-Strictly Fictitious 😜
Started 23 days ago, thanks to the mandates of 14+7 days of quarantine guidelines, on a 23 (or more) hours of drive through the woods, the farms, the hills, the snowy terrains, the winds, and a bit of road as well I guess… Ah! It was her 23rd birthday (a golden one) on the 23rd of the second month of the second year into which the whole world has been shut indoors, in serious contemplation of the Self. Just kidding, in lieu of respect for a microscopic creature that looked invincible as the vaccine rollouts were still on their way.
IoT was no longer a text-book-only jargon and everything happened over the internet. Flights were still frowned upon, travel was considered unethical, hiding your smile or emotions under a piece of cloth remained cool, distancing was the norm, and colonization of Mars made sense for the first time (yeah and we made him the richest :P).
Profound philosophies regard the events as insignificant given the grand scheme of things but laud the experiences experienced in those times as they shape the way we experience our upcoming experiences. For someone who likes to travel or for someone who has not driven this far alone, I was fairly confident that it would be an experience to relish and a memory to cherish but was equitably skeptical if my actions would not be deemed reckless.
As the creative energy filled me, the engines of my car, which had not experienced heat for a while in the past, started feeling it but kept it’s cool to help me in this mission. Google maps smirked at me as if it already knew where it needed to navigate me. As I fueled my engine, a travel-safe assistance service provided by my credit card provider was notified of my then location and started tracking cases close by the accommodation stops in my itinerary and prompted me to book alternate safer places to stay, en-route.
Thanks to the help all my way and still seeking that in the long way to go, I decided to halt at my aunt’s place to complete my mandatory quarantine before I could drive the remaining 3 hours. I just had 23 hours after I successfully completed my quarantine and it was tough as I became too worried as I never asked her family if I could visit them yet. As I mustered courage and called her mom at 9 a.m. (15 hours before the clock struck 00:00) to let her mom know that I was just three hours away and have had completed my quarantine, she understood what I was up to.
After hours of silence as my phone vibrated at 6 p.m, it was her again and they accepted my arrival. As she hung up, my car engines revved instantly through the Northeastern terrain of the country.
Ouchh!! I was just 23 miles away when I realized I had left her gift at my aunt’s place and was certainly unsure of what to expect the suburbs to sell at 9 p.m. Looked like I froze wondering if it was the winter or because I was out of ideas. I felt ashamed for the very first time in the past 23 days and was very certain that if I called anyone for help or ideas, I would have to be guilt-tripped forever for this behavior.
Omg!.. It worsened when her sister called me, it was 9:23 p.m. and I was already 23 minutes away and she advised me to park my car soon at her friend’s place before 10 p.m. and walk in through the backdoor.
As I walked in, filled with guilt, her sister guided me to their AV room nudged me about the gift I have got for her sis, and assured me that she was good at keeping secrets intact. As I kept quiet, she locked me inside the room and left. As I moved close to the wall and sat down next to the sofa in exasperation, I accidentally thumped on the projector just to see rays of hope coming out of that.
“Presentations!!” exclaimed my mind and “I” was born again as I had 23 minutes before the 23rd. I had 23 minutes before she turned 23.
It was already 11:45 pm as her brother moved me stealthily to his room and urged me to facetime him at 11:55 pm from his room and by then he had planned to have everyone gathered in the AV room for something like a late-night movie.
F..I..V..E.. minutes to 00:00, the lights were turned off in the AV room and I appeared on the screens to screen a movie without a script. As I blurted my wishes and apologized for not being present in-person, I heard her siblings booing and shouting “Gifts…”.
With oozing confidence I uttered. “Yes, of course!! Let’s play a game and at the end of the game will let you know the gifts I have for her. The game is simple.
I have 23 gifts for her, listed here in a list and its contents are hidden, as she turns 23 on the 23rd. She can guess what’s in here and will get it if that’s on the list. And we have 3 more minutes to go. 5 seconds to call out each gift on the list.”
As everyone was thrilled, I added “If she doesn’t find at least 1/3 in the list she has to give me a gift that I ask for and I can’t take a no!”
Oh…Oh!… booing continued, she kept calling out the gifts that were supposedly present.
As she finished, it was just 23 seconds before she turned 23. I turned my lights off, the video became dark. Her sister guided me with a cake in her hand and we walked in. It almost felt like carrying warmth and light but little did I know I entered with a candle, her brother popped the poppers and the lights went on as we yelled “Happy birthday”, just to see her reaction and go speechless after that.
The emotions were underway, the teens were excited to see how much she got them right in the list and were boisterously teasing her that she was going to be embarrassed for not being able to give what I would ask her for.
Then, I gave the teens the slides in which the list was no longer hidden. Without looking at the results, they rushed to ask me what I wanted from her. As I said it was not materialistic, they started booing a lot more.
As I saw the elders getting a bit uncomfortable, I hurried to not let anyone imagine anything and uttered “A gift of (always) being her side and her not letting me let her lose “this” game”.
Laughs rolled by, the teens were super excited to see all the 23 in the list match. Before they got any suspicious, the elders hurried, not sure why maybe because they thought it was too late or wanted to save me from any embarrassment.
Finally, I looked at her and smiled as if I was relieved and thought to myself “Do you still think she would have not found that you just filled in the blank list, you originally had, as she called them out? Maybe it’s just a matter of time before you can actually know the list pretty well”.
As we walked out she softly whispered “You are pretty quick with typing! .. Aren’t you? :D :D”
Hmmm…I am driving back as I narrate this, after thanking them all for such a kind gesture for letting me spend this time with them during these times, and with a sigh of relief, my fear of ending up homeless (that night) faded away as it felt like I found a home!
Home is where the heart is!.. Eh!!Nah
Home is where the art is!..:P, Maybe
Home is where the artsy is! :D:D
“I” — A manifestation of the “K(C)rea”tive energy that is present in everyone and makes everyone artsy.
P.S. It is fictional. Any resemblance is purely coincidental😜Not sure if you counted the number of 23s. Did you find all the 23 23's?