‘You should not come with strangers’, he said, looking at the girl across the table.
She nonchalantly sipped on her Chocolate Cherry frappe.
The complicated kind of drinks kids like nowadays, he thought. Maybe a parent would understand the science behind that. He was not one. The familiar bile of anger rose up his throat.
‘ Huh, I am not scared of you, it is broad daylight, so many people around’, she said.
The same face, the same defiance. As the woman he loved. And lost.
‘And any friend of my mother’s is my friend,’ she added, trying to sound older than she was.

She had not lost any time in bearing a child, getting married, he thought bitterly. The love of his life, the one who had promised to wait for him forever. He had gone away believing she would wait. Yes, he was an year late, but he had come back to her. Only to find a locked house and oblivious neighbours. That was the pre-Facebook, pre- cellphone era. He had tried to find her but she had disappeared without a trace.
He fed his bitterness over the years by mulling over ways to hurt her when he found her. The pain of still loving her haunted him and his hatred for her consumed him.
After years of searching had come Facebook, a stray post and there she was.
He had felt nauseous looking at her profile photo. She looked so happy, flanked on one side by the girl who now sat in front of him and a very handsome looking man, her husband. Too happy, he had decided.
‘ My dad does worry about me a lot, but I m old enough to take care of myself’, the girl was saying.
He nodded amiably as he waited for what he had done to take effect. The first sign, slurred speech, and he would be out of here.

Tracing her had not been difficult after that. He had camped in his car in front of her house for days, stalking, waiting, figuring out their routines. The first time he saw her at the door, his heart had skipped a beat. He couldn’t bear to love her so much. It broke his heart to break hers. But he would. It was payback time. He believed in Karma, what goes round comes around.

It was just a question of getting her daughter to agree to come with him to the cafe. Posing as her mother’s school friend, planning a surprise reunion was all he had to say to the girl.

He felt a sense of peace now as his plan was drawing to an end, his vengeance would be complete in a few minutes. Lacing her drink with the poison was all that he had to do when the girl had taken a bathroom break.

Another five minutes of listening to the girl’s chatter, he noticed the slurring. It was time for him to leave quickly before she slumped.

As he rose, she said,’ I b-b-better be going, my Dad would t-t-throw a fit if I m late. He d-does love me, even if t-technically he is m-m-my step-dad’.
Looking at his puzzled face, she continued, her eyes almost closing,’ Oh didn’t I tell you, I m the d-d-daughter of a b-b-bastar* who l-left my m-m-mom and n-never came b-b-back.’

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