It didn’t matter how hard she scrubbed, it seemed like his traces were marked into her skin forever. It has been 8 years and she could still feel his fingers on her arms, those yellow teeth gleaming in his mouth and that disgusting sound of his laughter. She shut her eyes to shove the memory away, but only resulted in bringing back the memory of the stench that he carried around. She turned around and gagged into the commode.
“Come out already! I made tea!” shouted her boyfriend from the other side of the bathroom door. She dried herself and made her way to the window where he waited with a large mug of tea, just the way she liked it. She lit a cigarette and sipped the hot tea without even blowing it cool first. “I never can do that. How do you not burn your tongue?” he asked her and her reply was, “it’s not that hot. You are just weak”. She caught him staring at her new cut marks, which she had branded to herself that morning, and stared right back at him. Go ahead, counsel me on why and how I should stop this and I promise you, I will dispose of you so fast! But he said nothing and continued to look out the window and sip his tea. She smiled to herself remembering exactly why she has been with him for over a year now.
“Let’s go out for dinner tonight? I don’t feel like cleaning up”, he suggested and she agreed to the little shack right below their apartment. They ordered the same dish that they order every time they were here, and even got complimentary drinks. As they sat there chatting on senseless topics and making silly comments on everything around them, she had forgotten about all the pain and disgust she carries around her. She laughed and yelled and laughed some more until she heard a voice from behind, “M. Is that you?” She froze in terror and lifted her face up to see him, with his yellow teeth and repulsive scent; she wanted to throw up again. “I don’t believe this! You have grown so much! How are you M?” She got up from her chair and nodded at him and his wife standing beside him and mumbled “How do you do?” His wife took her hands in hers and squeezed them while saying, “I still remember you running around in your underwear in our garden and your mother chasing behind you. I haven’t seen your mother in so long! How is she?” “She is doing fine auntie. What brings you both here?” “We are just here for the weekend, visiting friends”, it was him who replied. He then wrapped his arms around her shoulders and said, “But it truly is good to see you M”. Her boyfriend noticed that she had visibly cringed at his touch. “Good to see you too” she stammered and pulled away from him. As soon as they left she grew impatient to get back home. “I am exhausted and I need a shower” she said. He followed her up and waited as she rushed to the bathroom.
The next day she got a call, “it’s from that lady we met yesterday”, announced her boyfriend. She dragged herself to the phone and listened impatiently, waiting for the lady to finish inviting her for lunch so that she could politely decline. But before she could do that, her husband grabbed the phone and said, “If you decline the offer, we will come get you from your house”. No! No! Why wouldn’t he just go away! “I’ll be there”, she said and hung up. She looked at her boyfriend and told him she had to go out for lunch, “want me to come along?” he asked, “yes please!” she whispered.
Lunch was a drag, and by the end of it he had made sure that the boyfriend was busy in some conversation with his wife. He leaned towards her and said, “What is going on in that head of yours? I have always wanted to get in there and find out all about what goes on deep in there”. She looked at him wondering how anybody could be as repugnant as him. “You stink!” she hissed and he chuckled at her, shaking his head. “You haven’t changed M. Even at 15, you would say that to me, exactly the way you are saying it now. So vicious! I have always loved that”. She wanted to throw up! No. She wanted to scream, tear him apart… crush him!
“You ready to go?” asked her boyfriend and she got up muttering goodbyes. That entire day she had spent thinking about how foolish she had been to believe that she had gotten rid of him the moment she left her hometown 4 years ago. He has been there to mock her and torture her even when she was thousands of miles away and even before he showed up last night. No more. This has to stop! I can’t live like this anymore. As expected, she got a call from him that evening, “there are few things I wanted to discuss with you. Let’s meet over coffee?” She thought over it for a minute and said, “Sure. But let’s meet at some place quiet” and gave him an address.
She waited as he walked over to the entrance of the cafe. “Shall we go in?” he asked. “No. I have asked for two coffees. We’ll chat in this place over there” she said, pointing to few rocks facing the valley. She went inside to collect her order and led the way to the rocks. She climbed down a couple of meters until she reached at the foot of the hill beside which was a beautiful cave. She sat on top of a rock next to the opening of the cave and said, “Let’s sit here”. “It’s beautiful here M. How did you find this place?” “I came here with my boyfriend. We were on a road trip and decided to stop here for coffee. Walked around a bit and found this place” she said. “He seems like a nice guy”, he said looking at her. She smiled at him and replied, “He is a nice guy”.
She took a sip from her cup and asked him, “You do realise that you abused me as a kid right?” He laughed and said, “You were hardly a kid M. And I wouldn’t call that abuse”. “I would” she said, still looking at him. “I never hurt you M. Not even in my dreams did I hurt you” he declared “I was so happy to see you after all these years. But you were always a bit dramatic about everything. Why can’t you just be happy to see an old friend”. She didn’t want to hear anymore. She just wanted to get this over with. She looked away and sipped her coffee. After a few minutes he sighed and said, “You and your thoughts. You could just vanish into them”, he came closer to her and whispered, “I have always wanted to get in there, you know? See it all for myself”. She looked back at him and said, “You will. Very soon”. He looked at her like she was a crazy person and took a large gulp from his cup. Then he felt that soft dizzy feeling claiming over his body. He had to balance himself against the rock so he wouldn’t fall off and with pure confusion, he turned to look at her and found her smiling at him before he saw black.
Slowly, he began his struggle to open his eyes. He adjusted quickly to the dim lights of the cave and saw her sprinkling some white powder on him. He wanted to cover his nose but his hands and legs were tied up. “What are you doing?” he screamed and she didn’t reply. “You are crazy! Crazy insane!” he yelled and she still didn’t reply. She quietly continued with her business and ignored as he yelled for help and later began apologising. She walked to the end of the cave and picked up a box from the ground. “You wanted to see what goes on deep inside my head. I grant you your wish. I have had years to really think about this and I am honoured to present it to you” she said and placed the box next to him. She pulled her boots on tighter and wrapped her face before slowly opening the box a crack and quickly ran to the exit. A swarm of army ants rushed out of the box and began their work dutifully by chewing into him. She heard his wailing and screaming as she made her way up the hill. Halfway up and she could barely hear him, and once she got to her car, she lost the marks that he had left on her skin. She drove around the city, did some grocery shopping, bought some beer and drove back home. “That lady had called when you were out. Said she couldn’t get in touch with her husband. She wanted to find out if you had any idea where he was” told her boyfriend while she put the groceries away. “What did you say?” she asked. “I said you had to visit few people for your work and will be home late. You should probably call her”.
“Hello. It’s M. I just got back, did you hear from him?”
“No. He hasn’t called and I think his phone has been turned off too. He said he had to meet an old colleague, but I didn’t bother to find out who that was. Did he call you?”
“Yes. Yesterday, after lunch. To find out if we had gotten home safely”.
“Oh M! I am getting really worried! It’s a strange town and I don’t even know whom to call for help. Our friends have already reported to the police and have been driving around the place hoping to find him walking around somewhere.”
“Don’t worry auntie. He will be alright. Call me if you hear anything”.
She hung up and smiled, “all well?” asked her boyfriend. “No. She is really worried” she replied. “I meant, all well with you?” he asked, “Oh yea!” she smiled.