Message in a bottle. 

Message in a bottle. 

He sat quietly scribbling on a piece of paper. Two open beer bottles lay right next to him. The night hid his face well, it hid his tears better. He scribbled on for a while aided by dim streetlight that barely sufficed. When he was done he paused for a moment and read what he had written. This was the outlet for his sorrow. This was everything he had left. He carefully rolled up the paper he had written on and dropped it into the empty bottle he had dried. He took out a cork from his pocket and pressed it into the bottles mouth. He kept it aside and turned his attention to his smartphone, he opened up the gallery and browsed through the pictures until he reached her. She was smiling, happy and beautiful. He smiled at her through his tears. For a while now, he had only been able to see her smiling and happy in the photographs. They had somehow grown apart almost as fast as they had got together. He let his thoughts travel back down memory lane back to the day when he first saw her. 
It was his first day on the job. Salesperson at a retail outlet. He was proud of himself as he donned the company t-shirt and made his way to the front desk. He was assigned by the manager to check the inventory in the store room with the new girl who had just joined with him. He had noticed her on the day of her interview itself. 

She was gorgeous and confident but kinda had this look that said she was hiding something bad. They hadn’t spoken yet and he made use of the opportunity at hand to introduced himself. She looked up at him half smiling and returned a ‘hello’ along with her name. There was a momentary pause as they worked but slowly they started talking to each other, random talk about college and family and what not. Days went on to weeks and they had grown closer, as good friends as can be.

He looked over at her as he had his lunch, she sat in a corner staring blankly out the window. This had been a ritual for her from day one, she never ate. She had refused to say why and had turned down food others had offered her. He had tried a couple times as well, but then decided to let her be when she asked that she be left alone. 

As he watched her something came over him and he made his way over to her with his tiffin in hand. He sat beside her and continued munching on the sandwiches his mother had made for him. He opened up a conversation with her, she seemed uninterested as usual, but he kept speaking. He told her about a relationship he had been in, how the girl just said ‘I’m sorry’ one fine day and left, he told her about he had travelled since and how the people who had loved him helped him get over it. 

She looked at him blankly for a moment before looking back out the window. He had almost given up and was about to get up when she started speaking. Her eyes got wet as she told him about her boyfriend who she had been with since school and how their relationship had fallen apart. She didn’t delve into the why and he didn’t want to pry. She kept speaking for a while, absentmindedly picking up one of his sandwiches. As the lunch break neared an end, she looked better after talking about it. He had been supportive all the while, assuring her that things would be okay, that she would be okay. As he walked away he turned back to her and called out,” heyy! You know what’s special about today?” ” What?”, she called back. “You had lunch today sweetheart!”

She smiled at him, a little embarrassed. 

Things went on like that for a while. She shared his lunch while they talked about stuff. They got closer until one day he found her sitting there again, staring out the window, the same blank expression on her face. He went there and sat next to her and his hand on her shoulder and asked,” are you okay?”
She looked at him and after a moment said,” let’s get out of here please.”

That’s exactly what they did. They asked for a half day leave and left on his motorcycle. They just kept going until she pointed to a signboard that pointed to a beach. 

As they sat on the sand she rested her head on his shoulder. He slowly put his arm around her and built up the courage to tell her how he felt about her. As he did she looked at him and smiled, there was no surprise on her face as she went back to resting her head back on his shoulder. For a moment he was tensed, she didn’t reply, maybe he had overstepped, he was about to start apologising when she intertwined her fingers with his. 

From then it was a montage of every romantic movie ever. They had fallen in love and the whole world seemed to be such a beautiful place. Everything seemed perfect. 

A passing truck woke him from his memories and he fumbled around with his smartphone. He typed a note on it that said:
Too much in debt, can’t handle it. I’m sorry. 

He carefully placed the phone next to the empty beer bottle and looked at his feet dangling beneath him. The water looked peaceful all the way down from his seat on the bridge. He carefully picked up the bottle with the message inside and thought of the past two weeks when the both of them had started acting so strange and cold to each other. They had reached a point of not talking when she had sent him a text that said:
I’m sorry but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t handle you being so emotionally dependent on me. I can’t handle the responsibility. I am suffocating. I’m sorry.

He had tried to mend things with apologies and promises of being better but nothing worked, the love of his life seemed to find no excitement anymore. He had given up when he found out that she had blocked his calls.

 “This is the answer to the question of life” he laughed out to the cold night air as he dropped his message into a bottle, corked it, and threw into the watery depths below. He had been sitting here to work up the courage to follow it down and he did have it now. 

Many Years later
She sat with her colleagues laughing at a joke. The office had arranged a new party in Goa, they deserved it too. It had been fun. New Year’s Eve. Goa. They had planned to attend one of the famous New Year’s Eve parties but something went wrong with the tickets and they decided to spend the evening at a shack near the sea. The plan was to drown themselves in alcohol and seafood. 
On her way back from the washroom she noticed something peculiar on the wall. It was covered in photos of people happily enjoying their time at the shack except for a few pieces of paper pinned right in the centre. Intrigued she approached it and saw a note left by that read:
If you are the woman mentioned in this letter, feel free to take it with you.

-Management 

She lifted the note and took a look at the letter. She gasped in surprise. She would recognise that handwriting anywhere. It was his! She checked the signature at the bottom just to be sure and it matched. She quietly slipped it into her purse and walked back to her hotel room telling her colleagues she wasn’t feeling too good. She looked the part too. She needed to read it and she needed peace and quiet to do so. As soon as she reached her room, she switched on the table lamp and dropped on the bed. She carefully took the letter from her purse and paused for a moment before turning her attention to it; it read:

To my dearest, 

I don’t know what to write my darling. I had hoped to make things better but I guess it was too late. I know you will never read this but then I had to try. I hope they find me and that my body isn’t lost to sea. Ive left a note blaming the debts so that no one will point a finger at you. But knowing you’ll never read this, my finger is pointed at you.

You came into my life when I thought I would never find someone to care about again. It took me ages to brush away the hurt as easily as I did so in front of you. When you came into my life, it was like a small speck of light illuminating a vast darkness. I fell for you, I tried not to, I didn’t want to, but i did. You came with your own darkness and I believe I played no small part in helping you overcome it. 

You told me that you didn’t feel the same. You told me it was suffocating you. The little ring in my pocket seemed to burn my skin when I heard these words. I didn’t feel the same way as when we started too. I wanted to ask you to marry me and start a family with me. 
We’ve helped each other grow. We’ve fought. We’ve laughed and fooled around. Whatever came between us, the love we had always helped us get back to each other. Until now. 

When you told me you couldn’t handle me being emotionally dependant on you, I saw in your eyes that you’d forgotten all the little things that mattered to us and all the good times we shared. You just saw responsibility and you decided to run. 

Sitting here on the edge of my life I wish you would call me and say it was a silly mistake. I know I can survive this, but I don’t want to. I don’t want a life without you. I don’t blame you for this decision I’ve taken but I do blame you for going back on the decision you took. 

I’ve treated you as a part of me, an extension of my life from the moment our hands first intertwined and I hoped you’d feel the same way. You didn’t. You felt bored with the person I was. The excitement died. I realise that being a person who supported you and wanted you to live your life ended up boring you. I do remember how badly you clung to the relationship you had before. How badly you were hurt. 

I hope you live your life and find someone who keeps your interest and keeps you happy. I will always love you wherever I am. 

Once your forever-ever-after…

<sign>

  

She left by the very next flight itself. She couldn’t take it . She needed to be around family, she needed to be home. Her car was parked at the airport and she told her half awake and completely surprised husband that she missed him and the kids. She turned away from him as she dropped into bed to hide her tears. 
Her husband woke up early the next day. She was still in bed. On his way to make coffee he found the edge of a sheet of paper sticking out of her bag. He opened the bag and took out the sheets only wanting to straighten them out. He was at a loss for words when he saw what it was. 
He had last seen it when he had dropped it into a beer bottle and that he corked just before dropping it into the river, just moments before a call saying it was just a silly mistake stopped him from following it into the watery depths. 

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The Wrong Man: Chapter 2

The Wrong Man: Chapter 2

For those of you who are here for the first time go to Capter 1 to read from the beginning or visit the title page.

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The bowl of cereal her mother had left for her remained untouched. Food. It seemed so unnecessary and alien to Anita as she sat on her bed staring blankly at the photo frames on the wall. They were a happy family. The pictures that hung there were proof enough. Radhu’s first birthday, she looked so happy in the beautiful pink princess gown laughing in sheer happiness looking at the stuffed animals that surrounded her. A picture of the three of them standing at the top of the lighthouse looking away into the horizon. Continue reading “The Wrong Man: Chapter 2”

The Wrong Man Part 1: Prologue and Chapter 1

The Wrong Man Part 1: Prologue and Chapter 1

Prologue

The girl awoke on the cold stone floor, disoriented. As her vision cleared she realised she was alone, darkness surrounded her. She looked into the solitary light that hung right above her illuminating a small circle with her at the centre. She tried to sit up but her hand and legs were tightly tied together. She started crying, what else could you expect from a 9-year-old?

She lay there unable to move, sobbing and occasionally crying out for help. There were no other sounds to end the frightening silence the darkness surrounding her accompanied. She fell asleep soon, her fragile mind refused to stay awake during this terrifying ordeal. She woke up a while later to find nothing had changed. She was hungry now, she could feel her stomach grumbling. But thoughts about food were the last thing on her mind, she missed her parents, her mother most of all.

The next time she woke up she imagined her father stepping into the circle of light to save her from this miserable place. The next time she imagined her mother sitting beside her, singing her to sleep. She saw these illusions regularly now, every time she woke up. But she was weak now, barely able to open her eyes. Her mind was just a jumble of memories and emotions now.

As she awoke this time she felt something she hadn’t for a long time. A touch on her cheek. She instinctively looked up not understanding what she was seeing. A man was crouched by her, examining her, speaking to her. She didn’t understand the words but she knew somehow that help was finally here. Tears fled her eyes as the man laid her back. He held her by the throat and plunged a knife directly into her heart as he looked on into her eyes, that were filled with tears but were otherwise blank. He shouted in anger. It wasn’t as satisfying as he had hoped it would be. It wasn’t satisfying at all. He stood there cursing himself for wasting the child. If only he had done away with her sooner, the pleasure of seeing the terror in her eyes as the last bit of her life ebbed away would’ve been his. He continued cursing himself for sometime until suddenly a calm took over him and he started cleaning up, knowing full well what he had to do. What he wanted to do.

Chapter 1

Anita sat beside the campfire probing the embers with a stick absent-mindedly. Her thoughts were re-winding to the events that had unfolded in the afternoon. Anita, Her husband Shiva, their daughter Radhika and Shiva’s brother Sanjay were out camping in the woods. It wasn’t exactly the wilds, but it was a popular spot for people around the area to relax and enjoy nature at its best, and also the fact that it had huge trees that grew dense together and were ample enough to convince the sweet nine-year old Radhika that they were actually going to sleep in the ‘forest’ that night was the best part about it.

Things had gone smooth from when they had arrived up until just after lunch when they had run into another family, Constable Mani’s. Mani was in his late forties, a constable at the local station near their home from the time they had moved there. What was peculiar about Mani was that he seemed to have it in for Shiva. He used to stare at him and call him everything that rolled off his filthy tongue. Why? Anita had even asked him once, when she met him in the super-market, he had always been nice to her. The scowl he wore showed that he was thinking before giving her a reply which was on the lines of, “ I have had many years on the force dear girl. I’ve seen many things. I – I have a bad feeling about him, intuition. “

She had sincerely tried to change his intuition, but whatever she would say he would reply by just shaking his head. Things soon went downhill from there. Shiva grew angrier knowing constable Mani had it in for him all because of his ‘intuition’. They spun out of control when the constable flagged down his car and had him wait for nearly an hour which ended with them toeing the fine line between an argument and a fist fight. It wasn’t pretty at all but luckily Anita had managed to get between the two men and settle things with apologies and explanations.

Today was their first meeting after the incident. They started with something trivial and  next thing you know they were hurling abuses at each other without a care that their wives and children were watching in horror. It took some effort but they were soon separated and sent on their way. Anita and Mani’s wife had stayed back to apologise to each other.

As Anita got back to their campfire, Shiva was getting ready for a walk. He said he needed to clear his head and allowed Radhika go with him partly because she was literally begging to be taken along.

Sanjay suddenly dropping down next to her brought her back to the present. She looked at him, he was a few years younger than her, shabby hair and an unkept beard highlighted with a pair of jeans that looked to be from the last decade and a black hoodie to top it all off. She had seen photos of him from earlier. He had been athletic before… before ‘it’ happened. Now he was just a fat man in his early thirties who never smiled and barely talked. The only one he really ever seemed to get along with was Radhika, she loved uncle Sanjay and he seemed to be closest to smiling only when she was around.

The ‘it’ that had happened seemed to be something right out of a horror movie. Sanjay had married his college sweetheart right after they graduated and had a daughter a little more than a year later. Things were moving along beautifully, with Sanjay jumping up ladders at his job, his wife Anjali and their beautiful little angel, Abhirami, as happy as can be.

‘It’ happened when Abhi was as old as Radhika is now. Sanjay had come home after a seemingly normal and tiring day at work to find his wife and daughter lying in a pool of their own blood in the kitchen. They never found who did it and this was how Sanjay had been since he came out of the depression he suffered from. He really didn’t do anything after, let alone go back to work. No one had the heart to blame him for not doing so. Shiva stepped in, being the good brother and took him in.

Sanjay sat there staring at the fire for a bit before getting up and walking in the direction Shiva had left in. “Going to join them.”, he said as he followed the path, leaving Anita alone at the camp. She just looked at him silently as he left, there wasn’t much of a choice when it came to Sanjay.

Hours flew by and Anita was getting a bit tensed now. They had been gone for a long time now. Too Long. She glanced at her watch for the thousandth time and looked up wondering if they were lost when she heard it. It was faint, the distinctive sound of a siren, from the direction they had left in.

She ran as fast as her feet would carry her. As she got closer she saw the blue and red flashing through the trees and the siren grew louder and louder until she started ignoring it. The police SUV stood on the other side of the clearing she emerged from. There were people everywhere. Uniformed police, men in casual clothes and even some women. Someone was shouting from near the SUV.  She squinted to get a better look, shielding her eyes from the flashing red and blue, and gasped as she realised it was Shiva. He was being dragged away by a couple of policemen. “He..Bastard…Leave me” was all she could make out from this distance. She needed to get closer to him but as she took her first step she saw that there was some commotion going on at the centre of the clearing. Is someone lying there? She asked herself as she was stopped by Mani, “Dear don’t go there. Not now. “ She looked at him and felt every ounce of courage leaving her. He wore a sad expression and there were tears in his eyes. She had to know what happened. It was as if she wasn’t in control of her body anymore. She pushed aside Mani’s hands and made her way forward.

She saw Sanjay first. He lay facedown, a small pool of blood by his head. But her brother-in-law couldn’t hold her attention when just a few feet ahead her daughter lay motionless on the ground. Bloody, a knife sticking out her chest.

She rushed forward and nearly fell beside her beautiful nine-year old. She trembled placing her daughter’s head in her lap. She shook her. She had to wake the little one up, but little Radhu lay still, as if she was sleeping. Anita screamed in horror for what seemed to be an eternity. She didn’t know whether she had stopped screaming or whether she could hear him over it, but she would later distinctly remember hearing her husband’s voice screaming out, “ He killed her. That bastard killed her. My beautiful Radhu. Leave me.”

She heard what he was saying, but she was oblivious to it. She was oblivious to the world. Her daughter lying dead before her was the only thing that registered in her head. She knelt there blankly staring at the body of her child who was taken from her as a few feet away her husband was being arrested for the murder.

He kept screaming through his tears as they took him away. “You got the wrong man…My Radhu”. Someone pulled her away from the body, “evidence” or something like that , they said. She resisted at first, it was her daughter lying there and she needed to be with her. Whoever was dragging her away was strong enough to hold her in place until she eventually gave up and started crying as her emotions caught up to her.

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Okay so as mentioned earlier, The next part of the series will be uploaded next Friday if the following conditions are met, since they are the first, i’ll keep them light:

  1. At least  10 WordPress likes
  2. At least 100 post views

So start sharing and please leave your comments as well.

The Bus: A Short Story

The Bus: A Short Story

(Inspired greatly from a true story a friend told me )

“… Designer shades just to hide your face in… wear ‘em around like you’re cooler than me”

I softly sang along with Mike Posner playing on my earphones as I waited at the bus stop after college. I was so bored. The classes sucked, I nearly fell off the desk sleeping. Bah. I didn’t even want to think of it anymore. I started checking out the girl who stood nearby. She probably saw me staring and looked at me cross, I looked away relieved as I saw the familiar orange low floor quietly rolling in. As I got in, I paused at the door, turned around and stuck my tongue out at the girl as the bus started moving. She started to say something but by then the doors had closed. I wore a smirk on my face as I found a seat towards the back of the bus.

Continue reading “The Bus: A Short Story”