Forked Memory Lane - Response to Ann's Challenge; A Short Story
The challenge by Ann Carr led me to writing this story. It is a short story based on the introductory statement and the picture Ann provided in her instructional Hub. Well, I changed the house a little bit in my story.
It was with much trepidation that Raj reached out to the faded brass knocker of the expansive oak front door. He half wanted to turn around and walk away, but he had strict instructions. This was the correct house, and he had no choice but to go in.
He knocked once. No response. “Maybe no one’s home”, he surmised hopefully. With uncertain footsteps he walked around the house, expecting a head to pop any time out of the dust-tinted window panes.
Raj had barely got around to one side of the two-storied, early-twentieth-century-style house, when he saw a figure stooping on the flower bed, or at least what would have been a flower bed, if it had not been full of relentlessly growing weed.
As he approached the figure hesitantly, he realized it was a woman, deep in thought, unaware of a stranger’s approach. Raj was two feet from the withered flower bed, when the lady looked up, as if from a trance, eyeing him with a look of shock mixed with pity.
They stood in silence for what it seemed like a decade to Raj, while he tried to take in the features of the fatigued face in front of him. It seemed to him he was in a dream, a dream he had had over a million times, “Or was it a nightmare?”, he couldn’t be sure. The tired face was still gazing at him as if it had seen a ghost, and he could not make up his mind as to what it was about the eyes that kept pulling him in as if by a magnetic force.
The woman made a sudden movement towards him, and he braced himself, looking for weapons in his pockets that did not exist. His mind leaped towards the absence of a bunch of keys, or a watch, or anything sharp he could use in case he was attacked. It turned out that it did not matter. The worn-out lady took his hand, and led him gently into the house, all the while staring at him in disbelief, but carrying herself as gracefully as an angel.
Once inside the house, he took a quick look around the living space. The magnificent yet dusty couch, the pale-white mantelpiece cracked around the edges, the withered flowers in a richly-carved yet dull vase, all spoke of a comfortable life that had ceased to be.
No longer wanting to run away, Raj settled down obediently on a chair beside the couch, while the phone rang in the next room. The lady walked away, squeezing his hands reassuringly as she did.
“Hello”, Raj heard the woman’s mild voice. There was a pregnant pause, as whoever was on the other end of the line was clearly explaining something in detail. Raj sank further into the chair. His instructions had ended the moment he stepped into the house, and he was clueless on what he should do next.
Presently, the lady returned, and handed him a piece of paper torn out of an old notebook, with a note scribbled on it. He opened it, there were a couple of lines inside, evidently written long ago, and barely visible.
''If you decide to leave, yet another day
Hell might break, but heaven will wait
Your woman, I will remain,
True to the last drop of elixir, at the gate''
In an instant his world changed. He found himself sobbing uncontrollably in the arms of the only woman who had ever loved him, whose eyes shone like starlight each time he looked at her, and whose every breath was etched in his soul, fishing it out every single time, from the monstrous depths of the ocean of despair. “Treena, my lady!”, were the only words he could voice.
Thousands of miles away, an alternative healer, who had been continuously monitoring Raj’s brain waves through an artificial-intelligence patch that he had placed on his patient’s central nervous system, breathed a sigh of relief.
Later that week, Treena received a lengthy note from Dr. M, the healer. She handed it over to Raj, who was well on his path to calling the beautiful house his home again, the same house he had entered with fear a week ago. The letter ran as below.
Thank you for your patience over the phone the other day. This is simply the written confirmation of what we had spoken about.
As you are aware, Raj went missing about a year ago. Under mysterious circumstances, he partially lost his memory, and was found by my assistant, who brought him under my care.
Unlike traditional medicine, I treat my patients with the only obvious method that works, and that is ‘Time’, although in some cases, like Raj’s, the process requires an additional medicine – ‘Love’.
It took me a while to trace his last known official address (he had no ID on him when we found him). When I reached there, I found it was inhabited by his estranged wife, who believed him to be dead, and was indifferent on finding otherwise.
A lot of effort went into identifying where he unofficially lived, which was your home, but when I did, I decided to experiment on my healing process rather than approach you directly. My instruction was for Raj to find a way to get into the house, and I hoped the rest would fall in place.
I understand now that my method has been successful, and thanks to you for that. You, my dear, have proved my thesis, that love heals where all other medical procedures fail.
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© 2018 Rinita Sen