Caffeine Overdose

 

Long sensuous fingers caress the horse’s mane

I watch, unable to tear my eyes away.

He leans closer, face inches from mine, whispers huskily

‘Coffee?’

I blush.
 
 
A little girl calls out, ‘Daddy?? Mommy needs you. Bridle’s broken!’

 
 
I’d rather drink Tea.

 

Victims of Circumstance

Clutching her oversized bag, she let the afternoon crowd push her into the First Class Ladies compartment, gratefully accepting a seat as a kindly lady made some space for her.

The lady smiled at her, “It’s going to be an easy 30 minutes before we reach Churchgate. Care for some chikkis?” Fiona took one from the packet, the simple yet earthy sweet brought a sudden rush of emotions, and she struggled to control the tears that welled up.

Quickly brushing them away, she focused on the daily crossword that the lady next to her was solving from the tabloid. “Hmmm. What do you think Across 8 should be?” Fiona took the pencil and wrote it down for her.

At Churchgate, they both alighted, and Fiona hurriedly got into a taxi for Nariman Point.

It had been six months.

Fiona had landed the job at the swanky French boutique hotel. She felt a little suffocated put up at her married college friend’s place, and decided it was time she found one of her own. She pored over the Classifieds section finally zeroing in on a simple two liner that said ‘Working Girls Only, Paying Guests Wanted in Colaba.’  A quick phone call, and the maid who answered set up her appointment with ‘Madam’.

Post a hectic Monday at work, she landed up at the address. The door was opened by a prim looking maid. ‘Please wait, Madam will be here’.

An elegantly dressed lady, in her mid-fifties walked into the drawing room. They stared at each other, recollecting that short train journey to Churchgate. “Oh! It’s you!” she said, holding out her hand, “I’m Julia Nazareth.” Fiona shook her hand, and mentally crossed her fingers as she sat down for the usual ‘ínterview’.

She decided to tell the truth. And spoke slowly. “My name is Fiona Lewis. I am a widow. I am an American citizen, but decided to move back to India about a year ago. I lost my husband, and my only son in a car crash last year. My parents and in-laws, who were holidaying with us also died in the crash.” She paused, took a deep breath, and continued, her voice shaking slightly. “I was driving.”

The silence stretched between them.

Julia whispered, tears streaming down her cheeks, “Are you Stephanie and Kenneth’s daughter Fiona?”

Fiona looked up, startled. “Yes….do you …did you know my parents?”

It was Julia’s turn to be honest.  “Fiona, I don’t know if your parents spoke to you. But Kenneth and Stephanie were contemplating a divorce. They meant to tell you in person when they visited you … it was because I … well, Kenneth and me ….”

Fiona said in a slow harsh whisper, “So it’s you then. The other woman who destroyed my parents’ happy marriage.” She got up and said coldly, “I guess we have nothing left to say to each other. Good Bye.”

Julia spoke in an even voice. “Please sit down, Fiona. I do not blame you for judging me. But please don’t leave without listening to what I have to say. I agree that what Kenneth and I did to Stephanie is wrong. God knows I still carry the burden of that guilt on my shoulders. Especially now since they are … Fiona, my child, look at the two of us. You and me. We are the ones left behind. To deal with loss, guilt, trying to bring some semblance of normalcy into this twisted toxic existence of our reality.

If this isn’t destiny, I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s the one chance God is giving me to make up for all the hurt and pain I have caused your family? Please don’t take it away from me, my child. Let me take care of you, I am old, I don’t have much time left. Please … ” she wept uncontrollably, her face in her hands.

Fiona sat back on the sofa, her mind in a turmoil. Should she forgive and stay? Should she walk away?

She thought of the past year, and couldn’t help wondering why the two women had been thrown together under such circumstances.

Maybe missed connections, and Fate’s attempt to reconnect them?

She knelt before Julia and put her arm gently around her shoulders. Both rocked silently, connected to each other by their own private hell of deep grief.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

55 Fiction: Partners in Crime

They took the 7:00 AM train every weekday.

They always sat facing each other. And solved the daily crossword.

Yesterday, he hadn’t shown up. She didn’t know the answer to Across-9.

He turned up on Tuesday. Smiling apologetically, he leaned the crutches against his seat.

She smiled back. Adjusting her prosthetic arm, began solving the crossword.

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55 Words

Flash Fiction: Incidental Oxymorons

Sandra and Ashley entered the dimly lit lounge at about half past ten.

Sandra saw him first. He was tall with rakish good looks. “He’s cute!” she thought. She winked at Ashley, made her way to the bar and stood next to him. He smiled at her, “Hi, I’m Jake. And you must be Sandra.”

She was taken aback. “How do you know my name?”

“Dance with me,” he said as he led her to the dance floor. Sandra looked around and saw Ashley talking to the guy with the mop of curly hair.

The music beats quickened. Sandra was forced to concentrate so she could keep up with his pace. Jake was an accomplished dancer, not faltering even once. She realized she was enjoying herself. Though she was still wondering how he knew her name.

His arm around her waist, he led her to the far end of the lounge. “Sandra, wait here. I’ll be back in a jiffy.” She sat on the sofa, not quite sure what to expect. She couldn’t see Ashley. And Jake acted like they knew each other. She was certain she’d never set eyes on him before.

“Here,” he handed her the margarita. Sandra’s favorite beverage. She sipped it slowly, collecting her thoughts.

“Jake, how do you know so much about me?”

He said softly. “Look at me. What do you see? Wait, let me spell it out for you. ‘About 25’. ‘Brown Hair’, ‘Tall’, ‘Great dancer.’ ‘Knows me well.’ Don’t you remember?”

Sandra was bewildered. “Remember what?”

He said quietly. “That you created me. I am the product of your imagination. From the contest you won last year.”

It came back to her now. She enjoyed sketching. And when one of the online gaming portals she often visited announced a ‘Create A Character’ contest, she sent her entry. She remembered being happy with the prize money of $500 she received. The rules said the drawing should be accompanied by a detailed description of the character’s personality and the contestant’s interests. The portal wanted to make the character seem “lifelike.” She’d sent a long wishlist for the sheer fun of it.

She said to him mockingly. “So, what you’re saying is that you are ‘Jake’ from the gaming site?”

He nodded. “Affirmative.”

“Really?” she asked disbelievingly.

“Log in. Now. Look for me.”

She did. The touchscreen on her cellphone blinked ‘Hello Sandra’

She typed. ‘Where is Jake’

Her cellphone blinked ‘He is at the Iris Lounge. With you.’

She typed again. ‘Where is Jake’

‘Jake’s not here. He is with you.’

She gaped at Jake, who groaned, “Don’t ask for me more than once. I think it causes my head to ache. Must be something to do with pixels and gravity. And for God’s sake, please log out.”

She sat back on the sofa, completely flummoxed.

Handing her a glass of water, he said gently, “Sandra, I have no idea how this happened. But I am here. For now. I know I have to go back into the gaming software soon.” He had a sad smile on his face.

“Is this some kind of a joke? Or are you an online stalker freak?” she asked angrily.

“No, I am not a freak. Please Sandra. Don’t analyze this. I have no answers. You are safe with me. Probably safer with me than any other man from the ‘real’ world. I am not a rapist, stalker or murderer. I don’t shoot school children. Remember you created the ‘perfect’ me. With all the goodness from your heart. There wasn’t a single mean personality trait you put on that list Sandra.”

He added. “Talk to me. Let’s have fun while it lasts. You have nothing to lose, do you?”

She sighed. “Okay. Makes sense.”

They talked for a while. She was surprised how much he knew about her. He was a great listener. He could empathize. When the timezone was in his favor, he’d read every line on the file they had tagged ‘Winning Entry.’

Surprisingly, she instinctively knew she could trust him. They danced one more time.  Not speaking. Simply being.

“What if I want to see you again?” she whispered to him.

“I don’t think it works that way. I somehow showed up today in a real world setting. It is as weird to me as it is to you. I almost pixelated into nothingness when you walked in. Proof that you are real and I am not,” he said looking at her helplessly.

Her cellphone rang. It was almost 2:00 in the morning. It was her Mom. She suddenly remembered she had to take her for a health checkup that morning.

“Jake, I have to leave now. Come with me. You are already in the real world.” She said urgently.

“No Sandra, I can’t leave with you. From what I understand of my situation, I have the Cinderella curse. Look at my hands,” he said. She could see them turn hazier every few seconds.

They kissed one last time. She walked out the door, trying hard not to cry.  Ashley came running behind her, “Sandra, wait for me! Where were you? I’ve been looking all over! Hey wait up!”

“Did you see him?” Sandra asked Ashley.

“Who? That drop dead gorgeous guy who monopolized all of your attention? Did you get his number?” she teased.

“Yes. Him. Jake. I mean no, I didn’t.” Sandra said nothing more. The story sounded ridiculous to her own ears.

Upon reaching home, she lay awake in bed, unable to sleep. Had she been hallucinating? No. Ashley had seen him too.

And he was exactly like how she had sketched him. And in the description she’d sent them.

At about 3:00 in the afternoon, she logged in from her desktop at the office.

She typed. ‘Where is Jake’

Her monitor blinked.

‘Hello Sandra. This is Jake.
Welcome My Darling.
To the cruel kindness of our love
Caught in the static flow of time.
A bitter sweet existence
The only choice in this virtual reality’

********************
1000 Words

 

Micro Fiction: When you are Gina Hamilton-Trent

Porcelain skin. Doe-shaped eyes. Glossy hair. Model. Heiress.

Vera gazed adoringly at her idol from behind her thick glasses.

“Vera?” asked the sophisticated voice. She stammered, “Er..Hi Gina?”

“Was wondering if you could help me. I can’t seem to get those Math sums right. Do you think you can come by my house at 5:00 today?”

Vera gushed,”Sure, no problem.”

“Thanks a bunch!” Gina smiled radiantly.

Gina always made the effort to be genuinely nice to anyone who reminded her of herself.  She could never forget the bullying. Nor the knife attack at her old school.

Before she became Gina Hamilton-Trent.

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100 Words

Micro Fiction: Being Sane; About

sane
/seɪn/  adjective
synonyms: lucid, clear-headed, rational, coherent, balanced
(Source: Google)

She’d lived life on her own terms. Always listening to her heart. That took her on journeys of self-realization. Gave her the confidence to stand apart from the crowd.

They called her “insane.” To them, labeling seemed easier than overcoming denial.

They only saw what they wanted to see. They couldn’t admit that she rattled them. Because she couldn’t be “controlled.”

Strong, fearless, free. Observant, never judging. Loyal, in every fiber of her being.

She was a survivor. Because she knew when to stop. And how.

She was 100% sane.

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100 Words

55 Fiction: Karma 21

The old man with kindly eyes was sitting on the bench.

She smiled at him, “I turned 21 today.”

He said, “You are the only young person I know that smiles at me. May your dreams come true. God Bless.”

Her cellphone buzzed. The country’s topmost B-School had accepted her application.

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50 Words