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"Weren't we supposed to meet four days ago twenty minutes after the fateful encounter?" She heard a vaguely familiar voice call her out in the lobby.
"I think few rules were broken to keep us apart," she said hitting the elevator button. He jogged few steps and stood next to her right at the moment when the elevator doors opened with a loud 'bing' sound.
"There are rules for these things?" He asked her taking a step inside the elevator.
"There are rules for everything," she said and hit '12' on the number pad. She looked at him in question for which he said, "14 please."
"Who do you think wrote rules for coincidences and
accidental face-offs?" He asked her, his voice suddenly serious.
The elevator was in one of its mood that day when it made stop at every floor with people pouring in and out. Those two were the only constants.
"People like you and me," she replied smoothly. "The rules are frequently updated just so that it can match the speed of human behavior evolution," aloofness was evident in her voice.
"Is the pace of evolution so fast that there are frequent rule updates?"
"Four days ago we were strangers. Now we have spoken for two minutes and eleven seconds. Our dynamics have made leaps and bounds in this span of time," she said looking at her watch.
"Do you think we can update the rules?"
"I can safely say that it's wise if we updated the rules. Knowledge and cold virus have to be shared."
"Why?" Surprise was evident on his face.
"It makes people stronger and pay respect to air." There was a hint of smile on her face.
"How is that?" He was dumbfounded.
"When they sneeze, when they cough and when they feel the congestion in nose when air tries to pass through – kind of bad joke, you know? Breathing is such a natural thing we do that we never pay attention to it – even while panting or gasping for breaths. Only when there is bad cold, people realize the awesomeness of breathing." She explained. He stared at her for several seconds.
"How do we update the rules?" He asked coming back to original question.
"By stating the rule," she said as a matter of fact.
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
"How will everyone know?"
"Coincidentally." She smiled at him then. He couldn't help but smile in return.
"What's the new rule now?" He was curious.
"The new rule states that when a man and a woman collide on shiny marble floor, the chances of them meeting again in front of elevators are very high. Thus occurring event isn't bound by the parameter of time but only by the location," she replied.
"Don't you have to get off on this floor?" He asked her pointing to the display inside elevator.
"No," she shrugged.
"Why did you press '12' before then?"
"I did because I could."
"You don't want to go to your floor now?"
"Is it because you want to spend some more time with me?" He asked biting his lower lip.
"Not really. This building doesn't have 13th floor – superstition and all. But I believe that an invisible secret floor exists between 12th and 14th. So every once in a while I like to travel through it," she explained as they arrived on 14th floor.
"Aren't you getting off?" He asked puzzled to see her standing in the elevator. It was the top most floor of the building where his new office was located.
"Do you want to go for a coffee around 4 today afternoon?" She asked ignoring his question.
"Like a date?" He was momentarily taken aback by her question.
"No. Like two people being at the same place at the same time and having a conversation."
"Like a planned coincidence?"
"We are making new rules," she said. "So? Do you want to come?"
"Which coffee shop is this?" He asked.
"It's the coffee shop around the corner. Do you want to come?" She asked again, now a smile gracing her feature.
"How about I meet you in the lobby?" He asked smiling back.
"You aren't going to give me a single answer now, do you?" She asked. His smile grew.
"Were you expecting answers this morning wise lady?" He bit his lip to control the smile.
"How long do you plan on keeping this up?" She pricked him.
"Why don't you walk with me to my office?" He offered keeping his hand steady on the elevator door.
"So are you going to meet me at the coffee shop?" She grinned.
He laughed and let his hand fall on his side.
His smiling face and waving hands were etched on her mind as the elevator doors closed.
"Do you like your office?" Lavanya asked coming to his cabin.
"It's tastefully decorated. It's very good," he replied. Hint of smile was present in his voice and the usually brooding Arnav was looking…different.
"Thanks for coming," she said. He searched her face for malice and malcontent but didn't find any. Either that or she hid her true intentions very well. He was transferred from his office to the main office with less than a week's notice. He had chuckled mirthlessly when he saw Lavanya personally welcoming him to the office.
"I wasn't given an option," he shrugged. "I was transferred here as I believe my services are needed," he said blandly. Lavanya, to her credit, flushed.
"If you think I had anything to do with your transfer…"
"Relax Lavanya," he cut her off mid-sentence. "I wasn't implying that. I am merely reiterating the information I received from the branch director. Is there anything else? I have few meetings lined up," he said taking out his laptop and powering it.
"I will see you later," she said and walked out of his cabin without waiting for a response.
Arnav tightened his fist in an effort to control anger and closed his eyes. He took several deep breaths and directed his mind to calm down.
He had to put whatever had happened between him and Lavanya behind him and move on with his life.To be continued.
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