55 comments

Jul 31, 2020

Mystery

“Wait, I am not sure I understand. You saw her?”

“I saw her.”

A beat.

“Be serious.”

“I am. Do I look like I am lying?”

His eyes burned with righteous indignation.

“You think you saw her, then.”

“I am not crazy.”

“You never know.”

A sharp intake of breath.

“You have never not believed me before.”

“You have never said anything this unbelievable before.”

I stood up. This was going nowhere.

“Wait! We can go there together! We can see her! Maybe she will be –”

“We can’t see dead people, Sam.”

Stare.

Defiance.

I knew him well enough. I only believe what I see, and what I see I believe.

Dr Edwards’ words came to mind: You should support your partner in all times of crisis.

Sound advice. But indulging in and encouraging a delusion was not a line I wanted to cross. Nor should it ever be. It would be a betrayal. A backstab to sanity. Of his and mine and ours.


*


Sally Evans. Husband's ex-fiancee. My close friend. Dead.

Never found the body. Sam was devastated. Depressed. 

The crystal clear smile in which I would see my hopeless love reflect- shattered.

What was once perfect and blinding was now all cracks and shadows. 

So I helped him. Picked up the pieces. Loved him. All of him.

Quod tuum est, est meum.

What is yours, is mine.

Bore with him his pain, his regrets, his broken heart. And so, the pieces slowly came together. And the pieces fit.

Past the darkness. Life begins anew, albeit with a scar. But a scar to treasure, and occasionally reflected upon as a relic of nostalgia.

The pieces had fit.

Until that scar had uglily crawled back from the past to the present. Disrupting the clarity once again, marring the symmetry of the pieces that had fit.

Sally was a good friend. I envied her. But she was good. As good as good friends are.

Tolerable even.


*


I was at Grey Boulevard and I was stupid.

Two statements equally true and intrinsically connected. One begets the other.

I had sinned against my beliefs. Full disclosure: we were "searching for Sally". But don't be mistaken, it means nothing. My actions were not based on any re-evaluation of the delusion- it was merely a tactical decision. Being witness to something not happening- confirming a falsehood. Cold-cut, precise logic. 

But that is a lie. Logic has little to do with it.

Empathy. Pity. Frustration.

Watching the lost expression on the haggard face of the one you love tears you apart. You are there but they are not there. By simply existing, the delusion devalues you even further. Adultery of the mind. Sam was cavorting with his hallucinations. It made my head hurt, my heart ache.

And the biggest sin: curiosity.

The most hardcore rationalist will drop everything to catch a glimpse of a "miracle"; a staunch atheist is fascinated by the concept of God; the preachers of love are obsessed with acts of hate.

I was empathetic, frustrated, curious and wanted to make sure that the pieces fit.

Sam was in the store to buy us some drinks. He was being extra obliging. Haughtily relenting and acting as if I was doing him some favor had worked exceedingly well. Delusion or not, being pampered is always great. Undivided attention- every fiber of one's being wanting to please, wanting validation from the other- that act itself validating the existence of the latter. 

One exists when one is observed.

The calculation had seemingly paid off. Sam's assertions had mellowed during the course of the day, as his delusion had made a no-show. Confidence had given way to frustration and finally an almost content disappointment. It would be easy to convince oneself that this was for the better. We all crave simplicity. A hallucination or two being much more acceptable than an undead ex-fiancee.

I stretched. Much of the built up tension dissipated. Deep breath. I felt at peace. The sky was darkening.

I turned to look at the last remnants of the sunset and saw Sally Evans.

It seemed as though she was smiling.

The fact that the figure silhouetted against the crimson backdrop was Sally Evans was unquestionable. It was pointless to even try to refute it. If there was one thing I knew to be true within every fiber of my being, it was that she was Sally Evans.

The only thing that stood in the way of this unquestionable truth was the simple fact that she was dead.

I only believe what I see, and what I see I believe.

There is something to be said about truths: they are often false. An unemployed druggie living in his parents basement knows that the world is flat; the old senile man who is the laughing stock of his local bar knows that the world is controlled by shape-shifting reptiles. They are known truths to them: but then, truth is but a belief of utmost conviction. A trick of the mind.

Relative.

I know she is Sally Evans, I see her and I believe it, but that's just what it is: a belief.

Red dress billowing in the wind, as if calling out to me. The truth was within reach, within walking distance. Half a mile and the end of a paradox. Closure.

Closure?

The pieces had fit. The pieces that had been shaken recently, that now were renewing their symmetry. And the very foundation of the pieces coming together was one basic assertion: that Sally Evans was dead.

Take that out and everything crumbles down.

I turned away. Sam was back with a sheepish smile on his face. In his hand were two bottles, none of which resembled something I would like.

"Sorry, they didn't have the mango one."

His outstretched hands: guava and grapes. Choose your poison.

I reluctantly took the guava one. Glanced. The sun had disappeared and so had Sally Evans.

"Let's go."

Existence is a result of observation. Interaction. Once you are subjected to neither, you may as well be a floating consciousness, a thing of questionable veracity. A myth whose only believer is oneself. Invisible. For all intents and purposes, dead.

One exists when one is observed.

Thus I killed Sally Evans.



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55 comments

Thom Brodkin
11:20 Aug 04, 2020

Writing is so much about style and I love yours. It flows effortlessly which is not easy when writing a story such as this. I enjoyed everything about it. An excellent read.

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Aditya Pillai
12:56 Aug 04, 2020

Thanks a lot, Thom! I really appreciate it coming from such an awesome writer as you!

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:29 Aug 06, 2020

Wow, this floored me 😮 People have mentioned this but yes, your writing style is incredible. Condensed, straight to the point, and digestible while still being beautiful. Good job! 👍🏽 The quantum physics theme going on here was nice. Really fits with the narrator being super-rational and stone-cold. Overall an amazing read. Definitely looking forward to more stuff from you! 🙂

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Aditya Pillai
09:53 Aug 06, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciate it! Looking forward to read more of yours too :)

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Arya Preston
17:50 Aug 04, 2020

What an ending! I absolutely love this staccato-styled narrative voice. It felt like each line revealed something new so quickly yet I still had to understand its importance in the big picture - and that's what hooks a reader. Unreliable narrators are particularly fascinating from a writer's perspective since you have your imagination as a weapon to deceive readers till they discover the reality in the end. You've done a marvellous job especially for your first story here and I'm excited to read more :)

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Aditya Pillai
18:23 Aug 04, 2020

Thanks a lot for reading and your lovely words! They mean a lot! Even as a reader I love unreliable narrators and just general ambiguity done well, and I have tried to implement it here. Thanks again, I appreciate it! Can't wait to read more of yours too :)

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Asa Frederick
12:51 Aug 04, 2020

It is not everyday that you stumble on to something like this, so let me start by telling you: this is absolutely brilliant. This is probably the one of the most unconventional and wierd works I have read, and yet you have pulled it off flawlessly. There are layers upon layers. The bizarre mix of philosophy, psychology with hints of absurdism shouldn't work on paper, but you have made them seem like lovers destined for each other. That last paragraph is perfection. The self-deception, vainglory and selfishness of the narrator all com...

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Aditya Pillai
13:03 Aug 04, 2020

Thank you so much for reading and commenting in such detail Asa! I am really glad you liked the story. I love that you noticed the absurdism sprinkled over it! I really appreciate your kind and generous words :)

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Shruti Saxena
17:36 Aug 02, 2020

Is this brilliant or what? Lots of philosophical and psychological elements (I love that stuff) and experimental. Great work! What I found really interesting is the twisted/obsessive personality of the narrator and how it is never actually stated but you get that feel. She doesn't even feel any emotion on seeing a "dead" friend and just rejects her existence! It's chilling. (the pieces fitting is a nice refrain, first I was confused but I caught on!). The use of "catchprase lines" (for a lack of a better word ;) ) really works. "One ex...

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Aditya Pillai
18:26 Aug 02, 2020

Thanks a lot for taking the time to write such a detailed comment, I really appreciate it! Really glad you liked the story. A social Schrodinger's cat is such a neat way to describe it :) And yes they are supposed to be married in my head canon! Poor Sam... Yes, that is an analogy, the "choose your poison" has that double meaning, glad you spotted it! Once again thank you! Would love to read your stories if you ever put some out!

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Shruti Saxena
14:44 Aug 04, 2020

I will try to, but short stories aren't my forté :/ Attempting a novel rn :)

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Shivani Manocha
11:39 Aug 07, 2020

I just loved this story soooo much. To say that this was a well-written story would not do justice to it. It had an amazing concept, a very good diction and it was also philosophical in nature. Just loved it, especially the following sentences, phrases or sections: 1. “You have never not believed me before.” I liked the use of double negatives 2. "Sally Evans. Husband's ex-fiancee. My close friend. Dead." The way you have written it, it almost seems as if these words were being thrown at me. I mean the impact was so great for me. L...

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Aditya Pillai
13:02 Aug 07, 2020

Wow, thank you so much for writing such a wonderful and detailed feedback! I am really glad you liked the story! And you are completely right about the dashes! It is a bad habit of mine. Its origins are quite embarrassing: I literally never knew how to type an em dash on a keyboard! There was no individual key for it, and past me was like "oh well, what the hell" and tossed the poor em dash out (yeah I know, stupid ;) ). It became a habit. Even here after posting I noticed it, but it was too late. Thanks again for your lovely words! Th...

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Shivani Manocha
16:24 Aug 07, 2020

No problem at all. Even after you post your stories, you can edit them until it gets approved. Just making sure you know that:)

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Aditya Pillai
17:00 Aug 07, 2020

Oh really? I was under the impression that we can edit them only till the deadline! Still a newbie here :) Thanks!

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Shivani Manocha
17:12 Aug 07, 2020

I thought the same too. But then I noticed that the edit option disappears once our story is approved.

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:17 Aug 05, 2020

This was incredibly well done. I love, love the tone and style. And the little bits of reflective stuff, about truth being relative to perspective and, of course, one exists when one is observed (a bit of quantum theory coming in there), incredible! I'm such a big fan of that kind of deep stuff. And I see your pic is an ouroboros - very cool. We can definitely be friends. Looking forward to more stories from you. Well done!

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Katrina Lee
09:02 Aug 05, 2020

I admire the masterful way you weave an almost hallucinative narrative into mediation about the duality of existence, the intricate implications of a person's being and their truths. The part about belief and truth is an absolute gem. I enjoyed your piece immensely!😊Keep going!

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Eve Naden
23:59 Aug 03, 2020

Brilliant ending, brilliant opening dialogue. Concise, fast-paced, and amazing! Instantly hooked me and makes me want a TV Thriller series immediately (#GetonitNetflix). This is FAB! I was really lulled into a false sense of security by your main character, making the ending all the more spectacular.

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Aditya Pillai
03:39 Aug 04, 2020

Thanks a lot for such a lovely comment! :) I really appreciate it coming from you, I love your work!

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Deborah Angevin
22:20 Aug 03, 2020

I loved the format of the opening paragraphs! It sets the tone of the story!

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Aditya Pillai
03:35 Aug 04, 2020

Thanks a lot for the lovely comment! I really appreciate it :)

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Raquel Rodriguez
17:09 Aug 03, 2020

You asked me to read, so here I am! I have to say, this is wonderful! The ending was great, and her thoughts blended in perfectly with the story. Great job! Hope you're safe!

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Aditya Pillai
03:38 Aug 04, 2020

Thank you so much for the wonderful comment! I'm safe, hope you're safe too!

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Raquel Rodriguez
04:01 Aug 04, 2020

;)

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Lata B
20:12 Aug 02, 2020

I love the way you ended this! Great story! You such an amazing writer...Keep writing!:)

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Aditya Pillai
04:52 Aug 03, 2020

Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment! Really appreciate it :)

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Amany Sayed
18:16 Aug 04, 2020

Wow! Wonderful story Aditya. The choppy tone this was written in made the story so suspenseful and interesting to read! You did an amazing job and I love the way you interpreted the prompt. You captured, well, everything, perfectly. Great job and I can't wait to read your next story!

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Aditya Pillai
18:25 Aug 04, 2020

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I really appreciate your lovely words! Excited to read more of yours too :)

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A. S.
16:40 Aug 04, 2020

This story was beautiful. Your writing style is absolutely stunning and the twist at the end was perfect. Great job!

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Aditya Pillai
17:48 Aug 04, 2020

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read and comment! I really appreciate it :)

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Deidra Lovegren
16:16 Aug 03, 2020

You had me at "Quod tuum est, est meum." I love the Edgar Allan Poe influence! Looking forward to your next piece :)

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Aditya Pillai
16:54 Aug 03, 2020

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! I really appreciate it :)

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Rhondalise Mitza
13:31 Aug 03, 2020

Fantastic story, Aditya! It was almost like reading a really mysterious science magazine because, well, I don't really know why because I don't read a lot of science magazines but I liked it a lot. :)

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Aditya Pillai
13:50 Aug 03, 2020

Thanks a lot for reading and commenting! Haha, I know I've used some scientific/philosophical concepts and tried to implement them in fiction, glad you liked it :)

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Nancy Drayce
20:03 Aug 02, 2020

Amazing story! I really liked her thoughts; they were flowing so nicely throughout the story! Great job! 💜✨

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Aditya Pillai
04:53 Aug 03, 2020

Thanks a lot for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it! :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:19 Aug 02, 2020

This was really good! Great vocabulary. Loved this line — there is something to be said about truths: they are often false.

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Aditya Pillai
19:25 Aug 02, 2020

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Really really appreciate it!

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:26 Aug 02, 2020

You are welcome :) Are you from Kerala?

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Aditya Pillai
19:28 Aug 02, 2020

Wow, that's a scary level of intuition. Did the name give it away? :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:32 Aug 02, 2020

Haha. Your surname gave it away:D

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Opeyemi Lawal
08:09 Aug 09, 2020

The opening of the story was good. It captured my attention that I read it to the end

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Aditya Pillai
13:18 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much! :)

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Iona Cottle
20:04 Aug 08, 2020

This is brilliant! Well written, good pace, and such a cold narrator! I loved it, well done :)

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Aditya Pillai
23:26 Aug 08, 2020

Thank you so much! :)

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