Note:- This post is the 10th update of my first ever attempt at writing a novel named ‘Choices and Consequences’. Find the link to my earlier posts right below:-
“There you go Ems! We are home!” Rachel told her baby daughter, who had been quite grumpy ever since she had been woken up by her mother right in the middle of her dreamy adventure in fairyland. And she had done her best to let her mom know it by sulking for the entire journey home. Regardless, Rachel smiled at her daughter’s genuine yet adorable sulk.
Though today had been rather a long day, she couldn’t help but feel positive about it as whole. Rachel had left early from work and along with Samantha had toured a few houses not very far away from the main city. One in particular had caught her attention. It was a mid-sized three bedroom place equipped with a lawn, garage and even a swimming pool. Plus the surroundings were great to raise a child, then be it the low crime rate or the top rated schools nearby.
It was a place so perfect, that for the very first time, Rachel actually imagined the prospect of a ‘ever after’ there and to her surprise she quite liked it. The cherry on the cake came in later that evening when she found out that her company was willing to offer her a loan provided she remained employeed.
Satisfied with her day’s work Rachel decided to check for messages on her phone for the first time in a week. As expected, she had plentyon the line. But, as they played out, she realised that almost all of them were from a single person. Her best friend, Monica Geller.
‘Rach? It’s me. Call me when you are free. It’s urgent.’
Well, Of course she hadn’t. And the reason had been very obvious. For she knew what Monica would’ve wanted to talk about. And she also knew that it was the last topic she would ever want to talk about.
‘Rachel? You received my previous message, right? Please call me. I need to talk to you. It’s very important.’
So, even though it hurt her deeply, she had still chosen to suspend contact with Monica.
‘Rachel?! Are you even listening to me?! Or have you been simply deleting my messages without even bothering to? Call me or I swear to God we will no longer be best friends.’
Well, it already seemed like she had lost the love of her life, Rachel thought, letting out a painful sigh. So losing her best friend seemed like a comparatively smaller price to pay. Although, she did wince when she heard Monica’s voice grow loud and hoarse in the message that followed.
‘What the hell is wrong with you?! First you don’t listen to me and now you don’t even take any of my calls? Does this line even answer to a Rachel Green or have you changed that too?!’
What was spooking Rachel out though was the fact that she couldn’t even shed one tiny tear despite being outright shaken from the inside. Maybe that was because she had used them all up in the past few days.
To Rachel’s surprise, Monica’s voice sounded heavy and pained in the message that followed, which was a complete contrast from the one just before.
‘Rach… please… I’m begging you… If not as a friend then atleast as a well wisher, listen to me. I really don’t know exactly what exchange took place between you and Ross that you seemed to have cut off all contact, but I do know this. That you are still in love. And so is my stupid brother. So whatever it is, just talk it through. Alright? And you can always count on me Rach. Because regardless of what I said earlier, we are and will always be best friends. BFFs. Remember? Just talk to me. Please.’
“Oh Mon…” Rachel said to herself, feeling an immense amount of guilt and pity. She knew that she had wronged her and that Monica had nothing but her best interests at heart. But her message had also made it very clear that she wasn’t giving up on ‘them’, even though ‘they’ already had.
Rachel knew how badly she wanted to talk with Monica. But was it worth the risk of talking about her and Ross?
As Rachel pondered over the same, the machine beeped once more. And this time, it was Ross’s voice that was coming through.
‘Hey Rach! Sorry for the late message! I’ve been really busy with all these stupid formalities these days…. you know, board meetings, private interviews and stuff…. Anyways, what’ve you been up to? It’s been a week since we had a proper conversation. Mon’s been worried sick too. I told her about the flu, but she didn’t seem to agree. Are you alright? Because I’m starting to freak out as well. I hope it’s just Em who’s been keeping you so occupied. Oh and how’s she? I hope she really hasn’t caught the flu as well! And I’m really missing her sweet little voice. Call me as soon as you get this, alright? Love you.’
So strange, Rachel thought to herself. That was the first time Ross had ever said a ‘Love you’ to her ever since she had left for Paris.
What the hell was that supposed to mean?
She had an eerie feeling that it couldn’t mean anything good.
* * *
“Oh. So does that mean that I get to move in next Sunday?” Ross asked, his hands rummaging through some papers as he did so.
“It does?!” he exclaimed, halting his activity.
“Okay, thank you very much. Yeah, I’ll be there.” he said and latched the mouthpiece on to the machine So that was it. It was now officially confirmed that Dr.Ross Geller, HOD of the History department, NYU would be moving into the campus the following week, and would accept the responsibilities of his promotion, starting from the first day of the next month.
“Now they can party all they want.” Ross said, as a sarcastic reference to his loathsome neighbours.
Life had blitzed on so fast for him that he could hardly comprehend. In the past year itself he had received a tenured job, had a grant which he was yet to use and now, had his own department. Academically, he had made great progress. As far as other aspects his life were concerned however…
He was nowhere. Absolutely NO where. Ross wasn’t even close to starting any type of a relationship with anyone. In fact, he very much doubted whether it would be even possible for him to love anyone that way again. For not only he had lost his dream girl, but he also had to let go of their lovely daughter in a flurry of activity.
But…. Had he?
For his sister’s words still rang through his mind, suggesting that all was not lost. Not yet.
‘Well, what if this time I were to tell you that I know it’s mutual? That I know that Rachel is still in love with you?’
Why would she say that unless Rachel had personally told her so? And if she had, shouldn’t he have been the first person Rachel would’ve talked to?
Well, there was only one way to find that out.
* * *
“Goodnight sweetheart.” Rachel whispered to a drowsy Emma as she settled her into the crib. Her daughter complied, falling asleep almost immediately.
After gazing at her tiny figure for a while, Rachel forced herself towards the living room, settling with a plate of pasta in one hand and a brochure of interior design in the other. Intrigued by the images, Rachel was about to flip it open when her phone began to ring.
The ID displayed that it was Ross.
Surprised to hear from him so early, she quickly placed her pasta on the table so as to answer it.
“Hey! I received your message. I thought you must be at work now so I decided to call you in the evening.” she said with a cheerful undertone.
“Oh. No problem! So, how are you now? You do sound much better.” Ross asked.
“Yeah, I am! As it turns out a cup of hot chicken broth is all that it takes!” Rachel replied, smiling widely.
On the other end, Ross raised his eyebrows, Rachel’s cheerful tone surprising him more than the idea of her cooking a chicken broth.
‘That doesn’t sound like a lovesick person.’ he thought to himself. So maybe it had been the flu after all.
“You cooked a cup of chicken broth?!” Ross finally exclaimed.
“No. Sam brought it for me.” Rachel admitted, sounding sheepish.
“I figured.” Ross replied, chuckling.
“So.. errm… How’s Emma?” he asked.
Rachel rolled her eyes as she replied, “Your princess has been especially grumpy today. She threw away the spoon like atleast ten times! It took me an hour to feed her just one bowl.”
“That doesn’t sound like her. What did you feed her? Please don’t tell me it was some of your own creation!” Ross said, mockingly.
“Now don’t you underestimate me, mister! I cooked my own dinner today and yes it was edible, thank you for asking!” Rachel countered, conveniently avoiding telling him that all she had done was heating up a ready to eat packet in a pot of boiling water.
“Wow! That’s real progress!” Ross replied, sounding impressed.
“Yup.” Rachel replied, smug.
“Speaking about progress, how’s your promotion going?” she continued.
To her surprise, Rachel was finding herself completely at ease today. Perhaps it was the prospect of ‘getting over’ him that was making it so easy.
“Pretty good, actually! Like I told you yesterday, I got the keys of the office and today I was told that I could move into the campus quarters next Sunday.” he replied. What struck him was that this was the first time she had asked him about the promotion herself.
What was going on, exactly?
“What’s up with you? Anything you’ve got to tell?” he asked, his heart racing by now.
“Actually, right now I’m occupied because of the same reason as you.” she replied, putting a few strands of her hair behind her ear as she always did when she was nervous.
“You are getting a promotion?!” Ross asked, incredulous. “But you only just got the job!”
Rachel couldn’t help but laugh at his stupendous tone before she explained,
“No, not the job part. The moving part.”
“What do you mean?” Ross asked, his voice suddenly serious.
Even after all these years Rachel Green never ceased to surprise him. And that was one of the many reasons why he still loved her.
“Well… I’ve been looking through a few properties and one has caught my attention in particular. It’s big and beautiful. There’s a school nearby, a good neighborhood, the whole package. Plus I’ll get a loan from the company so money’s not an issue as well.” she replied.
Ross could hardly believe the words he was hearing. Rachel Green planning her future? Barely a week ago, she hardly even knew where she was going! Ross actually pinched himself so as to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming. Apparently he wasn’t for a shot of burning pain shot through his forearm.
After hearing nothing from the other end for about ten solid seconds, Rachel grew worried.
“Ross? You there?” she asked, confused.
“When were you going to tell me about this?” he asked, still in shock.
“I just did.” Rachel replied, sounding a tad guilty.
“It’s.. such a huge step, Rach.” he said, after a while.
“I know.” she replied, her voice indicating a slight fall in her confidence.
‘What was Monica even thinking… Lying to me like that?! She is buying a house there for God’s sake! How the hell could that justify her ‘love’ for him?!’ he thought.
Shaken, Ross still decided to give it one last shot.
“You know that if you do it, you can’t just turn around, right? That it’ll be like a commitment? To… to the city…” he trailed.
There was a definite pause before Ross received a finite response.
“Paris has always been my dream, Ross.” Rachel replied.
‘And it’s all that I have left now.’ she thought. But that thought never made it’s way out. For she had been struck by an epiphany.
All this time, in these past few days, Rachel hadn’t even thought twice about the implications of taking such a huge decision, a decision which she hadn’t even considered making any time in the near future. Why?
It was because she had seen only two dreams for her life. One of which had shattered only days ago. She simply couldn’t let that happen to the second. And so she embraced it with all her heart, her subconscious deciding there and then to at least make the city her own.
“Then I wish you all the very best, Rach.” Ross replied with profound sadness in his voice, latching the receiver back into the machine without waiting for a response.
As the conversation came to an end, a deafening silence followed on both sides as they realised what had just happened.
They realised that somehow and somewhere a line had been crossed.
And that this time, there would be consequences.