It was only 2pm and yet was getting dark as though late evening. The cemetery looked eerie. The thick foliage that covered the ground now seemed a bit foggy. Anywhere he looked; it seemed he was looking from behind an old plastic sheet, scrounged and with lines running all over. Colors were getting blurred and greyed out, blending into the haze of the fog. The candle lit in the wall alcove of that abandoned room was lit. The muddy walls of the room reflected golden yellow under the candle light. The road stretch seemed to be getting dissolved at a few meters away. The dissolving line appeared to be snaking towards his feet. Not much of an option was left for him other than getting inside that room inside the cemetery where the fog had not yet reached.
Would he be able to make it till there?
Would he survive inside the room till the gloom descended? Would he be able to make it out of there? Alive?
Would the gloom descend ever?
Would he survive?
“I see you”
The wall clock chimed 2 in the afternoon. Funny one liners she had recorded in place of the monotonous alarm rings that filled her study from hour to hour. “Pep me ups” she called those. Naueid was reading a horror flick. Hot mug of chicken soup tasted just about right in that post autumn; almost winter afternoon. The killer Delhi summer was taking a break. It was calm. The sky outside her study was turning grey. Reluctantly, she turned her head to left to notice the sun greying out in the horizon. Post fall, when the length of the days shorten, the sun travelled faster towards the horizon and stayed less up there in the sky. Usually, wind blew early morning onward. Today, there was none. The stillness was uncomforting. It seemed the words were jumping straight out of her book to fill the outscape.
Sitting in her light blue smock with “cows don’t do mornings” written all over with doodled black n white cows printed covered Naueid till over her knees. Her shoulder length silky tresses were half dry after having being rinsed in Pantene. She had crushed some rose petals and the resultant aroma was magical. Her hazel brown eye balls were roving over the lines of page 31 of “Unreal realistic” in urgency to complete the read…
Rrriiinnngggg! “message alert”
Naueid turned her head to left to grab her cellphone. The screen read “1 new text message”. She pressed the centre jog dial key to “open” the message.
“Chirp… crirp… chirp” went her doorbell.
The text message went unread. She flipped the pages to close the book. The soup mug was empty at the bottom with the contents decanted at its rightful place, inside Naueid’s mouth. Slipping her toes into red slippers, she thought those seemed a shade darker, almost the color of blood. Shaking her head at the absurdity of the possibility, she walked down the gallery. The words from the book were playing her mind too.
“Chirp… crirp… chirp” went the doorbell again.
“How impatient… uff!” she thought.
At the other side of the door, there stood a beautiful lady grinning at Naueid.
Naueid blinked. She was indeed surprised and pleasantly at that.
“Naueid, won’t you ask me in?” A tease played up the lady’s pinkish mauve lips.
Stepping aside, Naueid let her childhood and best friend since long, Naeid in. A little bit of acid smell trying to overtake her best friend’s favorite fragrance, Marks n Spencer Perlier dafted inside her apartment.
Naueid was beyond ecstatic, like every time she felt when Naeid came visiting her. They went on to pile themselves on the living room couch. Naueid’s living room was done up well with shells and handmade wall hangings displayed all over. Money plants sat around in ceramic vases all around to tastefully add green, making it a very lively place to sit in. One of the walls was completely glass; floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Long threads of plastic flowers hung over it. The sun was nomore visible. The weather outside was turning foggy. It was really early for that for it wasn’t even November. But Naueid didn’t care much.
“How is Taufeeq?”, asked Naueid. Her best friend was married to her childhood sweetheart.
“Oh well, we would talk to him after I speak with you. I wanna surprise him for he doesn’t know what’s cooking…”, Naeid’s face was glowing in mock humor and looked even somewhat cocky.
“hmmm”, not knowing what was coming, that’s all Naueid could manage to say.
“C’mon, you better get going already”, Naeid almost pulled Naueid to sit beside her.
“Dream destination, where else?”
Since a few years, Naueid wanted to travel off-shore and probably even settle down too. Till May of that year she didn’t have a passport, so she never voiced her desire out aloud. Her best friend knew her things a little too well for any comfort of anonymity; and hence, any requirement of fabrication to save face. The two of the friends sat down to discuss about their “flying” plans. It was already dark as though past midnight. Naueid looked out of the living room window to notice how still it had become, vividly colored from the full grown flowering trees; but, motionless, as though that were a painting on a canvass.
“Are you ready for this?”, asked Naeid.
“Of course I am”, Naueid was infact more than just been ready.
Naeid touched her friend on her knee. Naueid flinched a bit; something acidic was filling her nose. Naeid came closer and Naueid thought she was about to kiss her. A raw pain stiffened Naueid’s bones as Naeid opened her mouth large enough to swallow her best friend’s face whole. All that was left in the room was haze. The living room view was as though packeted inside a plastic sheet… blurring the outlines of the objects displayed there. The floor was snaking towards the ceiling. It was all so foggy.
Naueid’s cellphone lay on the ground. The text message was sent from Naeid’s cell that Naueid never got to read read:
Naied met with an accident… couldn’t make it to the hospital… We lost her on the way. Taufeeq.
Outside the living room window, the haze was clearing. The sun shone and the acid smell was gone. From inside the reading room, the clock chimed “Gotcha this time!”