Outside it had started raining heavily. A couple entered and seated themselves just in front of her. They spoke in a language she was not familiar with, maybe the local tongue. They seemed to be very much in love, the way their heads tilted towards one another, the way the lilting notes of laughter rose so high so suddenly, the way they seem absorbed in one another and shut out the rest of the world.

And in a flash, she remembered all!


Her head feels alright now. Lighter. Clearer. No more hurting. She remembers now. Everything. She remembers mundane things like her name or her mobile number or her apartment number or where she lives, easily. She remembers how and why she fell in love with coffee shops. What had begun as a normal visit to just any coffee shop had changed her whole life and course of her destiny. It was a wintry day that day, not rainy like this. It was a Starbucks cafe too. And she had met seven years ago, almost to a day, to her best friend, her soul mate, her lover, her whole life.

Over the years after incredible highs and abysmal lows in their off and on a long-distance relationship, she had come to this city, travelling thousands of miles, for one last reconciliation. It was going to be a make or break kind of meeting. She had known that even before her plane touched down at the airport here.

After checking in at a hotel she had waited for that momentous date which marked their seventh anniversary. She remembers all so clearly now. And the headache has also vanished like it never was.

She remembers the knife too and the blood on it, the how and the why if it. She remembers all the details. She shuddered. It played in her mind like the streaming of a movie. Only it was real. It was a slice of her own life.

The seamless memeory did not hurt her head but it still hurt to remember. She and her partner at their romantic private dinner in her room marking the commencement of a promising weekend together, the precipitous quarrel all of a sudden over some trivial matter that ruined everything as it had lately been happening – big fights over little matters that never mended in time.

She closed her eyes. She can remember those eyes looking at her in their last moment in surprise. That is what had frightened her the most, no pain or anger or hatred, just surprise and maybe a hint of reproach.


Suddenly someone’s mobile started ringing. She automatically reached out to pick up her mobile but it was not there. She knew where it was. She had left it in the room when she had started running away from it yesterday. She suddenly remembered what had panicked her into flight because until then she had just sat there in a near-catatonic state after the deed was done. What had startled her was a sudden call from some spam number and her ears stinging with the ringtone she had set in the rememberance of their love.

I wanna grow old with you

I wanna die lying in your arms

I wanna grow old with you

I wanna be looking in your eyes

I wanna be there for you

She gets up from the table leaving the blood-stained knife under her blue silk scarf beside the bill and the coffee cup which was still half full of black coffee, without sugar. It used to be her special one’s favourite drink, and she would always order the same even though she abhorred the taste. No more. She is free now.

Outside the coffee shop a commotion was heard as a group of policemen tried to enter the cafe hurriedly and bumped against the couple she was observing some time ago. They were leaving.

It’s time for her too to go away now.

The End

OK, done. He would have to ask the editor to think of inserting some cool images to go with this suspense thriller. He would be blown away, he was sure. This was as perfect as could be. He was particularly proud of the climax and the powerful way he had written it. He did mark some portions on the off-chance he needed to rework, but he didn’t think so. He was confident. It felt perfect as he wrote it and immediately after writing “The End” he had speed-read it. Inspirational stuff, even if he himself said so.

A beginning of a famous association between him and the magazine, he could foresee. Maybe he could even start asking his own price. But everything later though. He had already been writing for more than four hours at a stretch without taking even a single break. He moved towards the kitchen. The passages he had marked for deletion and underlined for rewriting would have to wait.

He returned to the living room once more. Not being able to remember (he should have done it automatically, it was his routine, his bread and butter, it had become his muscle memory, his second nature, but he wanted to be sure), he clicked on Save a couple of times before closing the Word document. For now, he simply named it "Story". A fitting name would have to wait too.

His mind was too exhausted, yet he could not stop feeling exhilarated and in awe of his own achievement. He knew he needed rest, at least a few hours off to recharge his weary self anyway. He shut down the laptop and stood up straight, stretching himself. A stifled groan escaped. The itch in his throat couldn't be ignored any longer either. Writing for so long without a break was the longest he had done in his recent memory. He palmed the cigarette packet and lighter while sipping from a mug of fresh steaming coffee, and stepped towards the balcony.

The End


Whew. The last few days had been like a whirlwind. I would have to thank Ani for introducing this world of writing with friends. It had been so long since I sat down to write a story on my own. Not because my creative juices had stopped flowing but because the discipline and commitment needed to write a story – from conception of the idea to final edit and finishing touches were too much for my attention span these days. Would the readers go for such a story? Why so serious? Don’t overthink, I told myself. It is not as elaborate as Cloud Atlas nor as convoluted as If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. My experiment has hopefully been straightforward enough without taxing the reader too much, cerebrally or imaginatively. Like a work of pulp fiction. I also hoped that the protagonist’s character was not half-cooked and showed him in the light I intended to. As a writer myself writing about another writer seemed a good idea when I started writing, and now feels like an unnecessary challenge. What if I had over-complicated things and the story fell flat? Don’t overthink, I chided myself again. Trust the readers and let go. Because all you can do is just write, and then, as the bard said – the rest is silence!