Where is she? There, a few people behind in the queue. I didn’t know so many people traveled in the morning. So many people even woke up this early! The flight is sure going to be full. Should I wait for her? — Nah, I’ll meet her at the seat, we’ll be together all the way. Last few hours of us together like this — ah, an email. Who’d be sending me an email so early in the morning?

Mike has sent the line up for the show. I’m going second. That’s good, get it over with quick so I can pay attention to the others. The third one is a chick with her name. I look behind and see her looking at me. I smile.
This name, her name has been following me around all my life. My ex-girlfriend had that name, and now, her too. Wait till I tell her who’s going after me!
Ah, is this my seat? Yup.

“Yes.”
Wait. How does she know about the email?
That name. It wasn’t a new girl with the same name. It’s her.
“You…you’re doing it too.”
She smiles in her self-satisfied way as she takes the seat next to mine. She nods, eyes twinkling.

She’s — she’s going to be performing as well. And she goes after me. Oh!
“So, what’s your story about?” Keep asking her questions. About her. About her story. Stay interested. Don’t let her glimpse the pit of doom slowly growing inside you.
“Is it the same one you were working on last night?”
“Yes.” She smiles, like a cat, sly and silent.
“Can I read it? No, better, you read it to me. What’s it about?”
“My brother’s death.”
Crap. She’s told me how it happened. I’ve been in awe of her ever since she did. How can my story ever compare to that?
“Oh. How long have you been working on this?”
“Since that day you and I met Mike at Starbucks. I emailed him the same day.”
I remember that day. That’s the day I thought I could do this. Get up on stage and tell my story, my own story of change, how I came to be me, the way I am now. That day I thought I could do this, it’d be easy.
“Who all know about this except Mike and you?”
Am I the only fool?

She’s smiling at me that way. I need to smile back. But how? She has such a brilliant name for her story. It captures the essence of it. It’s self-explanatory. Catdog. It’s perfect.
I’m sure she gave the name, unlike mine. We couldn’t name my story for weeks, and the name I settled for was given by Mike, not me.
“What’s the other thing?” Ask questions. Stay interested.
Am I so lost in my own world that I don’t even notice what other people are up to? I’m supposedly a writer, I’m supposed to be observant, but I had no clue about this. Not even with someone so close to me.

What a fool I am to think that my story is any good. All the best stories get recorded. I didn’t get any invite.
I remember Mike saying the first and the last stories are very important. They set the tone of the show. And I’m somewhere in the middle — just like a filler.
“You know, it’s all because of you I’m doing this?”
I look at her. “Me? What did I do?”
“You always inspire me to do things. Be better than myself. I’ve never met anyone like you, no one ever inspired me this way.”
Smile, damn you, smile.
Am I my own enemy? Pushing people to do things, help them rise up while I push myself down? She knows how to handle herself before an audience, she even has a voice made for it.
Me? I remember my sister saying: ‘
“When we land, I’m going to read my story out loud to you.”
I nod. I have nothing to say. Why am I so jealous? She’s my girlfriend, I should be proud, happy at the fact that we’re doing this together.
But everyone knew that she was performing too. People, our friends, they said they are coming to see me. But not just me. They are coming to see us. It was going to be my day. Mine.
Not anymore.

Confident start. So unlike mine. Her voice is really meant for this.
Words. Look at her paint pictures with them, and those metaphors — how does she manage that? I can see it happening. Show, don’t tell. She’s nailed it. My story doesn’t do this. It can’t. I can’t show my mental landscape. Her brother, the emotion involved, I feel them too. Damn it! Am I crying? I can feel her loss. How is she doing this?
“The journey is the reward and not the destination,” she concludes, and I give her a little applause. She deserves it.
I can never be this good. Never.

I can’t get over her story. It was so good. I wish I could write like that. And then go narrate it. Even without my stupid corrections, it stands out on its own. No wonder it was selected for the podcast. And my observations are nothing but an echo of Mike’s — of what he did to my story and how his process worked. I am just channeling his mind calling that scene dead-weight.
That night is hers. I know. Not mine. People, friends — our friends — are all coming to see her. Of course, her. Who’d want to listen to my voice? My story? I’m a reformed addict with a new drug. Who can relate to that? Her story of loss is so human. Anyone can relate. But I can’t tell her how jealous I am. I’ll help her, I’ll encourage her, push her to be the best. That’s the right thing to do.
If I tell her how I feel about this, she’ll step down. She’ll let me have my night, help me make it mine. But I won’t do that. I can’t.
(God, she’s so warm.)
What have I done to deserve a love as great as hers?

Storyteller || Tech Enthusiast || Writing Coach || Letter Writer

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