Beauty and the Beast

“Here” she thrust the folded piece of paper hastily torn from a notebook into my hands. Her perfectly manicured nails, though the school didn’t allow us to wear polish, scratched my wrist and drew blood.

“Give it to him”. I watched her run away. Her lithe figure and grace made even the grey tunic of the school uniform look elegant. I remembered holding the skirt straight while she cut the extra inches of cloth away till it was high enough to ride dangerously above her thigh when she sat. Silver earrings dangled from her ears, hair tied in a messy ponytail and just a hint of eyeliner that was too subtle to break the ‘no make-up’ rule of our campus.

Plump, graceless and clumsy I was the antithesis of my best friend. Our friendship was the biggest mystery of our school. All I knew was that Parul had been my friend ever since I could remember. We had entered kindergarten holding hands and grown up together, sharing everything from toys to homework.

We lived next door, played together every evening, swore a blood oath to be best friends forever at eight, lost our first tooth on the same day, bled together for the first time and even received the same marks in all exams. Yet puberty decided to bestow on her a gift while all I got were pimples.

Suddenly she was the most popular girl in class and I was the fat nerd. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ our classmates called us. Parul would drag me along to birthday parties I hadn’t been invited to; shopping at stores where nothing ever fitted me and to lunches with the other girls….till I complained and refused to go along. Yet every night she comes over to my house, and over homework tell me stories of her life, as far from mine as possible.

Boys fell all over her but she would politely kept her distance from all of them…till Abhimanyu arrived. His family shifted from Dehradun and he was wonderful! Tall, smart and a wonderful sense of humour. Sparks flew from the moment Parul and Abhimanyu met. Abhimanyu wrote a poem for her and put it in a Nicholas Sparks novel that he lent to Parul.

I never expected to see my friend act like a lovestruck heroine from the movies, but she did. She would suddenly drift off into day dreams that would make her smile and blush, and behind her notebook she doodled hearts with ‘A+P ‘ written in them.

She penned down a reply to his poem but her courage wore off when it actually came to giving it to him.

He was sitting with a gang of friends in the garden. I walked over. The other boys sniggered at my audacity to approach them, but Abhimanyu smiled and shifted to make room for me to sit. He was always kind to me, and sometimes when Parul had other plans we would walk to the bus stop together. When we were alone like this he would tell me stories about his childhood in Dehradun, and cracked jokes that had me doubling over with laughter. I loved those afternoons.

“I have a message for you from Parul”.

He looked at me expectantly. The note fluttered in my pocket.

The words came out in a rush, “She doesn’t like what you wrote. She asked me to ask you to stay away from her”.

I ran as far from his disappointed face as I could. And once I was out of sight, I took out the folded note, tore it into as many pieces as I could and threw it in the nearest dustbin.

If this was a divine test of my loyalty I failed.

Cupid in Hell smirked.

 

A Stranger Witnessed a Fight

She screamed into the phone, “Where are you?! I have been calling you for so long!”
He replied, “I already reached home”.
“You went home?” she screeched. “I told you I was going to come, didn’t I? It’s my birthday. We were supposed to meet!”
“Well…” his voice trailed off apologetically.
“Fine! Just tell me what to do now?” she demanded.
“Why don’t you come over to my place?” he suggested.
                             *
She opened the door to reveal a darkened room. Suddenly the lights popped on and her friends jumped up:

SURPRISE! Happy Birthday!

With a wrapped box in one hand he walked towards her and kissed her cheek, “I hope you forgive me now”.
                            *
This is an oneshot story I wrote after I overheard a girl talking angrily on the phone. The conversation forms the first part of the story. I only heard her part of the conversation and imagined the rest. It is highly probable she wasn’t even talking to her boyfriend but a female friend or a relative. But my overactive imagination constructed it into a lovers’ quarrel. The second part of the story is entirely my own imagination.

A Fire in a Small Town

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A fire in a small town is big news.

An incendiary blast of news and gossip. Who set it…an unattended fire…a gas leak…

It breaks the monotony of routine and shakes the town out of its slumber.

There has been so little to discuss, since the rape case ten years ago. The gossip had been unrelenting:

A young girl, wearing jeans, out alone at night without a male escort! She deserved it. Daughters like her taint the family name.

***

The newspapers would have a field day, she thought: Accused rapist burns to death. Police suspect arson. 

Word Count: 98

Prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-fields

Melting Ice: Flash Fiction

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The chill hung in the room like an unwanted guest. He slammed the wardrobe shut, and rummaged through the chest-of-drawers. He peered under the bed and banged his head on the bottom drawer.

“Ow!”

She ran into the room. “What happened?” she asked in a breathless query.

“This damned drawer —”

She gently rubbed the sore spot “What’re you looking for?”

“My wallet”.

“You could’ve just asked me”.

“You weren’t talking to me” he said. Echos of bitter words resonated from the past.

Outside a drop of icy-water dripped from the point of the thawing icicle.

“I’ll find it” she said.

Inspired by Prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields 

An Unexpected Encounter: Flash Fiction

“Long time no see”, she said, fidgeting with her handkerchief, and then looking down at her painted red toe nails. “You never came to this side of town before”.
“I changed jobs”, he looked at the signal. Still persistently green. “You wouldn’t know”.
She flushed. “I meant to call, but I have been so busy lately…”
“You always were busy” he said. “Why you were hardly ever home!”
“You know I didn’t mean -”
“I know, I know. You didn’t mean to work on weekends; didn’t mean to  leave me stranded at the restaurant without even so much as an explanation; didn’t mean to cheat on me, but you did. You did!” He clenched his fists. “Anyway that’s all in the past now. Why bring it all up again?”
She passed a clumsy hand over her wet eyes, smudging her mascara, “Can’t you -”
“No”.
The light changed.

My Dream World

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There was this little world I had made,

In my childhood days.

I had woven it with care.

Nurtured it with love, and to me it was dear.

Small and bright,

Clean and white.

Located in a fairy castle on a hilltop highimages (2)

Up amongst the clouds, in the sky

Full of fairies, kings and queens

A child’s dream, a child’s fantasy

Many a playtime I spent here;

Many adventures I had there;

All my dreams came true here;

My wishes were fulfilled there;

It was a child’s dream, a child’s fantasy. images (3)

But one day, I heard this shout,

Calling me to the world out

I poked my head out and saw,

And, Oh!  How lovely the things seemed to be,

“Come out, and play”, they called to me.

I left my little world and came

But, Alas! Everything was not the same,

As they had before seemed to be

Oh, how true the old sayings are,

Grass always looks greener from far.

This world is full of deceit and lies.

Betrayals, broken promises and painful cries

Terrorism, Corruption, Pollution

Is there an end or a solution?

My little world was still there,

Free from such worldly affairs.

Unpolluted from all these worldly pains

Unaffected by the troubles of men

But I couldn’t enter it again

Not now, never again.

It was a child’s dream, a child’s fantasy

And I had grown up.

I wrote this poem, nearly six or seven years ago, when I was 13 years old. It lay forgotten in some dusty folder on my computer, stored along with other childish scribbles. I hadn’t thought about it in all these years, till I saw the weekly prompt by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. 

This poem was, according to me, my best work in verse when I was thirteen, and probably for quite some time afterwards. And hence, I had never shown it to anybody, lest, somebody make fun of me, or the poem. It was a little too close to my heart back then. More than half a decade later, I am willing to unveil it to the eyes of the world. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated 🙂 

Untouchable…yet Raped

She lay shivering on the cold hard ground. In the distance she could hear the sounds of her attackers laughing and walking away, till the sound of their footsteps died down. She got up, and wrapped her torn dress around her shaking shoulders. Silently she made her way home. She knew what the police and the judges would say, if she or any of her friends dared complain – no upper caste man will sully himself by raping an untouchable like her.

During the nine-year period between 1981-86 and 1995-97 a total of two lakh cases of atrocities on the scheduled castes were registered, which means on an average 3,000 cases of atrocities were committed on the scheduled castes annually – and these are only the ones that got reported. The breakup of atrocities for the year 1997 shows 504 cases of murder, 3,452 cases concerning grievously hurt people, 1,002 cases of rape, 384 cases of arson and 12,149 cases of other offences.

The Storm Within: Flash Fiction

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The raindrops reeked of redemption.

He had deserved it, she thought bitterly.

From the moment he had first dragged her into the dark scullery, he should have known this day would come. Like dark clouds amassing on the horizon foreshadowing the storm.

At first she had been distraught. She knew no one else in this country, had nowhere to go. And he knew it. Her helplessness emboldened him, and when he was done filling his stomach with the food she had cooked, he would drag her to the bed with sheets she had cleaned and force himself on her. The detergent smelled of betrayal.

The kitchen had only one window. Tied to the chair, he had begged. From the safety of her mask, she had watched him flail, till his last breath dissipated in the gas.

She dropped the rope on the wet street; the mask dangled from her hand.

The clouds part. A new future on the horizon.

Inspired by Flash! Friday Prompt

How To Break Someone’s Heart

The interiors of the coffee shop was warm and comfy. The conversations from the other tables – of teenage friends, business men…and lovers – created a happy drone of voices around us. The coffee in front of me is cold, like my heart. A numbness is spreading across me. You are looking outside the window. Maybe you already know the words I am choking on. getty_rm_photo_of_peeling_bandage A mad impulse seizes me – a desire to get this over with, for once and all. Like tearing a band-aid. You start off slow and then you peel it all off, in one hasty move, revealing the pink throbbing wound underneath.

I can’t do this anymore” I blurt out.

I think I see you wince slightly. Your shoulders hunch.

My eyes sting, but I can’t take my words back. I don’t want to.

I squeeze my eyes tightly. No tears.

I am sorry” I whisper.

It seems inadequate. I should probably say more. But I don’t know what, and so I remain silent.

The silence stretches on…

Finally, you look at me. A laconic smile plays on your lips – bitter but resigned. “I am too”.

The pain in your eyes stabs me like an ice-cold blade. I want to not care, and yet I do.

I know this was wrong. It was never going to work out. We were too different – you and I. Too headstrong. But it hurts all the same. There is a terrible, terrible blackness inside me.  A hole where you used to be, till I ripped you apart.

The repressed tears sting my eyes.

I get up and leave.

I don’t look back. c7a48f192556947849ad36feb5e7c85d

Standing outside in the cool, fresh air, I realize I am relived. It feels like for these past few weeks I had been carrying a burden around with me, and now I have finally dropped it. I feel lightheaded, and that’s when I realize that as much as this hurts, I am happy.

I hate the fact that I hurt you though. Despite all that passed I still care about you…a little too much. I berate myself for not being more tactful; more kind? Maybe I should have waited a little longer, tried a little harder – maybe I could have taught myself to love you, as much as you loved me.

Yet if you are going to break someone’s heart, is there a ‘good’ way to do it? Now or later, this way or that, it was going to be painful. Maybe this was better, to get it over quickly. I don’t know. I guess I never will.

I walk away from the cafe.

I hope you have a good life, away from me. I hope you are happy. 

Today’s Daily Prompt: Handle With Care

The Homeopath Doctor

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He did it with utmost precision – the homeopath doctor down the road.

Peering through his black spectacles, he would mix you a concoction from the thousand of bottles in his little pharmacy.  He didn’t use any measuring cup. Nothing except his own slightly faulty eyes, his brain and his two hands, deftly adding a drop of this, a trickle of that, a pinch of this and a sniff of that — like an alchemist at work.

He had been there since before my birth. He lived in a small apartment above his pharmacy, and was available at all times of the day and the night. It was customary for all of us living in that lane to visit him for any minor to major ailment that happened to inflict us. He would, listen to us patiently as we recounted our myriad symptoms, and a few minutes later would be handing us a bottle over the counter, with a tiny white label, that dictated through a clear neat handwriting instructions on how and when to take the medicine. And we would all be cured. Our coughs and colds, fevers and tummy aches, back pains and diarrhea all disappearing with as much abruptness as their onset.

Mr. Sharma was an unfortunate case. He was ninety years old. It wasn’t surprising that he died. It was just unfortunate that he died a day after he partook the liquid the homeopath doctor had prepared to relive his joint pains. It brought in a lot of media attention, and a lawsuit.

For a few months his pharmacy closed down. When it opened, people were still doubtful. There were rumours, and gradually business died down. People now went to the new medical doctor down the street, with his framed medical college degrees, benign smiles and untarnished prescriptions.

He did not seem to care – the homeopath doctor. Every time I passed by I would still see him there in the pharmacy, shuffling around, peering shortsightedly at the dusty bottles, and preparing medicines that no one trusted.

We only found him because of the smell. In the end, his own medicines also turned on him.

Flash Frenzy Round 36