Alex slowly opened his eyes as he woke up from a long night’s sleep. His head was slightly hurting and he felt a little dizzy because of the influence of all the medicines. It took a while before he completely gained his consciousness. He looked around in hopes of finding Stella in his room, but she wasn’t there.
“Must have gone back to take rest!”
He said to himself as he smiled. Someone knocked on his door.
A tall man, probably in his late twenties, entered the room.
“Yes?” A sudden fear struck Alex as he saw him.
“Hi! Alex! I am John, Stella’s boyfriend!”
Alex’s frown eased as he heard that and a small, welcoming smile took its place.
“Oh! Hi! Nice to meet you! I am sorry….”
“No! Don’t be sorry! I can totally understand! After that fight, you must have been very scared of every other stranger!”
“Yeah!” Alex smiled and nodded in agreement…then an awkward silence took abode in the room. Alex started playing with his fingers, giving away his restlessness. John sensed that.
To lighten the air and start a conversation, he asked, “Would you mind if I take that chair and sit beside your bed?”
“No! Please make yourself comfortable!”
He helped himself with the chair and sat beside Alex. There was an unforeseen change in Alex’s expression. A thought dawned over him, “If John is in the town then Stella might have gone to complete the formalities to sell the house.” Alex panicked for a second but then he took a long deep breath and came back to his senses.
“Hey, John! I am feeling a little uneasy; will you please call the nurse for me?”
John left the room to find the nurse. Meanwhile, Alex got up from his bed and reached for the phone in his room taking support from tables and chairs as they came in his way. Tripping over a few times, Alex finally managed to reach the phone, he picked up the receiver and dialed Stella’s number.
“The number you have dialed is either switched off or not reachable at the moment….”
Alex slammed the receiver on the table. “NO! NO! NO! Alex you can’t let this happen! I need to do something.”
Alex walked towards the door to inspect any signs of John coming back. He was nowhere around. Alex made his way out of the room into the corridor and started to walk towards the exit of the hospital.
John called from behind. Alex stopped dead at his spot. John ran towards him and put his arm around the shoulder to support him. “What happened? You should go and take rest!”
With a snap, Alex pulled back his arm. The force knocked Alex off his feet and he fell down.
John quickly kneeled down to pick him up. “Alex, stop behaving like a kid! Tell me, where do you want to go? I will take you there!”
“John! Take me to Stella! Quick! We don’t have much time!”
“She has gone back to take rest! What’s so urgent?”
“Have you both sold the house already?”
“NO! Some formalities are yet to be completed! Why?”
Alex eased down; he gave out a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his hair. The fact that the house wasn’t sold yet was a big relief! But…But Alex needed to stop Stella before it was too late. “John! Don’t ask questions! Just take me to Stella!”
The urgency in Alex’s voice prompted John to be quick on his feet. He quickly took Alex to the car, helped him in and drove off to the house. Within no time, they were at their destination.
John helped Alex get off the car and took him towards the front door, but before they could have gone any further, Alex held John back.
“Do you hear those voices?”
Alex peeked into the front yard and pulled himself back immediately, his hand covering his mouth to imprison the cry of long-wished joy. He couldn’t believe what he just saw. He couldn’t believe that Stella and her parents were together, sitting in the front yard of their house, looking like a family.
“Is that all related to the….”
“Art gallery!” Stella’s mom intervened and then continued, “When you went away, our life felt empty. Drought doomed over our happiness. Every day, every single moment that we spent breathing felt like a pilgrimage to seek you back….” Emma pushed back her tears, the tears begged for freedom, “The only thing that brightened your father’s day was his art… he spent night and day, working on his paintings. He missed the court proceedings, his client lost their cases, his reputation as a lawyer started fading away and eventually, new cases stopped coming in.”
Stella took her mother’s hands in her own as she fought with her own tears, “…eventually, our financial condition started declining, we came under debt, and everything…everything became so difficult. Your father started his own art gallery in hopes of being able to do something about the situation. He used the basement of the house to set up the gallery. By god’s grace, he was even able to secure good deals for his paintings but as soon as the lenders got to know about the hefty price that we were being paid for the paintings, they planned to smuggle them away and started trading on them. All those people who you came across in the past few days were the landlords and the money lenders. God bless Alex, he has been protecting us against them for years. We decided to not tell you about any of this so that you can be at peace in your world.”
“Then why did you transfer the house in my name? You could have sold it and paid back the debt!”
“A life drowned under debt is much more comfortable than a life spent yearning for the memories of our beloved daughter. We were in debt but selling this house would have rendered us poor.”
Alex and John didn’t even realize when they entered the yard while listening to the conversation.
Stella opened her mouth to say something but she ditched her words when she saw them.
After getting to know about her parents’ feelings for the house, will Stella still be able to sell it? How will her calling affect her relationships? What new turn will her life take now? Find out in the upcoming chapters of “When I walked through…..”Follow the blog to receive an e-mail every time we release a new chapter.