#31stories

9 posts
  • i_faha 6w

    "Doctor is in an emergency consult. He will attend to you shortly. Meanwhile, deposit your wristwatch & phone at the reception and please follow the intern."

    I was ushered into a waiting room. The walls were super clean, matt white. No certificates, no posters, no windows, not even a ticking clock. There was just a desk and two chairs in the middle of the room, all in white. And a lavatory in the corner, separated by a frosted glass partition.

    The ambience was sterile, absolutely contrary to what I had anticipated. I didn't know what I was expecting, but this was simply too eerie. Just a blanket of minimalist white.

    An hour or more must have passed, I was not quite sure. Nobody had attended to me yet and I started getting restless. All the waiting was getting under my skin, and I imagined the worst case scenarios. I was certain I was ripped off in some con scheme. What an idiot I had been, to not have foreseen this. I wondered if I would atleast make it out alive.

    I was DONE. I couldn't just sit tight anymore. I looked around the door, and tried the door lock. It didn't budge. I knocked the door at first, then slammed it, kicked it, calling for help, but nobody answered. Once I was a little calmer, I pressed my ears against the door. It was all too creepily quiet.

    Panic set in. I frantically tried the desk drawers for keys or just about anything. Nothing in it, except a few stray sheets of white paper, an unsharpened white pencil and a white steel sharpener. Under the supplies, I finally spotted a hint of colour. It was the same brochure, the one which brought me here, to "The Writers Block Clinic" .

    —faha

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #flashfiction #31stories

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    The Clinic
    (Day 9)

  • i_faha 6w

    My phone buzzed. I ignored. And then buzzed incessantly, as if it was in the middle of a grand mal seizure attack.

    I groped for it in pitch darkness, scrambling around the general direction of vibrations. After finally managing to locate it, I squinted my eye to read the message.

    "Do not look at the moon" read the order by the government. Before I could begin to wonder about how strange that message was, I noticed the notifications on several of the other app icons. It ran into hundreds, on each one of them.

    I opened one of the app and on its feed there were spectacular, viral images of the moon in a never before seen shade of rich purple.

    Friends I had not spoken to in years, relatives I had never seen, colleagues, my tax consultant, my family doctor, even the burly man who delivered groceries earlier in the day, personally sent me images of this dazzling phenomenon.

    The whole internet was lit up with moons and moons and more moons.

    Amidst all the hullabaloo and celebratory uproar, the one ominous message overhung like an unsettling shadow. There was no further explanation to it. Nothing on google either, except more breathtaking moon images.

    Right then, I heard a loud cheer from the opposite block. The crowd was going berserk in excitement. I had to look at the moon with my own eyes to believe it. I walked resolutely towards the window and drew the curtains aside.

    As I peered towards the sky, my phone pinged again.
    "Do not look at the moon", it read.

    —faha

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories

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    Syzygy
    (Day 8)

  • i_faha 7w

    (Trigger warning: suicide)

    The door opened. The lights turned itself on. John's pulse, temperature and mood was ascertained by the camera, and a unique playlist of ambient sounds was shuffled by the audio system that was designed to deliver the music straight to his brain, bypassing his ears.

    A mini robot wheeled itself in with a tall frothy plastic glass of White Russian, trailing behind John to his luxurious bedroom; but John simply plonked himself on the bed which automatically appropriated itself to the ideal cooling temperature and pressure relief mode.

    It had been a rough day. John's ex, Roy, couldn't hold out anymore. Roy was discovered with his wrist slit open, in the research wing of the outer orbit complex. The investigating officer had called John for identification. All records of the expunged dead body were found deleted, except for one last folder titled John.

    John and Roy had signed up for the beta trial program, of a miracle drug along with eight others. The program definitely worked. Both of them still had the same 30 year old skin, thick wisps of dark hair and the libido of an eager teenager.

    Inspite of its success, the program was hushed and buried in the dark alleys of failed medical experiments, for it had one fatal flaw. There was no reversal, no going back, no way to quit. The only way to undo, was to do it by yourself. And with Roy no more, the eighth person had finally succumbed.

    Meanwhile, John lay there in his bed, losing track of the number of years it had been since the beginning. It was frustrating to keep playing a game with unlimited chances, and free access to everything life had to offer, except the unpredictability and thrill of escaping death.

    John tried to give up, but a strange curiosity always took over, that kept him going. There had to be a point to this unique suffering. What could be on the other end of immortality?

    Only one way to know, and the last two to go. Who would be the last man standing?

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories #flashfiction

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    Last man standing
    (Day 7)

  • i_faha 7w

    George picked up the cycle leaning against the dumpster. It was in great condition. Metallic blue, with colorful tassels attached on the handlebar. George tried its unusual hand painted bell. It rung a shrill note, of a bird's cheep. Quite jarring, contrary to the otherwise cute little thing, just perfect for little Mikhail.

    There was just one tiny problem. The side stand was missing. I'll fix it the first thing tomorrow. Mikhail would love his Thanksgiving present. The angels must have sent it, George thought to himself while rolling the bike home.

    Once home, George parked the bicycle against the cracked railings of the porch. It was pitch black by now. George hurriedly threw over a plastic sheet over the cycle and rushed home.

    Mikhail was watching Peppa Pig and didn't notice that his daddy was home. George hated leaving little Mikhail unsupervised, but couldn't afford a babysitter after he lost his job. He missed Paula a little more than usual tonight. It seemed like just yesterday when the three of them were so happy, in this small home eating gruel for dinner.

    George made rice gruel for dinner, just like Paula would. Mikhail ate quietly from his bowl without making any mess at all. George carried Mikhail to his bed. They read a story from Mik's favorite story book and Mikhail fell asleep soon after. George kissed him on his forehead. The little child deserves a smile, he thought wiping away the tear rolling down his cheek.

    George woke up suddenly. He checked his watch. It was still 2am, but there were birds chirping this early. He looked out from the window, there was nothing out there. George tried sleeping again but the chirps became more annoying and frequent.

    George headed out to the front door. Right before him stood the cycle, balanced on its two wheels, even without it's stand. The blue plastic sheet covering someone under it ringing the bell. Cheep cheep.

    —faha

    -----------------

    Day 6 and I'm already itching to quit. �� But I won't, not yet.

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories #flashfiction

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    Bye cycle
    (Day 6)

  • i_faha 7w

    Megha felt a soft touch on her shoulder and turned to her left to see. For a minute, she gawked at this strange face standing next to her, while scanning the archives of her memory. Was it him, she pondered for a moment, with her mind still zoned out and her face, blank. But she was in no frame of mind to process anything complex, and refused to acknowledge the stranger.

    "It's me, Karan, you baby hippo", the man muttered under his breath.

    She knew it. She could never forget that face. It had to be him, all of her doubts now reassured. Nobody else in this world would dare call her a hippo. As the revelation slowly registered into her consciousness, her face began to bloom into a wide smile, petal by petal.

    At once, she threw her arms around his shoulders and squealed in absolute delight. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and lifted her two inches above the ground.
    "I can barely carry you anymore, hippo" he nudged, dropping her down with a whump.

    "And look at you billo, all buff and ripped. The docile house cat from our dingy streets has grown into a menacing city tiger, growwwwl." she giggled aloud.

    Karan chortled with the same peculiar neighing sound he made as a kid, whenever he laughed with all his heart, especially with Megha around.

    Suddenly he pulled himself back with a hard jolt, when he noticed the piercing stares of everyone in the crowd.

    Megha too, was thrust back into the present. She retracted all of her ill timed joy and solemnly stepped back to stand in solidarity with her grieving grandfather, with a stifled grin on her face.

    —faha

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories #flashfiction

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    Untimely
    (Day 5)

  • i_faha 7w

    A bowl of dried leftover cereal and milk still lay on the table. I saw it and ignored. Cushion pillows were strewn over the floor, one by the doorway, the other next to the couch. I saw it and ignored it. Hot wheel cars and Lego pieces were all over the floor. Colour pencils and drawing sheets spread out on the dining table. Yohan wasn't the easiest child to be kept busy. I saw him clamouring for my attention but I ignored.

    I barely cleared out some space on the table, to perch my laptop. The emails couldn't be ignored any further. I was losing my calm but I also ignored the oncoming meltdown, somehow holding fort. Just another fifteen minutes and I should be done for the day. I pleaded Yohan to sit down and watch some more TV. He wanted to run about the house, pretending he was Captain Yohan saving the world from an invisible monster hiding in our bedroom.

    From the corner of my eye I saw a shiny purple metallic toy car near the hallway. I saw it and ignored. I then saw Yohan run from the bedroom towards me. I screamed for him to slow down, but words escaped me. His little foot landed on the car and skidded. I looked up and saw Yohan swerving towards the wall and losing his balance, all in slow motion. And all of a sudden, the image accelerated to a blur until I heard a soft thud, and a puddle of blood where Yohan lay very quietly.

    I saw him, and for once I found him very hard to ignore.

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories

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    Play with me
    Short Story/Day 4

  • i_faha 7w

    "... it's about time, we learnt to accept ourselves for who we truly are. From historical times, women have been pressured to squeeze into the standards of beauty, society has prescribed for her. And social media has only further warped our relationship with appearances, so much that we don't even recognize ourselves anymore. With Sakhi, we hope to plan more such programmes to restore the confidence of our young daughters." The audience thundered with applause as Reena was being awarded the most promising NGO of the year 2021 award.

    Congratulations and bouquets wouldn't stop pouring in, way after the show was over. Reena had a hard time opening the door with both her hands still full. After a minute of struggle, she finally made her way in, first and foremost, getting rid of the painful stilettos, dropping her designer bags, trophy flowers right by the doorway, and finding her way in the dark to slump onto the couch.

    After laying there for what seemed like forever, Reena willed herself to gather some strength and trudged towards the bedroom. Turning on the dim yellow lights, she stood before the dresser and slid out of her evening dress. She sucked her belly in and unclasped the compressing body shaper to let out a deep sigh of relief.

    Next, she carefully took off the emerald studs that belonged to her grandma, placing it back into the velvet pouch. She then plucked off the bobby pins from her hair one by one, that were holding up her high bun in place, unravelling cascades of her free falling tresses. She ran her fingers through her hair, and unclipped the silk hair topper from her crown, letting it fall off to the floor, and clomped towards the bath, to wash off all the leftover stains of expectations.

    She looked at herself in the mirror above the basin for a full minute. With her eyes still moist, she headed into the hallway, fished out her phone from her purse, and clicked a selfie. 'I love you and recognise you,' the text read. Her phone pinged a moment later.

    —faha

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories

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    I'mperfect
    (Day 3/ A short story)

  • i_faha 7w

    "Why are you so beautiful?", he swayed and swooned under his sweet alchohol breath, leaning ever so slightly towards me, planting the softest kiss on my clavicle.

    This safe space, I needed it as much as he did. Perhaps, more than he did. We spoke about it over one long, lonely night. There was consent. Explicit consent. There was chemistry. Enough to power a nuclear plant. There was clarity. We are strategy counsellors afterall. There was comfort, precipitated over the years of watercooler conversations. And ofcourse, there was confidentiality, with our careers at stake.

    It took me a moment, but even in that state of blissful high, I'm sure I noticed something more, a strange fragility in the air.

    Inspite of his mildly inebriated state, brought upon by the malt and the salt that we poured into the night, it seemed like he looked for some feeble sign of my approval.

    And for a man who cut straight to the chase, oozing confidence and dominating success, everywhere he touched, the hesitation in his eyes was awkward and frightening.

    Tenderness was a helpless newborn someone left behind at our door. Neither of us knew what to do with it, and none of us wanted to be the cruel one who abandoned it.

    —faha

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories

    *All stories in this series are works of fiction.*

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    It's complicated
    (Short Story/Day 2)

  • i_faha 8w

    Hey, why do we have a whiteboard marker in the bathroom? he asked.

    To practise Urdu calligraphy, so I can tattoo sabr(patience) in unmentionable places, I thought to myself and giggled, tickled by my own humour, but muffling it down to a smirk, considering how close I could be cutting to the bone.

    Good question though, dear husband. I'm relieved he was only mildly curious, not rolling over on the floor, laughing, in wicked amusement. Then again, he couldn't do that, not even in his wildest imagination, because bathrooms in Mumbai are one tight squeeze. How romantic!

    Hold on, while we entertain the shower sequence thought bubble, and I earnestly begin to answer the original question, I must demand to know, what was he even doing, fiddling behind the geyser.

    My beloved, he has access to the choicest of writers and poets in our study, even more importantly he has easy ingress to his wife's mind, my rough drafts. But they all lie there, undisturbed, waiting for a pair of eager eyes.

    He tried to read for my sake. Infact, I'll give it to him, he has struggled and failed, like three times in the last one year itself, to sincerely read one book, but somehow falls asleep at the same page, each time — except, except when he is on the throne in the small Indian washroom.

    That's when he is alert and ravenous, hungry for every loitering alphabet around, that dives through his orbits and falls into the great intestines with a splash, stirring things up. The morning edition of the Financial Times is the routine laxative that works just fine. I scrunch my nose in disgust, each time I glance at this eyesore of the water crisped, warped version of the freshly minted news; but that's marriage for you. Eventually, you learn to tolerate each other's kinks.

    There are days however, when the morning paper would lie abandoned. And in all honesty, I had never stopped to wonder, that if the news wasn't being flushed, what else was being processed. Today I finally asked.

    That's when he confessed, that on days he forgets the papers, he would religiously read the labels of shampoo bars, shaving gel tubes and mouthwash bottles, or anything else he could lay his eyes on. Thus, while hunting for his next reading material, he stumbled upon my secret stash. The whiteboard marker in question, was found cornered in the crevice behind the geyser.

    Coming to why I had the marker for private company, if you haven't already guessed, then it's for that flashing moment of epiphany, when that grand idea for my next piece bolts in, or when the perfect line in iambic pentameter flashes its toothless smile at me, or when a rhyme slides in smooth, with its arms wide open, like Shahrukh on his knees.

    All of which usually happens right when I'm incapacitated to write it down anywhere, no phone, no paper, soaking wet in suds, splashing under the showerhead, singing high octaves of la la la laaaaaa, like the Liril girl from the 90's. I just can't rely on my memory that's already stretched too thin to remember anything for posterity.

    My mind is a motley of disorganised thoughts stacked into each other like the women in 6:05 pm Andheri fast, ladies first class train coach, a hundred open tabs crowding and yanking at the central core of my attention. Ideas fly in and out of my head at blitz speeds. That's where it helps, a dry erase marker and the pristine white bathroom tiles, and I'm ready to capture the flashing genius.

    And now with both of our weird confessions, what makes complete sense is to somehow juxtapose and encourage these individual quirks. And I think I may have figured the perfect white board, to inspire an otherwise philistine, business mind to cultivate the art of appreciating some fine poetry, sitting on the throne of a middle class mumbaikars tight washroom.


    — faha

    #writersnetwork #miraquill #mirakee #31stories

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    Whiteboard marker
    (Day 1/Short Story)