Posted in Life and After

The Sadist

First line suggested by Lucinda E Clarke

Tomorrow I am going to kill Caroline, but I can’t decide how to take her life away.

I can always bite her head off…the thought was repulsive, so obviously, I relished it. I run through the scene in my mind where I bite off different parts of her head one-by-one, leaving the nose, of course, since she has nose allergy which keeps it permanently runny.

But honestly, once I bite any part of her, she would snap and throw me out of the room. I need a more plausible scenario. Maybe I’ll pick up a fight with that mad dog in the backstreet to get rabies and then bite her.

But what’s the point of revenge if I don’t live to enjoy it? I rack my brains again. What if I push her overboard when she offers to take me on a flight around the place? I’ll make sure she lands on something hard.

But then, who will steer? I hardly have the physical faculties needed for a safe landing. Well, maybe I’ll just bite off the twigs from her broomstick and then decline to go with her. Then her broomstick will surely crash and Dad will never go on a date with her. And he will never forget to feed me…

How could he forget to feed me? An overwhelming sadness engulfs me that has nothing to do with food and everything to do with losing the only man I ever loved…

The soft click of the window handle startles me. Dad glides in on his broomstick. But, how? He was only gone 15 minutes. Didn’t he say he’ll be out all night? Not that I’m complaining…

“Caroline was asking about you, Darling. She sent me right back when I admitted having forgotten your dinner.” He hugs and pets me, pours kibbles and fresh fish in my bowl and leaves on his broomstick again.

Maybe I’ll let Caroline live after all…

Posted in Love

Not Me | Haiku

Sun rains down not kindly.

I plough through life as not me

‘Cause you love not me.


Authors note: A Haiku is a three-line Japanese poetry with 5,7,5 syllables. It contains a reference to nature.

Posted in Life and After

60 Feet Under

Author’s note: This is short story based on the first line suggested by Beetleypete.

It was so hot there, much hotter than I could ever have imagined it would be. I had always expected it to be cool below the surface since the desert sun couldn’t get to you. But apparently, I was wrong.

It was stifling hot and suffocating, even though, I didn’t need to breath anymore. The casket I was lying in was rather stuffy. May be a walk in the tomb would help.

It was just as dark outside. There was no way of knowing whether it was day or night. Who would want to live for eternity stuck in a hole where you could see neither the sun, nor the moon and stars. Not that I needed light to see. My eyes adjusted to the dark just fine but it didn’t take away the claustrophobia, reminding of the one time I had been foolish enough to hide in a closet.

The paintings on the walls depicted my life in the world outside–my wife, sons and daughters, my territory and the time of my glorious reign. As if I needed a reminder of that now! I already thought of it all the time. The other paintings were decorative and I had already memorised every single line from the countless lonely walks in the past years.

The bandages on my body were making me itchy. I wished I had my wife to scratch out that itch on my back but she was still out there, alive. Sigh! I will have to wait until she is done with her time on the surface until she is lowered here with me. If she chooses to sleep in the same tomb as me…Not sure she would. I wasn’t a model husband–too many mistresses to make her jealous.

She wasn’t allowed to have another husband to get even with me but what if she took a slave? Did she do that while I was still alive? With the dark one with the tall soldier-like build–the one she had chosen to keep when we were sifting through the war prisoners? In my mind, I could see the longing in her eyes for the tall monstrosity who became her personal guard and the knowing smirk on the guard’s face when he had leaned on one knee and kissed her knuckles.

I wanted to throw my fists through the walls. If I had a heart anymore, it would have burst with the pain. You would think that, with an eternity to brood, I would accept fate but, with an eternity to brood, the thoughts kept coming back. Like the day our last child was born–the child was darker than usual. The pain of deception had cut me through. It was one thing for me to sleep with another woman but to find out that my wife was doing another man…

When I had voiced my doubt, she had cried her heart out, reminding me of my own many indiscretions and fainted in her bed. I was aghast. I knew what she had done. I should have ordered their beheading right then. But here I was sitting in her bed, holding her hand, feeling guilty, waiting for her to wake up. Not sure when I fell asleep too. The choking sensation had had me reeling.

I wondered if he helped her or she did it on her own…

I wondered if she cried for me at all…

I woke up inside the casket in the tomb. It was so hot there, much hotter than I could ever imagine. I had always expected it to be cool below the surface since the desert sun couldn’t get to you. But apparently, I was wrong. The bandages were itchy and I wished I had my wife…

Posted in Life and After

Dogs Know Everything

Author’s note: The first line of this story was shared with me by Jennie to help me break the writer’s block. Thank you, Jennie, for all the help.

Dogs know everything. The boy followed his Lab, his best friend. It was a different path and that worried the boy.

Usually Molly always took the same path for their walks. She knew it was difficult for the boy to navigate through unknown terrain even with her help. Not being able to see what lay ahead put him on the edge and, in his nervousness, he tripped more often. So, ever since Molly became his family, they always stuck to the same route.

But, that evening, when she stopped to sniff the air and moved in a different direction, the boy wondered what had changed.

She pulled at the leash hurrying him. He couldn’t run as fast as she wanted but she wasn’t patient as always. He wondered if Molly was after a squirrel but it was unusual. She never went after squirrels. She knew never to rush because he couldn’t follow. As he ran breathless and clueless after her, he wondered if other people were right and he should have bought a dog trained by the professionals.

She suddenly veered left and ran off-road. He tripped and fell. He thought she would stop for him to get up but Yelllow grabbed him by the back of his collar and pulled him behind what smelled like hydrangea bushes. He could feel his blood from where it trickled down his bruised right elbow. She licked at the wound and a horrible thought crossed his mind. Aren’t all dogs related to wolves? Now that she has tasted his blood, what was she going to do with him?

As he pushed her away and tried to stand up to defend himself, she jumped on him. He fell face down with her sitting on his back with all the weight of a grown-up labrador. He lashed out at her but she didn’t budge. He hated feeling powerless but there was no other option. He would have to shout for help, he decided.

That’s when he felt them–the dank wiff of cheap alcohol, the sound of several staggering footsteps and the reckless, cruel laughter. He didn’t know any of the voices but the fear in his gut intensified and his instinct told him to stay still as the raucous procession passed. He felt Molly tense up on his back in what felt like a protective stance. Suddenly, there was a sound of a glass bottle shattering on a tree trunk close to where they lay. Someone whooped at the perfect shot. Another challenged to try a ‘moving target’. He shivered with fear. Had they seen him through the foliage?

But they moved on to find that ‘target’.

Once the prcession passed, Molly finally got down from his back, pulled his stick urging him to get up and move back to the safety of their home. He didn’t know the path anymore after having run pell-mell to the place but he felt safe with Molly. She would never let him get lost.

Posted in Life and After

The Maze

Author’s note: This is my second attempt at a “first-line story” to break what we all know as a writer’s block. The first line of the story was suggested by GP. I hope I did it justice. 🙂


She wandered aimlessly through the maze, wondering what the surprise was when she emerged.

Her father was holding her hand, of course, afraid that she too will run ahead of him like her brother did. She was constantly barraging her father with questions he had no answer to—how did he know where to turn and which door to take, and how would they find their way back when they have found her brother.

When, and not if…her faith was absolute—nothing untoward could befall her seventeen-year-old brother. He was her hero—fearless, invicible and undestructible.

The maze seemed to be going on forever as they went door after door looking for him. She was sure he would have reached the prize by now and must be waiting for them with the trophy in his hand; or may be it would be a really big teddy, like the one she saw the other day when her brother had taken her to the market. The thought perked her up and she quickened her pace, pushing the doors open before her father could stop her.

She felt her brother before she saw him. The smell of his favourite deodorant and the familiar sound of his favourite love song album filled the room that, she suddenly realised, was his bedroom. The sense of dread filled her heart and her gut told her to close the door before… But, like every time before that, she couldn’t stop herself.

Her brother’s body hung from the ceiling fan—tongue lolling, eyes popped out…

She was screaming until her husband shook her out of the ‘nightmare’ and held her against his heart as he had done for countless nights in the past eight years and her parents did for many more years before that. She sobbed until she drifted into an uneasy sleep, hoping against hope for a dreamless night.

And to think that her brother died believing that no one loved him…


Photo by MontyLov on Unsplash

Posted in Love

Mirage

Your arms curl around me

I snuggle content, hoping to die before

waking to find you gone.


A Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry with 5, 7, 5 syllable combination. Usually, all lines are independent with a least one reference to nature/seasons.

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Last Straw

Author’s note: This is my first attempt at first line stories. The first line of the story was suggested by Fraggle. Thank you, FR. I hope it loves up to your expectations.

The death of the goldfish is the last straw.

My tail is twitching with agitation. I want to kill Gilly. I’ve been telling her since day one not to overfeed Goldy but she’s been constantly offering him treats for tricks when she thought I wasn’t looking. And now as I return from work, Goldy floating sideways in water, eyes closed, close to the cove roof while Gilly is looking at me sheepishly from the far corner, waiting for the sharp rebuke that is sure to come. The weight of the life lost is coming down on my shoulders making it difficult to stand.

I can’t always keep an eye on her. I’m a single mother with a job to keep. Apart from my regular job at the Shell and Pearls art shop, I work three nights a week at the Oceans One Disco to pay for Gilly’s tution. So, she’s alone after study hours. I adopted Goldy, hoping he’d give her the much needed company. I hadn’t considered if, without adult supervision, my young daughter would be able to keep him alive…

I sit down heavily on the ancient coral reef seat that once belonged to my great-grandmother. How did my mother manage to raise me and her mother before her, since none of our fathers—the stranded sailors—stayed long enough for us to grow up. They’d rather catch the first ship back home. But in those times, mermaids raised their children together in large schools so there was always someone elderly to take care of the young ones while mothers foraged for food and wannabe mothers foraged for sailors. I remember clearly the hours I had spent hanging around in open ocean with friends and elderly mermaids, learning how to sing, dance and read. I had a happy childhood.

But now, as the city of Atlantis grows to the outskirts and unfamiliar faces become a common sight, it isn’t safe to leave behind our children out in the open. So, schools are limited to a few hours a day with classes held in closed rooms, and children are sent back to empty homes to fend for themselves. Gilly has to spend uncountable hours alone and I had believed a pet would make her happy. He did too as her constant companion and friend. But now, he’s gone, and I’m not sure I’ll risk another life again.

A deep sadness settles in the pit of my stomach. Goldy wasn’t just a fish; he was family. He was my responsibility too—another one I failed at. Should I rebuke Gilly for being a careless owner? But she must also be grieving…

I look at her and am greeted with expectant eyes. I open my arms to Gilly and beckon her to me. She shouts with glee, “Didn’t I tell you, Goldy, she loves me too,” as she swims in my lap, and Goldy rushes forward to join her, leaving the play-dead act behind.

I roll my eyes to show I amn’t affected by their little drama, but my heart throbs happily, beating a steady rhythm against my chest, trying to drive away the memories of ancient pain.

Posted in Love, Twisted Tales

Sleeping Beauty

In days of yore, a young lass

pretty as pretty could be,

her tresses gilted in gold,

azure eyes sparkled with glee.

At age, her parents invited

men from places far and neigh,

she slept assured true love will

find her in her reverie.

Years passed unaccounted for.

No one broke her thousand winks.

No prince ever came for her.

Parents crossed the rainbow bridge.

Their once pretty girl–with grey hair,

clouded eyes and sagging skin–

died in her sleep…

I wish she’d done something, instead.

Posted in Love

Unrequited | Poetry | Sher

You said “I do” but you didn’t,

Inception of love eternal lost in the forbidden,

Love unrequited wishes still

For chances endless until you return.


Qubool kar be hua nhi. Irshad kho gya zina me kahi.

Teri ashanai me hume fir bhi musalsal mukarrar ka hi irada h.


Author’s note: An English Quatrain (verse with four lines) translated into Urdu Sher (couplet)

Posted in Love

Mourning | Lantern | Sher

Trees

ceased flowering

mourning the one

who deserted ruined garden,

in disgust.

Jinki yaad me shazar pe gulo ne ugna chood diya,

Unhi ne hikarat se sunsaan gulistaa chhod diya.


Author’s note: A Lantern (Japanese style of poetry with 1, 2, 3, 4, 1 words) translated in an Urdu sher (couplet). Mine is “nearly a Lantern” because the last line has two words.

Posted in Life and After, Love

Bridled

My feet were killing me. I had spend yesterday’s Sangeet (Music and Dance) ceremony limping around in two-inch heels. It was as if I was continuously walking downhill. The fear of slipping and falling on my face made me clench my toes and within a few minutes, my calves and feet began complaining. I was the only one at the party who wasn’t able to dance at all.

And today, in a couple of hours, I will be expected to walk to my future husband while wearing these three-inch stiletto monstrocities. My cousins specially ordered these online bacause they loved me and wanted to make my day special. I wish I could stop them but it seems like all my life choices had been taken out of my hands ever since I agreed to marry.

I looked away to think of something else and my eyes rested on my lap, on the appalling red lehenga dress I was wearing—my mother’s choice. The equally red dupatta sat at a distance leering at me waiting for its turn to wrap me in its folds, its golden lace trimming and countless stones winking in the light.

The air of the room reeked of hair spray as the beautician tried to stick my short, spiky hair to my scalp in an attempt to hide my obvious boyishness. The large fake hair bun she had attached to the nape of my neck with a hundred pins was weighing my head down. Soon, she’d cover it with what seemed like half-the-flowershop, and paint my face with primer, concealer, foundation, face powder, face glitter, eye-shadow, kajal, eyeliner, blush, lip-liner, lipstck, an assortment of bindi

I had a sudden urge to throw on my favourite t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, and run away—if only my feet would stop hurting…

My phone vibrated.

“How are you holding up?”

“I’m running away.”

“Take me with you. They are making me wear a brocade sherwani. I’m melting in the stifling heat.”

“At least, you won’t wear heels.”

“Can you sneak out for a minute?”

“They won’t let me leave the room until they are done painting me.”

“Well, then, I’ll have to do this formally. See you in a minute.”

What was my future husband doing outside my home a couple of hours before our marriage? Why wasn’t he home preparing for the marriage procession? He was the only silver lining in all this craziness—the only guy who didn’t flinch at my obvious boyishness and career choice as a travel guide. What did he want to talk to me about now? Did he change his mind?

A knock on the door brought me out of the reverie. One of my cousins let my groom in, giggling uncontrollably. My parents were tailing him, clearly worried by his sudden appearance two hours before the time and without his family too.

He gave me a smile of comaderie, “So, I was looking at your video from yesterday’s function. I kept waiting for you to dance because your had once said that you loved to, but you just sat there, trying to smile and failing. Then, I realised you will be required to wear something even fancier today…”

I couldn’t understand where he was going with this speech. It didn’t seem like a matter urgent enough for the unexpected visit. However, he came closer and sat down on one knee next to my chair, a shopping bag open next to him. “I decided to be your knight in the shining armour, so you could dance with me today.” He took off the fancy heels from my aching feet, and slid on a pair of sneakers.

Finally freed, I fell in love.

Posted in Love

Gum (Lost)

Ab aaye ho? Mujhe dhoondhte jana.

Ek arse se kisi ki yado me gum hu.

___________

English translation:

So, you’ve finally returned? Find me before you leave again.

For ages, I’ve been lost in someone’s memories.

___________

Author’s note: Sher are couplets in Urdu that tell a complete story.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Samandar (The Sea): Sher

Jis samandar ki lehero me tair ke laut aaye hum,

Suna he ki log usme doob ke paar ho gaye.

_________________________________________

Translation:

The ocean that I swam in and returned from unscathed,

I’ve heard, has drowned many and let them pass.

______________________________________

Author’s note: In Urdu poetry, a Sher is a couplet, where two lines present one thought or story.

Posted in Love

At Fault

You told me it was in my best interest–

the yelling, the barely restrained anger.

Then,

You told me it was all my fault–

the yelling, the unrestrained anger.

Now,

You tell me I deserve it–

before all hell breaks loose

everyday…

Posted in Love, Nature

My Neighbours: The Conservative

It is slightly stuffy but it is home and I love it. There is a lot of room to walk around and food hangs from the sealing everywhere. It is rather dark for the lack of sunlight, but who needs to see anyway. It is unsafe on the surface, what with all the sunlight and the monsters that roam the earth. I hardly go up except when stormwater floods the tunnels. My life is quiet but safe. It’s a lonely existence but company is overrated.

She wanted a ‘life of adventure’. I had assumed she would see the fault in her ways and return to our molehill. Afterall, who likes to eat from dustbins when they can get fresh roots? But…

Sometimes, I walk to where my tunnel runs beneath the nest she built with an uncouth rat and hear the soft pattering of little feet that are her proginy. Those are the moments when I wonder if a life of adventure wasn’t as bad.

I guess, I’d never find out.

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Long Walk

It is a long walk down the aisle. My father holds my hand reassuringly while my mom sobs in the pew. He stands with the pastor looking perfect as ever but I can’t bring myself to smile.

Is it too late to cancel?

Is it wrong to wish for something other than perfection?

I pass by her and, for a second, her entire face lightens up but, then, the lights go out again. Her red-rimmed eyes mirror mine.

Is it too late to cancel?