expecting you to say no,  but you agree

I was not sure whether or not you would turn up for the second meeting. You did and you were relaxed and chattier.
Our meetings became a regular thing. We met mostly at restaurants and shopping malls and occasionally at the cinema.
I must admit, I was quietly and gently falling for you but I didn’t notice anything in you suggesting that the feeling was mutual

didn’t want to upset you and most importantly, ruin our friendship. So I decided to wait for the right moment- if any.

The trip:

Several months after our initial meeting, we planned a trip to a town a few hundred miles away. The town was famous amongst both locals and tourists.

the minibus stop before getting some snacks for the 6-hour long trip.

Our vehicle was a 15-seater minibus, crammed with almost 20 passengers. Every seat had an additional passenger in it.

You got the window seat and I was squeezed next to you.

We weren’t bothered. We got out, went for a short walk nearby and took pictures.
It took almost two hours till we could resume our journey. To make up for the lost time, passengers unanimously voted to skip the lunch stop. 


it was getting dark when we arrive and we started to look for a hotel, something we could have planned.
Several places turned us down, for unknown reasons. I didn’t think the town was that busy. After three or four attempts, we finally managed to acquire a room for the night.  
Our room was massive, you had a single bed/couch several yards away from my King-sized bed. I wasn’t going to ask you to share my bed, no matter how much I wanted to.  But The option was always there for you. 

We took turns in the shower and got out to the town for dinner.
It was almost dawn and the street lights were already on. Restaurants were playing loud music, buses were rushing to get their last passengers and nightclubs were setting up their front doors. 
We opted for a quiet pub, above the road where we could witness the lights in the city.  
We ordered beers and some roasted peanuts; I remember you laughing at the typos on the menu. After the beer and a light dinner and after involuntarily donating some blood to mosquitoes, we opted for an early night. 
We arrived back at the hotel; I went to the bathroom to get changed while you observed the paintings on the wall.  
I got into my bed and waited for you to return from the bathroom.  
You, dressed into your nighties and looked beautiful as ever.  
You looked at me, shyly and headed towards your bed.  
“You can sleep here with me, you know, I don’t bite,”  
“No, thank you” You declined quietly and politely. 
No pressure, but feel free to come over if you want. I said before switching the light off.  
The next morning, we went for a walk, had breakfast at a restaurant with a massive garden overseeing the famous lake. 
It was a lovely, sunny day, so we decided to go for a boating trip. Well, I decided because you agree to anything and everything. I am sure you would have said yes to bungee jumping without the ropes if I had asked you to. 
So, we hired a paddle boat and paddled to the middle of the lake. We observed the calm water around us, took some pictures and enjoyed the magnificent views of the mountains and the city.
After the beautiful boating trip, we had some Chinese for lunch and went to the pub.  You didn’t want to stay too late, so we got some local wine from the supermarket and head back to the hotel. The channels on the hotel tv were primarily Bollywood. You picked a channel while I prepared the drinks.

There was a big couch but you were sitting next to it – on a small chair.
When I asked you to come and sit by me, you declined, saying that you don’t trust me. 
thought you were joking. But you were serious.

It was a real shock for me. But I had no option but to respect your opinion/desire. I smiled and pretended that I was fine about it.

had the drink, which was very unpleasant.

I continued to watch the TV for a few more minutes before deciding to go out for a walk, asking you not to wait for me. 
 I then went to a quieter looking pub and ordered some whisky.
 I recalled that we never talked about ourselves, we talked a lot about our family, friends and relatives but almost nothing about ourselves, we knew a lot about our families but not enough about ourselves. 

I spent around one hour there, with drinks and complimentary popcorns. I was truly disappointed but there was nothing I could do.

The only thing I could do is to hope that things improve over time.
I then went clubbing.

It must be at least 1 AM when I arrived back, you were fast asleep.  Your blanket was almost on the floor but I decided not to touch it, in case it wakes you up.
The next day was our last day in that town, but I asked you if we could stay for one extra night.  This was my hope that you might try to know me more.
You agreed to stay, which surprised me- pleasantly of course.

Later that day, we booked our flight back and spent the rest of the day visiting popular touristic places.
That day, I spent an ample amount of time observing you, your body language and our conversation.
It was clear that you didn’t have any feelings for me.

I was disappointed but decided not to ruin the friendship by confrontation/declaration.

We went clubbing to celebrate our last night.
The next morning we flew back. I still remember how excited you were as this was your first ever flight. We went our ways when we landed. I don’t remember us saying goodbye to each other.

I couldn’t see you for a week due to some unforeseen circumstances. But when I did, you were still the same. We went to a Thai restaurant, where you gave me an animated DVD and a blank card as a thank you for the recent trip we had. I still have the DVD with me.
Our communication reduced rapidly after this. It was my fault as I struggled to maintain the friendship while attempting to recover from the rejection.

And soon, our conversation went to a complete halt. I moved on and met a partner abroad. As we weren’t in the same country anymore and there was no Facebook to stalk, I knew nothing about you. We also stopped writing to each other.

Later, when Facebook arrived, we did add each other but then you deleted/deactivated your account.
The last thing I heard about you from a friend that you are also living abroad now and are happily married.  I will never find out whether I broke your heart or you broke mine.  
Did I fall for you? yes, I did.
Did you? I’ll never know.  

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