And Then There Were None

Submitted for Contest #59 in response to: Write a story that feels lonely, despite being set in a packed city.... view prompt

104 comments

Sep 17, 2020

Thriller Drama

Lonely.


The colours of the next town remind me of children's toys. Every red is the exact same one, a brilliant cherry scarlet. Every blue is a bright royal hue, neither dark nor light. There are no trees, perhaps the foliage does not cooperate to be the same shade on every leaf. The street-lamps are the same canary yellow as the rain-slickers and the taxis. There is no pink, no grey, no orange or violet; but it is more than that. Nothing is sun-bleached, nothing scratched or chipped. The street is free of litter, the walls are unvandalized perfection.


On my left, I see him. Ben. My Ben. I embrace him into a hug and tousle his hair. Again and again and again. His hands go limp against my hold. His honey-brown eyes dart restlessly over mine. Honey-brown, but my Ben had gray eyes. His smell makes me stop, makes me look at him and realize he isn't my son. It isn’t Ben. My throat feels dry. And my eyes well up with tears . The boy’s lips curve into a tight smile like he knows that I’m going to apologize next for misplaced identity. And that is exactly what I do. After apologizing, I part with the boy in a hurry and march down the lane, the tears in my eyes flowing like a waterfall now. 


I'd forgotten to throw the trash away. It's the first thing I notice as I step into my apartment. Unwashed dishes meet my gaze and as I stand there by the door, I wonder what it'd have been like if my son had stayed. My phone has been buzzing and I know it's my daughter, Iris but I don't take the call. I simply want to drown myself in the welcoming arms of cheap rum and dirty house. I head over to my fridge, stepping over the pile of clothes dumped everywhere around. The whisky turns down the volume of my thoughts. It brings memories of good times past, and I let myself dwell in them rather than think. And at that moment I am here and not, existing in two perfect moments, somehow it steadies me, gives me the resolve to go on. Next, I turn on the TV. 


The door to my apartment stands ajar and that is exactly why Zayn, my husband, doesn’t have any hindrance coming in. He picks up the clothes from the floor, closes the fridge door which I didn’t realize was open up until now. He grabs the remote from the couch and turns off the TV. He stares at my sad frame and gives me one of his piteous looks that I hate. I shoot him one of my looks. A look a mother gives when she is angry with her child. A look a teacher gives when she is disappointed in her student’s performance. A look a grief-stricken wife gives when she doesn’t want to get lectured on her life again. “Don’t. Just don’t get started again. You know how much I…I hate you.” I laugh. Soon after, I realize how much those bitter words must’ve hurt him every day. Every single day since we lost Ben.


“Leena,” he begins. “This isn’t how life works. I know, I know that your loss is big and it can’t be compensated in any way. But Ben…" his voice wavers as a tear falls from his left eye. He is weak. All these years he has pretended to be strong just for me, just for our daughter. But he is weak. Losing a son made him weak, just like any other father would’ve been. “But Ben was my son too,” he continues. “I’m alive. And living. You should too.” He is alive and living but my Ben…my Ben is dead and gone. I try getting up, I try to go over to him, to console him and apologize to him for reminding him numerous times a day that he doesn’t have a son anymore. To be sorry for him since he lost his son too. To make sure to tell him that his loss is as big as mine. I try but fail just like all those years ago. 


My phone is buzzing again. I try getting up and unlike the last time, I succeed. I grab my phone from the countertop, the screen shows some unsaved number. So it’s definitely not Iris. “Hello?" I try to sound as composed as possible.

 “Hey. Is this Mrs. Zayn?"

“Yes?”

“I…I called to tell you that your daughter has met with an accident. She…some idiot driver crashed into her car. She has got a lot of injuries. Try reaching the hospital soon, please. I…” But I’m not listening anymore. All I can think of is my daughter’s green eyes, her pale pink lips that always remind me of a rose bud. All I can think of is the last time I heard the word accident: it was exactly when Ben had died. 


I drive. I drive crazily. I have already lost a son, I don’t want to lose my daughter as well. Zayn is telling me to keep the pace low. But he doesn’t know what am I feeling. He isn’t a father. He isn’t a father. He isn’t a father. None of my kids ever compared their real father with Zayn. But I did. I always thought of how Zayn wasn’t handsome in a way Louis, my first husband was. How he wasn’t as tall as Louis was. How he couldn’t even make me feel better after Louis or Ben died. 


I finally reach the hospital. My blood boils and my eyes sting. It's how the hospital still has that smell of burning paper and lives that end that makes me feel nauseated. All I can see are patients. Everywhere. Someone has their wrist broken while someone has got their knee fractured. On my left, I see a man with his left eyeball sticking out, oozing blood. Gross. On my right, I see a woman with her scalp covered in blood: so much so that despite her wearing a scarf, her entire face is streaked in red.


Someone calls out my daughter’s name. Iris. And that’s when I remember why exactly am I here. I squeeze in through the crowd, making my way up to Iris’ room. And I see it. I see in the nurse’s eyes. I see the fear in her eyes. The fear of not having the words. And that’s how I know. I’ve lost my daughter too. One by one, slowly and painfully, God took them all way. Louis. Ben. Iris. They’re gone. Every single one of them. I am once again left alone. I am, now lonely. 


Lonely.


You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

104 comments

13:57 Sep 17, 2020

There is emotion in this story. It is brilliant and well written and had me wanting more. Every word is perfect, written to bring about a better meaning. You've taken your time and this is a job well done.

Reply

Batool Hussain
14:51 Sep 17, 2020

Awwn, thank you so much. Each and every word from you holds a place dear to my heart. I love this comment. Thanks again.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Charles Stucker
20:20 Sep 17, 2020

"After apologizing, I part away with the boy in a hurry" part with is complete, the word away does not fit here. "I head over to my fridge, jumping over the pile of clothes dumped everywhere around." Saying "jumping" seems very athletic for someone as depressed as this. How about "stepping"- which is what I used to do with the heaps of clothes my older brother left on the ground. "And at that moment I am here and not, existing in two perfect moments." needs comma after moment "that is exactly why Zayn, my husband doesn’t" comma af...

Reply

Batool Hussain
05:37 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you for this, Charles. Forever grateful:))

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Scout Tahoe
14:02 Sep 17, 2020

See, Toolie? I told you you were getting better! This is amazing, though. Very nice how you ended it the same way you started it. :)

Reply

Batool Hussain
14:51 Sep 17, 2020

Thanks Scout:)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rayhan Hidayat
11:24 Sep 20, 2020

Oh god that was depressing. If losing one child makes her hallucinate, what would losing another do to her? I love how there’s this sense of inevitability that you wove throughout, like the narrator is destined to be lonely. Makes it that much more devastating. Good stuff. Keep at it! 😙

Reply

Batool Hussain
14:03 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you

Reply

Rayhan Hidayat
14:17 Sep 20, 2020

No problem! I’d love your thoughts on my latest if you can spare the time! 😙

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Hriday Saboo
08:15 Sep 20, 2020

Hiya Batool would you mind chking out me new story the zombies Do share ur feedback

Reply

Show 0 replies
Mohita Namjoshi
15:10 Sep 19, 2020

Oh dear Lord! This was scary more than sad. Which means it fits perfectly into the thriller category. It was nightmarish. The dread I felt for the main character was so real! Brilliantly written!

Reply

Batool Hussain
19:09 Sep 19, 2020

Awwn, thanks.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Laiba M
18:21 Sep 21, 2020

Hi Batool! Long time no "see"! What a wonderful story!! I really wish I could write like you~ Maybe one day! Your writing is definitely one of my inspirations :) I am FINALLY writing your dedicated story. I'm so sorry I haven't before, I promised it two months ago but I have been unbelievably busy. I'm putting out a lot of stories this week, and yours is going to be the longest story I can write on here to make up for the amount of time you've waited!!! Please forgive me for not writing it earlier~ First of all, what are your pronouns? H...

Reply

Batool Hussain
09:07 Sep 22, 2020

Heyo. Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you're writing again. No problem for the delay. Really. Pronouns: she/her and a surprised ending will do!

Reply

Laiba M
14:31 Sep 22, 2020

No problem!! Again, I REALLY liked the story, especially when you compared with children's toys~ Thank you! I'll start working now :D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Aspiring Panda
11:59 Sep 21, 2020

this story was so beautifully constructed it makes me wanna cry. even though it's a short story, you never failed to deliver the emotions Leena was feeling. Huge applause for this one. P.S. Zayn and Louis, huh? xD

Reply

Batool Hussain
13:23 Sep 21, 2020

Oh, Zayn and Louis? I promise that wasn't intentional. I, myself, realized after u pointed it out. Lol Thank you for the sweet comment:)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
21:45 Sep 20, 2020

Hey, Batool! I was just wondering if you’d want to join a writing contest that I’m doing. Free (obviously, I mean how would you pay me???), for-fun and there are 22 fun prompts to choose from! Look at my bio for details! I hope you’ll submit!

Reply

Batool Hussain
05:42 Sep 23, 2020

Hey. This sounds fun. I'll take part but the real question is how and until when can I submit?

Reply

16:04 Sep 23, 2020

There’s a Google Form in my bio where you copy and paste your entry under the right prompt. The contest is going to last until Saturday. 🙂🙂🙂

Reply

Show 0 replies
15:17 Sep 26, 2020

Hi Batool! Today is the the last day but there’ll be another contest tomorrow with new prompts and a whole week to write. I hope you enter this week’s or next week’s!

Reply

Batool Hussain
17:47 Sep 26, 2020

I guess I won't be able to do it for this week. Sorry. But I promise I'll submit for next week for sure.

Reply

12:48 Sep 27, 2020

Okay, thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Jessie Nice
16:32 Sep 20, 2020

oh my goodness I am so glad after a break from reedsy this is the first story I read! so tragic and beautifully written. You have a gift Batool! My heart aches for the mother in the story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Genevieve Taylor
05:29 Sep 20, 2020

This was beautiful and full of emotion. I really felt with the characters--you seem to have a gift for that. I loved how the ending kind of looped back to the beginning. That always leaves me feeling satisfied with the story. The first paragraph was my favorite. It painted such a vivid picture that completely set the tone for the rest of the story. It kind of reminded me of the town in The Wrinkle in Time, if you've read that/know what I'm talking about. Anyways, great job, and thank you for this fantastic story! -Vieve P.S. I th...

Reply

Batool Hussain
07:35 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you. I'm so glad that u liked it especially because I struggled hard with this one. I'll surely check out your story in a while:)

Reply

Genevieve Taylor
17:23 Sep 20, 2020

Of course! It really was great. And thanks :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Hriday Saboo
07:43 Sep 19, 2020

Ohh brilliant story. Kinda heart touching. Loved it. Would like a sequel of this pls

Reply

Show 0 replies
Mia S
22:34 Sep 18, 2020

this was great! loved how you didn't try to make it a happy ending; it makes the story more realistic. would love if you could check out my story if you have time :)

Reply

Batool Hussain
05:15 Sep 19, 2020

Thanks. And sure thing!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
B. W.
13:44 Sep 18, 2020

hey, you did really great with this story and i enjoyed it a lot ^^ you should continue to make more stories whenever you can. so guess what? this gets a 10/10 :) i was also wondering if you could maybe help me with something?

Reply

Batool Hussain
14:06 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you. I'm so glad that you liked it. What can I help u with? :)

Reply

B. W.
14:08 Sep 18, 2020

someone has been down-voting me a LOT in a short amount of time, could me and you maybe go on a little upvote spree with each other?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
19:44 Sep 17, 2020

Awesome job!! This story was very emotional and beautifully written.

Reply

Show 0 replies
B. W.
16:10 Sep 28, 2020

I'm not sure if i checked this out or not but in short ya did a good job with it ^^ ya know what i'll give this? a 10/10 :) i was also wondering if you could maybe help me with something?

Reply

Batool Hussain
17:02 Sep 28, 2020

You checked this out twice already. Lol. Anyway, what can I help you with?

Reply

B. W.
17:03 Sep 28, 2020

Well i'm making another novel and i'm having trouble with some things, so could i tell you the plot so it would be easier?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Zilla Babbitt
14:11 Sep 27, 2020

I’d just like to remark that your points are now at 11, 111. You’re welcome.

Reply

Show 0 replies
17:44 Sep 24, 2020

Hey, Batool would you be kind to watch the first video it's on Harry potter. https://youtu.be/KxfnREWgN14 Sorry for asking your time,

Reply

Show 0 replies
Lizzie Brown
08:52 Sep 21, 2020

A good story about loneliness. I thought you captured the feeling of being lonely very well. It came through in the story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Marissa Tuazon
06:55 Sep 21, 2020

This is very painful.Sigh...

Reply

Show 0 replies