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Mystery

Surveying the black gowns in my wardrobe, I wondered if I should go with the black gown with a plunging neckline or the one with the bare back.


I decided to go with the black gown with the bare back. Exposing my back seemed more conservative than exposing my cleavage. A plunging neckline would attract unwanted attention. Not that the bare back will attract any less; yet between the two, the bare back seemed the less obvious. Still, it would be enough to grab the eyeballs of few rich men expected to attend the function.


I slipped into the black gown that layered on me like second skin accentuating the flawless curves of my body. I was satisfied with the look. I left my neck bare and chose a pair of single-studded dainty diamond earrings that occasionally caught the light and gleamed peeping out from the short bouncy curls that covered my ears. That was the only piece of jewelry I wore.


I wore light makeup, just foundation with sunscreen that would protect my skin from sunburns and finished-off with a natural shade of lip-gloss. I wasn’t fair but a light dusky shade with dark hair and sharp features. I was often complimented for my good looks.


I studied myself in the mirror one last time. Satisfied with my appearance, I shrouded my eyes with cat-eye Ray-Ban shades in the same color as my gown and picked up my designer clutch as I walked out of the house. I put-on a grieving look as best as I could.


The way my life was taking abrupt turns, I thought it would be best to buy few more black gowns.


The Sun's harsh rays burnt my skin the few seconds it was exposed to its wrath, as I walked the few feet before stepping into the comfort of my air-conditioned car. Early September in California was always hot. As my driver drove, I watched the landscape pass by while cautiously camouflaging my smile as I thought about my future. I could not let anyone have doubts about my thoughts, which my demeanor might give away if I were not careful enough. It would be too big a folly with snowballing repercussions.


The drive thankfully did not take long. I studied myself in the pocket mirror I carried, before stepping out amidst a flood of people. The venue was overflowing with guests. I saw the icy eyes of few while few others had the kind and understanding look. I had carefully planned the meal services to suit everyone’s taste.


I walked amidst the flood of guests greeting everyone with my Ray-Ban still sitting smug over the bridge of my nose. It was better that people did not study my eyes.


And suddenly, out of nowhere, my eyes caught his eyes. I froze.


How could he be here?


I felt faint. My stomach churned.


How did he find me?


I was chilled to the bone in the sweltering heat. Perspiration consumed my body, slowly forming wet patches around the neckline. I tried to avoid him. Yet, he followed me with his icy gaze. My ex who was out of my life since long was following me everywhere.


I retraced my steps to seven years ago.


What had gone wrong with my plans to shake him out of my life? It was simply not comprehensible that he could be here today. Had fate played a different game that contradicted with my plan?


Doubts! My head was swooning with doubts. I had to recompose myself.


I walked towards the rest rooms. He cannot follow me to a lady’s rest room. I splashed cool water on my face. My heart raced, so did my mind.


I have to plan again. There is nothing that I cannot achieve. Challenges are always acceptable. Now, with my new partner, it is no big deal. After completing today’s affairs, it will be the first thing I will work on. Everything else must be on hold.


Determined, I walked out of the rest room again to encounter his steely gaze on me. I chose to ignore him and went about my work with a plastic smile tinged with sorrow.


*************


I was not the industrious type. I looked for easy money. Blessed with drop-dead beautiful looks that easily brought men down on their knees, people suggested that I could easily win a beauty pageant, or the film industry would be glad to offer me lead roles. But I was least interested in earning money or carving a career. That was not my motivation. I was initiative-taking to live an easy life, enjoying luxuries that most could not afford, that were gifts showered by the men I dated.


I used my attributes to my advantage, changing boyfriends all my life. I targeted the rich and classy, gullible men who went wobbly-legged the moment their eyes caught the sight of a beautiful lady. I enjoyed their company and gladly accepted their gifts, but managed to slip away when the relationship took a more serious turn towards commitment. I succeeded in gently breaking relationships with my sweet talks and charming ways, never bringing any relationship to an abrupt end. Slow and steady wins the race and I followed this quote to the T.


I had decided that when it was time to settle down, I would narrow down my choice to a man who would let me have my freedom with his wealth as well as my life. I would never lift a finger ever in my life, and everything I wished for in life would be offered to me on a silver platter. That was my dream, my goal.


*************


Hrehan was a remarkably successful Indian media professional. He was in his late twenties when we met. He already held the Vice-President position in the top media company of the world. He was soft spoken, mild mannered, extremely hardworking, and intelligent. He was rich, classy, and blessed with handsome looks as well. Immediately drawn to him in strange ways as I never was, yet hesitant to fall in love, I astutely took baby steps into the relationship.


Having never worked in my life, and with zero qualifications to even try landing a job, I requested Hrehan if I could work as his receptionist. I put-on the facade of a lady in distress, narrating cooked-up tales of my past making sure it sounded nothing less than the best tear-jerks.


The kindhearted Hrehan offered me the job and thus began my journey of evil deception. He warmed-up to me by talking about his past. Hailing from a very modest traditional Indian family, he had worked his way through scholarships and intense, arduous work. He was the sole support of his family and that held paramount importance in his life. He had also mentioned that he would never go against his parents’ wishes and would marry a bride of their choice. An iota of doubt had crossed my mind then. I felt, I might not succeed in my plans. He was not like the other gullible men I had dated in the past. He was sharp and would not be an easy prey, yet I took it upon myself as a challenge.


I went to the extent of maintaining a special diary in which I noted down points I had to keep in mind, if I ever wanted to be the girl that Hrehan’s parents would approve of as a suitable daughter-in-law. Yes! I decided that it was about time I made the choice about the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.


I targeted Hrehan’s weaknesses. He was kind and would come-forth, extending a helping hand to the needy. I produced more sob-stories of my past and his heart melted. Though not an Indian, and raised in the western culture, being a Srilankan was helpful. I became as traditional as I could.


I even tried cooking which was something I had never done in my life. I carefully followed Youtube recipe-videos experimenting with new dishes and never failed to offer him dishes that turned out well. Craving for the original taste of his native food, Hrehan soon looked forward to my home-cooked food. My happiness knew no bounds when he said, “You are very traditional for a lady brought up in the western culture.”


Our camaraderie transformed from a work relationship to friendship and over a period, we became close. I shunned his physical approaches, a tool I had used to my advantage with men earlier, for I learned that cultured Indian women never allowed their men any levy as far as physical relationship was concerned before being formally married to the man. Doing so would prove to be disadvantageous for me.


It took over two years for me to gain Hrehan’s trust, but it was worth all the challenging work. Late hours in the office until he left, the cooking, the pretense, the act, and eventually it had become a habit, another persona I wore like an aura around me. I learned his native language too and could speak it, though I sounded funny and broken most times. Nevertheless, Hrehan was impressed and was head over heals in love with me.


I was also talking to his family members over the phone. They were impressed too and agreed that their happiness lay in Hrehan’s happiness, which by that time was defined by me. I had finally achieved what I had set upon to achieve.


Our wedding took place in his native village and it was a grand affair. I was decked from head to toe in grand jewelry and draped in an expensive saree (a traditional Indian attire for women). Hrehan was over the moon and contrary to me blushing, he was the one who was red-faced all through the wedding ceremony.


We went to Paris for our honeymoon and my troubles began there. Hrehan was adamant that a baby should happen soon, that we should go the natural way and so contraceptives were out of league. I was in a fix. I could not endlessly take birth control pills. It would be detrimental to my health with serious side effects. Not that I was fond of having kids or being a mother, but I was undecided about it right then. I had to find a solution and that too fast.


I decided to take birth control pills on the sly for a year. 'A year cannot do irreversible harm' - I had reckoned. Meanwhile, I put my plan into motion.


After much effort, I managed to trap Paul. He was few rungs higher than Hrehan on the ladder of success. I was seeing him on the sly. Paul was not like Hrehan. It was easier to wrap him around my finger. He danced to every tune I played. He was blinded by my charm. Once again, I used the sob-story-tactic that was successful with Hrehan. It was Hrehan who was the villain. I weaved layers of lies about Hrehan’s controlling and abusive nature into a web with which I trapped Paul.


I got out of the relationship amassing most of Hrehan’s wealth, plunging right away into married life with Paul and plans to amass his wealth as well.


*************


However, I soon realized that Paul came with his own baggage. Though he never demanded anything from me, he never let me demand much from him either. My freedom was curtailed as far as finances were concerned. Though he was extraordinarily rich, he was frugal. He kept a tab on all my expenses and questioned me whenever he felt I had unnecessarily spent money. Over a period, he curtailed my expenses to a fixed amount every month. I felt stifled.


I was not only unhappy, but for the first time in my life, I felt trapped. There was no way I was going to get out of this relationship amassing Paul's wealth. Paul would not part with an extra penny in case I went for divorce. I had to think of something else. There was only one way out.


I acted as the good wife. I became more frugal than Paul. I brought to his notice all the unnecessary expenses. I had not only curtailed my spending, but also pin-pointed whenever he went overboard with expenses. I soon earned his trust. I told another lie that I was pregnant. Paul was overcome with joy. He decided to gift me half his empire. That night, I went out on the lawn as it rained and laughed as raucously as I could.


I had to find someone to put my next plan into action. Having learned from previous experiences, I decided that I would be better-off narrowing down my options further. All I wanted was a life of luxury and freedom to spend the money I did not earn. Nothing else mattered to me.


And soon I met Charles.



*************



Charles was not the typical guy anyone would want to marry. He owned shady businesses and made lots of money. He lived the high-risk life. But it did not matter to me. He had mistresses and only needed a so-called wife. He gave me all the freedom to spend his money and enjoy whatever luxuries it could buy. He had children from his earlier marriages and did not want me to bear him a child. Everything seemed perfect. He had even agreed to put my plan into action as far as Paul was concerned. And so, it was a life of convenience. Finally, I had found everything I wanted in life as per my terms.



*************



I saw the coffin being lowered and sniffled a false tear as I let the fistful of earth shower on to the lowered coffin. Charles stood by my side. It was a boating accident. My ex stood by the grave still staring at me. He even had the audacity to stand right next to the Pastor.


I nudged Charles asking him to notice the man standing next to the Pastor. Charles looked puzzled. I decided to keep quiet until all the formalities were finished.


We walked towards the car.


"Did you notice the man standing next to the pastor Charles? I want you to get rid of him."


"Another staged accident?" He asked me quizzically.


"Maybe. You can suit yourself with your plans. I just want him out of my life."


I followed Charles towards my car careful not to be too conspicuous about my closeness to him. I wondered where I had gone wrong with my plans.


How could Hrehan have found me and followed me here?


*************


We were vacationing in India when I had put my plan into action. We were visiting Kanyakumari, a coastal town in the southern tip of India. We were on the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, a popular tourist destination in the midst of the Indian Ocean. It was a crowded place and I had to be incredibly careful with my actions to avoid being noticed. I had lured Hrehan to an unsafe and dangerous part of the rock-island and after studying the crowd carefully had pushed him off the edge into the deep waters of the ocean. He did not know to swim, and his body was never found even after extensive search.


He must have washed ashore somewhere and must have been saved. He must have hidden all this while from me and now he seeks revenge.


*************


Nevertheless, with Charles by my side, I felt confident. Charles had successfully got rid of Paul and his planned murder was ruled as a boating accident. Paul was laid to rest deep in a California grave just moments ago.


The California grave awaits you Hrehan. I just buried my second husband - Paul. I'll make sure you lie close-by.


I wait next to my car to pinpoint Hrehan to Charles.


“He’s standing next to the tree just across the street”


“Where?” Charles asks me once again quizzically.


“Can’t you see him? The guy in grey blazer with a thick mustache and his hands in the pockets of his trousers?”


Charles turns to look at me perplexed with pursed lips nodding his head from side to side saying that he does not see him.


I look back and I almost faint. Hrehan is now standing arm in arm with another man. Reality hits me hard. My plans had failed. No matter how hard I try, I am outnumbered against Hrehan and Paul - two ghosts from my past now out for revenge, out for my blood!











July 30, 2020 19:07

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4 comments

Elle Clark
07:40 Aug 03, 2020

This has the ‘black widow’ trope down pat! She’s so blatant in her wishes and her motivations, it’s deliciously evil. I’m so happy she had an unhappy ending - she very much deserved it! I really enjoyed reading this; thanks for sharing.

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09:35 Aug 03, 2020

Thank you so much. I'm glad you liked it. :)

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Deborah Angevin
01:05 Aug 01, 2020

Ooh, the ending, I loved it (I loved the opening too, though!) Would you mind checking my recent story, "A Very, Very Dark Green?" Thank you :)

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01:46 Aug 01, 2020

Thank you so much Deborah. Sure! I shall read a story by you :)

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