Autumn

The blue sky was already getting darker when she opens her eyes. It takes her a minute to realize where she was. Air is getting colder by the minute but she decides to stay there laying on a blanket. The still blue sky looks beautiful through the canopy of red leaves. The red is so beautiful that the sky has decided to absorb the color now. She can see the sky turning red, orange, and yellow like the leaves. She drinks those colors through her eyes. Sometime a breeze comes out of nowhere and leaves fall like colorful pieces of the sky. All of this feels like a continuation of the dream she was dreaming before.

It starts to get a little chilly. Though it isn’t harshly cold, she feels the need to wrap herself in something cozy. She sits up and put the blanket around her. The sky has turned black now with few twinkly stars here and there. She wonders how black can overpower so many bright, beautiful colors that were there before. She longs for them. Alas, all she can see is black. Yet, she finds comfort in welcoming scents around her; leaves, chilly breeze, and of course, pumpkin spice latte! Unfortunately, her coffee has gone cold when she had decided to take a nap under the tree.

With some reluctance, she finally decides to gather her things. She stuffs her bag with the blanket, her phone, and headphones. She closes the lid of her travel mug, still undecided whether she should reheat the coffee at home or dump it in the sink for good. Finally, she reaches for the book that is laying open nearby. The bookmark is still there where she had placed it before falling asleep. She takes the book in her hands and leans in forward to smell it. Ahhh! The smell is intoxicating. Her heads swam around with happiness.

With a smile on her face, she got up and walks towards her car. It is only one left in the parking lot. She gets in the car and puts on her seatbelt. Her eyes fall on her office bag, laptop, and important work files that she had dumped on the seat next to her. She lets go a sign and closes her eyes. “Five more minutes, give me five more minutes.” She starts her car and embarks on a familiar road to her home; her routine. With the magical place that she is leaving behind through the rearview mirror, she vows to come back again when the life gets little tough!

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In the Eyes (Part 2)

She went inside her house, and locked the door shut after her. She thought a quick shower and a hot steaming cup of coffee would calm her mind. She took her coffee and went to stand next to her window, her favorite place in her apartment that looks on to the street. She would spend most of her evenings sitting by the window, drinking coffee, and watching the world go by. Now, however, she could see only the empty street. She wished she could empty her mind like the street. It wasn’t possible. Several doors of her past were opened up.

Her drunken neighbor wasn’t the only or first man she that made her feel miserable. There were many before him that made her miserable, angry, sad, and seriously doubt herself. There was her father who wasn’t happy when she was born because he wanted a son who would be a mirror image of him. Then, there was her younger brother who thought whatever she has is rightfully his, including their parents. She never liked how a family friend, whom she fondly called “Uncle,” would make her sit so close to him. She hated the fact that her ex-boyfriend would take her for granted and didn’t seem to think that hitting her for petty quarrels was wrong. Then, there were her male colleagues who were jealous of her progress. She would mutely listen them discuss how it is “easy” for her as she is a woman. She had lost the count of whistles and remarks that she has endured on the streets. She knew she wasn’t the only one. Several headlines she would read in the newspapers where proof of that.

With a heavy sigh, she turned her back to the window. Her coffee had gone cold. She set the cup aside and went to sit in front of her dressing table. She wondered how she had tolerated the wrongdoings all these days. Why hadn’t she uttered a word about it? Why she kept enduring it? She remembered how she was silenced whenever she tried to speak about it. She knew it had started taking toll on her mind. She remembered how it had become too much to handle. He neighbor’s words were still ringing in her ears- “I can see it. I can see a murder in your eyes. Do you wanna kill me?” She stared at her reflection in the mirror. The murderer stared back at her.

First half of the story: In the Eyes (Part 1)

Slowly…

It is a calm evening. An occasional peaceful breeze blows through the trees, bringing a gentle and sweet scent of flowers through the window. A tiny bird is singing lazily somewhere near. An old man sits by the window, oblivious to his surroundings. He doesn’t notice the bird, nor does he pay any attention to the sweet breeze. He sits with his eyes closed.

A family enters the building. The man looks around nervously, and his wife tries to hold their young son back, who is trying to run ahead of them. As they make their way in the building, all eyes are on them. Those tired and wrinkly eyes are waiting for a family too; their young family who would come to visit them someday.

The man enters quietly in the old man’s room. His wife and son follow him cautiously. The old man doesn’t even notice them. The man calls out for his father, but the old man doesn’t turn around to look at him. The son crosses the room and places a hand on his father’s shoulder tenderly. The old man turns and looks blankly at his son. With a lump in his throat, the son stares back at his father’s vacant eyes. Few silent minutes pass between them. The little boy gets impatient. He leaps towards his grandfather and gives him a tight hug. The old man looks at the little boy. Slowly, a smile appears on his face. His eyes lit up with recognition.

Slowly

Nightmare

I am running. I don’t know from what. I don’t know where to. I am Just running.

Black roads under my feet are leading me towards an equally black destination. Is this my present? Or is it my future?

I should scream, shouldn’t I?  At least, call for help. I try doing that, but only alphabets come out of my mouth. An A, then a H, L, M, and P. Alphabets fall down one by one, not really forming words. That’s strange! I know lots of words, lots and lots. Yeah, I mean sometimes I do have trouble articulating my exact feelings or what I exactly think. Yeah, I mean sometimes that leads to misunderstandings. But, I definitely know some words. I should make some noise at least, shouldn’t I? Nope, it’s not happening either.

I can see the darkness forming shapes around me. Faces, incidents, experiences, disappointments, thoughts, and failures start appearing around me as I run. I can see these shapes and forms floating midair as I try to run fast with all my might. They are as clear as a mirror. Too clear for my comfort. I don’t want to look at them, and I don’t want to face them. I run faster. Will they pull me back? I hope not.

Then, there are fingers, akin to the darkness that surrounds them. Are they pointing at me? Yes. All of them? Yes, all of them. I don’t feel comfortable. I know what I have done. I know. Those fingers know it too. They will tell everyone. No, I don’t want that. I run faster. I have to get away from them. Are they following me? I hope not.

I am running. I know from what, but I don’t know where to. I am just running. I need to run faster. I cannot feel the road under my feet. The road is melting away. What will happen to me now? There is so much baggage that I cannot fly or float. I am falling. I am falling faster than I had anticipated. There is nothing to hold on. I am falling.

I should wake up now, shouldn’t I?

Nightmare

In the Eyes (Part 1)

A little gloomy light lingered after sunset. The streets under the ominous sky were silent. Though it was only seven o’clock, there was not a single person to be seen. Not a single car passed by. Empty roads, sidewalks, and stores seem quite abnormal. It wasn’t always the case. This area of the city used to be bustling with people till late in the night. Now, the picture was quite different. It started when those murders started.

She walked hurriedly towards her home. It was almost dark outside. She wanted to get home before the light was completely gone. The street was empty as it was since last few days. She could hear her own heart beating. She knew She could feel safe only after she is inside her house. It would take ten more minutes to get there. There was no one on the street besides her. She needed to get home fast.

The series of murders had started very suddenly. When the first murder happened people thought it was just one incident. However, when the next one happened within few days, it was clear that those murders were related. Around the same time, a mental patient had escaped from a nearby mental health care facility. He was not just some another patient, but a patient with a violent rage. He had killed his wife in one of his fits before being admitted to the care facility. It was clear that it was that patient who was committing the murders. Police were trying desperately to catch the patient; however, he was still running amok, and the number of dead bodies was increasing.

She entered her apartment building and started climbing the stairs. Her home was on the fourth floor. As she reached for her keys to open her door, a lock on her neighbor’s door caught her attention. It was there for almost a month now. She missed her neighbor: a sweet and gentle mother of two who was her only friend in the building. She had gone to her parents’ house with her kids. Her husband had been killed by that murderer patient a month ago. It was the first murder.

She wasn’t sad for him, and neither his wife. He was a terrible human being who was a drunk and a chronic gambler. He would beat his wife, and quarreled with everyone. He hated her guts as she was sole friend and consoler of his wife. He used to think that she was turning his wife against him, which was true. She hated how her friend would turn meek in front of his husband and give in to his every demands. She had tried talk some sense into her friend, but to no avail. She remembered an incident before he died. It was two days before his murder. He was beating his wife again, but when she tried to intervene he turned on to her. Few other people, who were gathered hearing the commotion, stopped him before he could do any harm to her. With his hands tied, he started throwing insults at her. She could still hear his words, “Oh, you think you are so brave, woman. You wanna mess with me, lady? Oh, you wanna stop me? You will have to kill me to stop me. Oh, I can see it. I can see a murder in your eyes? Do you wanna kill me?” In fact, she did wanted to kill him at that second. Well, his bad karma took care of it. He was killed within couple of days. What goes around comes around.

(To be continued…)

Makeup

She had only an hour to get ready. She sat in front of her vanity mirror. She spread all her goodies, her lipsticks, eye shadow palettes, brushes, and whatnots, on the table. She looked at her makeup collection, and she knew exactly which products she was going to use. She knew how to make herself look like a star of the party. Makeup came naturally to her.

She used a brush to apply foundation on her face, then made her cheeks looked rosy with a blush, and then continued to make her eyes sparkle with eye shadows. She knew the steps like the back of her hand. In her mind’s eye, she could see her mother getting ready in front of a mirror as she was now. She had always enjoyed watching her mother get ready as a child. She would sit in a corner and watch her mother apply kajal in her eyes, braid her hair in a neat plait, carefully select pieces of jewelry to wear, and don a beautiful cotton saree. She would watch it all in awe. She wanted to look just like her mother. Her little hands would itch to try to put on the makeup just like her mother would do. She would beg her mother to let her practice it on her mother’s face. Her mother never allowed it.

Nonetheless, she had found a willing guinea pig to practice putting makeup on. It was her father. He would let her sit on his tummy so that she could powder his face. He would always smile as she would paint his face with blush and lipstick. He would sit tight as she would try to tie his hair in a ponytail. He would always tell her how beautiful he looked after all the makeup and hair-styling.

She smiled as she remembered her initiation to the world of beauty and makeup. Her mother was her inspiration, but it was her father who had helped her perfect her eyeliner strokes!