|“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”~ Albert Camus|
I woke up with the sound of the alarm ringing loudly in my ears. It was already nine in the morning but the bedroom was still unusually dark. I got up from the bed and pushed aside the curtains to let in the morning sunlight. No luck. The sun was obscured behind the grey clouds and the sky outside was grim and melancholic, flaunting a rather dusky look today. Perhaps it'll rain. I gazed outside the window for a few moments and then went in the kitchen to prepare my morning cup of coffee. The wall lizard upon seeing me quickly ran towards the container racks and hid behind them. I flicked on the light switch but no use. The electricity was out. Maybe yesterday night's rain had a role to play in this. Grabbing the milk carton from the fridge I poured it in the cup and then added sugar and coffee powder to it. Stirring it with a spoon I took the cup in the bedroom and placed it on the small table, adjacent to my bed.
I needed the newspaper now. Or at least something to read. So, I went to check on the newspaper. Upon opening the main door, I found that neither the newspaper nor the milk carton was delivered today. I glanced on both sides, across the hallway of the building. Eerily quiet for this morning hour. Even Mrs. Periera's door was shut. I slammed the door shut and then went back to my coffee. On the way, I picked up my earphones which were attached to the music player. Clapton, Porcupine Tree, Simon and Garfunkel, The Smiths, Joy Division, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Opeth. Okay. Opeth. I put on the Damnation album and the beautiful tunes of In My Time of Need started to flow through my earbuds as I slid the music player in my pocket and headed towards my coffee. I took a sip from the cup. Too bitter. More sugar. Just when I was about to get the sugar I heard a knock on the main door. I removed my left earphone to confirm. There was a knock again. Who could it be as this hour, I wondered. Even though I hate doing it, I paused the music and strolled towards the main door to check who it was. I slid down the latch and opened the door.
"Hi John! How are you?"
"Oh hi! What brings you here so early in the morning."
"Nothing my friend. I was just getting bored and also the weather outside isn't suitable for going on a walk, So I thought why not go & meet John!"
"Come in, have a seat. Water, coffee?"
"Coffee will do for now. Black. No sugar."
"Okay", I said and then went inside to get him the black coffee.
"It's too dark in here John, why don't you put on the lights?"
"The electricity's out since morning"
"Oh. Last night's rain might have blown out the fuse I guess"
I came back with his black coffee and handed him the cup.
"Thank you!", he took the cup and started sipping it right away.
"So, what brings you here at this hour?"
"As I told earlier John, I was just getting bored. And it's almost been a week since we met. So I thought I should catch up with you. What's up with you these days?"
"Nothing much. Just the usual.", saying so I picked up my cup and started drinking. The coffee had gone cold now.
"Okay.", he leaned in closer "and what about the ghost?", he said in a low whisper.
I stopped sipping my coffee and just stared blankly at the cup.
"John, are you okay? I didn't mean to scare you."
"Yes. I'm fine."
"Thank god! So, did you get rid of him? The ghost?"
"I haven't seen him in a while. It seems that he's probably gone now. I hope so."
"That's good. You don't need to be scared of things like ghosts or whatever. They can't do shit to us you know."
"Yeah.", I nodded hesitantly.
There was silence for few minutes and it was getting uncomfortably cold now since it had started raining heavily outside.
"I'll shut the window. The breeze is too cold.", I said and got up from my settee.
I went near the bedroom window and latched it shut.
"You need anything to eat? I have biscuits."
"Well, I'm a bit hungry too. Get me some."
I went inside the kitchen to get the biscuits. The lizard was peering intently at me from behind the container boxes. I picked up the box which contained the biscuits and the lizard panicked and ran over to the ceiling. It scared me a bit. Actually scared is not the right word. I felt nauseated. I put the packet of biscuits in my pocket and placed the container box back where it belonged. All this while the lizard was eyeing me. Its timid yet strong gaze made me feel sick. I had to get rid of this fucker. I couldn't stand this unwelcome guest anymore.
So, I took the broom and held it as a sword.
"John, did you find the biscuits?"
"Yes.", I shouted back.
I still had the broom in my hand and a drop of sweat trickled down over my nose and landed on my lower lip. Damp and salty. The kitchen was still cold as an ice room. I raised the broom and tried to scare the lizard away. It moved sideways. My aim now was to get it near the window so that I could successfully drive it out of the house and my life. I shoved the broom once again towards the lizard and this time it lightly shaved its tail. Plump. There was a sound and it fell down on the floor. My breath stopped at this and I was almost about to puke. I don't know who was scared more. Me or the lizard. Upon falling, the lizard haphazardly tried to find a place to hide. A place from where it could save itself from the broom and still be able to leer at me with its disgusting eyes.
"John, is everything okay?'
"Yes. I'm just washing the plate to put the biscuits in"
"Don't take much trouble John, it's fine if you just get the packet too. We'll eat the biscuits out of the packet."
"I'm almost done here", I replied in a shrilly voice.
Meanwhile, the lizard was on the floor looking at me and my broom. Oh the audacity of this creature. Trying to scare me in my home. Trying to make me uncomfortable in my home. I couldn't stand it anymore. I shooed at it one more time. This time I was more aggressive than before. But I had to be careful not to kill it. A dead lizard is far more terrible to look at than a live one. Fortunately, it ran towards the window this time and stopped near the edge of the window sill. Still reluctant to leave. Still staring at me. Enough. I raised the broom to hit it this time and the lizard knew it had to run for its life. And it vanished outside the kitchen window. Peace. At least for now.
"Yes, coming with the biscuits", saying so I hurried back towards the bedroom with the packet of biscuits.
"Here's the biscu...", the words stopped in my throat. There was no one in the room. Terribly silent and cold. The empty coffee cups still lay there on the table. I just stood there with the packet of biscuits in my hand. Standstill. It was getting unbearably cold. Almost killing me. I had to put on the heater now.
I picked up both the coffee cups and shoved them in the wash-basin. I turned on the thermostat and dialed it way up. Sinking down in my bed I put my earphones back on. To Rid the Disease was playing. I lay there looking at the ceiling and pulled the blanket over my head for comfort. I had gotten rid of the lizard. At least for time being. And then sweet sleep came and devoured my troubled mind. Peace and harmony. The battle was over but the war is still on...
(It's been ages since I wrote a short story. Do let me know your views on this one and please share it, if you enjoyed reading it. Thank you! Until next time, adios!")