A quick glance under the desk. Throw the wardrobe open. Push clothes aside to make sure there is no one inside. Close the wardrobe. Step into the middle of the room. Breathe. Quickly bend and kneel forward, your hands on the ground, ready to push you back up as fast as possible. Check under the bed.
No one there. As every night.
Get back up. Walk towards the light switch. Look around the room another time, the eyes resting for a few seconds on each window. Second floor, but who knows what can climb that high?
Nothing suspicious. Mentally pace the room – two steps, then the jump.
Flip the switch. Large step with the right, large step with the left, then a quick jump to escape any possible hands.
Climb under the covers. Cocoon yourself. Try to sleep. Try not to have nightmares. Continue reading →
My father said he chose Suraiya for me because she was blind. He said she would understand my fears and worries. Maybe that’s why I, too, understand her so well.
She was twelve years older than me and even as I was her master she always called me her little brother.
In just fifteen years my father had transformed his father’s fruit shop into a wholesale franchise that served most of south India. My grandfather chose a good bride for him. They held a festival when she got pregnant. I was meant to be the completion of their happiness. Two days they were the happiest pepole on the planet. It took them two days to notice my flaw and two years to travel the world’s hospitals to find there was no cure.
I was two when they hired Suraiya. I was six when Suraiya told me that her parents repaired and sold second hand sandals and that they could not afford a dowry big enough to find her a husband.
I was eight when she shook me awake in the dead of the night.
It happened exactly four years ago and I still have panic attacks every time that I get too close to a beach.
There were three of us: Luke, Kiel and me. Actually it should have just been Luke and me, but his girlfriend and her best friend ditched us on the last minute and so we invited Luke’s brother, Kiel, instead. Kiel was massive in all dimensions, but as shy and good-hearted as a little girl.
The sky had only just cleared up, so the sand was still moist and the beach empty except for a few swimmers at the far end. Our stuff fell in the sand, we grabbed a tennis ball and a few moments later we were challenging each other to swim deeper and deeper out into the waves to retrieve the ball. Continue reading →
On Tuesday morning, around 10AM, I heard the first glimpse of eternity. It was my second holiday day. I was standing between cereals and pickle jars and somewhere above me a voice tried to convince me to buy slabs of steak that I had seen and that looked unhealthily red. When I saw those steaks a sick cramp formed in my stomach. Humanity has degenerated to the point that meat must be pumped with salt and chemicals to look red as we have grown so accustomed to colored food that we don’t even know anymore that flesh, after being drained of blood, is gray.
I picked a pack of sugared cereal off the shelf and it began. There was no warning. Just one voice stinging through the normal bustle of the shop. It sounded like a young screaming child that quickly ran towards me. I looked around to see the child until I heard it right in front of me but still could see nothing. Then, one after the other, more voices joined in, a choir of pained screams that grew in number and loudness by the second.
My forehead was slammed repeatedly against cold linoleum until one of the clerks did the last nice thing anybody will ever do for me. She pushed a pack of marshmallows between my head and the floor. I slammed my head into the pack rather than the floor. My hands were still pressed on my ears and I kept screaming for the voices to stop. Continue reading →