Out-of-control. That is how my legs were shaking as I sat on the worn-out leather couch of the waiting room. The room reeked of competition and freshly dry-cleaned suits, not a word was said, yet the unspoken battle that took place between the interviewees unfurled an electric blanket over the atmosphere. Smiles of strained politeness and brittle glances were exchanged. Bottles of water were kept for ones’ constitution, but the courage to take a sip was not provided. After all, at any second, the sinister oak door could creak open and everyone would be called inside.

A dark maroon sweater, resting on the bulky frame of a boy, shared the seat with me. His eyes twitched with every tick of the pendulum which swung on the gaffer yet ornate grandfather clock. He wore the same expression as the others in the room, determined but aflutter. The other two were dressed in dark grey blazers, which reflected the rooms’ grave mood.

A large colonial window welcomed in the sweet smell of narcotic flowers from the wreath of foliage that was laced across its outline. For a moment I had found solace in nature, which steadied my sporadic breathing. Engaging in a battle of wills, I picked up the bottle, twisted the cap, and took a sip. The water was cold and tasted of anxiety, uncertainty, and hope. I turned to the admiring and parched faces of my competition, as they too, reluctantly picked up a bottle and took a sip.

I paced the room and the most eye-catching piece made itself visible, the trophy cabinet. Hundreds, no, thousands of trophies glinted like a beacon of unity, willing me to stay yet sparkling with the hope that I would be back. The door shuddered as the handle rattled nervously on its splintered frame, and a man stepped out. Frankness shone in his blue eyes and humor played around his smiling lips. In his immaculate, crisp suit and freshly varnished shoes, he brought his hand forward and I shook it in a well-practiced form. He put his arm around my shoulders and led me in to the room.

Pay Anything You Like

Viraat Arora

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