Category Archives: Short Stories

An attempt to describe series of events that may or may not be fictitious.

Before Sunset

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She lit another cigarette. With another smoky exhale, it was affirmative. She had made up her mind. She was going to leave him. Somehow that notion made her smile. To immerse herself in the fancy idea of being in love was a lost cause. But damn, was it a guilty pleasure or what? This bond that they shared was lovely. Like most things that impart pleasure, this was strong and effective yet short-lived and volatile. I guess the realization that they needed not to extract something exquisite out of this, made it what it was.

The mortality of everyone and everything associated with everyone invoked a pragmatic cynicism in her. Of course she desired things that had stereotypically been associated with “girly notions”. The last time she checked, her lady-parts were intact. What was the use of suppressing her socio-psychological femininity, anyway? As she exhaled the last bit of grey dust from her poisoned lungs, she smothered the remaining of the consumed cigarette in the ashtray.

She looked at herself in the tainted mirror and pouted her full lips as she painted them in crimson. She rarely yet occasionally beautified herself in a manner that would, by conventional means, give an alluring impression of sexual attraction. Yet when she did, she made sure no stone was left unturned. Hence, the black, slightly revealing velvet dress and the leather jacket which was somewhere in between what a rockstar-wanna-be and a sophisticated artist would opt for. She tousled her hair carelessly as she grabbed her purse and car keys. She stole a final glance at the mirror and smiled, satisfyingly. When a tragedy is inevitable, one might as well put up a show to remember and beauty has the power to paralyze the pain as it diverts your mind. That was the weapon she was going to use tonight. Words had become a weary old tactic.

Driving through the brightly-lit city this evening, she created an air of detachment. Her focus was on the escape to freedom she had been craving and striving for so long. It was finally so near, so close. But what was this curve that crept around the corner of her lips? A frown? She felt a dagger icily pierce through her shell. Why did his world have to be so different? She shook the thought and blinked away the pre-mature tears. She consoled herself with the words of Oscar Wilde that women ruin romance by trying to make it last forever. She snickered and took a deep breath. She had no time for this shit.

She parked her car in the driveway of some forgettable fancy place to dine and made her way inside. Her eyes patiently sifted through the crowd, casually greeting a few familiar faces and acknowledging a few acquaintances. She found it absolutely irrelevant that many pairs of eyes were attentively, even curiously, fixed on her. This bored her as the only pair of eyes she was concerned with was her own, as they began to impatiently wander around the hall.

Her hands were cold and her face was warm, nothing unusual yet it irritated her. Her eyes had stopped waltzing as they lit up and admired the view. He was ordinary by all means yet exquisite in his own way. He stood there, unaware of her presence. She felt the dagger inside her shift uneasily because she knew he would always be who he was right in this moment. For when you love someone for who they are, change is unnecessary. They already possess the qualities that need no amendments. Any change whatsoever would turn him into someone who he was not but who she wanted him to be. That is why she was leaving him. They were parallel, by each others side, yet their paths did not cross. He was not meant to change his course of life for her, regardless her selfish desire for him to be so.

Then the moment she dreaded now dawned on her. His eyes met hers and within a time frame enough for a single breath to be taken away, she saw the “look”. It was the look she first noticed almost year ago. It was what ladies devour their hearts on. Yet for her, the timing could not have been more terrible. For it was the look of a man who has surrendered his heart yet refused to leave the fort he has built for himself. But the fort failed to conceal what his eyes made so obvious. She loved him, but he was in love with her. So she smiled, made her way towards him without losing eye contact and stood beside him. They did not exchange a single word. She silently slipped her hand in his and felt the warmth radiate in her existence. One might as well bask in the sun before the dark night engulfs the sunshine in its dark, black hole of infinity.

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It’s a trap!

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Bam, bam, bam! “I’ll rattle until it goes numb.” Knock, knock. “Let me out! How long do you think you can keep me inside like this?” Thud, thud.

“I can hear you pacing back and forth. Contemplate as much as you want, you ruthless, pathetic piece of shit! I’m not letting you out.”

Yet there he is and here you are. As much as you dread confrontations of this nature, you find yourself in the middle of it. This isn’t the first time. You tend to delay things as much as you can. But then, what do you do when you are to confront this mongrel?

“You love me, confess it. As much as you hate me, you love me.” He snickers, you panic.

“Shut it!” You punch the door with your fist; a useless action. “Your words are nothing but thin air.”

“You breathe me.” He whispers from the other side of the wooden door. You shake your head. “Let me out,” he says in a deep, low voice, “you know you want to.”

“You want to see me, don’t you? You want to know me, don’t you? You want to let me out, oh don’t you?” The last words almost take your breath away. Almost. ALMOST!

“Go fuck yourself!” You swear and kick the door. You command your legs to lead you far from this place but they don’t. Screams ring in your ears and vibrate through your nerves. They are your own. Why is your face wet? You touch it and feel trickles of perspiration that later on mix with your tears.

You fidget through your pockets with trembling hands. Where did you put the key? Where is it? It falls to the ground and you rush to pick it up.

“I’m letting you out so that you can leave me alone, okay?” No answer. You pause midway. “Hey… Wake up! I’m about to open the door.” Silence. You quickly proceed to unlock the door. You mumble under your breath “please be okay, please please be okay.” *Click* The door unlocked. You push it open.

The interior is chalk white, too white for you. He pushes you in and SLAM! The door locks behind you.

“You sly little bastard” You mutter under your breath. “You won, again.”

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Phoenix

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She furiously scribbles down the words of deception. “Pathetic”, she murmers under her breath.
She’s frustrated, she always is. Lost in her self conjured realm of a black hole containing nothing but baseless and pointless rants. She feeds on the self pity that disgusts her.
“Move on, you drag” she grumbles like a mumbling thunder. Rage is all she can think of. A rage that she can not explain, neither it’s origin, nor it’s destination.
It is a façade, she knows it. After all, she hates cracking open her chest to show off the bloody heart pumping in it’s battered form. Plunging into negativity is always something she does, often and fondly. It was sick, maybe psychotic. But she needs to put a finger on the throbbing pain. She can’t, unless it can be percieve through her senses.
Sweet surrender, it is. Her vanity swells up to over confidence. She is so sure that she can rise from her ashes. Before that, she has to proceed with her own funeral, burn her own dead body and then reserruct from the dust and smoke that once was her flesh and blood.
“How Emily Dickinson-ish of me”, she snickers.
She slowly raises her bloodshot gaze. The dying amber of the dusk lit a fire in her eyes accompanied by the twitch of her lips that formed a grin.

Unchained

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Another day, another fool; she smacked her lips with disapproval.

She raised her heavy eyelids to the young, nervous lad sitting at the other side of the desk. The desk between them made a difference; who sat on which side was all a matter of how the dice rolled. Somehow, she couldn’t recall being in his shoes. In a casual glance, she had made her decision.

“Mister…” She looked down at the piece of paper lying in the orange folder. I hate the color orange. What a distasteful, unpleasant choice! “Mr. Borough, yes. Thank you for your time but if I were you, I’d look out for other options, as well.” She’d done it, again! The despicable manner of hers; sugar coated, no-nonsense attitude with a slightly authoritative tone. She could sense his perspiration rate increase and that annoyed her. He nodded and hustled to gather his belongings as he prepared to make his way out the door. Another random face; She could not have been less bothered.

She heaved a sigh as the door shut behind the freshly graduated student. Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge, whose father was who or what family a person belonged to, what car who drove or what house they lived in, it bored her. It was all too cliche. She had seen too much of it. The cycle of handing over the responsibilites and facilities from generation to generation was monotonous. Rome was not built it a day and no one realized that unless they’d made a contribution.

“I want a crude piece of coal, raw material to exhaust my efforts and invest myself in.” She thought to herself. Her eyes fell upon the 3 carat pink rock embedded in the band wrapped around her left hand’s ring finger. She hadn’t got used to it yet; the ring or the fact that she was engaged. It made her silently giggle. It was not a happy giggle of a young lady in love with the man who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Rather, it was a snicker that failed to conceal her amusement. She had known him for years and they seemed to share an intimate agreement that this course of fate was inevitable. Neither of them objected this decision of match making. It was for the better, instead of prodding around looking for someone to fall for and go through a series of messy arrangements. They had never been in a relationship or talked about their feelings. One night after a casual dinner, he opened the small blue box with the ring in it.

“What do you think about it?” He asked with a smudge look on his face. He knew the answer.

“It’s huge and pink.” She said blankly. “I’ll take it.” And that was it.

With an automatic movement, she checked her cell phone that displayed the usual phrase, “no new notifications”. She put it down without significantly reacting and looked up at the clock; 2:34pm. The clock is too bright for this office. I’ll buy a new one tomorrow. She turned back to the computer screen and let the hours pass by just the way they did every day.

People would come and go, say yes and no, meet her, listen to her, talk to her, give her anonymous documents and the mechanism proceeded, unaltered. This is what people call success. She rolled her eyes and looked up at the clock again; 4:42pm.

“You are so full of yourself!” A twenty-something aderinaline-driven, sharp-looking young man stormed into her office. His face flushed with anger and contempt.

“Don’t wet yourself, kiddo” She said, coolly as she returned to her computer.

“He was from Harvard, Meesha! If that’s not what you want, then what do you want? Could you at least be courteous enough to tell me that!”

“Sit and calm down before you get a stroke.” She did not look up from the screen as he paced back and forth. “Just because your sister owns the company does not give you any special privileges. At least not apart from the ones you already have.”

“I’d known him ever since I was ten years old!” He said, annoyed.

“It seems like you’re still ten years old, Muneeb.” She was getting impatient. “If you want your friends around, then call them over at your place and play the zillionth Assassin’s Creed or whatever you’re into these days. This office is not your playground.”

“Stop treating me like a kid!” He had stopped pacing and shoved his hands in his pockets.

“Then stop acting…” Her phone rang and he marched out of the office, muttering under his breath. She looked at her cell phone as the name Aaliyan illuminated the screen. She picked it up.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in a meeting?” She inquired, half-amused. It was 4:45pm. He was right on time, as he’d been for years.

“You might as well appreciate my effort of being a good fiancé, Meeshpops.”

“You’re the best, Aaliyan. You know that.” She looked at the pink glistening diamond on her hand. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be wearing this thing around all day.”

“That confuses me. Should I be flattered or taken aback?” Before she could answer that, she could hear someone call him at the other end. “That’s my cue. Are you still up for dinner tonight?”

“Yeah, of course but I might be a bit late.”

“Alright, see you then. Bye.”

“Bye.”

With the abrupt end of the phone call, she looked up at the clock again; 4:49pm. She quickly wrapped things up and made her way out. After the usual goodbyes by all the people she encountered on her route outside, she pushed the main exit doors and let the city air gush in her face. She walked to her shiny car with the evident benz hallmark glistening. What model was it? She couldn’t even remember. She quickly got in and drove away.

Leaving the reverend buildings behind, she drove into posh residency and parked her car in the garage. Almost jumping out of the car, Meesha rushed inside and directly went into her room. Within ten minutes, she transformed from a critical and savvy businesswoman to a carefree, youthful and laid back lady. Her neat and sober attire had turned into a baggy t-shirt and an old pair of faded denims. Her flawless make up had been washed away revealing her fresh features. She pulled out the hair pins that held her hair in a tied knot and she let her hair fall down, lose. She quickly put on her flip flops  and went back to the garage.

She marveled the beauty of the 1965 navy blue mustang that her father once drove. She grabbed the car keys and started the car. Her eyes shone as if the engine had ignited life into her, too. She drove out of the garage, the town and then the city.

The sun was dipping down as blood red rays oozed through the patches of white above the skyline. She put her huge sunglasses on and lit a cigarette as she drove by the rural outskirts. She cranked up the volume and sang along to the Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of her lungs. She opened the windows of the car and let the wind blow through her hair. She laughed as she let herself drown in the colors that surrounded her.

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Momma

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Jumping onto her lap, snuggling and cuddling her, kissing her cheek while passing each other in the hallway, laughing at ludicrous jokes or just hugging her. I’d grown so used to these maternal gestures of intimacy as if her touch was the addiction of my skin. After all, I was a prodigy of not only her bio-genetic make up, but also a seed of her heart, a fragment of her soul. My roots generated from her soil but the rest of the plant was an autonomous structure.

While sipping tea from her cup, her eyes were like a cat; vigilant, aware yet calm and collected. She pauses and coughs. I could feel a twinge as my muscles got tense. No, it wasn’t the agony of her pain that bothered me. I was irritated by the sight of her discomfort.
She’s like a book, I thought to myself, that has traveled around the world for many years from destination to destination. The pages had become battered with time. Some words misprinted, some deliberately scratched out, a few overwritten. Original words majorly misinterpreted.
Her worried eyes fall upon me, full of lingering questions; fundamentally rhetoric. She is tired yet preoccupied with concern. She’s sick and would have given up the battle long ago, but no. To this day, she maintains the stance of a queen. She was once a lioness; who has now sought refuge in a cave, far from the caravan. She observes, as others display. Apparently deceptive as it may be, this is not what is to be called defeat. There’s a better strategy of action in store. She is preparing a weapon. Years of meticulous efforts are soon to be paid off.

All she does is sit in her cave, paws crossed and eyes wide open.

 

Random Blessings

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I didn’t notice her at first. Why should I? She was just another stranger. My whole focus was on getting my work done, as soon as possible. I was drained by the overloaded passengers, especially kiddy packages on the ride back home. It was hard to figure out where my legs were as they seemed to intersect with the legs of school kids sitting in front of me.
“Calm down, you’ll be home soon.” I thought to myself. “Just be patient” I reassured myself. My temper and impatience always got to my nerves within an instant. This was too petty to bother. All I could do, was keep a straight face and let my mind figure out stuff about my work in the meantime. Thinking about random things has always been something that I enjoy while traveling. Whether it’s just a ride home, I let my mind drift away and brainstorm about random things.
This morning, I happened to notice a billboard for the gazillionth time. I started thinking about the models in it. Weighing the pros and cons of their career. Gradually, the thoughts lead to my own career. What shall I do? What should I do? And so on… But then, this was something I did every day.
“Why don’t you drop this young lady first, son?” The sound of the old lady, who was sitting a seat away from me, was unexpected.
“I have some work to do, so it’s okay, you can drop everyone else first.” I responded, politely.
“Oh no! Don’t say that! This fellow always messes up with the route while dropping the passengers.” She said. I was amused. Then, it started…
“Whats your name, dear?” She inquired. I told her my name. She asked about where I lived and what I studied.
“English? Why on earth did you chose such a subject?” The question startled me. But it wasn’t something new.
“I love it! I am enjoying my studies a lot.” I replied, calmly. Traces of offense were hinting from my tone.
“Oh no, dear, no. Whats the use of such a subject? You should’ve studied from our school so that your basics would be strong.”
“I wasn’t born here.” I shyly said. I did not know why I was discussing my life with this random old lady. Whatever the reason might be, it was not disturbing me. I was enjoying her company.
“Oh! Then you should drop by some time. Our principal is Irish, she’d love to meet you.” I smiled, in response. She asked me about my family. I did not give extensive details.
“What about your siblings?” She asked on.
“None. I’m the only child.”
“No brother, either?”
“No, ma’m.”
“Oh dear, then you have to become someone great in your life. You are meant to do great things. You have to be strong. Make your parents proud, sweetheart.” I looked at her face, keenly. The wrinkles on her face were well defined with time. Her expressions were calm and humble. I was a bit confused. I was used to giving such answers. Usually people sympathized with me. Her answer was unique. I felt elated. We stood outside her house. She invited me inside, but I politely refused reminding her about my work. She held my hand and said,
“It was great meeting you. You’re a lovely girl. You’re meant to do great things in your life. Make sure you do those things and make everyone proud. God bless you sweetheart, in everything, throughout your life.” She held my hand in both of her hands and kissed my hand.
She stepped down, turned back to wish me luck for my future and left. I am quite sure I was teary eyed. This was something out of this world for me. These five minutes seemed to revive an describable spirit in me. I did not know anything about her, not even her name. All I felt was the warmth of her blessings that enveloped me.