“You do know this is textbook stalking, don’t you? How the mighty have fallen,” I jeered at the girl standing behind me, smiling at me through the mirror.
“I know, right? You have a talent for bringing out the worst in me,” she said, with a smirk.
I banged my head on the mirror in the loo.
“Is there any point to this stalking? What are you trying to achieve here, apart from driving me nuts?”
“That’s good enough for now. And FYI, the point is, that no matter where you go, I’ll always find you. You’re never going to be free of me,” she promised with that sweet, psychotic smile.
I groaned into the mirror.
“I don’t understand why you’re complaining, though. You were the one who didn’t want me to leave you,” she pointed out, as she walked out of the bathroom.
I splashed some water on my face, but it was of no use. I still looked like the walking dead, with bloodshot eyes and a chalky complexion.
It was her fault, as always. She had turned my life into a train-wreck, and I was just being dragged along for the ride. To add to my woes, it was that time of the year again.
For me, it’s not that time of the year without the usual nightmares. I’ll be fine throughout the year, but when October rolls around, I wake up at 2 am, screaming, bathed in sweat, fists clenched tight.
I’ve tried everything – medication, counselling, and even hypnotherapy. When none of that worked, I tried drowning myself in a bottle. But, even when I’d passed out from the booze, I still woke up at 2 am, shrieking like a banshee. Of course, I have no memory of the screaming. It’s just that my nosy neighbor called my mother after she heard me screaming for the third night in a row, and I realized that I had a problem.
Well, two problems. Even with the complaining neighbors, the nightmares only torture me in October. The other, bigger problem hangs around for much longer. It, or maybe I should say she, never goes away. I’ve tried everything. I’ve changed four jobs and three cities in the past three years. Yet, she always finds me.
It always starts the same way. On Valentine’s Day. Just like the first time.
Every year, for the past three years, I’ll be sitting at a table in the cafeteria on Valentine’s Day, and she walks up to me, saying, “Hi! Can I join you? It’s my first day at work, and I don’t know anyone.”
The first time it happened, I had just resumed work after that horrible October night. Yes. It took me three and a half months to recover from my ordeal. But, does she even care? No! She’s selfish, just like she always was!
For the next seven months, she would make me relive every moment I had spent with her, every clandestine little touch, every stolen kiss and even the quickie in the Ladies’ loo of the office that almost had us fired. It drove me nuts, but I just couldn’t get her to stop. Until October. Once we were past that date, she just disappeared, and I tried to pick up the pieces of my life, until the next Valentine’s Day, when it started all over again.
Just try to imagine the horror that my life has turned into. A beautiful girl that I had once loved, who had betrayed me without a thought, now doesn’t want to let go of me. Ironic or what? No matter where I go, she turns up like a bad penny, recreating our love story. Our story began and ended in a span of seven months, and now it seems like I must relive those seven months over and over again, for the rest of my sorry life.
It is such a twisted mind-fuck, and so typical of her. That’s exactly what drew me to her in the first place – her twisted way of looking at things. It doesn’t seem so attractive now, not when I’m on the receiving end of it.
I don’t know how to break the cycle. I play my part, knowing fully well that this is weird. Everyone, from my family to my therapist, everyone tells me this is not normal. But, no one knows how to make it stop. My doctor thinks I’m delusional and has put me on meds. My mother thinks I’ll be fine as soon as I get married. As if.
Well, it’s October now. So, it’s time to brace myself for the double whammy.
My nightmares have one consistent theme – the crazy October night that changed everything. It all builds up to the anniversary of that night. Slowly. Like a slide show of memories, with entire scenes that are engraved on my mind. Gradually, it turns into a slide show of still photographs from that fateful night, fading from color to black and white, and back to color, again. At times, as bright as a wedding picture, and at others, as stark as a crime scene photo.
On the date that it all went south, I get to see the whole movie in my dream, from start to finish. My mind reminds me how she and I bought matching saris for the office party, how we dressed up at my house because I had a full-length mirror, and everyone knows you can’t drape a sari properly without a full-length mirror. I dream of how she kept undoing my sari every time I tried to drape it – the laughter, the moans and the sighs.
And then, the fight on the way back home. We were on a narrow winding road, with a deep valley on one side, and a mountain on the other. Our route was rife with hairpin bends, and even a second of inattention could result in a tragedy. So, even as I yelled at her, I had to keep one eye on the road.
“I came out of the closet just because of you! My family almost disowned me when I told them that I was a lesbian. How dare you do this to me now?”
“Will you calm down? It doesn’t mean anything,” she said, trying to placate me.
“If it doesn’t mean anything, why didn’t you tell me? Why did I have to hear from some random stranger that you’re getting married next month?”
“Hey! That random stranger happens to be my fiance,” she snapped.
“Umm, excuse me? Where was this fiance of yours a few hours ago, when you were sticking your tongue down my throat?”
I was livid, and she…. she grinned at me. That crazy, maniacal grin of hers.
“That was such fun, right?”
“Wrong! How the hell can you marry a… a … a man? You like women,” I screeched.
She shrugged, insouciant as ever.
“Actually, I think I want to experiment a little. See if I’m missing out on anything, ya know,” she said, with a wink.
“What about me?”
I hated the little-girl-lost tone of my voice, but I couldn’t help it. My world felt all up-side down.
“We’ll still be together. He won’t have to know,” she said, patting my knee.
I turned my head and looked at her, wondering how it was possible to love someone so much, and hate them at the same time. I had fought with my parents for this woman. I wore my rainbow so proudly, just for her, and now, she wanted to experiment?
Umm, heck no!
“Watch out,” she screeched.
I turned my head and swerved the car just in time to avoid the huge truck coming towards us. Unfortunately, I had swerved a little more than I should have. I lost control of my car and it sped off the road.
I heard a bang, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up with my ears ringing and my head throbbing. My car was wrapped around a tree. The passenger seat was empty. I dragged myself out of the car and went looking for her.
My car was precariously close to the edge of the mountain. Slightly closer, and it would have fallen into the valley. Where the hell had she landed? I scrabbled around on all fours, searching for her frantically. I could hear her calling to me and she sounded really frightened.
There she was, hanging off the edge of the mountain, holding on for dear life. She begged me to grab her hands, and I did. I grabbed her hands tight.
“Don’t let go,” she pleaded, with tears in her eyes.
I see all this in my dream, every year, on the anniversary of that night.
I remember how I looked into her eyes and smiled at the sight of her desperate face, stripped bare of its usual arrogance, before I lifted her hands up and shoved her off the mountain.
I dream of this, every year, on the anniversary of her death.
I wrote this horror short story for the WordsMatter Blog Hop. I was tagged for this by Balaka Basu and I’m passing the baton to Vinay R . Do check out their blogs as well. There are 38 awesome bloggers in this Blog Hop. If possible, do read them all.
By Kimaya Kolhe
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