It was Dan and Anastasia’s time. It was a gift from life or, perhaps, it was life’s little joke to itself. Yet, neither of them could bring themselves to laugh. It was too important and too promising.
It did not take long for Dan to turn to Ana one day, take her hand, and say, “If I asked you to marry me, would you say yes?” Ana was surprised. Such a serious question. Daniel’s eyes would not let hers turn away. They were tunnelling with the demand, Answer me, now.
Before her mind could manage to push forth some reasonable concerns, even objections, a smile jumped into the arena and smoothed itself over Ana’s mouth. The deal was sealed in the passing of a few seconds. For the shortest breathing space, Dan and Ana relaxed, as if before the storm. The moment was so piercingly innocent that both felt naked and embarrassed like too much of themselves had been shown to the other. Now, it was too late to take it back. Purity has its own power; not to be messed with.
In retrospect, the signs were clear but Ana didn’t want to believe them. From that purest of moments, the devil was released. The coming months grew more and more confusing until Ana could not remember if Dan even vaguely liked her. One final day, he casually announced to her as if it was of little relevance that he had been lately meeting up with an old friend from some years back. They had reignited their friendship and he was going to move to her city, start a relationship, and live with her. Ana was incredulous.
The sorrow would have been debilitating except that Daniel, in his guilt, had decided that the best approach was to act like there was no reason why Ana would be anything but happy for his new adventure. This brought the fire out in Anastasia. How dare he hurt her like that, ask for her love and trust, and then disregard it as if it never happened. Dan was much bigger than Ana. And he was a man not challenged lightly. She hit him and didn’t hold back. It was not the first time Ana had hit Dan. He hated it intensely because he could not hit her back. He seethed with fury and both stared at each other as if the world was about to explode. At least, it was an even match. Seeing that Dan meant to carry through his plan and do so with no remorse, Ana threw herself towards the door with disgust that knew no boundaries.
It was over. For a long time, every morning following on the heels of waking consciousness, Anastasia would hear the words, It’s over. Accept it. After a while, the anger faded but something worse took its place – grief. There was no stopping it. A thousand times she scolded herself, Why did you give him your heart? You knew it was a dreadful idea. But she did give him her heart. It was already done. Once the contract is signed, it can only be nullified by a painful untangling. Ana wondered how Dan was going in his new relationship. She felt that he must have adjusted by now. He must be happy. It was his decision, after all. Every day she wished him happiness and she would release him in her soul. She thought, How many times must one release the same person?
Sometimes, Anastasia would dream of a friend from another land. The friend had many disguises: male, female, young, old, friend, foe, human, spirit. However, she always recognised the friend by the way it talked, the advice it gave, and the energy field it left behind.
One night, the friend visited her. It explained to Ana, “If you didn’t give Daniel your heart, he could not heal. It’s the price you paid for healing.” Ana wondered if the price was worth it. Maybe, it was all for naught, anyway. The friend continued, “The devil has to first come out and be owned before its owner can learn to subdue it.”
“Will I see him again?” Ana asked.
“Yes, you will see him,” replied the friend. “He never went to live with his friend. He never even started the relationship. As soon as you left, there was no need of that relationship anymore and so it didn’t even get off the ground. He did not love her but he needed a reason to make you leave. If one cannot trust that one will be loved even at one’s worst, the healing cannot begin. One will always be lying about what is inside oneself. The devil inside must be let loose before it can be tamed.”
“Will it be tamed?” asked Ana.
“That, my dear Anastasia, is the enthralling story of life. We would not want to spoil it. It is written by the most brilliant of writers, you know. It is enough for you to know that love is its own reward.”