Superhero in the making

Chapter 2

Kim took a two-day leave from her office as she had some work in the local municipal office and many other errands to run as they moved into the locality quite recently and there are many things yet to settle. Being a single mother, she was running from pole to post to make things work and give her daughter a comfortable life.

After dropping Nora at her school she headed towards the municipal office with the requisite documents to register herself and her daughter in the local population. But work at government offices isn’t all hunky dory at all. The officer asked her to come back later as they marked little discrepancies in the documents. Kim requested to see if something can be done on the spot but the officer didn’t budge. With a smile he said “I would have if I could have. Unfortunately I have to follow the norms. You can come next week” and flashed the lunch-break board on the counter.

Unhappy at the turn of events, Kim dragged herself back to the house. With a lot of work pending at the house as well, her displeasure didn’t linger on for long. She got busy cutting the fluff, and arranging and decorating the house to her and especially to Nora’s liking. In the process, she unpacked a box of memories. A bunch of photographs, an old hand-knitted scarf, a few postcards, books, and a locket. Time seemed to have frozen for her. The contents of the box pushed her back in time. Lanes of the place where she grew up, her parents, her friends, her first and only love Joel, holding Nora for the first time in her arms, her pet, laughter, fights, hugs, tears, fears, adventures, mistakes, forgiveness, and more. She could see everything happening as if she was in some time loop. She took the scarf and inhaled deeply as she held it close to her heart. Her grandmother knit that scarf for her on her 15th birthday. The warmth and fragrance are still intact and a lump formed in her throat. Emotions choked her. Finally, she caught hold of the locket lying beneath the postcards. An oval-shaped turquoise crystal locket that was cracked. She gently brushed the surface of the locket with her thumb and closed it in her palm and drew the same closer to her lips. Tears blinded her sight as they travelled from her eyes, collecting the rosy hue of her cheeks and painful sighs from her lips and resting on her closed fists placed under her chin that had the locket.

“You no more exist for us from this very moment. Take your stuff and leave” a stern father ostracised his very own daughter whom he loved so dearly. Kim kept staring as the doors shut right in her face.

Someone banging on the door incessantly brought Kim back to her senses. She went to check but could find no one. Got inside and noticed that it was almost time to pick up Nora from school. She hurried up and reached school.

As the school bell rang, the air was filled with fun and frolic as the chirping kids made their way out of the classrooms towards the school gate. They called it a day and had many things to share that transpired throughout the day. They were gushing about the details of the day, smiling ear to ear, waiting for their loved ones to pick them up. Amidst those happy faces, Kim spotted the sulking face of Nora, which by the time had turned red matching the tie of her school uniform.

“Aww, my darling what happened to you? Why are you sad? Did something happen at the school? Did you have a fight with your friends? Did anyone say something to you?” Kim asked a sad looking Nora.

“My friends call me funny, I told them not to” complained Nora rolling her eyes. Her mother smiled and said that it isn’t bad to be funny and asked what has actually transpired.

Rubbing her nose, Nora replied “Meetu’s mom came early to pick Meetu and she is friends with our teacher. She was showing her new necklace to the teacher and I saw her pet dog making faces. The dog was saying she is just showing off, it was all fake. I told the same to my friends and they are laughing at me. I am not lying, I heard it, I promise. I am not going to talk to them now” Nora threw a fit of a tantrum.

Kim didn’t know how to react to that story. She was smiling at the innocence of the kid and was wondering at the same time what has made her cook up this story because she was convinced that this story is Nora’s brainchild, probably due to reading too many fantasy stories. But she didn’t want to upset Nora further at this point. She lovingly put her arms around Nora’s shoulder and said “next time you hear anything like that you can share it with me. I am all ears to such interesting conversations. And such banters are common in school, I too have had many such incidents where my friends laughed at me. Let it go. They will too forget by tomorrow. Would you like to have ice cream now?”.

This proposal lifted up Nora’s spirits and she was exhilarated with joy. “Yes of course mom, I would like to have a chocolate ice cream”.

Mother and daughter went to a nearby ice cream parlor and ordered ice cream. As they were waiting for the order to arrive, a rat coming out of the small hole in the godown adjacent to the shop caught Nora’s attention. She heard the faint voice of the rat saying “let me hurry up and go home, I have to inform my family that that dreaded cat is in the town. We need to find a safe haven”. The rat soon disappeared and the ice cream arrived. Nora this time didn’t pay much attention as she had a better thing to concentrate and enjoy at her hands.

Superhero in the making

Chapter 1

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” seven-year-old Nora asked her mother Kim innocently. ” Kim chuckled as she replied, “I am already a grown-up being, what could I possibly be now? Now hurry up and go to your bed”. She tucked little Nora into her bed and kissed her forehead “goodnight darling!”

On having received such an unenthusiastic response from the mother, Nora clasped and questioned her mother “what you wanted to be as a child, as in what have you dreamt of becoming in your adulthood? My teacher says everyone has a talent and a dream and we can turn our dreams into reality at any time and age. So tell me mom what you wanted to be?” and fixed her gaze filled with amusement and intrigue on her mother.

Kim smiled and sat down by her bedside “Hmm, I always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to talk through my stories”. Her mother’s response sparked Nora’s interest and she sprung and sat in her bed. “You mean fairy tales, superhero stories? Have you ever written anything? Why don’t you write now?” before Nora could go berserk with her volley of questions her mother sighed deeply “uff, we will talk later darling, you have to get up early tomorrow for school”. And finally, she managed to put little Nora to sleep.

Nora’s mother kept tossing in her bed but couldn’t sleep that night. That was unusual as toiling throughout the day guaranteed her a sound sleep instantly.  She kept staring at the ceiling and counted sheep in her head but nothing was helping her tonight.  She heard her daughter crying. She rushed towards Nora’s room.

“What happened, dear? a worried mother asked her daughter as she embraced the weeping child. “Mom, I had a horrible dream. Big monsters wearing huge cloaks, and riding on horses were chasing after me and as I tried to escape them I was stuck in a corner” Nora explained in her shaky voice. Nora’s mom cuddled, pacified her, and gave an assurance that there are no monsters around and that it was just a dream. Nora requested her mom if she could sleep with her, to which her mom agreed. Kim caressed Nora’s hair gently and soon Nora slipped into a deep slumber. But Kim couldn’t.

She got up and went to her balcony. She leaned on the railing of the balcony facing the vast empty parched grounds. The streets turned golden under the glare of yellow street lights. The city was tucked in silence except for the noise of a few vehicles honking on the highway running parallel to the grounds and stray dogs barking distantly. She was pondering over her conversation with her daughter. “Can I dream again?” She sighed in her thoughts as the gentle breeze caressed her locks. 

Kim and Nora moved to their new apartment just six months back after a major crises hit their family. Joel, Kim’s husband, an army personnel died on the war front. Along with the loss of a loved one Kim and Nora were coping with the snide remarks, the unruly behaviour of the relatives. Nora never understood the motivations behind people’s behaviour around her. She often asked her mother “why is everyone rude to us? What have we done? You told me that dad is a superhero, he is not around us anymore, so do we have to suffer this way forever? Why do they hate us Mom?”. Kim didn’t know how to answer her. But finally she decided to move out and away from the toxicity suffocating her and her daughter’s life. 

Standing underneath the dark stretch of night sky in her balcony, Kim just witnessed a rally of visions from her past. She felt exhausted and went back to her room and finally dozed off. 

The next day began with a usual hustle and bustle. Nora and her mother rushed off to school. As they were on their way Nora commenced the conversation from the very point where she had left it last night. Inquisitive Nora clung to her mother’s arm and fired her bazooka of questions at her mother “Mom, tell me what did you write? When did you write? Why did you stop writing? Will you start writing again? Tell me, mom, tell me”.

Nora’s mother was enjoying this conversation with her little one. Nora’s questions exuberated innocence, and the curiosity in her tone tickled her mother’s heart. With a big grin she replied to Nora “I used to write when I was in college, whosoever read my poems and articles used to praise me. My work was even published in my college magazine. My name is there, I will show you the next time when we go to Naani’s place (maternal grandmother). It seemed that the child’s naivete and glee has rubbed onto her mother too. She was smiling from ear to ear. Conversation with Nora always felt fresh as dew drops sitting on the soft petals and had the warmth of golden rays of sun embracing those petals as they dance to the tunes of the morning breeze.

They reached the school. Nora gave a kiss on her mother’s forehead and bade goodbye but before leaving she put forth a request. “Mom, you have to write a story for me. I will be the superhero or a fairy, an angel in that book. You write it for me, I will show it to my friends. Please mom” she giggled cutely and left for her school.

 On her way back home Kim called her mother  “Mom, how are you? Do you still have my college magazine at home that had my article and poem published in it?” She spoke almost in a single breath. Kim called her mother after nearly after a period of six months. The response from the other side was cold but her mother assured that she will search for the magazine and hung up on the call.

Kim felt disheartened but had much more to take care of, so she assembled pieces of her broken heart once again and marched ahead with responsibilities on her shoulders…

I Sense A Presence X

Sally’s gaze was fixed on the diary but. She stood at the window all night long as a motionless statue but her mind was raging. There were tornadoes, volcanoes, whirlpools swirling, erupting, and devastating her from within. She wanted to cry, shout, scream but it seemed as if something caged her at this moment. 

Hours passed and it was dawn. Henry woke up around 6 AM and was terrified for a moment to see a motionless and emotionless Sally standing at the window staring at him without batting an eyelid. It seemed as if she was possessed.

“Are you ok honey?” Henry quizzed as he got from the bed to get a hold of Sally. But before he could touch her she collapsed. Her body couldn’t take more.

“Sally!!” Screamed Henry catching her. He lifted her to the bed, placed her body comfortably. Meanwhile, Tracy entered their room as she heard Henry screaming.

“I heard you screaming, what happened? What happened to Sally?” Tracy asked as she looked at unconscious Sally.

“I don’t know, when I woke up I found her standing at the window, looking pale and ghostly. When I tried to reach her she collapsed” explained Henry.

Tracy without furthering the discussion or showing any concern asked Henry if he would be going to the office today or shall she start without him.

Henry gave a stern look to Tracy but cordially replied “gonna take a leave today, can’t leave Sally in this condition. And to think otherwise is stupidity, to say the least”.

To that reply Tracy walks up to Sally, settles beside her and gently caresses her hair, and says “yeah, she will need a lot of care now (emphasizing on the last two words). Ok I shall take your leave now” and she left the room and Henry returned to Sally. As he was attending Sally, Tracy turned her head once more to get a glimpse of them over her shoulder. She had a smirk on her face.

Around 2 PM Sally woke up, struggled to get up straight as her head was in immense pain, and felt dizzy. Henry at once dashed to her to help her. But even in such misery, she was cold to the concern that Henry showed. He noticed that at once.

“Look I explained myself yesterday itself that how Tracy ended up at dinner with my client. To accept it or scrutinize my words is your call. I can handle your unwelcoming, cold, suspicious behavior towards me. That’s not my concern, people do change. This is surely not you, I mean not the one I know or have known. My worry is what or who is changing you” and he left Sally to ponder over his words as he got busy arranging lunch for her.

Resting her head on the pillow she turned to her left with Henry’s words now echoing in her head. She thought ” Am I getting influenced, is there anything that is taking a toll on my common sense and understanding of circumstances”. She was immersed in her thoughts while looking at the diary as Henry entered the bedroom with lunch. She was so lost in her thoughts that “adventures and miseries” of Anne Turner couldn’t magnetize Sally to pick and turn to read the next turn of events in her life.

Sally and Henry had lunch in utter silence. Henry got up to wind up the dishes after the lunch. But before leaving he once again paused at the threshold “by the way honey I forgot to tell you a guy called Josh called when you were asleep”.

This made Sally a bit uncomfortable as she never disclosed anything about Josh to Henry, though she has been in touch with him for quite some time now. “Oh, Josh! Wh..what he was saying? She enquired in an inquisitive yet shaky tone.

“He asked you to call once you are awake, nothing in particular. Call him” Henry gestured to give a call and left. He left Sally in a guilt ride by not asking Who, Where, What…….

I Sense A Presence IX

Josh didn’t ask anything further, though he felt that Sally’s request was absurd and she left.

Josh has known Sally for quite some time now. He has seen her sensitive side, he has seen how she could hesitate to empty her heart and needed persuasion to vocalize her emotions and thoughts. A tiff with one of her best friends over her boyfriend whom Sally thought wasn’t right for her, left Sally disarrayed for weeks. It took a lot of insistence by her other friends including Josh as well to pull her out of the shell she has drawn herself into. After that tussle, Sally was never seen talking to her friend though she made her efforts to be in the good books of Sally again as her boyfriend ditched her who left the city with just a casual note addressed to her.  

As their paths crossed each other after years that old image of Sally loomed large in front of Josh as the petite figure of Sally diminished.

“Hmm, she is unsettled again” he sighed and retreated to his office.

Sally drove back with her head and heart full of the convict she met at the police station. His demonic demeanor invaded her thoughts. Cold sweat trickled down her spine as she rushed through the empty roads surrounded by dense woods. She was driving at such a speed as if someone or something was chasing her on those desolate streets. As Sally was lost in her incoherent thoughts “THUD” something hit the speeding car so hard that for a moment it shook the car. The tyres made a screeching sound bringing the car to a halt and Sally got down to see what was it.

She could find nothing but a trail of blood running towards the woods. “Gosh Sally What have you done!” She exclaimed and held her forehead in disbelief. She wanted to check as she inched a few steps further in the direction of the blood into the woods. But the very sight of blood, deserted road had made her put off her plans and run towards her haven – her home while she apologized for the unknown creature that she hurt in her thoughts.

As Sally reached home she got a call from Henry. “Darling I have a dinner plan with a client and I will be late tonight” and he hung up.

Sally quickly retreated to her bedroom. She needed a strong distraction from the tornado of negative emotions and thoughts she was experiencing at that very moment. And her eyes showed her a way out, the diary was still lying there. She picked up and continued.

…. you chose to trade them with a charade. The charade of emotions being reciprocated.

“Interesting” Sally thought as she turned pages and continued to read.. your attention short-lived, affection faded and admiration died towards me. We are now strangers in the guise of a relationship.

Page-turns ….. I saw you snuggling with that witch in those sheets that still has my imprint all over. Can anything else be more painful than to see your heart being torn apart by someone who dwells in there…..

Sally felt for the woman as she got a sneak-peek through these ragged pieces of paper. As she was sympathizing with the stranger she was reading about she heard a faint giggling sound of a woman. She went close to her window as she was sure that it was from outside.

She was greeted with a sight of bewilderment. It was Tracy, in an inebriated state and that was not the case of concern for Sally. It was her closeness to Henry that made Sally’s heart pound faster. She is a beautiful woman after all!!

Henry helped Tracy reach her room as she giggled and blabbered throughout. As he turned back, was taken aback by Sally who stood behind him.

“Oh my God! You scared the hell out of me Sally!” exclaimed Henry, loosening his tie and making his way to the bedroom. “Is it? How? Have I caught you? By the way, how was the dinner with the client? Was Tracy a part of your job? I am all ears for all your answers” Sally was unprecedented in the way she behaved – taunting, sarcastic. She has seen Henry with many beautiful women before too, but never for once a speck of doubt even faintly crossed her mind as she never felt that things were out of control ever. But today it was not the same. Something is playing with her mind. She has been given a different prism to look at the situation.

Henry did come up with his explanations as to how Tracy ended up in the scene but was received by a rather cold Sally.

It was around 10:30 PM, Sally stood near her window staring at Henry who was sleeping blissfully. Her stares were blank, emotionless. After standing at the window for an unreasonably long time, an unsettled Sally looked pale, her emotionless reflection in the mirror was nothing less than spooky. As the stares crossed Henry and reached her side drawer the diary was there, enticing her to dig deeper…..

**Is the life of Anne Turner the new prism for Sally?**

I Sense A Presence VII

Sense of being choked to death in her sleep left Sally perplexed. She reached out to the glass of water on her bedside and saw the diary she was reading before she dozed off. Her fingers danced in confusion for a while that whether she should pick up the diary and start from where she has left. After a few moments of dilemma, she pulled the drawer, put the diary back, and picked up aspirin instead as the disturbed sleep left her with a severe headache.

Ward off bad dreams” grunted Sally, tossing in her bed. It was 4 AM when she finally slept. Four and a half hours later she heard some footsteps pacing up and down the room. It was Henry getting ready for the office. Around 8:30 AM he kissed her forehead and lovingly “Honey have a great day, I am leaving for the office”. Both indulged in a sweet moment as Sally acknowledged him while still keeping her eyes closed. But the harmony of the moment broke as there was a knock on the door and a voice followed “I am getting late HONEY”. It was Tracy, clicked her tongue and immediately corrected herself “I am getting late Henry, may I come in?”.

Her rectification couldn’t though avoid an awkward moment for Henry and Sally, it was uncomfortable for Henry and a suspicious one for Sally. Clearing his throat Henry said “her office is one the way so …

“I get that” interrupted stern Sally freeing Henry from her embrace and permitting Tracy to enter. The question “what’s going on, I need an explanation” was all over Sally’s face. Henry hasted to leave to avoid further tensions. “While you take out the car from the garage I will have a quick word with your beautiful wife” Tracy prolonged her stay in their bedroom.

Good morning Sally. I am sorry for the last evening and now as well. See, I can be weird sometimes with people I consider as my own. Whenever this past thing erupts I fumble, I go crazy, I….” and she paused for a while as she settled on Sally’s bedside, very close to her staring straight into her eyes. “Look at those beautiful eyes, so dark and dreamy, resting place to rainbow-clad dreams. I envy you my darling” Tracy had a certain amount of cynicism to her tone that can send shivers down the spine. Her words were not loud, just more than a whisper. They were like a whip of air catching someone from behind unaware on an absolute silent night – scary! They left Sally dumbfounded.

The moment froze for a few seconds and the stillness of the room was broken by the car horn on the road. “Bye, dear have a good day. Once again thank you and sorry for everything” Tracy left with a devilish smile leaving Sally at a junction of a conundrum.

“Am I overthinking about this lady or there is truly something to ponder or dig into about her? Was the entire Honey-Henry episode just a fumble or there’s something more to it than what meets the eye?” Sally’s head was buzzing with these questions as she left the bed and went to freshen up.

In the mirror, she saw herself and realized that her right arm is bruised, it turned blue. That sight brought the words from the book to her mind “bruises were my constant companions”. But she decided to brush everything under the carpet of coincidence. “Might have got these bruises in sleep” she shrugged and yet decided to know more what’s there.

She settled again on her bed comfortably and laid her hands on the diary, now it started from the beginning. By this time thought of Tracy was put at the backburner.

The first page had a small photo of a lady with a disfigured face and at the bottom was mentioned the name “Miss Anne Turner”.

“Hello, Lady,” said Sally to herself and continued. Those pages, to begin with, were just like any other ordinary diary – an in and out account of miscellaneous and mundane activities, incidents of one’s life. Sally wasn’t much interested in the petty chores of Miss Turner and she decided to go random. And she was successful in finding the interesting spot. It read:

I loved you with my heart, my smiles, my tears, my soul. But you chose to trade them with a ……

Before Sally could finish the portion (pale letters were a tough read) her phone rang. It was Josh, her friend from the police department.

“Hi Sally, I have a news for you. Its regarding your father’s murder. Can you come over?” Asked Josh. And this left Sally at the very same spot she was months ago, battling….

I Sense A Presence VI

Sally kept on her excavation to see what else this room hosts. There were more words engraved very minutely. They seemed to be cluster of bees, making it difficult for Sally to read. They were entangled mangle of letters. She could hardly phrase out – mad, free, go. That extra stress on her eyes made her shut down that exercise in the middle.

“Huh” grunted Sally as she shifted her focus to the rest of the room. In her quest she found a very dirty gown and wrapped in it a book, probably a diary. Pages have age written all over them, few were torn, writing was neat to begin with but slowly became more scribbled.

Sally took the diary upstairs and preserved reading for sometime later. In the evening Henry arrived with their guest – Tracy. Sally warmly welcomed her. Tracy was a 38 years old, beautiful looking woman. Standing 5 feet 5 inches tall, brown curly cascades of hair running till her waist, unmistakably enchanting honey glaze eyes and a figure that could make any woman envious and man go weak in knees. But Sally was looking beyond her physical appearance – a broken person from personal loss, just as herself.

“Sally thank you so much for having me” Tracy thanked Sally cordially, to which Sally smiled and said “most welcome” and they moved in. At the dinner table amidst the chit chat rounds Sally brought up the issue of Tracy’s mother.

“Tracy, by the way Henry told me about your loss. I can totally relate to your pain. May I know what happened to her and what about your father, where is he?” Sally’s eyes now fixed on Tracy waiting for her response.

Tracy went silent for a moment and after a pause she continued ” my mother meant the world to me. The loveliest person of my life had to suffer the most because of the love of her life, my father. Till her last breath she waited for him who abandoned her for another woman. That’s why I killed him”. That word engulfed the room in an eerie silence. Tracy’s eyes were stone cold, devilish anger veiled her beautiful face and the fish in the plate got butchered to shreds.

Henry coughed and Tracy came back to her senses. “What I meant was I wiped him out of my thoughts forever” and she gulped down a glass of water and excused herself to her room.

Sally was stunned to see Tracy’s behaviour but brushed it aside with a thought that emotions can be overwhelming and might make people say words that they didn’t mean literally. She only tried to understand her agony and pain. She apologized to Henry for having brought up this topic. She felt guilty. But Henry being Henry “Darling, don’t be, she can be extremely emotional sometimes. She will be fine, don’t worry, have your dinner”.

Sally went to the guest room in about five minutes to sort out the issue with Tracy. “Tracy I am sorry, I shouldn’t have spoken about your family at the dining table. I promise it shall never be repeated. Will catch up tomorrow, have a good sleep. Anything else you need don’t hesitate to ask me. My room is just over there” Sally pointed out towards her bedroom while apologising about the tense situation that arose few moments earlier. They hugged and Sally left.

Marching towards her room Sally turned to see Tracy once again. She could sense a steel cold vibe. “Oh Sally! give the poor soul time” she thought in her head and went to her room.

In the room she found Henry already hit the sack and in deep slumber. Sally lied down on her side of the bed, drew a drawer where she kept her new found diary. Turned some random pages. She could hardly read the paled out ink. With some tussle she could read ” I feel suffocated at nights as if someone gagging me to death. Bruises are now my new constant companions”. This gripped Sally but not before fatigue & sleep took over.

1:00 AM – Sally suddenly felt as if she is being strangulated. She wanted to move but couldn’t budge, felt chocked. In few moments She got up and sat straight gasping for breath , found none around. Was it just a dream or was someone here? Her thoughts set to tick…..

I Sense A Presence V

The sudden crashing and rattling of crockery and cutlery made Sally hop upwards. As she approached the dining hall, she saw milk spilled all over the floor, broken plates, butchered bread, and a whole lot of mess.

“Oh crap! What is this” exclaimed Sally tucking her hair behind her ear. Her eyes searched around the room for the cause of this botched up space but could find nothing but utter silence. As she took few steps towards the table she tripped on the wet flower. And her heart escaped a beat and a shriek let out of her mouth as she saw a pair of shiny eyes, sharp canines resembling to fangs of a demon flashed at her as if mocking her scared plight and zoomed out past the cat window. That was a cat indeed but shocked Sally for a moment. “What a notorious creature!” Sighed Sally and recovered herself and set to clean up the mess.

Just a few minutes into work, she was interrupted again by the noise of footsteps approaching the door of the dining hall she was in. Intrigued, she turned to see what or who else it could be. She had a frail sense of fear lingering in those eyes given the trauma she went through in the recent past. The door made a creaking sound, Sally froze and Henry entered with a bunch of flowers.

“Geez you scared me!! What are you doing here, so early? You told you had some really important meeting and would be late. What happened?” Clueless Sally fired away her canons of questions. Which were anyways met by as usual cool as cucumber Henry.

“Don’t you think you get scared more often and more than what is required” Henry continued his teasing tone “were you expecting anyone else?” Sally smirked, interrupting Henry “hahaha, very funny. I was not expecting anyone else and you either at this moment Mr.Teaser”.

“I told you I have all the bonafide rights to tease and trouble you. I technically lied to you to give you a surprise. Planned a dinner tonight. But what is this” Henry pointed to the disarray Sally was amidst of.

“Ah a cat from neighbourhood, not sure which neighbour though had one hell of a dirty dancing here as I was busy with few cartons to settle downstairs” Sally didn’t give the full account of her exploration stint in the basement though.

7:30PM, Riverdale Restaurant in the posh, upscale, busy part of the city, away from the silence clad quarters of the town where Sally and Henry live :

“Its good to be in this hustle bustle sometimes, to realise the beauty of silence” Henry made a deep statement that was received with a smile from Sally who was radiating in the light of candles at the table. Soon a waiter attended them, order was given – Scallop Risotto, mashed potatoes, well done steak, red wine to go with, tiramisu for dessert.

And as they waited their order to arrive, Henry had something important to ask.

“Darling, today at lunchtime as I was out for a sandwich I bumped into my high school friend, Tracy Tucker. It’s been quite a time since I last saw her. She is in city for some project work for three months, putting up at Hotel Belson. Talking to her I came to know that she has been going through really a rough patch off late. Something you can very well relate to”.

Mention of her name kindled some curiosity in Sally. She was more attentive to details now “I didn’t get you” she seeked clarification on his last statement.

“She lost her mother recently, her only companion throughout” Henry paused. “And I know that you know what it means to lose someone so close, what pain it causes, what trauma……..

Suddenly Henry realised Sally though listening to him had her uncomfortable past rallying past her eyes and he stopped.

He held her hands fondly and caressed them. “Honey I am sorry to bring up all this in such a beautiful moment. I am here today with a request. Can we welcome Tracy at our home to stay with us during three months of her stay in the city. I know it’s too much and out of the way to go for a friend but loneliness can be demonic. I don’t want to regret my inaction after losing a friend to such a demon that can be easily slayed. I need your permission for this.”

Henry put forward his entreat and awaited the response. Dinner arrived and was savored in silence. Silence ensued on the way back to home.

In the bedroom, tucked in sheets Sally broke the stillness of the atmosphere ” I like chocolate mousse better than Tiramisu just the way your Yes made me more happy than my Yes to you now can” and giggled embracing Henry lying beside her. “I am looking forward to meet your friend” Sally made things more clear and Henry ecstatic. They cuddled and kissed and the night passed like moonlit velvet.

The next day once Henry left for the office Sally got herself busy with the unassigned task of setting up the guest room for Tracy. She made the room quiet a comfortable one but doled out lot of “not actually waste” material. So another trip to the vault was simply imperative.

Work aside Sally couldn’t keep herself away from the tiny pocket of the basement which she couldn’t completely inspect in her last visit. She looked up and down the walls that had some unclear scribbles all over. Felt the weight of iron shackles lying there as snakes in slumber. Touched the chair covered in dust which seemed to have untold stories resting in its lap. Sally was measuring every inch of that room with her eyes and fingers. And then her fingers stumbled upon minute engravings, especially on the arms of the chair.

She started reading them slowly. The first thing she read was “comes the other woman”…….


“Think once again, it’s not too late,” said concerned Avinash to Riddhima as he saw her sign the rent agreement. But determined Riddhima didn’t buzz, not even lifted her stare from the pages as she finished the formality and accepted the keys to her new abode and showed the same to Avinash smiling. “Welcome back […]



PROMPT: Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw… Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw. It’s not her. The reflection was only a mirage of her presence but the zealous, free-spirited girl was lost. He just kept imposing boundaries caging her while she kept compromising […]