The Dilemma

He was pacing around the terrace like a madman. Grave indecision had taken him over and he was running out of time. Festive spirit was in the air and he found it invigorating. Fireworks exploded in the night sky, causing commotion all around.

The atmosphere was analogous to his turmoil. For a minute he was excited and for the next, he was tensed. He was happy he’d meet her but was afraid he’d intrude. He knew this was an opportunity but he also wished he didn’t have it.

It was all very new to him. In fact, to them both. Neither knew how to handle it, so they tried to play it cool. This foolish charade kept him wondering if she didn’t want to invite him or if she was hesitant as well.

She did give him subtle hints but it only seemed like she was kidding around. He never received an official invite and he was struggling to come to terms with it. But after pacing for about a mile, he finally decided to take the matter into his own hands. To show her its okay. To take the leap forward. To finally break the ice.

He marched towards her house, pretending to be cool to mask his tension. And when he got there, after what seemed like an eternity, he saw her in a new light, literally. Her face, basking in the glow of fireworks, seemed to have a soft golden radiance. It was a sight he wouldn’t forget and it’s still etched on his heart.

There wasn’t any tension. There was only anxiety, the good kind.

And maybe he would’ve felt better had he known she felt the same.

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Blink!

Pscyzophenic Hallucinoma (ski·zo·feen·ic | Halu·see·no·mah). That is what the doctor had called it. Agnes very well knew it wasn’t curable and was getting tired of these check-ups. It was Miss Margaret, her orphanage’s housemother, who had insisted she get checked by a professional from the city. But the result, to no one’s surprise, wasn’t any different.

Agnes would occasionally experience hallucinations. Now, these were quite peculiar, given the fact that only her vision gets compromised. She can remain in complete control of her faculties, but her mind concocts visions that often distort reality. Something that’s even more strange, is that her visions alter every time she blinks, almost changing completely. One second she’s seeing the Eifel tower and blink! She’s at a beach.

The visions are usually empty sceneries and Agnes loved few of them. Although it was factually a disease, she marveled at what her brain could create. It was never really cumbersome. In fact, it was her personal get-away. She had the privilege of escaping the crowd, where she could be alone yet not feel lonely.

She was promised a visit to the Lakeview park if she’d agree to go for the check-up. So there they were, sitting on a desolate park bench overlooking the lake. It was a chilly, overcast day which was to Agnes’s liking. It was the perfect setting to be introspective and she felt a mix of emotions swell inside her.

She watched calmly as shriveled leaves fell from the sky in spirals, making a muted soft landing. The lake was eerily placid at first, but soon its turbid waters turned foggy. It looked like it would rain, but not anytime soon. It took a while for Agnes to realize that she’d begun hallucinating.

The mist that had previously engulfed the park now began to recede into the waters. Familiar apparitions silhouetted against the fog, becoming clearer by the second. Soon the haziness faded away and the view was crisp again. So she watched closely, at the silhouettes coming to life. The silhouettes of those she held dearly. The silhouettes of her lost family.

Her family was huddled together. She was standing beside her dad who was looking down at her, smiling. He lifts her up in the air and twirls her around. The whole world spins around her, with only she and her dad remaining static. Her mother was there too, holding her baby brother. She’s had extremely beautiful visions, but this new one topped all.

Tears roll in her eyes, warm and clear. A similar warmth suffuses her heart, soothing swirling emotions. Far away, she sees her dad holding her hand, looking down at her with proud and calm eyes. Her mother gently brushes her hair and kisses on her forehead. Meanwhile, Agnes here was struggling to keep her eyes open.

Agnes had a beatific smile spread across her face as tears well up in her eyes. Her eyelids quaver helplessly, obfuscating vision. They keep narrowing down to a close as she struggles to take one last peek. One last look at the lovely family. One last look at her happy self…One last look before…..

Blink!

The Silent Retreat

His last day at the university wasn’t any special. With bags packed, chores done and goodbyes told, Professor Wilkins was ready to go. After 50 exhausting years, his physical energy and his love for teaching could no longer work in tandem. Which one waned more with time? He couldn’t tell. 
He’d spent so many years at the university that he’d forgotten what life outside was like. He’d ensconced himself within the campus walls which many joked was his cocoon. He always considered it his second home, not only because of the time he spent there, but also because it felt just as deserted as his first.
He’d been a loner all his life which he insisted was by choice. He’d never been married, hence no family to go home to. The other professors couldn’t care for someone who wouldn’t keep-up with the “trend”, and for that reason he was eccentric. 
Few knew of his turmoil as societal pressure pestered his personal tenets. He forever failed to resolve the tension and always failed to adjust. A perpetual battle raged within him as he tried to suppress his conscience. When around his peers, he felt just as uncomfortable as they did. It was easier for him to evade battle than lose the war. So loner by choice he was. 
But he did have one friend to talk to; Samuel Hensberg. He was his lone companion at the university, and for that matter, his world. He felt compassion for the old man, but was wise enough not to show. He pitied his state but respected his resilience. He recognized that he was unique, but not eccentric. 
Wilkins was tired and would’ve liked nothing better than to leave. He preferred a peaceful goodbye; some time alone to feel one with his second home. His wish was granted, rather unsurprisingly. He stepped out, faced the entrance of the university and closed his eyes to reminisce. 
He wasn’t unhappy and was grateful for everything. He’d never made any breakthroughs, but he was content with his research and was glad to have passed knowledge across generations. It irked him a little that nobody had come to personally acknowledge his retirement. “I deserved better. Was it my fault?”
Although, he didn’t really blame himself.  He never did. But failure of his varied efforts to “fit-in” forced him to rethink and everytime he reached the same conclusion: it was a matter of incompatible attitudes. Nevertheless, he’d decided to finally let go. 
He put an end to the conflicting mental arguments. Hopes of a peaceful future helped assuage the woes of yesteryear. The only thing left now is an occasional pang of sadness. A lonely retirement qestioned his life-long profession and passion. “I made no difference? I inspired no one? Will my absence be felt?”.
This was a disapointment he wouldn’t be able to shake off, but he believed in himself. He reached his parking spot and found a note clipped under the windshield wiper. He picked it up with curiosity. And read.
“You mattered. Thank you!”

He looked around but found no one. The note had spared him years of guilt and he was eternally grateful for it. Hensberg was watching from afar and was happy to see him go with a smile. He didn’t know if Wilkins had recognized his script. What he did know was he didn’t have to. 

The Psychotic Love

He crawled backward on both hands. His back scrubbing against concrete, chest splattered with blood, and eyes looking skyward; fixated on his towering hunter and desperately pleading for mercy.

His heart pounded harder by the second and he had never felt more alive. He was deep in regret and fear was the only other emotion. Hopes of Cod forgiving him had deafened by now.

Meanwhile, a roadside tramp, infamous for her psychotic conduct and erratic realism, came running towards Cod. The gathered crowd watching her run assumed that that would be her end, for good.

The blade glimmered in sunlight as Cod’s hand rose high. A flash almost blinded his prey’s vision which he feared would be his last. He closed his eyes and waited for the blow; A blow that would never come.

The tramp had embraced Cod from behind, just before he could bring down his wrath. She started claiming Cod to be her long-lost son and started screaming in joy. The crowd burst into laughter after witnessing the frenzy.

The dread in the atmosphere dissipated. This infuriated Cod further, and he decided to get rid of her. He’d almost swung his blade in her direction when he froze to interpret what she’d just said.

“I Love you, my son. Please let’s go home. I’m tired.”

He’d been bereaved and alone lately, and she’d hit the right note. The words didn’t make logical sense, but their essence was satisfying. He turned around to hug her, much to the shock of the crowd.

Cod got arrested shortly after and the crazy lady lost her “son”, again. The victim was grateful and so was Cod. The lady finally stopped her search and had mentally adopted Cod. The psychotic lady had saved a life and she didn’t even know it.

The Reassurance

She felt that shortcomings had her stymied, so herself she reminded…

 

That fences will be mended,

And apologies, accepted.

 

That time will kill regret,

And people, they forget.

 

That contribution will survive,

And hope, stays alive.

 

That applaud will someday arrive,

And respect, will transpire.

 

That “always” is sometimes wrong,

And forever, too long.

 

That wrong is never right,

But darkness, fears light.

What Killed Him

“A simple guy Pete was. And he was simply mad about the things he liked. All he ever wanted was a ‘gorgeous red-head’ who shared his madness.

Kind of a dreamer he was. Forever patient.

Well, his dream came true, to everyone’s surprise, when he found one. A match so strange, even Nature sighed at Fate. But they were happy. Two same poles that fit, surprisingly, into the same pod.

Although, after a painstakingly short time in wedlock, cancer took her away. Forever.

He’d been lonely ever since. Staying alone and aloof. Talking to people became obnoxious. They were continuous reminders of her absence.

Nobody was of help. They sympathized, few empathized too. But that was all they ever did. ‘She’ was all they talked about.

They had recovery plans that never left the closet. Advice that never worked. Words that failed to move him. And pity that made him feel pathetic.

He was actually well-off by himself. He was learning to cook Chinese and was working on a new novella. But no one knew, cause he always got asked ‘how’ he was doing, rather than ‘what’.

He didn’t want solutions as he no longer had a problem. He had stitches that were being ripped open by people desperate to heal him. Eventually, the cruel irony got the better of him.

We have gathered here today to celebrate the life of my best friend, Pete Martulla. But I’m actually here to tell you what killed him. In his own words.

I thank you all! Not for all the things you did for me. But for all those you wanted to. I’m grateful you only said but didn’t do them. Or we’d all be here much sooner.

An Impulsive Being

All eyes were on him. On his scraggly beard, worn-out shorts and skinny legs, as he rambled casually in the neighborhood. Max had never been an embodiment of good looks, but he did occasionally appreciate tidiness.

He had recently adopted a free-spirited lifestyle that he asserted would liberate his soul. Albeit, the people around him felt otherwise. An orthodox lady at the stationery, held her son’s hand as soon as she saw Max coming. “I will not see him grow into a mess”.

He wanted to take it a step further by acting like he was on drugs. He was tempted to freak her out, but seeing that she was already gaping wide, decided he didn’t have to try. He gave her a cordial smile before leaving, and she returned an evanescent one.

Heads turned while he took a stroll, but all for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t unprecedented and that made him smirk. He condescended the head-turners as he considered himself morally superior. More mature.

He willed himself to surpass man-made moral boundaries and sharpen his sense of intuition. He wanted to read. Learn. Love. And shut everything else out. He ensconced himself in an unkempt lifestyle that complemented his protean behavior.

He had everything to prove and nothing to lose. He had everyone to judge but none to impress. He had time for skill but none to kill. He couldn’t care less for mundane activities but he was always game for something crazy.

He got dumb hair-cuts, grew curly hair, wore shorts wherever he went, and ate whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. That was pretty much his life right now. Impulsive.