The Coma

There it is, that sweet smell. Fabulous isn’t it. Like there’s sugar in the air. If I could put my tongue out, I bet I could taste it. I wonder which tree it is from. Miranda tells me it’s beautiful. I can picture a giant tree with a chocolate-brown trunk and a perfect dome of baby pink flowers. Kind of like a cherry blossom, but aren’t they only in Japan? Well, it sure tells me that bedtime’s over, not that it makes much of a difference.

Miranda will be here anytime soon. I’ve never seen her before. All of my visuals now are a figment of my imagination. And being blinded from the real world, it’s slowly getting rusty. So I imagine she’s short and plump with putty hands and a giant nose. I can’t seem to wipe it away from her face, I don’t know why. The harder I try the more prominent it gets. It’s like trying to repair a bad drawing on your only canvas.

” Ready for your check-up Mr.MacKoy? “

How can I be anything else? Yet she asks me the same every day. But I like her. She’s so sweet. And patient. Her soft, tender hands reel me into the real world with their touch of intimacy. That is when I imagine she’s beautiful. Now that reminds me of my wife. She too has a big nose suddenly. I can wipe this one off though.

” We’re all done here Mr.MacKoy, happy birthday by the way “

Oh is it? Wow. Sucks to be this way. Feels like a trap. Wish I could at least see. Or talk. Or both. Oh no, let’s not go over this again. It’s my birthday and I’m not gonna ruin this. Just be content that there’ll be more visitors today. I can at least hope. It’s the only thing that can’t be…

” Happy birthday Darling “

Julia? Hey it’s very rude to sneak up on someone you know. People are always interrupting my thoughts. They just start talking. Make a sound! Let me know you’re here first! God, I wish someone told them that.

” How’s my hubby doing today? You still look as young as the day I met you George. 7 years ago. How time flies “

Not when you’re in a coma.

” I just wish it never happened George. Sometimes I wish it was me. If it weren’t for me we never would’ve gone on that frozen lake. I pushed too hard. I just wanted to do something romantic. I was an idiot. I’m sorry George “

Ohh, stop crying Julia, why talk about that now? I’m alright. I don’t blame you for what happened. Just hold my hand dear, and spend the night next to me. It’s my birthday today and that’s all I could ask for.

” Ma’am please don’t cry in front of the patient. He can listen, it may traumatize him. Please try to be cheerful. “

” Yeah. I know. I’ll be right back George, I need to go buy your meds. “

Her voice was quivering wasn’t it. She’s gonna go out and cry isn’t she? Ohh you silly girl. I wish it wasn’t this way either.

” Hey George. Happy birthday man “

” Happy birthday George “

Hey thanks guys! Didn’t think you’d come, what a pleasant surprise. I’m smiling wide, you guys can see?

” He looks much better to me. Boy, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he’s having a beauty sleep “

” You’re kidding a guy in coma Russell? And you do know better. And you very well know why he is that way “

” Not now Brad “

” He brought this upon himself. In fact, I think he deserved it a little “

” What’s wrong with you? He might hear you “

” I hope he does. The way he treated Julia, he ought to know. He’d stopped caring for her completely. He really pushed her buttons. Poor girl, she was so desperate to save her relationship that she’d insisted they go on that trip. And little Georgie boy here probably still thinks she’s just a silly goose! “

What? No. That can’t be right. I love her! I always have. I stopped caring for her? What does he know? I cared for her alright. I cared for her damn well. I even remember the last time I did something special for her. It was…….on our fifth anniversary. That is close to 2 years from now. Wow! Was it that long? God! She was sad. I can’t believe this.

She never said anything about it. But man! I should’ve known. Never thought about it that way. I feel miserable. And it’ll only get worse for me now, cause I can’t cry it out. I’m in a state where tears don’t flow and lips won’t move. Where talking is just thinking and crying is plain sadness. Emotions tethered completely from their physical counterparts.

Without the gratifying refuge of a good cry, I’m filled with inescapable remorse. I’m standing precariously amidst a whirlpool of emotions. And I’m being consumed whole. I think I deserve this.

” Everyone’s left George, but I’m gonna stay here for the night “

It’s night already? Guess time will fly by for me as well, now that I have something to ponder over. I’d given up on myself long ago. But now I want another chance. Even if for only a day, I’d wake up and tell her how sorry I am. I’d ask her not to regret. That I always cared. That I always loved.

Hope rekindles in me and takes a new form. Here on my birthday, as I lay in her arms, with the sweet smell of lavender and rosemary exuding from her hair, with her warm, tender hands holding mine, with her body perched close to me on the bed, I ponder.

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The Random Experiment

He lives in an old-fashioned house that aged accordingly. The spacious, rustic setting inside was saturated with a haze of chrome. Everything had a jaundiced facade, like a pencil drawing from a decaying book. Ever since the experiment began, he had sold most of his amenities.

There was a point in time when he was obsessed with paintings. He was a connoisseur of sorts and he’d amassed an impressive collection during his short lifetime. But sickness put his materialism in perspective, a turn in tide that washed ashore revulsion. The experiment’s ambiguity about his place in the treatment group or the control made him re-evaluate his life choices.

And he was forever transformed after that. He turned calm and mellow, like an austere monk who’s shunned worldly pleasures. The slightest displays of emotion make him putty. Just the other day, he found himself welling up to an old memory of his mother.

She held his sister on one arm and himself on the other. He was five and his sister two. He remembered looking at his mother. She was struggling to keep from falling, but she was laughing heartily. Smiling at her two gems. She was so proud.

His sister was giggling away the whole time. She still dons that smile whenever she sees him. A warmth radiates as her lips curve. It’s a contagious smile. A heart-warming smile. A virgin smile.

The only other woman who could evoke such emotion was his high-school sweetheart. Tall, blonde, and beautiful, he fell for Diane in an instant. Despite knowing she wasn’t single, he had persevered to chase his dream. Diane would be lying if she said she had felt any different. But she had decided to stay put, for she wasn’t a dreamer like him.

Well years later, here she is, barely rebounded from an ugly marriage. She now stays close to help him. And sometimes, she stays over. Her shattered life was beyond repair, a price she paid for choosing the nightmare over the dream. She needed him, as much as he needed her.

Their conversations were succinct. Preoccupied in their emotional traumas, they had hardly anything to say. They’d established a daily routine that left little need for it. Anyone watching their silhouettes on the window, as they sit in his study and ponder over the past, would mistake them for mannequins.

He never told her that he couldn’t love anyone else as much as he had loved her. It’s fascinating how little that feeling remains, despite being so profound once. His departure from the feeling was progressive, although slow.

But lately, his sense of morbidity accelerated its pace. He was growing increasingly distant from his past but not his memories. He’d find himself reminiscing but not longing. A life in technicolor reduced to monochrome.

He was uncertain if he should consider the ensuing years as his last or as the precursor to a new beginning. He missed the magic that once graced his life. He wondered where it went. So he set out to find the spark. The spark to a new flame. Seems like his outlook broadened, as his lifespan narrowed.

She, on the other hand, never told him that she’d seen his test results. That she secretly pitied him for being a ‘control’. That she felt torn apart between hope and truth.

The Eternal Youth

Mr. Zigar had seen his wife’s cheeks flush only twice. The day of his wedding and the day their son was born. He still remembers how his wife, seated in the back seat of the Buick, held baby Zafran in her arms. Smiling down at the fragile baby wrapped delicately in a pink towel. At first, he thought her blush was from the towel but later saw that her cheeks had a glow of their own.

As if his memories had leaked into his wife, she was also thinking about the same thing. She remembered his muted yawns and blissful laughs. Each of which contorted his entire body, narrowed his eyes to the point of closing and opened his un-teethed mouth but made no sound. She was smiling now, as she realized how talkative he’d soon become.

She recollected all the times she acted dumb when he had asked her about something. She longed for his naive explanations that followed, some of which were hilariously wrong. Like the time when he stressed that the stars were pixie dust and that Uncle Ben’s belly was full of grape jelly. With laughter dammed behind pursed lips, she would try to act surprised, and it was convincing enough for the boy.

The contemporariness of their recollections now showed chronology, as Mr. Zigar remembered Zafran’s first day of school. The little boy’s excitement while leaving the home, had upended into a nostalgic frenzy as they approached the school. Tears had left behind soot-gray streams that ran along his powdered cheeks. An hour of his mother’s efforts to dress him well went down in vain.

Mr. Zigar, amused by his son’s simple-mindedness, decided to relieve the boy of his nightmare and postponed his first-day to another day. Mrs. Zigar decided to powder him at the school next time. A horde of ‘first-time’ memories now flooded their conscious. His first-time on the bike, how he was quick to learn. His first-time on the roller-coaster, how he feigned bravery and wet his pants. His first-date, and how he was charming, or so he told.

All of these memories fought to stay alive in their heads, each leaving behind a pang of longing, as they were moving along the school lane, watching kids of different ages pass them by. Imagining how their own son had been at that age. It was a routine they’d never be tired of and were too afraid to give up. Their thoughts were mercilessly interrupted by the school’s first bell, and then all the kids rushed-in through the gates.

The silvery-grey Buick turned around the corner, leaving the lane at a leisurely pace. It was an old, retiring car that never managed to grab attention. With a rusting metal body that creaked everytime it hit a bump, the car had a sad, dispirited aura that contrasted with the kids’ lively, buoyant spirits.

The gloomy middle-aged couple inside were held responsible for the decrepit state of the car. It’s engine’s roar had mellowed down to a melody and no possible throttle could restore its lost vigor. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Mr. Zigar to drive the old rack. But it was house to plenty an emotion to be disposed of so easily. It was an epitome of their journey.

Although disheartening, there gleamed around the corner, a silver-lining. The kids flocking to school along that lane were never older than 13. Their son who was doomed to remain eternally young in their memories, would never grow beyond that age. Thus enabling this single bitter-sweet routine to suffice them. For the rest of their lives.

A Penchant for Change

Anyone I know is at any of these tables? No. Super. What are the odds, huh! Lunchtime here is best spent in solitude. It’s not peace, but solitude will do. Now I know the fine line.

This place looks, ummm…what’s the word… ‘professional’. People here almost want to break the ice, I know it. I feel it. I could easily put them out of this misery. But I don’t. It’s nice for me that way.

I’m afraid if I……Ohhh cute girl alert. Cute girl alert. Keep cool. Stay calm. It’s the same dumb ass! Act like you’re busy! not lonely, maybe use your phone for……Don’t bother she’s gone. Was my hair okay?

Pathetic.

( sigh )

Anyway, I’m afraid I’ll become one of them if I give in. I see zero motivation. It’s so slow around here.

( Kyle, one of his new friends, passes by )

” Oh hey! How’s it going? Sitting here alone? “

” Not for long, my buddies are going to come soon. ( That’s why I’m eating quickly ). How’s it going with you? “

” Same old. Same old. ”

Surprise, surprise.

( Awkward pause ) ” Well, see you around. “

” Sure! “

Phew! I almost invited her to join me. Dodged a bullet there.

Anyway, I don’t want to be ensconced here. I’ve gotta stay aloof. I keep building these umm….imaginary walls that fortify my personality. With no sneak peeks. Authorized personnel only. But false facades could help. False facades? How redundant.

I have to step out of my fort to mingle with the crowd. A painstaking switch into a pretentious lie. Pretentious lie? What’s with you today.

I have a butt-load to shout out, but there’s no one to hear. They echo in my head. Unheard voices bouncing off unseen walls. Guess that’s how empty forts are.

Reminiscing Humanity

In a crowded train in a busy town,
A poor old guy looks around,
But sadly, a seat was not to be found,
And no one could help with heads bowed down.

Only one gentleman, with head held high,
Offers his seat to the poor old guy.
The guy takes it, returns a smile,
A smile that’s really one of a kind.

It wasn’t like a greeting, it was true,
one redolent of a warm thank you,
but sadly, no one else in the train knew.
The gentleman and the guy were the only two.

He caught his breath and took his place,
Grateful for this little space.
But the smile doesn’t last on his shriveled face,
As the look of relief quickly fades.

No matter how hard he tries,
Worry’s apparent in his eyes.
His costly watch was a poor disguise,
for his torn sweater told no lies.

He fumbles with the toothpastes in his bag,
Sales of the day had gone really bad.
He sits worried with fidgeting hands.
Feeling helpless, without plans.

But he calms himself as logic sets in,
Hopes die, reality begins.
Yesterday and today are not akin.
Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win.

The act of humanity rekindles the smile,
A mellow return from a short exile.
The rest of the crowd would’ve witnessed the guy,
Had they looked up from their phones for a while.

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.

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!