A Story by Niharika Sarma

A short story for the Silenced Love contest.


            It was a morning in spring. Jane entered the park, her park, after having been away for almost a year. It was like homecoming. There was fog so thick that she could barely see ten feet ahead of where she was. But that didn’t deter her. Jane just pulled her shawl closer to her body and gripped her book tighter, determined to get to her usual bench before the old ladies feeding the pigeons got to it.

            Besides, Eric said to meet her there, in his cryptic text message that said it was urgent. It was so like Eric to meet her at a place where she would go anyway. The park was her place, it was where she spent the early hours of the morning and relaxed. It was where she forgot about her problems and leaped into the world of another Jane, Jane Austen. Eric scoffed at Jane Austen, yet read all of her books because Jane had asked him to.

            To her joy, the bench was unoccupied. She took her seat and opened her book. Checking her watch, she saw it was seven o’clock. He should’ve been there by then. But it was expected that Eric would be late. He was the kind that thought Saturday mornings should be spent sleeping, not reading in the park. Jane didn’t expect him to arrive for another hour.

            But she was surprised. The sound of his footsteps reached her. She could identify them anywhere, anytime. The pace was rhythmic, uniform, it was pleasant to listen to. He was tall, and walked confidently. The fog hid him from her for another few seconds and then she saw him.

            Eric had changed in a year. He wasn’t the overconfident boisterous high school senior anymore. His brown hair was longer, unkempt. He wore his UConn hoodie and a pair of shorts. If he was the old Eric, he would have run up to her and hugged her, without giving a thought about decency or personal space. Eric was too close a friend for formalities. But he didn’t run up to her then. He paused when he first saw her, looking at her for the fraction of a second, and then slowly walked over to the bench and sat at the opposite end.

            He wasn’t like he usually was. He wasn’t carefree and happy. He wasn’t energetic or loud. He wasn’t fun. He was nervous. Jane remembered he’d wanted to tell her something. He had written that it was urgent, important. But he wasn’t saying a word. He was just sitting there, twiddling his thumbs and looking at his old tattered shoes as if they were the answer to his problem.

            “Eric, you said you wanted to tell me something,” Jane said. She didn’t like seeing him silent. And it was the first time they saw each other after a year. She couldn’t bear it if Eric had changed so much that they weren’t the friends that they once were. She couldn’t bear it if the old Eric was gone, replaced by some nervous freshman without any spine.

            He gulped and closed his eyes for a while, taking deep breaths. He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted. The first morning joggers had stepped in. They were a pair of teenage girls, giggling and gossiping. Jane recognized their voices. The girls were their juniors, and they were voracious gossips. It wasn’t safe to do or say anything around those girls.

            Eric grabbed her hand and pulled her off the bench. She nearly dropped her Jane Austen, but she didn’t protest. She could understand he was nervous about something. She needed to help him through it, like he’d helped her through her problems. He led her through the park, looking for any place that was empty. But people were coming in, and there weren’t many places they could be alone.

            Jane pointed towards the hedge maze. It was the pride of their park. A square shaped maze of immaculately trimmed high bushes. A straight path led to the centre, and branches led off to all the corners. It was even possible to get lost in it for a couple of minutes. Eric led her in and they walked through the branches until they reached a corner.

            It was secluded, the corner of the maze that was covered by an oak tree’s shadow. Not many people entered that end of the maze. They thought it was dark, gloomy. But Jane loved the seclusion of the place. The grass was soft beneath their feet, and there was total silence.

            Eric wiped the sweat off his forehead and fidgeted. Jane started to worry. He was never like this. She put her hand on his and asked, “What’s wrong?”

            He didn’t say anything. He leaned forward and embraced her tightly, sighing in relief as he did. Jane understood he had missed her over the past year. She had missed him too. Of all the people that Eric was friends with, she was the closest. She was the one that he came to with his problems. She was his advisor with girls, she was his stylist for prom, she was his tutor in calculus.

            And Eric hadn’t done any less for Jane. He was her shoulder to cry on, he was her rock to keep her grounded, and he was the one person that she expected to believe in her dreams as much as she did. Eric kissed the top of her head, softly. It was new, but she didn’t mind.

            Somebody walked into the maze. Jane stepped away from Eric. It was her mother’s voice in the maze. She dreaded that they kept getting interrupted. Eric had something to tell her. Her mother was calling her, and Jane started to go. But Eric didn’t let go of her hand.

            She looked towards him, and motioned for him to let go. He didn’t, and only looked at her with an expression that she didn’t understand. He pulled her towards him, back into the embrace. She looked up into his face, trying to understand. It was the same expression that he always had when he looked at her. She didn’t see anything different.

            Her mother had left. There was silence again. Eric pulled Jane closer towards him. He decided it was too late to back out. He looked into her eyes, her beautiful, big, confused eyes. He leaned towards her face, and Jane closed her eyes. She understood what he wanted to tell her.

            He leaned in slowly, hesitantly. For a fraction of a second he paused, wondering if the right thing to was to step back. But he didn’t. He kissed her softly, gently. Then he stepped away.

            “That’s what I wanted to tell you.”

            “That you love me?” Jane asked. She already knew the answer. But she didn’t anything different with him.

            “No… that I’ve realized that I love you.”

            And all of a sudden, Jane realized it too. 

© 2011 Niharika Sarma

Author's Note

Niharika Sarma
first romantic story in a long time. i'm a little afraid that it's cliche, so please any comments you have would be appreciated.

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Title suits the story very well...
nice romantic story..
it feels very good from inside to know that
the one you love...also loves you..
i can easily relate to these feelings ...awesome write:)
thanks for sharing. . .

Posted 13 Years Ago

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Added on January 30, 2011
Last Updated on January 30, 2011


Niharika Sarma
Niharika Sarma

Andhra Pradesh, India

Hey there. This is Niharika, a writer (big surprise there). I sing a little, definitely don't dance though. I play the violin, but I haven't really been that into it lately. Too busy studying and w.. more..