The silverware glistened in the golden light from the elaborate chandelier that hung from the ceiling. She looked up to admire the sixteenth century painting that was beyond the light. A slow breeze from the sea side, and the waiter rushed to hand her a pashmina, which she really wouldn’t have needed if she hadn’t let vanity talk her into wearing his favourite shoulder baring black dress. The tripes a la mode de Caen was heavenly. As were the chardonnay and then, the platter of cheese that came with it. “Camembert, Neufchatel, Pont-L-Eveque, Livarot,…” she couldn’t even focus on the waiter’s captivating discourse on the Norman cheeses. All she could think about was that, it had been eight days.
She glanced at her watch. No, it had been seven days, twelve hours and fifty minutes. To be a bit more precise. Not really precise. To be really precise, she would have to go into seconds. She considered whether it would be too anal to delve into that. “Is something wrong?” his voice woke her from her momentary lapse. She should not let it bother her. Eight days ago – we are back to being imprecise now – she had decided that she could live without it for eight days. And she was almost there. Just this dinner and then the night and then by mid-morning, she would have it. Again. Available. Anywhere. Anytime.
She hated being so addicted. As a kid, she had heard stories about alcoholics. How they had no control over their lives. How they squandered their money, beat their wives and eventually ended up bankrupt and homeless. She had read about drug addicts in the newspapers. She had wondered why anyone would voluntarily give up control over their own bodies, their own selves. How anyone could give in to hallucinations and speed trips and be at the mercy of dealers. She had scorned at smokers and the scary statistics about the damage done to children because of the parents’ chain smoking. In fact, she had even helped out in the Quit Smoking campaign in her office, all the while not quite understanding why people couldn’t wake up one morning and kick the habit. In fact, she abhorred addictions of all kind.
She refused to admit that she was addicted. She stared into his deep dark eyes and tried to think of the eight blissful days they had just had. She wanted to focus on the beautiful beaches they had lounged in, the charming chateaus they had slept in and the quaint French streets they had wandered in. But she couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking about. And that led her back to it. Maybe, just maybe, he was thinking of it too. No, this is anal. She chided herself. It is just 8 hours, 7 minutes and 12 seconds more. Oh darn, she had done it. Precision was a sure give away for obsession.
“Cafe, mademoiselle?” she was jolted out of her trance again. She resolved she won’t let herself be addicted. She won’t think about it anymore. She will have some good coffee and then, some fine conversation will now follow. She will look around and enjoy the wonderful art that was on display at the restaurant. She will have a wonderful time. She imagined a thick black blanket in her mind. She covered her obsession in it, tied with a thick blue rope, placed into an solid copper box, closed it with its ornate heavy lid and pushed it into a dark corner of her mind. Not to be opened again. Until it was time.
And then, it was time. 8 hours, 7 minutes and 12 seconds were over. She clicked on the small orange icon with the three small men. She entered the eight magical numbers, clicked OK and waited. She felt the joy of watching a lotus blossom. And then there was light. You have new mail. Happiness. Bliss. Joy. Contentment. Was it wrong to feel happy? She looked across the table. His face radiated the happiness too. He looked up and smiled.
Some obsessions are just not worth fighting.