Rory and Rachel were in the middle of a raging argument.
“It’s your job to make sure bills are paid and the house is clean. I can’t be bothered about things like these – it spoils my creative juices for the day” raged an agitated Rory.
“While you indulge in your creative juices (Yes, I do know you are a successful creative ad director), I have to deal with grumpy bosses at work, fix breakfast and lunch, clean the house, drop Tim to school and pay all the bills to boot. Don’t you think this is a little too much for one person to handle?” screamed an equally frustrated Rachel.
Rory muttered while leaving the room – “I just wish you could be me for a single day and see how difficult it is.”
Both of them went to bed with a deep sense of bitterness and the unfairness of it all.
Rory had a strange dream in the middle of the night but tossed and went back to sleep without waking up. In the morning, he woke up and marched down to the bathroom careful not to turn towards or wake the sleeping Rachel. It was when he was pulling the toothpaste that he first noticed something strange. His fingers suddenly seemed to have elongated and manicured somehow during the night. Rubbing his eyes to shake the sleep out of it, he opened his eyes again to the same fingers he had seen a few seconds ago. Now alarmed, he went to the mirror and found Rachel’s face staring back at him.
His scream came out girlish and tinny and woke up the sleeping Rachel. Rachel rushed into the bathroom and was stuck dumb at seeing her own face staring back at her.
Rachel was quicker to adapt to the strangeness of it all than Rory who was still dumbstruck.
“How did this happen?”
The more practical Rachel mused – “It must have been your last thought of the day that some how caused this. You wished I was you to understand you – don’t you remember? I generally don’t believe in magic and stuff but we’ll have to deal with this for now.”
“But I have an important client meeting today for the new Pepsodent ad. My team has been working on this for months and today is the scheduled day for presentation.” said a worried Rory.
“We’ll manage. I’ll go as you and try to complete the presentation while you have to meet the new director who is flying in today to my office. Let’s trade info on what to do.”
Agitated after trading their responsibilities for the day, Rory spent the morning trying to fix breakfast. After burning the bread three times in a row and congealing the compensatory noodles, he was forced to accept defeat. Turning to see a round eyed Tim who had been watching the entire mess, he suddenly remembered that he had to drop off Tim to school that day as Rachel. Waving a hasty goodbye to Rachel (sitting as Rory), he started driving to Tim’s school trying to remember the way. Tim looked at him strangely before commenting – “Mom, you have missed the right turn to school.” Making a U-turn was a disaster. The built up traffic to the turn to the school was a nightmare with drivers honking everywhere and screaming abuses at the previous vehicle.
After dropping Tim off in the school without a breakfast or a lunch and pressing down a wad of money in his hand, he started the 1.5 hour drive to Rachel’s office. He arrived half hour late and spent another 15 mins trying to find an empty parking spot. He rode up the elevator after pressing it continuously for the next few minutes and found himself staring at Mark, Rachel’s boss. Mark expressively looked at his watch for a few seconds before commenting sarcastically – “Thanks for making it to the office, Rachel. Tony has been waiting patiently for you for the last half hour. Care to join him?” Muttering under his breath, Rory pushed on to Rachel’s office and spent the next hour listening to Tony’s non-stop conversation trying to make sense of all the financial lingo being thrown at him by recollecting snippets of Rachel’s prep talk in the morning.
It was already past the lunch hour when he trudged into the cafetaria to grab a sandwich when the mobile phone rang. It was the maintenance guy calling up to confirm when he can come and fix the leaky faucet. Having no clue of what he was talking about, Rory quickly cut off the connection with a “Sorry, I’ll call you later.”. Post lunch, he spent the next three hours in meetings with Mark individually and a combined meeting with Tony before feeling completely drained. Rory snuck out of the office at 6PM and entered his apartment to be met by an irate Tim and dirty dishes. Tim angrily asked him – “What happened to you today, Mom? You didn’t give me any food, dropped me late at school and finally didn’t come to pick me up, with no notice. Sheela aunty dropped me home.”
Rory shrugged and started to do the dishes when he heard the doorbell. It was Mrs. Next Door whom he had never bothered to remember. She shrilly yelled as soon as he opened the door – “My bathroom is flooded because of a leaky faucet in your house. Why can’t you fix your messes? How will I………….” Rory tuned out the rest of the monologue and muttered a “I will fix it.” and shut the door at her surprised face. Turning to a hungry Tim, he said – “Let’s eat out today and pick something for your Mom er…. your dad.”
After a drive in the pouring rain, he managed to spot an open diner in which the lone man shouted out a “We are closed before snapping the window shut.”
When the car stalled in the middle of the road, it was the last straw. He then guiltily remembered Rachel reminding him for the past 3 weeks about fixing the misfiring spark plug. Pushing the car to a sheltered place in the road side, he and Tim started their way back after locking the car. He found the apartment lights shining when he went up the stairs (the elevator was out due to a power cut) and found an exhausted Rachel waiting for him.”
Both of them started at the same time – “I am sorry……..”
Smiling through their frustrations of the day, they again started –
“I never knew how hard it’s to meet with the creative demands…”
“Your job is so exhausting……….Talk about a bad day.”
before clamming up after noticing Tim’s confused stares.
After having a small dinner of soup and toast that Rachel whipped up, the 3 of them retired for the night exhausted by their trials of the day. Before dropping off to sleep, Rory held Rachel’s hand and said “I am sorry I was so insensitive. If we switch back, I promise to help you more and be more understanding.”
“Me, too” muttered a red faced Rachel (actually red faced Rory’s face) before dropping off to sleep.
They opened their eyes together in the morning to find each other faces in their right places to their joy.
All was well!
Categories: Short story