Friday 15 June 2012

Flash Fiction 2012 Longlist, Ateendriya Gupta


A trickle of rain blurred the view today- through my glasses, things are murky. He walks down those dirty staircases, every Friday. Ritualistically. And ritualistically, I wait at the sides- like waiting at the altar; like waiting at the morgue. Like waiting around the sixpence antique shop for the owner to leave.Sneaking, lurking- like the snake in paradise. His overcoat brushes past me, every Friday. Unnoticed, I smell the cologne on it; sickening, disgusting, sweet. I can the smell that smell at the back of my neck, in the pits of my stomach. It’s in me, inside me, settling down- making colonies.
This Friday, it rained, for the first time since I stepped out. Rain makes me lose my head. Rain makes me spontaneous. Planned out for ages- this spontaneous act of passion. It’s a cold passion. Heartless, but that’s alright. The overcoat moves. His shadow brushes past- the cologne is stronger- the rain makes it sing. I can see his smile; I can feel those tunes in his head—who is it this time? Ah. He’s in love. But of course, it’s that time of the year. And I’m so long gone- that’s only right.
He moves another step down. One more and I’m behind him. Like a shadow- like him. The subway’s clear- no witness, no crime. My hand is faster than his were, back in the day. A soft move, a slight resistance, a crimson dream- and a thud. I’m out, I’m done- this altar has been blessed. I leave, but the cologne has followed me home. Like glue, like pollen on insect-feet. I huddle in the corner of my room- waiting for the cologne to leave; it’s a strange colour now. It is inside, it burns. It’s red, like the back of him.

Mid-night, the phone rings. Much expected. Yes? Yes. Voices talk to and fro in this corner- my corner, while the phone rings. Cold receiver, wet hands. I cough out. “Hello?” Trails of words- strung together- jaggedly, painfully. And then a verdict- “Your father has been….murdered. Stabbed to death”, amidst sobs. Sobs, mother? Really. I hang on to each word…tell me! Tell me about the pictures in his pockets. Tell me about his basement hobbies. Tell me what you found- what I knew. What you knew too. Tell me that the world knows.Nothing. Not a word. I keep hanging on- the person on the other side has changed. Nothing but good things- good words.Unreal words. I’m at the end of my rope. The receiver slips- a thud. Like he’s fallen again. Let him fall. I slide down- quietly, back to my corner. 

The world will never know? No.
The colonies inside are spreading- like locusts in mid-May. Peeled off; one by one- layer after layer. His tunes are mine now; I seen them in the marble tiles. I see myself- I’m no longer. He’s inside- spreading. I’m him, now. I use his smiles. He lives.

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