Choices

She slipped away before the dawn.
He waited for her on a bike.
The only one who saw them meet
Was squatting by the lakeside drain,
His lungi wrapped around his waist,
Awaiting nature’s standup call.

He did not have his spectacles.
He did not need them anyway.
He knew the girl in mirrored dress.
He knew the boy with flowing hair.
He knew the bike with engine ticks.
He plucked his ancient Nokia
And dialled aloud some keytone beeps
That reached the girl, the boy, the bike,
Who turned to see into the dark.

The bike was first to spot and point,
The boy was next with widened eyes,
The girl had shut her own in shame –
A lifetime worth of outdoor squats
Had built her instinct pretty well.

They knew they wouldn’t get too far.
They knew they were already doomed.
She felt his muscled body shake.
He felt her shortened warming breath.
They knew they had a choice to make.
The choice that seemed to make itself
The moment they heard “Hello, saar?”

She pulled it out, he held it up,
She steadied his unsteady arm.
The phone fell down. The lungi too.
The birds went flapping in applause.
The bike was first to point the way.
The boy was next with turning wrists.
The girl had shut her eyes in fear –
A lifetime worth of indoor blood
Had not prepared her for this sight.

A day, a night, a morning went
Before they found their photographs,
In mirrored dress and flowing hair,
In papers with the heading, “Caught!”

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