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General

“He is lying still on the bed,

sleeping like a baby.

I love seeing him sleeping beside me—

the way his lips curl up even in sleep,

always makes me smile;

it makes me feel complete.

But when I try to embrace him

in the warmth of my love,

he lies there lifeless.”

Alia wakes up from her sleep as she hears a loud bang outside, but does not bother to find out where it came from and sits down with her back straight against the headboard. Looking straight at the wall in front of her, she moves her quivering hand towards the other side of the bed, fearing that she might find it empty . . . again. She feels the emptiness of the sheet enter her heart, which has got many cracks like the wall she is staring at. Before the tears welled up in her eyes get a chance to roll down her cheeks, she sends them back to where they came from. Not forever . . . but she knows she must wait.

Getting down from her bed, she looks at the clock, uninterested in knowing what the time was. But she can see the sun setting from the window to her right. She knows she is running late and so she hurries herself to the bathroom and freshens herself up. She then starts moving towards her kitchen which has a very neat appearance, with all the spices placed in the first half of the lower shelf, the packed containers in the other, and all the beverage ingredients on the middle shelf.  On the topmost shelf are the things she no longer uses. She lights the stove and starts preparing her regular cup of tea—with half a cup of milk and water each, cardamom, and one spoon of tea leaves. She looks at the sugar container placed on the topmost shelf, which is out of her reach, and reminds herself that sugar must wait . . . and so must she.

Finishing her cup of tea, she runs back to her room, as if pulled by an urgent need. She runs straight to her wardrobe which looks less like a space used for storing basic necessities and more like a photo album full of memories. With a nostalgic smile, which was still in the process of formation on her face, she looks at the pictures from her left to right—pictures of her as a little girl, of her ancestral home back in Punjab, the stills capturing her laughter, moments from her graduation ceremony, a blank frame . . . followed by another, and then one more, and her curled lips turn back straight. From the last blank frame, her eyes roll upwards as she randomly picks a dress to wear for the rest of her day. For Alia, living through each day is not easy. Hers is not a 9-6, five days a week job, with a fixed salary. Hers is a job that moves in a circle where it is impossible to point out the beginning or the end; she is always working, mostly when she’s asleep. With no guaranteed outcomes, her job requires her to be patient and to wait . . .

In the past year, Alia has changed significantly as a person. From being someone who everyone wanted to hang out with and talk to, she has become someone who is now only talked about behind her back. Instead of looking at the beauty of things in their external form, she prefers trying to find the secrets which they hold inside, which is also why she is often found staring at things.

“What are you looking at?” her best friend once asked her.

“Umm, I am just trying to find . . . search for something.”

“But what are you searching for?”

“I don’t know . . . I will know that once I find it”, Alia said and very casually got back to staring at the ceiling, as if it was the new fun activity trending in town.

But this was months ago when Alia still had friends in her life. Now she is both alone and lonely. It’s been three months since she has talked to the person she was once closest to in her life—her mother. But today she feels different, slightly invigorated; she has an inkling that she might finally find what she has been waiting for. So, she decides to call her mom. “But where is my phone?” she wonders. “Should I find it or just let the thought of calling mom go, like always?” She is actually afraid of confronting that 'enfeebling device' which cripples a person’s heart and soul, after three months of distancing herself from it. “But no . . . I have to call her today”. She starts moving from one end of the room to another, thinking where the phone could be. She just had to think of the places in her home that she had distanced herself from in the past few months, which hold memories . . . both happy and sad but endearing. “Got it. It must be in the dressing table drawer”. She rushes to the dressing table in her bedroom and stands facing in the direction of the wall opposite to it.  Without even glancing at the mirror, she extends her right hand backwards and starts rummaging through the drawer. Just when she feels the touch of her phone again, she seizes the phone in her hand and grabs a seat at the corner of her bed. She keeps the phone beside her and starts cracking her knuckles. Next, she looks at the phone, holds it in her hands, reluctantly dials her mother’s mobile number, and finally hits the call button. She is amazed yet happy about the fact that despite not talking to her mother for three long months, she still remembers her contact number. “Hello! Alia, Is that you? Hello! Hello!” comes the sound from the other side, with each “Hello” sounding louder and more worried. Unable to deal with this sudden outburst of emotion, Alia drops the phone on the floor and sits motionless. “Hello baby, it’s me. Please talk to me”, her mom cried on the phone. Alia tries to regain her composure, “It’s alright Alia, everything is going to be fine today. Just be patient and talk to your mom”, and she picks up the phone from the floor—“Hi Mom, Alia this side and I am doing fine and in fact, I will be better by tonight”. “Hello baby, it’s so great to hear from you. I am so glad to know that you are finding life back”. “Mom, what do you mean? Anyways, tell me how are you?” “I am fine. Please don’t get annoyed but I think it’s time for you to get your life back on track. Come meet me someday or at least go out and have fun with your friends. How long will you stay confined in your home and keep sleeping on your bed all day long?” At this Alia hanged up the phone.

“Why doesn’t she understand! She thinks I am crazy . . . Well, everyone thinks I am crazy. They think I am just being lazy, procrastinating, and wasting my life over one loss. But how do I tell them . . . that it’s neither easy for me nor am I having fun at home. Yes! I try hard to stay asleep the whole day because I am waiting and it is when I am asleep that I feel closest to what I am waiting for. It is then that I feel there is a hope for the waiting to come to an end. My mom tells me that I should meet people, and start living life again. But how do I tell her that it’s not life that I am interested in anymore, but knowing and experiencing the mystery of death! I am waiting to embrace death . . . so that I don’t have to confront the empty side of my bed again; so that when tears roll down my cheeks again, he wipes them off with his gentle hands; so that he picks me up in his arms again to get the sugar container from that topmost kitchen shelf, and I get my happiness back; so that no frame in my wardrobe ever needs to be without a memory again . . .

I am waiting to embrace death so that when I try to embrace him in the warmth of my love, he doesn’t lie lifeless on the bed . . . and embraces me back!”

P.S.- Alia has finally embraced death but . . . did she meet him after death? Did her wait finally come to an end? Did he embrace her back? Nobody knows—neither her mom nor her friends, not even me.   

July 10, 2020 19:38

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73 comments

Aubrey Maria ✌
19:37 Jul 15, 2020

Interesting story. I liked how there was a twist ending.

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Shivani Manocha
19:59 Jul 15, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Syeda Fatima
05:40 Jul 15, 2020

such a beautifully carved masterpiece Shivani! realistic haunts and the wait for death, absolute love!

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Shivani Manocha
07:33 Jul 15, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Charles Stucker
19:30 Jul 11, 2020

Interesting story. Your sentences and grammar are excellent, but your paragraphs may need a bit of cleaning up. This is particularly true in the paragraph where she calls her mother- you should change paragraph each time the speaker changes. It aids in clarity. The only other little thing is you tend to shift back and forth between present and past tense. Given the reflective nature of the story, I can't be sure if it was deliberate. I know I often get sloppy with tenses and then have to go back and look at every verb in my story. Given ...

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Shivani Manocha
09:14 Jul 12, 2020

Hey! Thank you so much for such an elaborate feedback. I second your opinion about the structuring of the story. I will make sure to do better in this respect. About the use of the second person, I think that is maybe a subconscious attempt to distance myself from what Alia is going through. It's a really traumatic experience. I intended to use the past tense to provide a background story for Alia to an extent. I might have not been able to convey my intentions properly through my writing. And as a writer, I definitely plan to impro...

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Shivani Manocha
18:30 Jul 15, 2020

Hey Charles! Could you check my next story, and let me know what you think? Thanks!

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20:32 Aug 22, 2020

🤩🤩🤩

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Shivani Manocha
16:24 Aug 25, 2020

😊

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16:25 Aug 25, 2020

Emojiiiiiiiiis

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Shivani Manocha
16:26 Aug 25, 2020

Haha😁😁

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16:28 Aug 25, 2020

Hi, Shivani! Just so you know, ima go on and upvoting marathon of you ;) Expect more karma points in a little while! ~Aerin

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16:38 Aug 25, 2020

Update: ten minutes later, and you’re up 50+ karma points! 🤩

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Shivani Manocha
16:16 Aug 26, 2020

Hey! Thank you so much. This is so sweet. How exactly did u do it?

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Cheri Jalbert
14:41 Jul 15, 2020

Heart wrenching emotions and easy for the reader to feel her loss. Your writing was wonderful. I'll look forward to reading what's next from you.

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Shivani Manocha
15:45 Jul 15, 2020

Thank you so much! This means a lot. I hope you like what I publish next.

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Shivani Manocha
08:34 Jul 21, 2020

Hey Cheri! Could you please check out my second story and let me know how you find it? Thanks!

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Liza Silva
12:57 Jul 15, 2020

This was such a lovely story about the grief and hallowness that comes with loss. You portrayed those feelings of hopelessness and isolation beautifully. And i could really relate to these elements. I hope to read more of your work.

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Shivani Manocha
13:41 Jul 15, 2020

Thank you so much. Relating to this must have evoked pain, but I guess, the expression also helps us deal with it. Thank you for your lovely words:)

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Khizra Aslam
08:31 Jul 15, 2020

Hey there, I saw that you followed me so I decided to read your story. Girl, this story is literally beautiful and painful at the same time. The way of expression of Alia's feelings is absolutely amazing especially when she is missing him badly, waiting for the death to embrace her, i loved that part. P.s:I find a little difficult in distinguishing the dialogues between the characters, I.e Alia and her mother. But this error can be corrected as we all learn from our mistakes even I do that sometimes. So no worries and keep writing❤

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Shivani Manocha
08:36 Jul 15, 2020

Thank you so much:) It means a lot. I will make sure I do better at structuring the next time.

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Daryl Gravesande
15:55 Jul 14, 2020

WOAHHHHHHH, the aspects of grief in your story were SPOT ON! I loved this story and got sucked in reading it! Hope to see more like this coming!

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Shivani Manocha
16:08 Jul 14, 2020

Thank you very much! Means a lot. Waiting for you to read the next one . . . which might be absolutely different from this one in style and concept. But I would appreciate your opinions on that as well. Thanks!

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Daryl Gravesande
12:03 Jul 15, 2020

Okay, will do!

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Shivani Manocha
11:05 Jul 16, 2020

Hey do you mind checking my next story and giving your feedback? I would love to know any suggestions you have. Thanks!

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Daryl Gravesande
19:39 Jul 16, 2020

Sure thing! :)

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Tvisha Yerra
15:05 Jul 14, 2020

So sad, but beautifully written. Just two things you should probably keep in mind for the next story: Whenever a new character starts talking, indent/make a new paragraph. Example: “Hi Mom, Alia this side and I am doing fine and in fact, I will be better by tonight”. “Hello baby, it’s so great to hear from you. I am so glad to know that you are finding life back”. “Mom, what do you mean? Anyways, tell me how are you?” Also, maybe it'll help you add more dialogue tags (?). It's a bit hard to keep track of who's speaking. And #2...

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Shivani Manocha
15:11 Jul 14, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback:) I absolutely second what you have pointed out. I am looking forward for more feedback from your side on my upcoming stories.

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Shivani Manocha
18:29 Jul 15, 2020

Hey Tvisha. Could you please check my second story? I would love to see your feedback. Thanks!

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Tvisha Yerra
20:02 Jul 15, 2020

Sure! On my way right now!

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Alexi Delavigne
16:07 Jul 13, 2020

You did a great job building up the story, hinting at what had happened and then wrapping it up at the end, it was sad but lovely. Good job!

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Shivani Manocha
17:23 Jul 13, 2020

Thank you!

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Shivani Manocha
18:37 Jul 15, 2020

Hey, could you check out my next story? Would love to know what you think. Thanks!

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Courtney Stuart
15:28 Jul 13, 2020

this was a very well-written story! i thought you did a great job in portraying grief, and i liked how you included the different changes that Alia went through, like how her relationships with her friends and family changed. grief and depression can have a tremendous effect on people, and i think your story leads to a very important issue: that people should not ignore others who are dealing with these kinds of mental health issues. overall, you did a really great job! keep up the great work! :)

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Shivani Manocha
17:25 Jul 13, 2020

Thank you so much:)

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Shivani Manocha
11:06 Jul 16, 2020

Hey Courtney, could you please read my next story? It is very different from this one. I would love to know what you think about it. Thanks!

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P. Jean
10:43 Jul 13, 2020

I look forward to reading more of your stories. You did well with letting the reader feel the emotion...or lack of emotion. Keep writing.

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Shivani Manocha
11:54 Jul 13, 2020

Thank you so much! Love the way you framed your comment.

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Emma Lin
19:55 Jul 12, 2020

Hello Shivani! Thanks for the story. Firstly, I liked the gradual built up and you did an excellent job with that. The sentence and so forth "But how do I tell her that it’s not life that I am interested in anymore, but knowing and experiencing the mystery of death! ..." I had a hard time relating to it. I understood you were trying to make it fall on a positive note and probably want to us (the readers) to increase awareness in the mental realm. Correct? Please do not think I am deriding your abilities as a writer, because I hav...

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Shivani Manocha
05:50 Jul 13, 2020

Hello Emma! Thank you so much. I value every bit of your feedback. I was actually trying to convey the message that while someone deals with issues of mental health, depression, and anxiety, it is extremely important for us to be good listeners. We should first listen to what the other person is going through before advising them something that we think is the right thing. People dealing with anxiety are in a different space than us. I didn't mean to say that death can be a positive solution to anything (no matter how great the difficulty...

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Shivani Manocha
11:21 Jul 16, 2020

Hey Emma! Could you please check out my second story? Would appreciate any suggestions you have. Thanks!

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Emma Lin
19:19 Jul 13, 2020

Thank you for your explanation Shivani! Everybody is here to grow as a writer :) Anyways, I like the concept that you were getting at :) I am also looking forward to read your stories :D

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Batool Hussain
04:59 Jul 12, 2020

This is a wonderful story and the ending...Gosh, it is the best! Keep writing:)

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Shivani Manocha
09:04 Jul 12, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Batool Hussain
10:41 Jul 12, 2020

You're welcome. Could you please check out my new submission? Thanks

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15:54 Jul 11, 2020

So sad, you did a great job representing the aspects of grief. Very good story.

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Shivani Manocha
18:05 Jul 11, 2020

Thank you so much! Looking forward for your feedback on the next story I write.

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Jubilee Forbess
15:18 Jul 11, 2020

Very well written and mysterious, Shivani!

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Shivani Manocha
18:06 Jul 11, 2020

Thank you so much! Your opinions and views encourage me to write more and better.

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Shivani Manocha
18:39 Jul 15, 2020

Hey! I saw that you liked my second story. Could you give your feedback as to how i can make it better? Anything you feel lacking in the story? Thanks!

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A. S.
16:01 Jul 29, 2020

Good job! The ending really surprised me in the best way. Even through third-person I could feel the main character’s heartache and loneliness. There were a few times that I had to reread a sentence to have it make sense, but it was great. Good job! Will you read my story “Gone” and let me know what you think?

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Shivani Manocha
17:02 Jul 29, 2020

Hey A.S.! Thank you so much. I will definitely read your story as soon as I can.

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Grace M'mbone
07:59 Jul 28, 2020

I like how you have coloured your work with emotion and the fact that you kept my eyes stuck to your work intro to conclusion. I love the flow, the character development, I am just in love with your writing style. Great work Shivani. It would really delight me if a writer of your calibre took a look at just one of my stories. Great work you've done Shivani.

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Shivani Manocha
08:54 Jul 28, 2020

Hey Grace! This is really sweet and encouraging. I will definitely have a look at your work as soon as I can:)

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Parul Srivastava
19:38 Jul 27, 2020

How wonderfully penned! I could feel the pain and eventually the chill of the scenario. Keep writing!! Can I also request you to check out my stories if that's not too much trouble, and share your thoughts :)

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Shivani Manocha
08:52 Jul 28, 2020

Thank you so much, Parul! I will surely check your work as soon as I can.

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Parul Srivastava
11:55 Jul 28, 2020

💚🌼

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Munmun Singh
23:05 Jul 22, 2020

A beautiful read.

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