Saturday, 29 October 2011

Now or Never - A Short Story

I looked at him, my heart aching with love and a million unknown things.
I wanted to give my heart, soul and body to him and share with him my whole universe.
A tear slipped down my cheek as the truth of impossibility covered my mind like a horrible prickly blanket.
This sin fest could not go on any linger. God only knew how far we'd go the next day, and the next.
I bent down and lightly brushed my lips against his- a last, parting, goodbye kiss I told myself as I drew back.
He knew my number. He would call, I did not doubt that.
But he was a boy and I was the girl.
I had to be stronger. More mature.
'I love you.' I whispered in his ear.
He mumbled something but his eyes did not open.
He looked beautiful, stretched out on the recliner like that. All six foot two of him screamed ADORABLE. With his messed up curls to his blue wrinkled pjs.
How could I just LEAVE?
Shaking my head I tried to clear out the thoughts of staying.
Picking up the stray Xbox games off the floor I remembered our hilarious matches the day before.
No, this would not do.
The rush of lovely memories would make me do something I’d only regret later.
Not that I wouldn’t regret leaving.
Bracing myself, I picked up his soft leather jacket And slid my arms through it. His scent still lingered on it, a sweet and spicy cologne and a sweet smoky smell mixed with a light minty flavor.
Shoving my feet through my boots I grabbed my bag.
It was now or never.
I couldn’t help kissing him one more time though.
Just for strength, I told myself. But this time, as I pulled away, he wrapped his arms around me in a loose embrace and whispered incoherent words in my ear. I froze, my heart thudding almost painfully. He would never let me go if he awakened.
Finally his breathing grew regular again and I gently unwrapped his arms from my neck and kissed his palms.
It was time to leave.
I closed the door softly on my way out and tried to unsuccessfully stop the steady flow of tears streaming down my face.
It was now or never.


Adam awoke with a start. He had been dreaming about her leaving him and it hadn’t been pleasant.

'Sammy?' he called out into the darkness. He was however, met with a stony silence. What if... It hadn’t been a dream?

No. That possibility was too terrible to consider. They had agreed she would miss her flight and he'd send her home the next week. Maybe she was in the bathroom? He got up and switched on the light, blinking at its sudden harshness. His jacket was gone. So were her assorted belongings.

Cursing under his breath Adam picked up his phone. Her number was switched off, the answering machine informed him.

Two AM. She'd be almost there by now.

Adam sighed as he sank down in the recliner. They'd cuddled in it most of the day and it was all he could do to keep his fist from slamming into the wall.

How. Could. She. Leave. Him. Like. This?

A stray piece of paper caught his eye. It must have fallen off his chest when he stood up. He swiped it off the ground and read Sammy's almost-cursive writing with a deathly calm.

'I'm sorry. But I can’t live with myself knowing it’s going to be nothing. It’s wrong. And we need to stop. I love you.


Adam was clenching the fragile piece of paper so hard it had turned into a crumpled mess.

He cursed his timing and hers.

All he could do now was wait.


I awoke to the smell of chocolate chip pancakes and strawberries. Ronnie knew of exactly the right comfort food for me and I silently thanked God for such a wonderful best friend.

I was still wearing his jacket.

It still smelt of him.

I would probably never take it off. They could bury me in it if they liked. I was not taking it off.

'Sammy? You up? Come down for breakfast!'


I struggled out of the nest of sheets and pillows and ran a hand through my unruly hair.

Peering in the mirror I starred at the face inside it. A slightly above average looking girl with wavy, crazy black hair and huge black circles around her eyes starred back at me. She wore a black jacket and pink pajamas.

I sighed. Time to get back to life.

As I walked into the kitchen, I rummaged about in the pockets trying to locate my phone. I was really out of it the night before, and couldn’t remember where id chucked it after switching it off.

My hands closed around something hard, lumpy and furry.

'Hey Sam. How’re you feeling now?'

I pulled out the foreign object and starred at it in wonder.

It was a little jewelry box. The type that contained earrings... or pendants or... rings.

'Sam? Wha- oh my God! WHAT’S IN THERE?'

I looked up at Ronnie. The excitement on her face was directly proportional to my confusion.

I slowly opened the box.


Adam paced around his room, trying to calm himself down and told himself more than once to get. A. Grip.

He tried her number for what felt like the trillionth time... He’d lost count somewhere along the twenty third.

The answer machine once again tormented him with horrible thoughts of kidnappings, rape or plane crashes.

'Hey I'm not here right now so leave a message and I'll get back to you a.s.a.p!'

Sammy's musical voice sang out of his phone as he hit the redial button again.

The worst thing was, he had called the airlines and her flight should have landed ages ago. Her parent's also had no clue to where she might be.

Where could she be? Her best friend since high school, Ronnie Becket was in India herself, trying to empower the youth with her spoken verse poetry so she couldn’t have crashed there... unless... she'd come home early? He decided to give that theory a shot and dialed Ronnie's number with shaking fingers.

Please God... Let her be there. Let her be safe, he prayed as he pressed the phone almost painfully to his ear and torturously waited for someone to pick up.


The sharp ring of the phone made me jump and I almost dropped the delicate wonder I held in my hands.

'Sammy. It’s beautiful! Wow. So dude, what’s the plan now?'

Ronnie moved to the offending phone and received it while I continued to stare at the ring.

I was lost and completely confused. What did this mean?

Setting aside my confusion though, I took a minute to admire it.

It was a normal sized diamond set in an intricately carved, very thin, gold band. The carvings were very delicate and their simplistic yet complicated design of randomly organized shapes and swirls really enhanced the bold beauty of the sparkling gem stone. []

I slipped it on my finger in wonder. It was a perfect fit.

'Aah! Sammy this is TO DIE FOR! Who knew he could be so creative right? But man... What are you going to do now?'

I sighed and slid the ring off. 'Ronniie… I DONT KNOW OKAY! I'm so confused. I mean, how is it okay for him to marry me now? Did I miss something? Is this even for me? Why didn’t he talk to me about this before?!' I slumped back into the chair, suddenly feeling exhausted.

This was so unexpected and I was terrified.

Of hoping and falling.

I did not want to get excited or happy about this, because if it turned out to be some sort of an ugly mistake? I knew I would be completely overwhelmed by intense heartache for a long, long time.

'Oh Sammy. Look at me. Adam is a smart boy. I'm sure he figured out a way... and has a perfectly good explanation for this. Why don’t you call him up and TALK to him about this?'

I shook my head. I couldn’t call him today- not after leaving him with just a stupid note speaking of lame 'eternal goodbye' esq things. I’d call him tomorrow, after he had time to think about why I had acted the way I did.

In the meanwhile? I would not let myself hope.

I explained all this to Ronnie and was surprised when she accepted my explanation without question. Frankly, I’d expected a bit more arguing,

'Okay Sam. Have it your way. But dress up tonight okay? I want to take you out tonight and tell you all about India!'

'Ron. That would be amazing.' I smiled at my friend and felt a sudden rush of affection towards her. She truly knew how to cheer me up. Girly gossip and good food was perfect to take my mind off things that had to do with Adam.

Adam… Adam and his strong arms wrapping around me. Adam telling me how much he loved me. Adam hugging me close while I cried about the cruelty of high school jerks. Adam insisting that he'd let me win in all six scrabble games while I chased him around the room waving a frying pan, threatening to injure unless he admitted defeat. And he had, I remembered, with a stupid mushy smile. But not before grabbing me around the waist and pining my arms down while he kissed me soundlessly until I’d stopped struggling and had tossed the pan aside. 'Sammy. I admit it. You won Sunshine.' he'd whispered in my ear while I had grinned triumphantly against his lips.

'Sammy? Hello? Earth to Sam!'

I wrenched my mind away from its idle thoughts.

'Sorry Ron. What were you saying?'

'Oh Sam.’ Ron shook her head with a knowing look, which I chose to ignore. ‘I was saying, can you please go and pick Alex from the airport? His plane lands at eleven but I need to be at work today. Though I will be back by the time you guys get back.'

'Sure Ron. Shall I take your Merc?'
'Yeah, and I'll take the subway today.'

Biting into the warm pancake I enjoyed the semi sweet taste of the chocolate chips flooding in my mouth, while Ronnie went upstairs to change.


It was 10.55am. And I was standing at the airport, waiting for Alex, Ron's boyfriend to land. He'd be coming from Italy this time. Lucky him.
Alex was a pilot, and a pretty good one at that. He had been promoted to a high pilot-y post early on in his career and was always bringing Ronnie quirky presents from far off places.

Once it was an ancient pendant from Egypt with mythical healing powers. Another time he’d gotten her an antique book on empowerment from the middle ages, written by some old British guy.

Ronnie was head over heels for him and they were adorable together.

Alex also made hilarious YouTube videos with Ronnie when they weren’t working, and had quite a large fan following. I joined them in this sometimes, and all of us always had a good laugh over it. Ronnie also recorded her spoken verse poems and put them online. They were a massive success as well.

I watched the arrivals' gate finally blink with the arrival of flight 602.
Soon, I could see the tall lean figure of Alex striding towards me. His friendly, open face was lit up in an adorable dimpled smile as he gave me a bear hug.
'How’s my favorite non-biological sister doing eh?'
'Haha, hi Alex! I'm well... I'll fill you in on my situation soon enough. How are YOU? How was Italy?'
We started off towards the car laughing and talking. Alex had gotten an ear pierced and couldn’t wait to show it off to Ronnie.
Once we were in the car however, he started fidgeting and seemed uneasy.
'Alex, what’s up man? Come on, you can tell me.'
'Well... Sammy, you know how Ron and I have been together for a long time now right?'
'Yeah... five years to be exact.' I replied, unsure where this was leading up to.
'Well. What do you think of this?'
And for the second time that day, I found myself faced with another little jewelry box.
'Oh My God Alex! That’s wonderful! I'm so happy for you!'
He opened the box with a shy smile and showed me the ring inside.

It was beautiful, with a simple silver band topped with three gorgeous diamonds. Two were blue and the one in the centre was the traditional silver-white.
'Its white-gold. Do you think she'll like it?!' I was so happy for Ronnie I felt my heart would burst.
With a broad smile I gushed 'Yes!' and asked Alex the details of the proposal, which he was only too happy and excited to share.


I swiped the mascara wand one last time over my eye lashes and zipped up my turquoise dress.
‘Hm.’ I looked critically at myself in the mirror.
'Well. This is as good as it’s gonna get.' I muttered to myself. My stupid hair was as unruly as ever, no matter how many times I’d tried to straighten it. How did the salon girls do it anyway?! Oh well, since my Taylor Swift/Lindsay Lohan messy-but-sexy hair look wasn’t working out, I just gave it one last brush and moved towards the suitcase to dig out my shoes.
I put on my black strappy heels and shrugged on Adam's leather jacket, to complete my look, and stared in the full length mirror one last time.
'Hm. Not bad.'
'Talking to yourself again?'
I swung around, my heart thudding in my chest. 'RON! You scarred me man!'
She gave a wicked laugh and plopped down on the bed. She looked so sexy, with her chin length hair in wonderful spiky layers and the red dress with the killer black ankle boots.
'You look hot.'
'OmiGod really? Thanks.’ She smiled. ‘So Sam, have you given the ring any thought?'
Not the ring again. I sighed and looked at its purple box on my dressing table.
'Ron, can we please talk about it later? Let’s go and enjoy right now!'
I pulled her up and we walked out off my room.
If I talked about the ring, I would obviously talk about Adam. And that would just fill the large jar of hope in my heart once more. A jar which was made of the most delicate, most breakable glass imaginable.


'Okay, here it is Adam! Good luck. We're at table 35. You still want Alex and I to be there right?!'
Adam gave a swift nod and took the box from Ron.

‘That’s what she’ll want.’ He said.

 He ached to put his arms around Sammy. Kiss away her sadness and make sweet love to her, finally after being in love with her for more than eight years. She was the smartest, wittiest girl he'd ever come to know in all his 26 years. Not many girls could boast of having six best selling books under their belt at twenty six. Nor could they claim to have opened their very own libraries in third world countries. But while he was studying hard to become the successful dentist he was today, Sammy had done exactly that.
He squared his chest and tried to ignore the heavy thumping of his heart.
With purposeful strides he entered the restaurant he'd chosen with Ronnie's help. It was one of Sam's favorites; one of the reasons being that it over looked a beautiful lake where there often were firework shows.  

He motioned to the manager of the eatery.

It was now or never.


'Honored guests, please step out into the lawn for our scheduled firework display. It shall start in a couple of minutes so please do not delay!'

I stood up with Alex and Ron by my side and with the few dozen other guests there, we headed out to the rose garden outside. Tables and cushy chairs were set up in cozy clusters and we settled down in a group close to the lake. They would serve us our choice of dessert while we watched the fireworks.

Ah. This was heaven.

I had no doubt if stolen thoughts of Adam had not constantly been hovering in my mind, if he were here, I’d feel like the happiest girl in the world.
But looking over at my best friends, I knew I somewhat still was. It had been a wonderful evening full of laughs and exotic conversation about far off lands that I hoped to one day visit.
I dug in to my vanilla ice cream topped with strawberries and whipped cream.

 Mmmmmm. This was heaven.

'Ooh look Sam they're starting!' Ron said, and we leaned back to view the show.


Adam stood behind a rose entwined pillar feeling like a huge creep, ogling at Sammy like that. But he couldn’t help himself. She looked so delicious with her eyes closed and that pretty smile on her face, enjoying her dessert. She'd dressed up scrumptiously too. Her hair was just the right amount of messy, falling often into her darkly lined eyes. Her lips had a hint of reddish pink, darker then her natural color by only a few percent, but still incredible sexy.
Her long shapely legs were covered by black leggings ending a little above her delicate ankles, and she wore the silver owl pendant he'd given her for her 19th birthday.
She looked good enough to eat. And completely and utterly perfect.
Boy had he got it bad.
He shook his head and looked at his watch willing for the show to start.
And then suddenly, without warning, it did.
First the basic fireworks erupted spinning blues, flashy yellows and greens and fiery reds.
Sammy was looking at them in delight and whispering to Ron about something, pointing some out to her.
The manager nodded to Adam from across the garden.
This was his cue. He stepped out from behind the shadow of the pillar and strode towards Sammy.

It was show time.


'Oooh look how pretty that one is!'
I pointed at a swirly pink ball of light and watched fascinated how they seemed to burst and vanish into nothing after bestowing upon us such utter awesomeness!
I followed a pretty purple streak, watched it go higher and higher into the air. Suddenly it burst out in a word: 'Will'
Confused I looked at Ron. 'Will? What’s that?'
'Sam just look!' She pointed above and I looked.
'You' -another word had appeared, the 'will' long gone.
As I looked two more words came and went: 'marry me'.
And then the third word made me gasp aloud: 'Sammy?' in pretty cursive and a lot of purple light.

‘Will you marry me Sammy? Well, what do you say?'
I almost jumped out of my seat.
Adam was kneeling by my chair, looking like a freakin' male model in a sharp tux and that signature messy hair of his.
He held the ring I had been so sure to leave at home, in his hands, and was looking at me with determination, and just a hint of nervousness.
'Oh my God! Wha- how? You were supposed believe I was back in Pakistan!'
I whipped my head towards Ron's grinning face and suddenly it all made sense.
The sneaky little witch had all planned this!

Her random disappearances throughout dinner, which I’d pegged down to an upset tummy all made sense now.

Adam was speaking and I turned to him, my eyes locking with his.
'Sammy. I love you. I would do anything and fight anyone to be with you forever and always.' he looked straight at me and added, 'besides Hon you're killing me here, make up your mind!'

I noticed a hush had fallen over the garden. We were the focal point of all the random people here!
'Adam? I...'
It was like everyone took a collective breath.
Hah. It was fun torturing him.
'I... Think that would be a wonderful idea. YES!' I screamed the last word and sank to my knees giving him a bear hug and a huge kiss.
The applause that followed was peppered with hooting and laughter.

It was the perfect proposal.
Ronnie was laughing and so was I as Adam slipped the lovely ring onto my finger.
Giggling like a 13 year old I let Adam pull me up to my feet.

 He brushed my bangs out of my eyes and leaned down to kiss me slowly and thoroughly.
'Get a room!' someone- Alex shouted his voice full of laughter. As we broke apart, before things could get intense, I could not erase the huge grin off my face.
Adam started pulling me towards the exit as I screamed to Ron I’d call her later. Drunk on happiness I gave our audience a bow as Adam rolled his eyes.
To a wonderful, strong, funny, kind man.
To the love of my life.
And I did not care who knew the intensity of my complete happiness.



My heart was still beating pretty fast as I half dragged Sammy away from the restaurant. The moments before she'd said yes? I was convinced she was about to reject me for trying to convince her for the past so many years that our marriage was not a practical, or possible notion.
But I had realized, [and thank God for that]no matter what I had  told myself and her, life without Sammy was like living with a piece of me missing.

This time, I would take her to the alter and make her mine forever.

No matter what.
5 months later.

I looked at Adam and saw the hunger in his eyes. He moved towards me and a delicious shiver ran down my back as I backed into the wall behind.
'Um Adam. Don’t you think we should, um, discuss things? And talk about the wedding? Like, haha do you remember how Aunty Miriam tried to introduce you to her daughters-'
But I was silenced with a kiss that reached down to the very tips of my toes and to the- as cheesy as it sounds- core of my being.
'Today,' whispered Adam, moving his lips to my ear 'We're going to finish what I always try to start honey.' The tiny hairs on my body arose with goose bumps as he reached behind to the zip of my wedding dress. He gently turned me around and unpinned my hair, letting it cascade around my shoulders in soft waves. 'Mmm you smell so good. Like strawberries and flowers.'

His face was by my shoulder now, close to my hair and he pushed it to the side, sliding his lips deliciously on my necking and kissing me there slowly.
A soft sound escaped my throat as I felt wonderful sensations flood my body. My hands reached behind and held his soft curls, my body pushing backwards into his.
Adam pulled back and slowly slid the zipper of my dress down, until the poufy and lacy garment fell around my ankles. I turned around and smiled as my husband's lips curved into a sweet smile. 'Sammy. You're beautiful.'
I flushed and tried to hide how happy that one comment always made me feel when it came from him.
It wasnt even that I was naked.
Nope. I was still wearing a lacy camisole and underwear.
Oh well. I decided. If this was finally gonna happen, I guess I’d better make sure I had the upper hand.
So with purpose, I gave Adam one of my best 'sexy' smiles and moved closer to him. I slowly licked my lips and watched how his eyes narrowed in lust and love. Pressing my body into his, I wrapped my arms around his neck and stood on tip toe to meet his wonderful sensuous lips with my slightly wet ones.
As we kissed, slowly, Adam's hands slipped inside my cami and travelled up to the once forbidden territory. I squirmed against him, feeling a number of wondrous sensations wrack my body as I slowly sucked on his lower lip, lightly biting it and enjoying him squirm for once, pushing me closer to his chest.
With a flick of his hand, he'd torn of the thin garment that covered my chest and tummy, revealing the lacey bra I was wearing underneath.
His lips started moving down, and where ever his hot mouth touched my warm skin, I felt that point of my body erupt into liquid fire.
I ran my hand under his shirt, feeling the light sprinkling of hair and the hard muscle of his chest.

We continued our caresses and explored each other’s body more thoroughly than we ever had.
The teasing and sweet torture went on late into the night when finally Adam whispered once again into my ear.
'Its now or never Sammy. '

I nodded my consent and we sank into wondrous heated passion in each other’s arms, feeling like the two happiest, most loved people on earth.

The Haunting by Farah Idrees

Samina stared on the falling orange-red leaves falling downthe trees. The crest-fallen sunset; dried leaves all over the ground; and thetime for her husband’s return was as depressing as the thought of dying but toher the thought of dying soon was more soothing than this. She stood up fromthe grey dead bench of her dried garden; cursing her fate she made her way toher luxurious kitchen that was beyond her dreams but now gave her no smiles.The meal was ready and she lurched to a wall. Her body was aching due to theharsh thrashing by Zia, her husband. Samina’s parents had accepted the proposalfrom the family of Zia just because Zia was rich and they thought that theirdaughter will be happy with all the luxuries of this world but little did theyknow how terrible Samina’s life will be. Zia had a horrendous childhood withher step-mother who used to beat him on every mistake he commenced. Suchtreatment turned him into a ruthless man. Samina had always thought of immenseopulence and richness but now she just wanted a shoulder to cry on; a calm andcaring hand; a pleasant and happy life. Now she understood how wealth is noteverything? How wealth cannot buy her smiles?
“Tringgggg ….” Went the door bell and her heart sank. Shebarged towards the door in no time to avoid the fury of Zia. She hauled thedoor and managed to greet Zia properly. Her heart was in her mouth. Everythingwas ready for Zia. The dinner was ready on the dining table; the towel was inthe bathroom with her clean ironed clothes. Samina waited at the bathroom doorwith a jug of water and a glass. She started pouring water into the glass assoon as Zia came out of the bathroom while visualizing what mistake will makehim enraged….Ooopps…the glass had overflowed… Zia slapped Samina and the glassbroke to pieces that scattered over the beautiful floor. Samina started sobbingand Zia screamed at the top of his voice and a stab of fear fit Samina hard. Hestood still as a stone for a minute; his clenched fist; his diamond hard glareat Samina making her pulse rate faster.
She moved back until the walls of the room became prisoncage that was impossible to escape. She wailed in despaired and Zia startedwhipping her.  She screamed, shouted butnobody came to help…Then  Zia, as usualsat in the corner of the room in sheer confusion laughing and crying. He shriekedloudly petrifying Samina. He felt on the wrong side of the law but somewhere inhis heart he felt satisfied. This was this revenge..
He thought of his dreadful childhood that filled his with panic.He was muddled  and grasped in horror.How his step-mother used to beat him on every minute mistake and then howdreary he went and called it a day by killing her. How he went so pitiless…heyelled at the peak of his voice…”…noooo don’t beat me nooo!!!...”  he felt blameworthy about doing the samething that have encountered him and sobbed his heart out…and he fell unconscious..

The Haunting by Daredevil

As the good days of summer had started, school had come to an end. Young Aaron was out with his mother for grocery shopping and a walk n play at the park. Eager to take a leak (pee), Aaron constantly annoyed his mother and pulled on to her tracks while she was busy taking her walk.

“Scoot away Aaron, let me get done with my round and I’ll take you home!” was the mother’s response. 

“But mommy, I want to go! I’ll leak in my pants otherwise.”

Extremely frustrated, not taking any steps further, hesitant, Aaron’s mothers only response was, “just go and leak under the tree, and let me do my rounds now!”

After doing his “business” Aaron continued playing with his friends, until he was called by his mom, as it was time to go home.

At reaching home, Aaron ran to his dad and told him that he leaked under a tree as if it was his greatest achievement.

Poor Aaron had no idea as to what troubles were coming his way.

It was past mid night when Aaron’s mother demanded him to sleep that minute. Gazing at the look in his mothers eyes, Aaron with his head down, obediently walked to his room, and tucked himself in bed.

Aaron hadn’t slept long, all of a sudden he ran out of the room, banging on his parents room door so that they could take him in. The eerie look on his face had said it all. He was bombarded with a number of questions, “WHAT? WHERE? WHO?” but he was aphonic.

Even after constantly being jerked, there was no difference in his mesmerized state.

The petrified parents did all that they could to get Aaron to speak. After a number of trials all he said was “It’s there, I can see it. I want to sleep with you.”

With annoyed expression on her face Aaron’s mother lets him sleep in her room for the rest of the holidays, under the condition that he will stop watching violent movies that scares him in the night and which is why he wishes to sleep with his parents.

Aaron nearly dozed off when... from the floor where he lay, he saw the door slightly opened and there was a black shadow which flashed right to left.

The petrified feeling got the child to the urge that he leaked in his pants, and remained soundless. Not a word was uttered by him, nor did he tell his parents he leaked. 

A series of events, such as noises, shadows being seen, hearing things breaking continued for three months. Aaron did not go to his parents about any of this, assuming he’ll be made fun off, and will be prohibited from watching all sorts of movies. It was not until…

Summer holidays came to an end. Aaron, early to rise, woke his mother up so she could dress him up for school. As normal as he looked, he was extremely excited to go to school so that he could get a break from the past events. Spending couple of hours away from home and being around with his friends, Aaron’s mother was hoping that Aaron would have overcome his fear by now. But, according to Aaron he hadn’t.

After completing his homework and dinner, Aaron’s mother demanded him to sleep. The slow walk towards his room, after a couple of minutes was a mysterious rush back out.

He runs to his mother in the kitchen, and before he could utter a word, his mum screamed at him “what the hell is your problem Aaron? Are you a baby?”

Terrified, trembling, shaking and sweating, he mumbled. Finally having the courage to say he was seeing things, objects and people. The mother solidified for a minute or two, and then called the father. The only decision that came to their mind at that point was to get in the car and leave, and so they did.

The father had a few of his contacts who dealt with such incidents. He called one of them, and took him to the house and stayed there for a couple of days. It had only been a night that Aaron started sleeping normally, and the following morning, the father’s friend left without informing anyone.

On calling the friend and asking as to why he left so early, his reply was, “there are Jinn’s in your house, and they told me you interfered with them therefore they will spare no one, and will kill you, your wife and your son. I shall come tomorrow and solve this matter for you.” With a “thank you” in reply the father ended the call. 

The following day, the father’s friend revisited, and did a few readings and recitations. He asks for a black string, captured the jinn’s in the string, tied a knot, put it on the stove and left it to burn.

Eager to know, the friend questioned Aaron’s parents as to what had happened to why Aaron had such a response to sleep.  On remembering the mother told him that Aaron and her were at a park, she was busy doing her rounds and Aaron kept on irritating her as he wanted to make a leak. She told him to go and do it under a tree.

With a strange look on his face, leaving the mother startled, the father’s friend continued, “Your son leaked on the jinn’s, and that is why they came behind him furiously in revenge. They wanted to play with his mind, until he lost his senses and died of a mental disease.”

On hearing this, the mother broke down into tears. The guilt inside her arose. She couldn’t believe how harsh she was to her son when he tried approaching her for comfort.   

The mother went up to Aaron, her eyes bleeding with tears, the guilt tearing her apart, with an apologetic look on her face, held him tight, squeezing him, hoping she is forgiven…

The Haunting by Wajiha Ashraf

Night had fallen; the sky was velvety, as black as my heart at the moment. Cars drove past, flashing lights everywhere, and pedestrians walking swiftly to their destinations. I felt cold and numb despite the weather being temperate. This was the busiest road of Karachi. Me and my three children, two sons and a daughter, stood on the roadside, as helpless as birds in a cage.

“Maa, why are we here? Please let’s go home?” said the eldest of the three.

I had no answer to his question. I couldn’t tell them anything. Our house, the last thing we had, was now taken over by its proprietor. They pushed us out because we hadn’t paid the rent since my husband died five months ago. My husband had left us almost empty-handed; the little that was left had been already spent on feeding our stomachs during the past five months. I had even sold out all my possessions. My kids were too young for me to leave them alone and go looking for work. Yet I had stood on traffic signals and begged people. The little I got from there wasn’t at all enough for even one meal a day for the four of us. All relatives went cold-hearted. I went to my only brother and begged him to let me and my children live at his place until I found a shelter for my kids, but he himself being jobless could not afford to do so, however, he could keep only me for a few days, which meant that I had to leave my children elsewhere. I had no choice left. We had already spent two nights sleeping on roads; my children had not eaten anything since then. My youngest son, less than three years old, had started crying out of hunger. His face looked anemic, and eyes lifeless. I grabbed him and hugged him tightly, crying uncontrollably, for this was maybe the last time I ever saw him. I had already made my decision. I could no longer feed my kids. And I could just not see them dying like this.

I circled them around me. “Listen to me carefully now all three of you, I have to go on some really important duty now, and I can’t take you all there with me, you guys have to wait here, and if anyone comes to you and tells you to go with them then…just go, okay?”

“But maa, you always told us not to go anywhere with any strangers!”

“Sara, just do what you are told to.”

“Maa, why can’t we come with you? Why are you leaving us like this?”

“No Ahmed, I will be back dear, just take care of your sister and brother, you are the eldest and I’m leaving them on your responsibility, do not let Sara or Ali go anywhere without you, you get that?” Ahmed nodded uncertainly. “Here, keep this money safely in your pockets and use it only when you really need it.” I put a 10 rupee bill in their pockets each, clutched the three pieces of my heart one last time, and started walking away from them, hoping someone would take them and feed them for the rest of their lives. I could hear all three of them calling me with wavering voices. I kept walking rapidly, until the horns of the cars drowned their voices…

The next thing I knew was guilt and terror. I couldn’t sleep at nights. I would wake up in the middle of the night with horrible dreams of my little Ali crying for me hysterically, of Sara hungry, of Ahmed’s bloodstained face. I screamed and screamed, the remorse of throwing away my own kids eating me from the inside, my heart aching for them, my lips endlessly praying for their safety. The room would suddenly become claustrophobic, as if the air was being sucked out of my body and then everything would go black… I would then again wake up sweating and shivering from head to toe, yell for them, and try to shut down all the terrifying images that haunted me every single second of my life. I went back to where I had left them countless times, but they were never there. I yearned to die but the guilt wouldn’t let me. How was I supposed to face Allah? What would I say to my husband? He would never forgive me for being callous to my children. He loved them more than me!

But I knew it was over, the hope in me soon faded, left with only the chirpy memories. I could do nothing. I had lost them.

The Haunting by Shameen Irfan

 “It’s inevitable now,” I told myself as I stepped out of the military bus. I was delighted by the crunching sound my feet made when I took each step on the snow covered ground of my home country, though, I was still afraid. This time I was not here to spend quality time with my family or friends but I was here to protect them and the rest of my countrymen. The straight postured men standing by my side; neatly dressed in their khaki uniform and holding tightly onto their AK-47s,had the same objective.

   Even though, I was mentally and physically prepared, I was unaware of what could happen. I wondered whether I would survive to see my countrymen celebrate victory against the Russians.

My thought process was interrupted by a loud, horrifying sound which was perhaps, a sign of Russian attack that had, indeed, triggered the war. I was surprised at how, over the centuries, technology has developed to such an extent that from sticks and stones: bows and arrows, weapons have taken the shape of handguns, bombs and missiles, etc. but I could not waste time being a coward. I got into my position as I saw panic-stricken soldiers do the same.

   Smoke filled up around me as everything darkened making it seem like the sun was non-existent. The only thing I could see clearly was the snow under my feet which was gradually turning as red as saffron. Besides that, the only thing I could hear was the patterned clicking of guns and the footsteps of soldiers struggling to protect themselves from being crushed under the large military tanks of the Russians. I could see the city being destroyed as easily as a toddler would tear apart the pages of a book. Black clouds travelled across the sky; glowing fires consumed everything with no remorse; death and destruction came from above. In the blink of an eye, the tall, magnificently constructed skyscrapers collapsed and I took as much pain as possible, to protect my fellow soldiers, along with capturing some of the Russians. I shot whoever came in my way and then dragged them, through corpses, towards the place where the rest of the prisoners were held captive. In my struggle to do so, I suddenly saw a familiar face. He looked deep into my eyes as if he had found someone he had been looking for, since a long time. I took advantage of his condition and shot his foot with my gun after which I did what I was supposed to.

 The chaos and panic did not give me a chance to think about who he was and where I had seen him before since we had strict orders to ensure that the prisoners do not escape and were given the authority to treat them as we felt like. Terror and grief was slowly taking over me as I was traumatized by everything I had witnessed, from the corpses laying all around me to the buildings tumbling down in front of me. I started to realize I would not be able to bare it for too long now and the man constantly gazing at me, added to my agitation. I loaded my pistol and was all set to shoot him until it occurred to me.

  Flashbacks of the two years I spent with this man came to me. As I placed my finger on the trigger, a dull picture of him holding me in his arms, was created in my mind. I looked at his wrist and then mine, noticing he wore the same black bracelet that I did. Memories ran back and forth through my head which began to hurt to an extent that it had become unbearable just like my actions had become uncontrollable. I knew, for a fact, that everyone had a breaking point; weak or strong; courageous or cowardly-war frightened everyone witless and I could strongly feel that my 'breaking point' had come as I slowly pulled the trigger. His shrill cries of pain hurt my ears just like the howling of a wolf does. Within this landscape of horror, he collapsed.

  I fell to the bloody ground as I realized what I had done and remembered my mother's words,"He was taken away by Russian officials and I do not know when he will be returned to us." She had waited for my father for too long, quite unaware of what had happened to him and whether he was still alive or not. After having to deal with so much, my mother passed away leaving behind just a few photographs of my father. My mother was the only connection between us but I had killed the man who had, perhaps, been looking for me for years. I killed the man who was supposed to answer the numerous questions that were in my mind. I killed my father.

  A surge of severe guilt and pain rushed through me. I knew I would not be able to see the clear, blue skies anymore as the light became too bright for my eyes and the air, too rough for my burnt skin. It seemed like the world was falling apart as I slowly closed my eyes, lying next to my dead father. I was alive, yet, mentally dead. I could feel that I was being dragged away but had no clue, of where I was being taken and had no energy to open my eyes.

  The next time I opened my eyes, I was in a hospital bed with one of my soldier friends sitting next to me. I had lost the ability to speak. The only thing I last remembered, was killing my father. It was hard to resist the urge to somehow kill myself, either by stabbing my wrist or shooting myself because I trully, deeply and madly wanted to be where my parents were, now. I wanted to apologize to my father for what I had done and all I needed was once chance. I questioned myself as to why I had ever even wanted to be a soldier. I did want to protect my country but not in a manner as uncivilised as this. I supposed, war had ceased, though, I was, unaware of the outcome.

  People came to visit me and from what I heard, I had suffered 'psychological trauma'. Clearly, they were unaware of the fact that I had killed my own father. It made my head jump to think about it. The next few days, I suffered from uncontrollable diarrhea to unrelenting anxiety as I was left wondering how much longer I would survive. Stomach cramps seized me and everytime I closed my eyes, terrifying nightmares about slaughtering not only my father but also, many others, destroyed my sleep. Often, I cracked up and found myself unable to eat, deliriously re-living my experiences of combat.

  Even though, I was sure I could not handle the strain of warfare and no longer wished to return to a battlefield, a small part of me was proud of himself for being courageous enough to step out onto the field and fight the efficient, well-equipped Russians. I wanted to forget those haunted nights and dreams that dripped with murder of my father. I was guilty and glad as my body began to sink into the crisp, white sheets of the bed with my mind and body, finally, succumbing to the inevitability of death.


The Haunting by SBK

Gasping for air, I woke up from a bad sleep. Beads of sweat gathering on my forehead, I reached across the bed, my hands frantically searching for him. I really needed his arms wrapped tightly around me. That was the worst nightmare ever. I felt as though I was drowning; being thrown in the ocean from a great height. The feeling was so intense, so real. I could not figure out how I had survived through that.

I sat up and walked towards the bathroom, dragging my feet along the cold marble. Why was it so impossible to seek comfort? Why couldn’t I be at peace once and for all? Nightmares like these really befuddled me, and it was impossible to go back to sleep. My mind had started to act oddly yet again. I could feel the thoughts inside my head swinging like a dagger over a prisoner’s head. They went left and right, left and right, till I could take it no more. My agonizing screams had caused a stir in the building and the young couple from next door eyed me suspiciously from their balcony window, whenever I stepped outside for a puff.

I hated this, or maybe that’s what I wanted to portray. Maybe I was too afraid to move on. I knew for a fact that I was not trying hard enough. My doctor always said, either you try or you don’t. There is no middle road. Well someone should tell him to sock it. He drove me insane.

Three months and fourteen days ago, my life had changed in a split second. Ali and I had been driving happily after a long day of Christmas celebrations. Festivity and zeal had been bursting all around us and the cool, winter breeze kissed our faces lovingly as we steered towards home – our home. We had just finished a hearty meal of roasted, succulent turkey and mashed garlic potatoes at his parents’ house. His mom then served up large portions of her infamous cherry pie and rounded it up with heavenly cups of coffee. It had been absolutely wonderful. Ali loved his parents very much and I had grown quite fond of them too. Such a lovely couple; they had kept their promise of growing grey together and the two of us wanted to do the same.
Parking outside our well lit building, he turned towards me with a mischievous glint in his eye. His boyish acts always made me chuckle. I wondered what he had up his sleeve this time. He slid his hand inside his leather jacket and pulled out a small, velvet box. My eyes widened. It couldn’t be! There was no way this could be happening. And then, he spoke those four words I had been dying to hear.
How about it then? Will you marry me?
And that was that; a perfect moment in our perfect relationship. We could have really pulled this ‘happily ever after’ stunt off. It had sounded queer when I had said it out loud, but this man really was my soul mate. We were made for each other, and he had known it as well as I did.
We had gotten out of the car, my newly ringed finger in his big, warm hands and started towards the building entrance. This would be the start of our new beginning.

Little had I known that a week following our engagement, Ali’s dead body would be the only thing staring back at me. I still could not wrap my head around it. How could my man, the strongest in the pack, fall in the deadly hands of a car accident? He had always been so careful whenever on the wheel. It was impossible, and I was almost sure that my Ali was somewhere, safe and sound. That corpse had definitely been someone else’s.

I had been numb ever since Ali passed away. No feelings, no emotions; just a pool of tears surrounding me all the time. Death was a word that did not do justice to him. He was too perfect, too happy and too kind to have his body crushed like a pile of rubble. That sight of him, wrapped in a white shroud, being carried towards the graveyard was unreal. I wanted to beg him to wake up, pound on his chest so his heart would start beating again, but nothing happened. That day still haunts me and I can never, ever forgive myself for Ali’s demise.

I had killed him. I had been on the phone with him when the car lost control. I had distracted him. It was my fault – and nothing in the world would get me over the remorse and guilt of murdering my one and only. I could not stand being alone. The world felt like a strange and unknown place without Ali, where I was as lonely as a rusty leaf sprawled on the highway. I did not have the strength to face the next sunrise without him, but I had no choice. I had grown claustrophobic over time and the fear of spending the rest of my life without my love was just too intense. I had trusted him; depended on him; expected him to be there through thick and thin but he was gone. How could he be so cruel? Why would he leave me alone, when he knew I was nothing without him?

Sometimes I felt as though I was being too selfish; caring too much about my own feelings, but I felt hollow from the inside. I could sense a huge, gaping hole in my heart where feelings for Ali had once resided, and there had been times when memories of our past seemed to fade away. That scared me the most. It was the only thing I could latch on to, and I cursed my psyche for being so vicious to me. There had been instances where I would panic and black out, lying on the bare floor for hours; no one coming to my rescue. I did not expect anyone to care; even though my eldest sister, Sabin used to drop by a few times a week with food, groceries and occasionally, a new pair of shoes. We used to sit in exposed silence and her big, round eyes used to stare at me with sympathy. If only she had the slightest clue of what I was going through.
I knew I had brought this suffering upon myself, not letting my guard down for anyone. I used to lie in bed for hours, staring at the ceiling, wondering how happy I would be if Ali was still with me. I was in so much pain, but it was all in my head; completely intangible. I could not see it, nor could I cure it.

 I had grown greatly terrified of that odd little thing called love. When I passed by the park on my way to the doctor’s every Thursday at three, couples would be sitting happily, speaking their own dialect of love and compassion; not giving a dime about the world. Why me? Why not them? I was not a saint, but I did not deserve this brutal act of mercilessness either. God had given up on me. It was a feeling which made me twitch with shame.

Everything around me had grown black. I saw no light; neither did I see a way out. All I did was ponder over the past, and remain lost in my wishful thinking. If only things were different. If only.

One odd day, as I sat near the television, I started to reminisce on the haunting memory of killing my Ali with my own hands. It was extremely painful. I had photographed my years with him; a photograph shot by the heart, to make it last forever, but it seemed like a mind game all over again. I got up, tightened the robe around my waist, and started towards the kitchen. Behind my jar of coffee sat an old bottle of sleeping pills. Suddenly, I felt as though a curtain had been drawn from my eyes, to let the bright light pour in. The haze and fog from my mind started to disappear and I knew exactly what to do. My answer was right in front of me, and very soon, Ali and I would be reunited again. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier? I emptied the contents of the bottle in my left hand – Tonight, I would finally sleep peacefully and wake up with my companion beside me.

The Haunting by Mustafa Shafi Khan

Matt woke up from his sleep like a dead man coming back to life. He is short of breath, his body shivering and sweaty. He reaches for his inhaler haphazardly. The short burst of air from the inhaler seems to give Matt a new life. It is not his asthma attack that woke him from sleep. It is that child and his mother, they appeared in his sleep again. “What was my sin?” the child questioned Matt. His mother stood there without saying anything. The mere thought of their visuals sends shivers across his body. These visuals are becoming more frequent and terrifying each day. With the hope of not waking up to such sights, Matt goes back to sleep once again.

Retired Major General Matt Houston was once a part of the fifth battalion of the United States Army. He served for over twenty five years in the army. Initially admitted as a cadet, Matt rose to higher ranks rather quickly, due to his passion and commitment to serve his country. But when he didn’t wear the uniform he was a different man altogether. Alcohol was his best friend, and he was famous for creating havoc when he was intoxicated in parties and gatherings. This even led him to some edgy situations in the Army with his uniform at stake, but he was let go considering his passion and commitment to work. When the US army was fighting a war in Vietnam, Matt was serving as a Captain.

The next day, Matt woke up early morning. Last Night’s events were still fresh in his mind. His eyes were sore and his face was weak. He hadn’t been able to sleep much since these terrifying visions began to appear in his dreams and his conscious state. His wife had passed last year and since then he had been living alone. He sat in his rocking chair, his eyes closed and his mind dated back to the night that changed his entire life.

It was the night before Matt and his brigade were to leave Vietnam, the war was over and their brigade was the last to leave. The troops were having a small bonfire, having alcohol and listening music on the radio. As the night went on the troops were heavily intoxicated and lost control of their senses, they began acting like a bunch of teenagers on the street at night with no one to stop them. They danced, broke glass bottles and damaged some public property. But this was not it; a few of them including Matt entered a compound where Vietnamese families lived. They barged into an apartment which belonged to a man, his wife and their eight year old son. The soldiers seemed like barbarians, dreadful and inconvincible by anything. They put a knife next to the man and raped his wife in front of him. She pleaded for mercy and her husband panicked like a bird being slaughtered, shouting and trying to break free. Matt stood there with the bottle of whisky in his hand, laughing like a dead soul. When the soldiers were leaving, the husband of the woman pounced on them from behind and got hold of Matt’s gun. In an attempt to free the gun Matt wrestled with the man grabbing his forearm. Suddenly, a shot was fired. There was utter silence in the room and their ears were deafened by the loud bang of the gun. As Matt looked down he saw the bodies of both the man and his eight year old son with a small puddle of blood beside them. 

This incident has been haunting Matt ever since. He retired from army soon after returning back from Vietnam.

He opened his eyes. He saw the child sitting at the edge of his chair by his feet and looking up in Matt’s eyes. Matt was struck with terror he got up from his chair and ran towards the bathroom. His chest was moving up and down from the heavy breathing. He opened the tap to wash his face, instead of water; he saw blood running from it. Matt pulled back from the sink almost falling towards the door. These visuals were frequent with each day gone by; it was becoming difficult for him to cope.

The following night Matt had been up all night in his bed. The face of the woman couldn’t let her sleep. She looked at Matt and shouted for mercy. Her scream, her pain and her face all echoed in his mind, he then remembered the child. The way he was looking at his mother with his eyes still trying to figure out what was going on and then his body as it lay on the ground with blood spilling out from his chest. Matt couldn’t deal with it anymore, he thought to himself. All these years of enduring this guilt and terror. Death was his real medication; he slowly put his feet on the ground as he stood up from the bed, dragged himself towards the cupboard and took out his revolver.

The Haunting by Faraz Kamal

Today is my son’s 25th birthday and it’s a day to be extremely happy, but hidden under all the happiness and merriment is guilt. This guilt is what I will carry till my last breath and it boosts up every time I see my son.

This darkness in my life is the result of the night of 12th October 1991 which was the most depressing night I have ever spent. It was about midnight and my duty hours at the hospital had ended. All senior doctors had left the place and I was at the exit door. As I was walking towards my car I felt some sharp instinct that I must go back to the hospital, I could not figure out why, I said to myself, “Maybe I forgot something inside.” I walked back and entered the hospital; I was walking towards my cabin when I heard some nurses shouting, “Emergency! Emergency! Doc, there is an emergency!”

I realized it was because of this that I had come back into the hospital. As I turned towards the nurses, I saw two people lying on stretchers. There was a middle aged man all covered with blood and I ordered the nurse to take him to the operation room immediately, but as I turned towards the other stretcher I saw my son 10 year old son lying fainted and with bruises on his dead. The people who brought them said that my son was with this man, my son’s friend’s father, who was driving the car to drop him home. I decided I had to take care of my son first.

He was taken to the operation room where we treated him, the bruises on his dead were cleaned and I myself put stitches on my son’s forehead. I could feel tears coming to my eyes. Even though I knew it was not a life threatening situation, I was extremely tensed. In the next few minutes my mind starting working again and I realized about the other man on the stretcher.

“Doctor, he is dead”, said the nurse. I could feel something dying inside of me. I had forgotten that I am a doctor first and then a father. Delaying my son’s treatment would not have threatened his life, but this man I left lying on the stretcher and to the responsibility of nurses, lost his life. He was my son’s friend’s father, who had three other siblings. They were already facing a lot of difficulties financially and this man was the only earning member of the family. His four sons and his wife were left alone to battle these problems, and all of this happened because of me.

I decided I was no more capable of being a doctor and from that day onwards I did not return to that hospital. The memories associated to that place are such that I have lost all confidence I had in myself and my profession. While becoming a doctor I had taken the oath that my first duty will always be to save lives, and I could not return to my profession now that I had violated the responsibilities associated with my profession, because I chose to a father and not a doctor.

Today, even after 15 years have passed by, those haunting memories are stored in the corner of my heart. Every time I see a doctor, every time I go to a hospital, every time I see that little irremovable scratch on my son’s head and every time he gets a year older than before, I realize I am the reason someone died. This guilt will be with me forever, and I have never even had the courage to go see what that man’s family is like without him, another guilt which makes my life more depressing than ever.

The Haunting by Alias

As the sun set, an ear-splitting scream rent the air. Within a heartbeat, the entire atmosphere became as silent as a graveyard in the darkest hour of the night. Sarah’s hands shook and her lower lip trembled at the thought of what had happened. Looking at her husband, Ahmed, with complete disbelief and helplessness, Sarah’s eyes began to fill with tears. As Dr. Bilal began to explain to them what actually caused Zara to become “crazy” the tears started to fall from their eyes. Sarah could not get the image of her 16 year old daughter trying to scratch her eyes out from her head. The fact that Ahmed and Sarah could not understand what was actually happening to their own child was now driving them insane. Gradually it was dawning on them that when Zara mentioned the “river flowing rapidly through her body” and the “violent drum that beat within her day and night” was nothing short of the truth! Dr. Bilal explained how Zara could hear every single sound that her body was making; the opening and closing of the valves in her veins and heart, the heart pumping the blood, and the blood racing throughout her body. Her mind did not allow her to hear the world around her; it was as if her inner demon had focused her hearing upon herself. Sarah and Ahmed were as still as statues carved out of marble, unable to move. Despite the utter stillness, Dr. Bilal could actually feel the air around them vibrating with mixed, turbulent and near-violent emotions.

The doctor explained that two of Zara’s major nerves had been swapped, causing her to hear the sounds in her own body, which worsened when she was stressed out. It was true! Whenever whispered words pertaining to her madness reached Zara’s ears, her expression would take a horrific cast. She would claw at her ears, making them bleed. The pain would reach such an extent that she would physically harm herself to relieve the mental anguish she was suffering from. Upon witnessing such horrific acts, Sarah would recoil from her daughter, unwilling to touch her; too scared to help her! Dr. Bilal went on to tell them how victims of this illness sought an escape of this mental anguish through any means, the easiest which was physical harm. As these words sunk in, Ahmed recalled the times when his innocent daughter would bash her head against the wall and scream uncontrollably.

Oh, how could they have done this to their own flesh and blood? Chained her up to the bed like a wild animal in order to save her from herself. Years of belief was shattered in an instance; the strength they had derived from the conviction that their daughter didn’t know any better, and they were only treating her this way to protect her, had dissipated. The terror they faced when Zara used to physically attack herself was now transferred into horror at how they would face her when they passed from this world to the next. Even with her last breath she insisted she was not insane, but they never believed her, not even once! The concept of her illness was unfathomable and never heard of, but that was no excuse for not believing and understanding their daughter. Faced with the horror of what they had done to their own child was the only emotion running through Ahmed and Sarah. No other feeling or thought registered. All they could think about and see was Zara’s lifeless face covered in scars, her body a pathetic mass of open wounds and broken bones!

Had they got Zara to Dr. Bilal sooner, it would have been a matter of an operation room, a surgeon, and a surgery! Unfortunately, it just did not work out that way. The fact that Zara could have been a healthy, happy, normal girl was a mind-numbing thought. It was a thought too much to bear and fragmented what little was left of their sanity into tiny shards. All that that was left was a gaping black hole filled with guilt and echoes of Zara’s screams!

The Haunting by Anonymous

I had never been so sure of anything in my 22 year old life but when Matt, the love of my life ,popped  the question, It barely took me a second to say yes because I knew we were meant to be. We started seeing each other around two years back and with each passing day our relationship was getting stronger and stronger.

After a month we tied the knot, life seemed complete and perfect, our jobs were going great too. With Matt, time passed  by really quickly and our first wedding anniversary was around the corner. It unfortunately coincided with the Paris Fashion Week in which I was supposed to showcase my new winter collection. Matt came up with the idea of celebrating the anniversary in Paris together and I instantly agreed  because it sounded like a lot of fun.

After two days, we were going to leave for Paris and Matt called from work and apologized that he will not be able to make it because  some important work has come up. My disappointment was almost palpable but I assured him that I’ll be grand on my own and that he doesn’t need to worry.

The Fashion Week ended, my collection was a mega hit and I was leaving for home, New York in a day’s time. Since it was my last day there I went out shopping for myself and Matt. I was walking through the streets with my hands loaded with shopping bags  and that’s when my phone rang, I rummaged through my hand bag to look for my phone, I took the ringing phone out of my bag to answer it but before I could do it,I got hit by something, I flew across  the road and hit my head against a steel pole real hard.

Only the brain injury was major, because of which I had to suffer from amnesia and worse than that, last four years of my life were completely forgotten. I had enough money  to buy myself a decent house  in  Paris and get all the basic necessities. I started working in a boutique and that’s where I met Jonathan for the very first time. Two moths passed by and we became good friends and then after sometime we fell in love. Things were pretty much fine at my end but I always felt that there was something missing but couldn’t figure out what, back then.

Life was simple before some stupid stranger started following me almost everywhere. And once when he ended up at my apartment at almost midnight, I was extremely frightened. He said something about  relationship and marriage but I wouldn’t believe him. Every other day he appeared outside the boutique I worked in or my doorstep. Every time I saw him, I used to get horrified and upset, looking at him made me feel that I have left something significant somewhere behind which at that time I didn’t want to face, confront or know.

The stranger did not give up and did everything humanly possible to get to me and he finally managed to take me to a therapist, I spent three hours everyday with the doctor  and in a months time I regained my memory completely.

The stranger was nobody but my ever loving husband Matt  who I cant imagine my life without. When I remembered everything, I felt numb with guilt but I am glad that Jonathan understood  me and the entire situation and Matt is always so cooperative and understanding that I did not have to make much of an effort. But even today, If I look back at it, I still feel sorry, guilty and a little embarrassed about what happened  almost seven years ago.

The Haunting by Rayyan

 It was a cold night and I could hear the wind blow outside. Itwas mid January and winter was at it’s peak. My friends were coming over to myplace that night for a sleep over. This was the first time my parents hadallowed me to call me friends over for the whole night. I was really excited.
   After having dinner, I started waitinganxiously for my friends to come. The door bell rang and I rushed to greet myfriends. It was Kareem and Moeed, two of my closest friends. They had theirbags with them, and I could tell that they were more excited than me, bylooking at their faces. We settled down in my room and started playing games onmy xbox immediately. We didn’t realize how time flew and we kept playing on. Itwas now 2 o clock in the morning. We decided to watch an action movie, which wewere all really fond of. We started watching the movie as soon as I brought thepopcorn and the cold drinks.
   I was used to going to sleep ataround 12 o clock everyday, but today was different. I wasn’t sleepy at all,and I could stay up all night doing stuff like this. We finished watching themovie and no one of us was feeling sleepy at all. We didn’t know what to donext. We had all night left and we had no idea what we should do. We started toget bored. There was nothing we could think of, when suddenly something came tomy mind. I remembered my elder brother telling me that he was going forhunting with his friends in a few days, and he asked me not to tell about it tomy parents. He also told me that he was going to keep the gun he’s going to usein my closet, so that mom doesn’t find out about his plan. I quickly rushed tothe closet and took out the gun, although I knew I wasn’t supposed to. I showedthe gun to my friends. They were delighted to see it, as all of us were obsessedwith guns, but obviously not real ones. I wasn’t sure if the gun had bullets init, and I didn’t know how to check. So wejust assumed that the gun was empty, and started examining it.
   I tried not to hand over the gun tomy friends, but Kareem was insisting a lot, so I decided just to let him use itfor a while. He was playing around with the gun, something from which I shouldhave stopped him. It was a real gun, not a toy, and it wasn’t meant to beplayed with. Before I could say anything, I heard a shot fire and I realizedthat it hit Moeed. He slumped over on the floor, blood dripping from his chest.I didn’t know what to do. I suddenly heard the door open. It was my brother andmy dad, rushing into the room, awaken by the sound of the fire. Moeed had lost consciousness.Before I could tell my dad anything, he quickly picked Moeed up and carried himoutside to the car. I was terrified. I couldn’t believe what I had justwitnessed. My friend was almost dying, all because of my stupid mistake.
   “Am I going to be okay uncle?”Moeed managed to speak, although just talking was draining him. My dad almosthad tears in his eyes, looking at his condition. I was more afraid than I hadever been in my life, and I was afraid that Moeed might die while beingtransported to the hospital. It was all my fault that he was laying, probablydying, just because I let my friend play with that gun. We got to the hospitalmoments later, Moeed still hanging on to life. He was quickly taken forsurgery, and I could not get over the fact that it was all my fault.
    After waiting for an hour, thedoctor came out. He told us that they were able to save Moeed, but he would notbe able to walk for the rest of his life. He was paralyzed. The look on Moeed’sparents’ faces made me want to kill myself. Had I not taken the gun out, thiswould have never happened. I knew that I would not be able to forgive myselffor this mistake for the rest of my life. I was feeling guilty like anything,and I completely deserved to feel that way.