Of Virtue or Vice

Shorty story

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1. Of Virtue or Vice

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. She gazed at the cacophony outside, unfazed by the never-ending noise, lost in thought. She could still feel the cold grip of the blade, the warmth of the blood that it had caused to flow. Never in her wildest dreams did she know she was capable of the act that she had just committed, but it had to be done. Life had become unbearable, each day she had wished it to end and each day she struggled on, hoping the next day would bring some cheer to her life.

She met him when they were in college. He played Basketball, played the guitar and was the most popular guy in class. He was the charming types, with a heart winning smile and that wicked sense of humor that made girls go weak on their knees. And she was the shy types, the introvert no one would notice. She had her talents, though. She was an aspiring writer. She wrote poems, short stories and dreamt of being a renowned writer someday.

Their paths crossed when he was looking for a particular book on poetry in the library. The librarian informed him that she had borrowed the book. What followed was the beginning of their story, the cool guy and the shy girl. She fell in love with him as fast as the speed of light; this was what his charm did to girls. But she could never say it to him. He too felt a strange kind of affection for her, but he didn’t know it was love until a common friend made him realize this. He was quick to act and the very next day he asked her to meet him after class. She was hesitant at first, confused later. Why did he want to meet her in private? As she waited for him, she was looking warily here and there, her heart pounding. He approached her with a naughty smile, the way kids do when they have done some mischief. He stood in front of her, got down on his knees, held out a Parker pen and said “I think I would love to spend the rest of my life reading your poetry, I think I am in love with you.” And the world started spinning faster for her. She could hear a thousand bells ringing in the distant and fireworks in the sky. Her life had changed forever.

They got married 3 years after graduation. They decided to have a destination wedding. He chose sea beach, she chose Hill station. Ultimately, both agreed on Hill station. It was a grand wedding, attended by many friends and relatives. There was cheer and joy all around. And the couple was in the seventh heaven; that was the happiest day of their lives. They laughed and danced and were so cheerful, hoping for a blissful & happy life together, unaware of what lay ahead.

By now, the neighbors had alerted the police and there was a swarm of policemen running around the apartment, having no clue to what had happened there. The lifeless body of a man lay on the bed with a slit wrist and blood all over. An empty bottle of sleeping pills & a Parker pen lay on the pillow with a note attached. The Officer in-charge put on his gloves and carefully took the note to examine it. There was only one line written on the note “Till death do us part.”

She had been sitting there for over an hour now, gazing out of the window. The coffee had gone cold, she had long forgotten about it after the first sip. She wanted to scream out and weep, but she did not. She had promised she would never cry, no matter what. They used to come to Starbucks often together during the good old days. She was brooding over the times they had together, memories hitting her like a volley of arrows. The mobile had ringed 3 times, but she could not hear it, as if this world didn’t exist anymore, as if she was actually somewhere else, in a parallel universe.

The mobile rang again, this time catching her attention. She was startled at the noise of the ring, as if awakened from sleep by the alarm clock. It was her mother. Her hands were shaking as she answered the phone. “Hi Mom”, she said. “Hi Dear, I have been trying to reach you, where have you been?” her mother said in an anxious tone. “It’s over Mom, finally”, she replied. ”What! What happened? Please tell me.” Her mother was on the verge of tears now. There a long silence before she answered” I killed him”. This time the silence grew longer. After what seemed like an eternity her mother said,” Where are you now? We are catching the first flight we get.” The line went dead.

She left the café and started walking aimlessly on the street. She had not slept well for days now and the last night was a nightmare. She dreaded to even think about it.

The officer-in-charge started questioning the neighbors, probing for clues. Meanwhile, his team was checking the whole place for any piece of evidence. The neighbors confirmed that a couple moved in the apartment one month back. No one knew where they came from, what they did and where they worked. They said the couple would mostly keep to themselves and would hardly speak to anyone. They would mostly stay in the house, the only time they saw them was when the wife went out to the market. They also said, they could hear muffled sounds at night every now and then, as if some wounded animal was whining. The neighbors said that there must have been some marriage issues between the couple and they usually fought at night. There were whispers in the neighborhood that the husband was an unemployed drunkard who used to beat his wife in inebriated state. They hated him.

 

 

She had walked a few hundred meters now, walking like a vagabond, oblivious to the stares of people passing by. She could not think of any place to go, any place to hide from the world. She knew she would be picked up by the police any time now or later. She would be thrown to some dark cell for the rest of her life. She could not imagine the state of her parents afterwards. Their lives would be shattered.

She remembered the blue scarf, the same one she had used to hide the weapon after the crime. He had gifted her this scarf long time back, on their first date. She could not come to terms with her present state, a life full of smiles and happiness- broken, beaten and shattered. How could he do this to her? How could her fate be so merciless? Why did this happen? She had no answers. She walked on.

One of the neighbors told the police that he had seen the wife early in the morning leaving the house alone. He said since she usually went out in the evening, this day it seemed strange to him that she left house so early in the morning. He didn’t bother to ask as she hardly ever interacted with anyone. When the milkman came and rang, there was no answer. He tried several times but no one responded. This was unusual because in the last one month, he never found them out of home. Just when he was about to leave, he found that the main door was not locked. He peeked in and gave a call but there was no answer from anyone. Some strange sense told him that something was wrong there. So, he entered the house. What he saw inside made him scream in horror and the neighbors were alerted, who in turn called the police.

The officer-in-charge immediately asked his team to send out alert on all stations that a possible suspect was on the run.

Her parents were more worried now, her mother almost delirious. Her father sat silently checking the internet for the evening tickets. He was worried too but did not as much express it. It would make her mother more worried. They had to get to her somehow. They had called her to wish him happy birthday in the morning. When no one picked up the call, they got worried. Their daughter had moved to this new place. She said he had quit his job and wanted to live by the sea. She was a writer and fairly successful now. So, the idea was a good one, they thought. Today’s sudden call had struck them like lightning. Although since last few months they could sense something was wrong, they were not sure what it was. They thought maybe it was the stress of city life. There was a flight in the evening. He immediately booked it.      

 

 

She reached the beach side. There was a big rock on one of the far ends. She walked towards it, her mind asking her many questions. Whatever she had done, was it right? Could there be some other way to find peace? Could a miracle have saved her from the misery? She reached the top of the rock now. She looked at the endless sea beyond, the waves high and hitting the rock every now and then. A drop of tear fell down her cheek & she plunged into the sea.

She broke her promise to him that she would not give up, she would survive. His cancer had grown worse, last stage the doctors had said. There was no hope of revival.

Loving him was virtue, maybe Euthanasia was her vice.   

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