And Then There Were None

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

72 comments

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.


September 17, 2020 13:16

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72 comments

05:38 Sep 21, 2020

I envy you. This is fantastically written! You use such warm words, yet manage to make them so cold and desolate. There's a very tense flow all throughout. The words melt like butter in your tongue, but what they describe leaves you like a cold chicken in an isle countertop. Lonely, actually. Very nice work.

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Tvisha Yerra
20:41 Sep 20, 2020

This story is beautiful. ;(

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Tariq Saeed
15:49 Sep 20, 2020

Batool,your start is good.

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Niveeidha Palani
12:11 Sep 20, 2020

Hello Batool, I loved this story, it was devastating, sad and poured emotions smoothly. I also loved how you started and ended with the same words, It made emphasis, to the story, and your title, reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Agatha Christe. Looking forward to more like this!

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Aqsa Malik
11:51 Sep 20, 2020

Hey Batool :D Can I just say that your writing has become so much better from your previous submissions. I can see you've taken more time to edit, and your flow is much more clear. As soon as I finished the first paragraph, it really reminded me of this poem I did in my literature class called "The City Planners" by Margarte Atwood. I really loved that poem, and this has got the exact same clinical vibe, you should check it out! I especially love these two lines: "There are no trees, perhaps the foliage does not cooperate..." "Dr...

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Batool Hussain
16:44 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you, Aqsa. This means so much coming from you.

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Simanga Kunene
01:52 Sep 20, 2020

Well done!

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Lora Tupiy
14:26 Sep 19, 2020

I love the way you wrote this. It's truly incredible and filled with such a perfect emotion.

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The Cold Ice
02:59 Sep 18, 2020

There is emotion in this story.Good story.Great job keep it up.Keep writing.I like the story.

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Miley Clubb
18:31 Oct 02, 2020

wow, this was amazing

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B. W.
03:16 Sep 27, 2020

I decided to check out more of your stories but i'm not sure if i've already checked this one out, so i'm sorry if i have. This was a good story and you did a great job with it and you did a really good job as well with making it sad. I don't really think i had a favorite part for it because i really liked everything about it especially how you were able to make it really sad. So do you know what i'm gonna go ahead and give this? a 10/10 :) i'll be waiting to see more of your stories, i know that they'll be just as great as this one and all ...

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Laiba M
11:03 Sep 26, 2020

Hi Batool!! I finished your story just before the deadline of the competition!! Please check it out, it's titled Batool :)

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Batool Hussain
17:48 Sep 26, 2020

Eee really? I'll check it out.

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Pamela Abwao
18:40 Sep 25, 2020

Too sad,but these things do happen

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Keerththan 😀
14:30 Sep 24, 2020

Oh no! Not a happy ending. 😱😭This was really emotional. I loved this. I love your details and your descriptions are wonderful. Keep writing. Would you mind reading my new story? Thanks.

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Aafia Hanya
09:55 Sep 24, 2020

just this; tragically beautiful...

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04:10 Sep 24, 2020

Excellent story. Heartbreaking emotion. The story conveys perfectly the feeling of loss and despair and how a soul can become lost by knowing too much grief. Thank you for sharing. You're an excellent writer.

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Onur Yürür
08:27 Sep 23, 2020

"The blind man that dies gets the hazel eyes," as the saying goes. Great expression of hard feelings. LOVED it. The ending is too hard to be real, though. God really doesn't hate us that much.

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Mandy Kehoe
03:05 Sep 23, 2020

WOW. The ending was so powerful. Amazing writing.

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00:23 Sep 23, 2020

I lost my son back in 2015 moments after he was born. I had told the doctors all day that I was in early labor. I know this feeling well and it brings it back for me. Well written, well done.

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Batool Hussain
05:36 Sep 23, 2020

Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss. May God give u patience and a better reward. Thanks for liking my story. I'm glad u could connect well:)

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19:00 Sep 23, 2020

Best God can do is give me another baby to love to help my heart. So far we have yet to conceive again.

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Meggy House
17:51 Sep 22, 2020

Wow! This story is so deep, so emotional, so eloquent...it's just gorgeously written and amazing. I love how you characterized Leena; I felt as if I was personally following her. If you wouldn't mind, could you read one of my stories? I would really appreciate feedback from such a beautiful writer :)

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David Gottfried
12:34 Sep 22, 2020

Nice story. There's a lot of emotion here. In the last paragraph, you write, "And that’s when I remember why exactly am I here." I wonder whether the narrator could possibly have forgotten why she was at the hospital, considering the gravity of the situation. The line feels somewhat out of place to me.

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Batool Hussain
16:18 Sep 22, 2020

She's lonely and lonely people usually do some weird things. No?

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