====The Killing Guilt====
A story by Pushkar Prabhat
word count: 1500+
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. The sweat beads on her forehead clearly exposed her anxiety and the redness of her cheeks didn’t help either but it wasn’t anxiety alone, there were hues of regret and some shame too. She looked at her mobile and sighed, there were no new notifications. As she took another sip, she wondered how her life had been pretty calm and smooth up until a few hours ago. She had had loving parents, had been a straight A student in both school and college and after having being accepted as a trainee, this was her first job. She took a quick look at the scarf covered knife and thought “Well I sure did screw this up.”
It was raining that night and it was already past the closing time. Usually, she would enjoy a cup of coffee, after closing, with the manager but that night she was having one alone, by herself even though he was there, right beside her chair, lying on the floor with his face soaking in the pool of blood around him. Looking at his blood covered face she wondered what a waste it was, a 6 foot 2 inches tall, fair, well built and handsome man, only in his thirties just lying there, dead.
A message popped up on her mobile”open” and then she heard a knock on the front door. She quickly got up and in one swift motion carefully put the blue silk scarf, concealing the knife, in her handbag. She opened the door. There were three of them and a gray van stood outside. They were supposed to be professional “clean up” crew, having friends was finally paying off. They were wearing masks. One of them said, “Leave and don’t make detours.”
She rushed in to grab her handbag and placed it on her right shoulder but when she reached for her coffee cup, one of them commanded, “Leave that here.” She took a last look at his dead body and then left. She walked straight down the road and then turned left into a dark alley. She couldn’t control herself any longer and broke into tears but kept walking. She remembered how she felt weak in her knees when she had first met him, on the first day of her job. She also remembered how she felt threatened by him for her life, only a few hours ago. She wondered how from exchanging killer looks it came to actually being a killer in just three weeks, rather just a few hours. But she couldn’t have ignored what she had found. She should have found it much earlier but she was clearly distracted by him from the very first day.
She was on her dream job working next to a handsome guy, this was her first chance at any romance, and that too with a guy girls only dream about, perhaps this was all too much too soon for her. Spending time together outside of the job, going to the movies and dinners together, hanging out in the shop after closing time, late night walks to her apartment, all night calls, she really thought she had it all. She thought she knew him. She even wondered how anyone could be so perfect, so caring, so loving…..but as it turned out, she barely knew him.
The rain grew stronger. She remembered waking up that day to a sunny morning with no signs of rain. The summer was at its peak, the temperatures were unbearable, and she remembered praying for the rain, she also remembered thanking god for him being in her life and praying that their love lasts forever. This rain seemed to be mocking her. Maybe the Gods have an insensitive grant policy or maybe there was something wrong with God’s system that day. None of that mattered, now that he was already dead.
She had only accidentally discovered those personal emails and twitter account on his laptop while checking her own emails, and she even barely had the time to make sense of it all before he came back from the toilet, startling her. She thought she had closed those windows before he could have seen them. She remembered making some silly excuse and returning back to the counter from his table. She remembered her face going numb and her mind shut off while wondering was it really an ISIS twitter handle she just saw and those emails mentioning terrorist organizations she opened. Once she had realized what she had found, her heart beat rose, she started sweating, and she didn’t know what to do. She was scared at the very sight of him. She remembered how when their eyes met after the incident, she felt the difference in his gaze as if he knew, everything. It was at that time she decided to go through with it. It was only half an hour since the incident to the closing time. She was the only waitress left, as per routine. She couldn’t run, she had to play the possibility of him still being unaware of her discovery. And even if she did, he would vanish, and it was important that he gets caught.
As she had suspected, he jumped her, but she had hidden that knife in her dress long before, and she did not miss. She couldn’t have. He vaguely tried to strangle her but that wound she just inflicted on his neck was almost surgical, he fell down to his death bumping into tables and chairs. She stood there in silence with that knife in her hand knowing full well that things will never be the same. And while she stood there remembering the past three weeks the only thought crossing her mind again, and again was “Was it worth it?”
The same thought was bothering her now while walking. A constant echoing cry “was it worth it?” Was all of her life, endless possibilities converging to that point of her, killing her boyfriend, worth it? She shook her head in disappointment thinking “Why did she even open his laptop to check her emails. If only she hadn’t, he would still be alive.” But she knew this was a lie. She let out a sigh of disgust “How could I let myself believe my own lie? How did it come to this?” How irresponsible and sloppy she had been. Though she had discovered those secrets accidentally, but she was the one looking for them, it was part of her job. Though killing him was never intended, in fact, his death was a failure for her, but finding him was her mission. She remembered her mother reinforcing the universal advice “Never trust strangers.” He was right there with her, every day, but she didn’t even notice. This was unacceptable to her. She remembered her dad, a retired army officer saying “Never let emotions come in the way of duty and dreams.” She took a mental vow to never let this happen again, she had learned her lessons.
She was there; she stopped and took one last sip from her coffee cup before throwing it into a corner. She walked towards that red door and knocked, the door opened and she entered. Someone tried to attack her from behind, she had already reached for the knife in her handbag, she stabbed him right in his chest and then proceeded to tackle others, who came running at her. But there were too many. Something hit her head before she fainted and fell on the floor.
A week later, in the office of a doctor in the State Mental Hospital, “…….they are trying to frame me. This is a conspiracy against me.” She argued while sitting on the sofa, in front of her doctor, a 50-year-old psychiatrist.
“There is no conspiracy……..” the doctor said.
“There is. You don’t understand. I worked in the intelligence agency and I was supposed to find the mole in the agency.”
“I have heard your story that you were there to find the ISIS agent who was using that shop’s wifi to communicate with the terrorists” the doctor got up and while walking towards her, he continued “and also that your actual mission was to find the mole in the agency itself through……”
“Yes, and I found out about them on his laptop. That is why they tried to kill me that night. And now I am being framed for his murder and stuck in this hospital on a false diagnosis of schizophrenia.”
“But nobody tried to kill you. Instead, you attacked them while they were waiting for you at your local base.”
“Yes. And you almost killed one of the agents.”
“That is not true.”
“It is. They could have killed you already if they wanted to. Why would they leave you alive…..”
“So that they could explain the death of the manager while covering any tracks that could lead to them. The schizophrenia label wouldn’t let anyone believe my story either.”
He sat beside her, kept his hand on her shoulder trying to pacify her and said “I know that you and the manager were close and it must be very traumatic for you but all of this is your fantasy. It is all in your mind. You are imagining things, hallucinating, due to the shock and regret.”
“I am not imagining anything. He was a terrorist and I feel no guilt for killing him” her eyes were wet.
“But you do. You know you killed an innocent man, a man you loved. You know it was a mistake. You know you had found out, from his laptop, that he was innocent after you had killed him under suspicion and misunderstanding”
She pushed him away and stood up, shouting at him “He was a terrorist. I found out those emails and twitter account. He tried to kill me……”, she broke into tears and fell on the ground weeping.
He rushed to calm her down. He hugged her and while caressing her hair he spoke gently “Here here. Let the pain out. Accept the reality. We all make mistakes. You need to forgive yourself. Nothing is perfect in life. You have to let go of the guilt and move on because we cannot change the past no matter how many lies we make ourselves believe. Lies will only hurt us and also others around us. Shhh shh……it is okay. Everything will be alright. Let go…….”
Sitting by the grilled window, contemplating what was real and what was not, she took the blue silk scarf in her hands. While wondering which of the two, was the bigger tragedy she put the scarf around her neck. She remembered this was the first gift he gave her and how he always wanted her to wear it everywhere. She knew that at least his love was real. She knew she had killed him. She knew if she pulled the two ends of the scarf, hard enough, these questions, regrets, guilt and pain would cease. Perhaps this was the only truth she needed to know.
Alarms rang. Nurses rushed to her ward but they were too late. One of the nurses, who untied the bed sheet from around her neck, sighed “What a waste.” There she laid, a young, brilliant and beautiful woman, only in her twenties, dead and probably chasing a blue silk scarf across the meadow in her afterlife.
written a year ago, for a contest i lost. I hope this was not a complete waste of your time……..if it was do tell me, i will stick to poetry. 😀
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