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Forked Memory Lane - Response to Ann's Challenge; A Short Story


Rinita is a creative writer, with focus on prose and poetry.


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.


The 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.

Dear Treena

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.

Yours truly

Dr. M”

© 2018 Rinita Sen


Rinita Sen (author) on November 12, 2018:

Thank you, Dawn. Appreciate you reading.

Dawn on November 12, 2018:

A different approach, a strange tale. The ending was indeed unexpected. Interesting. .

Rinita Sen (author) on November 04, 2018:

Glad to see you, Li-Jen. Thank you for reading, and am happy you enjoyed the story. It was a fun challenge, wish you could participate, too. Thanks again my friend.

Li-Jen Hew on November 04, 2018:

Hey Rinita. I enjoyed your story and you have done well in the challenge. I found the story touching and sweet, with the wife who waited for him in the end. Love overrides medicine.

Rinita Sen (author) on October 25, 2018:

Thank you, Bill. Glad you visited.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 25, 2018:

A fun read, Rinita, and a worthy response to Ann's challenge. Well done!

Rinita Sen (author) on October 16, 2018:

No problem, Doris. Will read yours soon.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 15, 2018:

Rinita, sorry, I just now saw your question. I was working on my response and just hit the publish button about 10 minutes ago. It is published now.

Rinita Sen (author) on October 15, 2018:

Doris, I don't see a link to your story. Is it not published yet?

Rinita Sen (author) on October 15, 2018:

Thank you, Doris, for the generous comment. A novel - there's an idea! I'd love to check out yours, but I don't see the link on Ann's page. Is it not published yet? Thanks again for reading.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 14, 2018:

Lovely ending, Rinita. Very different approach. I think this would make a great novel. I just finished my challenge before I read this, and I like the non-horrific approach.

Rinita Sen (author) on October 12, 2018:

Thank you, Rajan. Appreciate you reading this.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 12, 2018:

An extremely compelling story though it took off at a tangent from the original direction. Very creative, Rinita!

Rinita Sen (author) on October 10, 2018:

Thank you, Manatita for the encouragement. I will continue to do prose once in a while but poetry is still my first love, and comes more naturally. Thanks again for reading.

manatita44 from london on October 10, 2018:

A very different kind of story Rinita and a fascinating approach. Well, all's well that ends well.

You show potential. Continue ... continue. Salaam!

Rinita Sen (author) on October 08, 2018:

Thank you, Verlie. You see right through my writing. Initially, I was hesitant on taking up this challenge because the introduction by Ann seemed like it should go in the scary/panicky direction, and I wasn't in the mood for it. So I took a different approach, and am glad it was well received.

I couldn't even get through to the end without incorporating poetry in between. *Laughs*

Thanks again, my friend. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 08, 2018:

Rinita your story is brilliant. I am touched by your compassion. What an amazing creative scenario you have penned. There's so much poetry in the telling too. It's a pleasure to see you writing fiction.

Rinita Sen (author) on October 08, 2018:

Thank you, Rodric. I am glad the sci fi bit grabbed your attention. Although it was not the focus, I am glad it stood out for the right reasons. Thank you again for reading and commenting. These challenges are always fun.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on October 08, 2018:

Bravo. I was happy to find the little bit of sci-fi in there. This surprised me in all the right ways. Oh, how sordid! Raj and the mistress. How awful with the wife. How lovely that love heals all wounds.

Rinita Sen (author) on October 07, 2018:

Thank you, Dana. Happy you visited. Always wonderful to see you.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on October 07, 2018:

I agree with John and Ann. Original and very creative.

Rinita Sen (author) on October 07, 2018:

Thank you, John. Yes, I wanted to blend in the element of surprise. Glad you liked it. I love Ann's challenges, too. They always inspire to do better. Thank you again for reading, my friend, and hope you are completely cured of the flu.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 07, 2018:

Wow, Rinita. This was a great response and so original. I had no idea where the story was going and the ending a pleasant surprise. I love Ann's challenges.

Rinita Sen (author) on October 07, 2018:

Thank you, Ann. Appreciate your providing such an interesting challenge, and adding my response.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 07, 2018:

Lovely response to my challenge; thank you for taking it up. It's so original and I'm always amazed at how these things go off at so many different tangents! Well done.

I'll add the link to my hub.


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