“What are your plans for the weekend?” Doc asked without sounding excited. It was that kind of a morning. Sia was in no mood for small talk. He could see it in her eyes behind the big black frames that she refused to change.
“Umm, I am not sure yet. But I might be meeting one of my colleagues for drinks.” Sia replied without looking away from the clean shelves she was trying to dust. Her voice was heavy like she had not spoken in a long time.
“But you don’t drink, Sia.”
“Huh! Really? I didn’t know that. Since when?” Sia was trying hard to frame her tears behind sarcasm.
Doc looked up from his book to see if she was still crying but couldn’t look away from her reluctant beauty. She had this ease about her looks. Not arrogance, but blissfully unaware of the spell her sarcastic smile always cast on him. Doc, she proudly called him. He was mostly busy with studies and painfully long shifts at the hospital. Reading random books and music was their common ground. Where they met as equals without anything holding them back. He had tried hard to understand why every month she fell deep in a hole. On those 5 days, she would clean every inch of their house. She would rewash the laundry, doubting her own abilities. She would meet people she did not even like. It was like she was trying too hard to do too much to erase those 5 days under the burden of tiredness.
“What are you doing this weekend?” Sia was still not interested in small talk but knew how to be polite.
“My shift ends on Friday afternoon. So most likely I will be sleeping this weekend.”
Sia abruptly stopped dusting still holding the picture frame. The picture of them sitting by the roadside somewhere on their way to Manali. Their first trip together. She walked up to Doc to sit on his lap. Like it was something he was waiting for her to do. And finally smiled.
“So, drive it is, then. Where do you want to go?” Doc smiled proudly. He knew exactly what she wanted and needed.
“Mountains. I want to see the mountains. I miss them.”
Hugging her by the waist while she snuggled with him blabbing her plan. Her 5 seconds old thought, planned to the tiniest detail for the next 10 mins.
“But who is going to cook all that food?” they were now laughing together. And just for a few minutes, Doc could see Sia truly smiling until she stopped again.
“What? We will do a takeout. I am not cooking after 48 hours shift. That is just plain torture.”
Sia kissed him gently on the lips like it was a part of their routine and smiled. “Pick Chinese for me, please. Now I must get back to dusting.”
Doc stood there holding his book not reading but staring at Sia’s hand moving to every corner wiping it all clean. Standing on her tippy toes she reached to the top shelf. It was her abrupt question “what your diagnosis will be if a patient comes in with a cough, but no history of allergies and shortness of breath?” that made him laugh. Sia was still helping him study after 22 years. And he never wanted her to stop asking the questions. Even on those 5 days. For only he knew how perfectly awesome she truly was. The one who kept him on his toes.