Resentment.

Resentment.

I don’t know why I married this thing in my bed. She doesn’t have brains. Doesn’t have the looks either. Doesn’t make money. Has a voice louder than those drills going in my neighbor’s backyard. I look over at the sleeping form next to me; chameleon-eyes open like she’s always watching me. She has these big eyes I used to find beautiful and luminous once but now, all they do is follow me around, grotesquely.

I am a henpecked husband.

I cannot even remember how long I have been married to Her. It disgusts me to even say the name. to think that I wanted a home and a child, or maybe two, with Her, one day. She’s not who I married and she has completely changed. Recession hit and she – very voluntarily and very comfortably – pulled off her socks and curled up permanently on the couch, just watching and being a pain in my neck. She acts like she’s doing me a favor when she gets me breakfast in bed. She lords it over me when she’s folding and putting away piles of my laundry. I’ve never asked her to do any of it, but she acts like she has this chip on her ugly, hunched and emaciated shoulder and uses it against me at every opportunity. I hate being stuck with her indoors all day. Fucking Corona. It had to happen now, now when I was on the verge of going on this business trip to Amsterdam alone. Now, when I’d have a few peaceful days all to myself.

She makes unnecessary commentary when I talk to my friends on the phone. She tells them not to call on the weekends – her voice shrill in the background, making me feel like I would bleed from my ears – saying she wants me to herself and she tries to sabotage my two-decade long friendship with my best friend. We had a go at each other the other day. The rabid cunt thinks I would let her treat me this way, does she? She thinks I don’t deserve her, and she’s right because no one does. Stupid, freaking, crazy bitch. How I wish I could turn back time and ensure this marriage had never happened.

I don’t even remember taking a pillow and stifling her till her writhing body goes still and her silent screams fade away to silence, blissful silence.

The Twin

The Twin

I was getting married in three hours. I’d suddenly developed this awful headache, and told my hairstylist to give me a second.

I must have fallen asleep.

Someone was shrieking rather loudly in my ears, and also shaking me persistently.

“LOU? LOU! Wake up, Louise! Oh, God!”

I opened my eyes and everything was so bright, it took me a while before I realized that I was bound and gagged, in my underwear. My mother was in tears, in shock, and a long moment passed before I noticed that we were Inside Missy’s closet.

Missy was my dead twin sister.

We had gone swimming one night, while on a family trip to Bali, and the tide had swept us in. And I had lost track of time and woken up to find Missy gone. She’d stayed gone. The’d never found a body. We had a closed casket funeral for her, with fourteen-year-old me clinging to my mother’s arm, both of us inconsolable.

It had been ten years since.

The only thing that I happened to register now, at this point, was my very terrified mother asking, “But who did Sean get married to? We all thought it was obviously you! She even called me Momsicle!” The only person – apart from me – who ever called our mother that, was Missy. Who we held a freaking funeral for. Ten bloody years ago.

Sean is – was – my fiancé. Sean was also Missy’s teenage crush. Missy and Sean never happened because of the incident. I’d never meant to fall in love with Sean – I didn’t – but fate has awful ways of meddling with people’s lives and he’d proposed to me on my twenty fourth birthday, after three years of dating.

I looked at the date – February 14 – and realized that he was probably on his way to Florence. With his new wife. Who looked exactly like me.

50 Word Story: Vanity

50 Word Story: Vanity

Her whole life had been dedicated to the pursuit of ridiculously pricey trinkets.

The day she slipped and fell off the cliff while sightseeing, she had on some Manolo heels. A good pair of Nikes would have saved her life, but she’d always loved a rather vulgar display of wealth.

Growth.

Growth.

We’d fight all the time

Mostly it would just be me

And we’d end up

Going to bed seething, so angry

There have been times

When we hated each other

I’d cry, you’d look away

You’d say I was such a bother

But look at us now

We’re doing great, aren’t we

So in love

A love that grows effortlessly

My shrink once told me

That it’s okay to fight a lot initially

Because that’s when people adjust

And you were growing to love me for me

People tried to take us apart

People said things, mean stuff

One day we decided it would be just us

And that we’d had enough

I guess growth

Only comes from within

And that’s pretty much it

It comes with a lot of accepting

Growth tells you

That when you’re in love

You don’t need to involve the world

Not even when push comes to shove

The Donor

The Donor

Donna had the personality of raw, unsalted pasta. To say that she was bland, unappealing, and completely far from being impactful, would be the understatement of the century. She’d been that accidental baby that neither parent wanted, and she’d grown up with the feeling of being unloved her whole life.

Her mommy issues ran deeper than the hatred a certain pair of adjacent nations felt towards each other.

Her daddy issues ran deeper than the Mariana Trench.

She wasn’t great to look at either. And she didn’t have brains, they said. Nor did she have a spine, apparently, because everyone she tried to talk to would ask her to grow one. Donna, for the life of her, with her rather limited IQ and her simple heart, never understood how one was supposed to grow a spine at the ripe age of twenty nine.

She was also color-blind and didn’t qualify for a ton of jobs, so she worked as a book-binder instead.

Donna would sit at home, by the window, look out at the trees that everyone said were green, and tell herself that things would be okay someday. And as each day passed, and as each time a prospective groom came home, ate her parents’ food and rejected her in front of her worried parents, Donna started losing hope. At this point, her parents were growing old, and wrinkly and everyone that came home would always talk about Donna’s unmarried status. And as Donna approached thirty on the last day of the warmest summer in history, she thought that it would be a great idea to soak in the bathtub for the last time before the clock struck midnight.

Donna filled the bath with ice cubes and heard voices.

Grow a pair.

Grow a spine.

You’re such a waste of skin.

You should be dead.

You should never have been born.

Nobody wants a girl child, anyway.

You’re pathetic.

She looked at the shower curtain and thought to herself that it was about time she did something worthwhile.

The last thing she felt was the press of the defibrillator on her chest as Donna finally faded away. The last voice she heard said something she wanted to hear since the time she’d developed a conscience, even though she had dung for brains and an IQ of less than ten.

She’s flatlined, they said.

A few hours later, a young man received a new kidney.

A few more hours later, someone else received a liver transplant.

In death, she wasn’t so useless and far from being impactful, after all.

50 Word Story: Mother

50 Word Story: Mother

Ariel was six and lived with her single mum, Ursula, who used to leave for work early. Sometimes they’d miss their meals. Sleep was often inadequate.

Eventually, things started getting done around the house. On their own.

One morning she walked in on Ursula, multitasking, with tentacles.

Lingerie

Lingerie

Dave hated going away on business trips. He missed Lila. Tomorrow would be their fifth wedding anniversary, and he would probably miss it. Cursing silently, he made his way to the elevator that would take him to his brand new client’s office. He looked at his watch: it was already getting kind of late, and there was no way he would be able to take a three hour flight back home now. These meetings typically ran long and were extremely boring.

Dave sighed and walked into the office, feeling miserable that he wouldn’t be able to get home to Lila before midnight. He’d been away for only three days but he missed her because she constantly said she missed him.

She was a sweetheart, Bambi to the world, Devil between sheets.

Just yesterday, she’d told him she’d bought new underwear because she wanted to FaceTime him exactly at midnight, since he couldn’t be there with her physically. It was a silly little tradition they had – every year, he’d buy her fancy lingerie from Agent Provocateur. And they’d role play and go crazy.

Dave had been so apologetic, telling her he was sorry for not being able to come home. He’d argued that FaceTime wasn’t the same thing as being together in person, and that he wanted to be with her on their anniversary, just like every other year. Lila had assured him that she wasn’t too mad. Yes, she would miss him, but he would come home soon anyway and they’d be getting it on like a pair of bunnies. They’d both laughed at that one.

And now he sat in a plush office, talking numbers with a polished gentleman, who seemed nice and seemed to really like Dave. It was a given, since everyone loved Dave. The meeting went well, and they were able to close the deal super early and Dave debated letting Lila know that he would be coming home after all, but he decided against it. Let it be a surprise, he thought. On the way, he picked up some candy, thanking his lucky stars that he actually did find the time to get some candy at least.

His sweet little Lila.

On the flight back home, Dave watched a romantic comedy and secretly ugly cried inside his head. The flight landed and he practically ran to the cab. When he got home, he made sure to not make any noise, because he truly, truly wanted to surprise Lila – and let himself into their sound-proofed apartment. There was a silence in the dark hall, padded, comforting. And a faint trace of perfume in the air that Dave didn’t recognize. Distinctly floral. Lila liked gourmand scents.

The door to the master bedroom was shut, and he could hear faint moaning noises coming from within.

Dave walked over and pushed the door open silently.

Lila lay on the bed, spread wide, with her knees bent, head thrown back, eyes closed in ecstasy. She seemed to be in a trance almost, repeating one name, Tina. Her best friend of six years, Tina. They’d always sworn they were sisters, but Dave had always noticed a little something between the two women. Something he couldn’t put his finger on. He’d forgotten all about it until now, because there they were, both of them butt-naked, doing it like a pair of hormonal bunnies. Shrugging, Dave stepped into the room, shut the door behind him, and joined the party.

In between Lila going at it like there was no tomorrow, Dave grabbed her by the hair and nodding towards Tina, whispered, “Did you like the present?”

Lila’s smile lit up the room.

Joke’s On You

Joke’s On You

Sequel to The Cruel Joke.

Myra froze as she registered what had just been said. Memories that she’d so stubbornly been keeping suppressed these four years, came flooding back.

Those weren’t happy memories at all.

Five years ago, when Myra had just started a brand new job, she had to work weird shifts. She was working late one night. At the end of her shift, she packed up and stuffing her laptop into her backpack, got into a relatively crowded elevator. She didn’t notice the man at the back, the man with the lecherous eyes. When she got out, she didn’t realize she was being followed all the way to the deserted parking lot. She didn’t realize what was happening till someone clamped a hand over her mouth, and whispered:

“Don’t even try to struggle. You’ve been resisting me for far too long.”

Myra thought she was being robbed, but then she smelled Cuban cigars. The only person she knew that smelled that way was her boss, Varun.

He was also a lot bigger than her and the slap he landed across her left cheek when she tried to get away, almost knocked the wind out of her. After Varun was done having his way with her, he discarded her shivering body like a piece of used Kleenex and swiftly got into his car and drove away. Myra lay on the ground, most of her clothes pooled around her ankles, unable to believe what had just happened to her. She couldn’t feel her legs, or her left cheek or anything else apart from shame, embarrassment and humiliation.

There was no CCTV footage: Varun had picked a blind spot to molest Myra.

She had no idea how she managed to get her clothes back on, or how she got back to her tiny rented apartment that she shared with another girl. All Myra knew at that point, was that she would never be the same. She quit her job the next day, and she’d moved back home within the week. Her ex-roommate would call, but Myra cut her off eventually, telling her and everyone else that she wanted to pursue her Masters and would very much like to be left alone.

A year passed, and the suppressed memories stopped bothering her too much.

She was in Texas the next summer, visiting her aunt, when she met Raghav at a Starbucks and discovered that he’d been a senior at her school. They’d never met before because he’d already graduated when she switched to his school. And so, a friendship formed and eventually, Raghav asked her to be his girlfriend and she said yes. She’d never told him where she worked briefly because she’d decided to forget about the whole elevator/parking lot incident. And Raghav was a good boyfriend and Myra was finally in a good place.

But now, looking at Varun once again, she didn’t know what to do. She had no proof of what he’d done and she didn’t want to let Raghav go.

And so, the two families decided on a wedding date, the engagement went smoothly and Varun didn’t really try to do anything with Raghav around. But Myra, with her heightened senses, could always feel Varun’s eyes on her, wanting to posses her all over again. The wedding date approached, and Myra was ready to go. The bridesmaids left Myra in the room alone for a minute, and then Varun walked in. She could tell he’d been waiting to catch a break.

“You’re hot. I can’t believe you’re marrying my loser of a brother. What do you see in him, anyway? I’m a lot richer and a lot better looking. He’s just starting out. You won’t be able to even live comfortably, have you seen the shabby little apartment he lives in?”

Myra glared at him, “He’s a good person. Unlike you.” She grabbed her phone and tried to call for help. He snatched it out of her hand. Myra looked around, trying to find something to hit him with, found a makeup brush and attempted to stab him in the face. Varun was way too quick for her and had her pinned to the wall in a second. He then started to feel her up. Myra’s screams were drowned out by the loud wedding music. She thought she saw someone outside, out of the corner of her eye, and screamed, some more, for help. She was fighting Varun off when a whole lot of people, led by her parents, rushed into the room.

Myra’s dad peeled Varun away from his daughter with shockingly gargantuan strength. Myra’s mum rushed to comfort her crying daughter.

“Good thing Sana saw what was happening and alerted us, or Lord knows what would have happened,” Myra’s mum said, her voice shaking.

Sana was one of Myra’s cousins and also one of the bridesmaids. She was the one who had come to fetch Myra, but had seen what was happening. It was lucky she didn’t lose her head in a crisis. It was also lucky she had the whole thing on video, even though the video was only a few seconds long, before she had run to get people. Cops were called, and Varun was arrested. Turned out, he’d molested several other women but had also blackmailed them into silence.

Varun’s Dad stepped into the room, and apologized to Myra.

“I’m sorry, beta,” he said, “I’ve never been more ashamed in my whole entire life. Varun is going to jail and I’ll make sure he stays there. He’s been getting away with a lot of things for far too long. This needs to stop right now. No wonder people hate on MLAs and their children. It’s because of people like Varun. I’m so, so sorry.”

So Varun got a life sentence, with his Dad making sure that Varun never got to leave. Myra’s wedding was marred by such gloomy turn of events but she went on to have a very happy married life with Raghav, in their little apartment.

The Texter

The Texter

Best friends Alex and Sharon were polar opposites. Sharon texted too much, Alex hated phones with a passion.

One day she’d had enough of Sharon’s texts and muted her everywhere.

Alex was found in a secluded corner of the park with her throat slit the next morning. Cops found her phone, which was on silent. There were a bunch of missed calls and muted messages, all from the same person.

Sharon was nowhere to be found.

The Cruel Joke

The Cruel Joke

While the rest of of the world seemingly had it all figured out, Myra, at the ripe old age of twenty-six, was still waiting to find her true calling.

She’d gone to college to study software engineering, which she ended up hating eventually. Nothing seemed to fascinate her. And then there were the relatives.

“Hawwww,” they’d say, in their typical Indian aunty lingo, “you’re too old already. You’ve to get married. You’re literally such a liability, sitting at home and wasting your father’s money, hawwwww.”

It was true in a way, Myra thought, she definitely was wasting her father’s hard earned money. She’d had a brief stint in the corporate world, but after her boss tried to get into her pants more than just once, she’d been unable to take it. The disgust she’d developed for the whole thing had gotten too much, and she’d been depressed and hurt. That elevator incident where she’d gotten trapped with her boss, and the fact that he’d tried to slide a hand under her skirt, for the umpteenth time, had been the last straw. She’d quit office, and come home. She’d never told anyone why, though.

Although her parents never complained – her dad was a good man, and her mum was an angel – she could see the worry in their faces. Not long after, her long-distance boyfriend Raghav, said he would be coming back home after being away for a few years while he finished his post-grad. Myra saw a ray of sunshine for the first time in years. Raghav said he would be bringing his family over to meet Myra and her parents, so they could discuss the wedding, as it happens in most Indian households. Myra was elated.

She couldn’t wait to meet Raghav’s family. She’d only ever met his mum and she was a darling.

The day Raghav and his family were due to come over, Myra got her hair and nails done. Flushed with anticipation, she didn’t even put on a full face of makeup because she knew she looked amazing.

The doorbell rang and she could hear her dad welcome Raghav and his parents, and his brother. She was putting on mascara when her mum walked in, looking super happy, and said, “Ooh, you look so pretty, they’re here! Come help me in the kitchen.”

“Yes, Mama.”

Her mum gave her a hug and said, “I can’t believe you’re going to be married soon. This is such a happy day!”

Myra sparkled.

In the kitchen, her mum handed her a tray with some glasses of water on it and asked her to take it to meet the guests. Myra obliged and walked into the living room, tray carefully balanced in both hands, eyes on the glasses so she didn’t drop any. She set the tray down on the coffee table and accidentally locked eyes with the man right in front of her.

Revulsion and fury rose within her like bilious vomit. It was her old boss, the one who’d tried to sexually assault her.

From somewhere far away, she could hear Raghav’s voice saying, “Myra, meet Varun, he’s my older brother. He’s been dying to meet you.”