A Deal To Kill For

‘Third Floor. 5 o’clock. Cash Only’, the message read

‘P.S. I will be in gray’.

I stared at my phone nervously reading the message over and over again.

It was time.

With the cash stuffed clumsily in my bag, I put my phone into my pocket and darted outside, slamming the door behind me. I could feel the sweat coming on – Should I be doing this? I kept second questioning myself. I wasn’t ready.

It was 4:56 PM.

I did not know if I needed it, or whether it was worth it, yet, it had become a habit.

I glanced around at the bag full of cash and wondered what else could be of it. It was too late now; a deal is a deal. I had gotten myself into this mess.

I parked the car hastily and got out. Carrying the bag, I strutted into the building and made my way past the scent of leather soles and frying oils. I was determined.

I got into the elevator with a couple of other people behind me. I kept focusing on the floor to avoid any eye contact.

I was nervous. As I stepped out, I looked around, searching, and I saw her staring straight at me through a tall glass window. Sly, yet calm, a tall, dark figure, wearing what seemed to be a wig,  looked me dead in the eye as I stared back, choking.

There, animatedly, she stood wearing the low cut gray dress that I have wanted for weeks but had been way above my budget. I rushed into the store, past the mannequin, and with the accomplished feeling of finally owning the dress; I walked out with more than just one of what the store had to offer.

As I laid the seventeen bags in line in the back of my car, I glared at them with a sense of satisfaction. Taking a last look at the mall, I turned around and got into the car. What a deal it had been, indeed – until the next time. I smiled and drove off.

 

 

The Black Cloak Of Invisibility

 

I thought it had been me, but it could not have! A day passed, and then another but I could not find it anywhere. It stressed me out as I turned my entire room upside down. Someone had taken it, but who? How did they find it? It was not possible. I had everything sorted!

I could not afford someone else getting their hands on it. The mere thought brought a shiver down my spine. I had it hidden away neatly, away from any suspicion. It was given to me a long while ago and I had a responsibility towards it. It had proof, it would trace right back to me – the stain, the color, and the hair strands stuck to it.

I had chased the garbage truck in a futile hope that it would still be in my vicinity to no avail. I returned home and cautiously asked ‘Where is it?’ I was desperate. My future was flashing before my eyes – and I did not look forward to it.

The response was calm, in a rather unsurprised tone – ‘It is right where you left it.’

With sweaty palms and on the verge of a meltdown, I ran upstairs and flung open my wardrobe, throwing everything out. I was hoping to find it at the bottom of the pit, and after hours of throwing open drawers and flicking iron nails out of the way, there it was.

Sitting meekly at the back – dyed black with the stain still prominently on its front – it was safe. I carefully lifted it and placed it on the pile of the slightly differentiated shades of my black t-shirts – collected over the years. It was complete again, and in its rightful place, to match with everything I own – especially my spirit.

 

Light It Up

I sat there staring straight into the light that shone over my nose. I gestured my hands against the light to watch the unkempt waves take over my floor. If only I could capture it, not just in my vision – but in a Polaroid? I heard the doorbell which disrupted my flow of thought – ‘Are you ready?’

I jumped off the parapet, ran out the door and down the stairs. ‘Yes, let’s go’, I said half-panting and just as drowsy. My friend Jo and I had engaged in a spontaneous plan to visit this new ethereal cafe nearby – it was her idea. Apparently, she had made a contribution to the cafe that she wanted me to know about. The idea of it was undoubtedly spooky, but it was intriguing.

I grabbed my wallet and slipped into my converse shoes. She drove us there in her rented mini-van that smelled kind of funny. The cafe was smothered with what looked like tiny fireflies in the dark. ‘Beautiful’, I thought to myself.

As we sat down, she hurriedly told me that she had to confess something. I was bemused, definitely not prepared for it. I shuffled on my seat and tried to maintain a blank expression.

We ordered some shrimp popcorn to start with. As I was about to place an order for a cold coffee, she broke off –

“It had become a habit. I had to give it up. Everyone was worried about me. But, it was just so inviting”, she said with an air of guilt. I stared at her wondering whether she has happily contributed drugs to this cafe, because I wanted to make a run for it right then.

“They would make me feel so lost and so happy at the same time. Nothing had had the power of the sort before. I started stocking them so that I never run out of them. I would lie down among them every night as I went to sleep.”

I nodded to try to cover the fact that I was practicing a sprint back home in my head.

“I saw it everywhere, Li. In pictures, in videos, in cafes like these! I had to have them. I became obsessed”, she exclaimed throwing her hands into the air. I tripped during my mental sprint right then, ‘in cafes like these’?

I mustered up the courage to ask her “What are you talking about?” She looked me dead in the eye, looked around as if scanning the cafe, breathed and whispered “Fairy lights”.

While she looked scandalized, my face relaxed instantly and she saw it. I looked around with a horrifying grin, and realized that those very strings of fireflies were one of the many kinds of fairy lights Jo had stocked up to satisfy her addiction. She looked at me, I smiled – wider than usual.

I knew where to give away mine now.

The First Night’s Brew

It started off innocent. I had no idea what I was getting into. It became all that I wanted all through the day and the night.

It began on the date of our first night together. I had never met something so taxing and tough before. I tried preparing myself by the educated methods of breathing, drinking water, and everything I could, but nothing seemed to calm my nerves.

‘What a night it would be’, I thought to myself as I scanned through as many as fifty different emotions in my head. I thought it might be the dress I was wearing – giving too much away for the first night, so I changed into something more comfortable, I went with stripes.

I felt a little nauseous at the thought of how it was going to go, I could have vomited but when is that ever a good sign? I plugged my phone into the speakers and put on some music. Serenading myself, I swayed across the room, trying to get into the vibe.

I shuffled through the bed sheets, and shuffled a pen between my fingers to satisfy my fidgety arousals. I even considered calling it off or delaying it claiming I was unwell or anything of the sort – that seemed like an easy way out. Instead, I ended up calling my friend. You know how they say misery loves company; I thought I would get some decent advice apart from the usual ‘stay calm, just be yourself, and everything will be alright’.

I heard attentively while she suggested ways to go around it. She gave me tips – it could be the lighting, maybe the music, or that I should add a little energy to the room and everything. I considered it too.

I sat down and stared into the light, I went online and looked for ways to prepare myself for the night – and I saw it! I decided to go for it. I walked out and looked for the most aesthetic cups. I laid out a box and the sugar jar. I blended everything as the site suggested, and there it was – a steamy, lip smacking cup of coffee.

It looked so inviting; I carried it over to my table and sat staring into the table light. There lay my books for the next day’s exam along with all of my friend’s advice. With my hair in a bun, and my most comfortable striped pyjamas on – I flipped through the pages of my tenth grade science textbook with a spirit I would say I never had before.

It was addictive, I relied on it time and again, and there was my life in front of my eyes – a lifelong partner in all times – happy, sad, bored, not bored, no reason at all! Just the kind of thrill and commitment I needed in my life – an obsession with hot cups of coffee, any time of the day.