Short Story – Nerve

proposal

The clock struck 6, and like every day in the past two weeks, the well-dressed young man with ruffled hair, walked into the restaurant and headed straight to the bar.

“One whiskey”

The bartender was already reaching for the bottle.

The young man gulped down the contents. He shuddered and ran his hand through his hair. “One more”.

The bartender had the glass ready. He slid it across, and in jest asked, “So should I keep a bottle of champagne ready?”

The young man didn’t speak, but his hand sneaked into his trousers’ left pocket and caressed the velvet box inside.

“Show it to me again” the waitress walked over.

Wordlessly the youth took the box out and flipped open the top. The radiant gem sparkled with vivacity for its enraptured audience.

“Wow!” the waitress sucked in her breath wistfully. “She’s one lucky girl!”

The bartender laughed, “Well she would be if he ever worked up the nerve to ask her”.

“We met here…”the youth spoke convulsively and in small bursts. “A common friend’s birthday…I couldn’t take my eyes off her…three years we have been going out…I thought maybe…”His voice trailed off with the despair of his nervousness.

The bartender felt sorry for his young patron, and with a paternal air said, “C’mon, just ask her today. You love each other and it will all work out”.

“Nerves. I have always suffered from it” the youth spoke again. “I would freeze whenever they sent me to the front of the class…well it’s too late now…she was there yesterday…at the metro station…if only I had asked sooner….”

*

In memory of the victims of Brussels and Turkey attacks.

 

 

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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.

Pink

pink-girl_00040446When did it all begin, she would sometimes wonder.

When did she first realise she was a girl.

Was it in the toy store, when her father brought her a pretty baby doll and her brother a toy car?

Did the soft touch of lipstick and the rustle of dupatta whisper it to her?

Was it when her mother made her sit next to the hot burning stove while her brothers played cricket in the backyard?

Did the clock teach her with its insurmountable curfews?

Or was it much before that, in the blue of his covers and the pink of hers.

Prompt from 100 Word Challenge: Julia’s Place

Taste of Home: A Flash Fiction

Prison Guard, Stockholm. Public domain photo.

Standing on the bridge, Gaurav cast a long look at the white expanse of deserted snow and the snow-capped mountains. There was no movement to be seen. Not even a stray leopard or a jumping goat met his eyes. It was like the terrain itself had frozen. Somewhere across the snow-white horizon was Pakistan, but all was quiet on the border today.

His breaths rose like hot mist in front of his eyes. Guard duty at the military outpost on Siachen Glacier was a lonely job.

He looked at his watch – five more minutes before his turn ended, and the next soldier took over. Right at six his reliever arrived. “They are making malpua in the kitchens”, he said.

Gaurav hurriedly took off. Malpua was his favourite dessert. As he ran towards the mess hall he remembered how as a kid he would pester his mother to make it for him.

The mess hall was warm with hearty food and cheerful company. The cook slid a brown malpua glistening with golden syrup on his plate.

Gaurav took a bite and smiled to himself. He patted his pocket where lay the last letter from home: “…when you come home, we’ll find a  good match for you. Come home soon, son“. 

***

malpuaMalpua is an Indian dessert, similar to pancakes, and is eaten with syrup. It is one of my personal favourites. You can find the recipe here

Siachen Glacier is located in the northern part of Kashmir, between India and Pakistan, and the no-man’s-land of Siachen is 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) above sea level. Military experts say the inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain have claimed more lives than gunfire. Both countries agree on a need to demilitarise the glacier, but neither side wants to take the first step.(Source: HindustanTimes.com)

A Fire in a Small Town

fire-roger-bultot

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

flowers-with-ice-janet-webb-2

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.

Growth Pangs: Flash Fiction

YM-growing-up-too-fast

Meg looked around the apparel store in dismay. Her mother tapped her foot impatiently, “Are you done deciding what you want?”

Yes that frilly pink dress from the kids section that is a size too small for me, and the light blue shirt from the ladies section that reaches my knee.

Her mother made a clicking noise and noticeably checked her watch. “Nothing here is to my style” Meg said, and marched out of the shop. Her mother followed her with a bewildered silence.

*

“Touching a boy can get your pregnant”, Elsa said confidentially.

“Nonsense”. Helen rolled her eyes.  Her confident proclamation followed: “It only happens when you kiss!”

*

In the family function Meg sat in a corner listening to the grown-ups talk. “Come play with us”, her cousins begged.

“You go. I will come in a minute” she shooed them away.

Her parents were talking about the war. “Why don’t the two presidents just shake hands and apologize?” Meg asked. It seemed like a sensible question.

The ladies tittered. “Why don’t you go out and play with your cousins?” her mother suggested.

Meg felt her cheeks redden. A surge of fury and humiliation coursed through her veins — “You never understand me!”

“Young lady, is that the way you talk to your elders?” her father’s voice was taut. “Go up to your room”.

As she stormed out, she heard her mother mutter to Aunt Rosa, “I really don’t know what’s come into her nowadays…”

She slammed the door of her room. Her eyes burning with unshed tears, she looked out from the window into the twilight yard where her young cousins played the childish games that no longer afforded her any joy.

*

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

typhoon-maid-thursday-shuji-moriwaki

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