I woke up early morning determined to write a short story that has been nagging me since 2-3 days. So I thought of penning it down. It is just a One-Shot – A one part short story!
I haven’t proofread it. I haven’t even read it again. I wrote it in one hour straight! Please excuse the mistakes. I will review it after I get some time and make corrections 🙂
The Ticking Sound
Vidhi & Vishal
It is often said that all that happens with us – is for our own good!
But what good is achieved when you get up late on a working day with a cranky mood and a severe headache, Vidhi was unable to understand.
It was one of those Wednesdays where she had a presentation to make in office, and she had woken up late, just in time to have a quick shower and run about to office. She was left with no time to breathe, or sit by the balcony of her plush Mussourie apartment, or have a calm morning coffee making some heartwarming notes about life and plan for the day.
No! Nothing like that!! Not the way she loved and wanted her mornings to be…
Instead, she woke up with a severe headache, collected the deal documents, laptop, pen drives in a hurry, set the phone for charging with it’s battery glaring at 10% red mark… no breakfast, no coffee… In fact, she didn’t have the luxury to decide what she was going to wear. She had just enough time to pull out a black pencil skirt, grey satin shirt and black blazer, giving her a perfect working look.
These kind of hurried mornings were never in her plans but of late, these were becoming more frequent that she had expected. It wasn’t her fault, though. She had prepared for this presentation much ahead of time and finished proofreading it last night, but when she was about to sleep, she had a call from Nitesh, her colleague at office and boyfriend since almost an year. They had been dating since last Diwali and were pretty fond of each other, once upon a time.
Vidhi used to like how he was soft and took care of the basic needs of her and called often during the day to check whether she was fine or not.
She liked this care and concern which she never got from her family. Since the day her father remarried to the woman she called her aunt, the equations of the entire family changed. After her mom’s demise, she had felt that her father needed a companion to spend the long life ahead of him. She was studying and busy with her exams, she was guilty of not being able to give her father the warmth necessary in a family. They were just the two of them, spending quiet evenings together, making time for dinner at least.
When her father had expressed a desire to marry her mom’s best friend, Rekha, Vidhi had gladly agreed. But she had not expected a complete shuffle in relationships once the aunt married her father and came to live with them with her two daughters and one son.
Vidhi shrugged those thoughts away. There was no point thinking about all that. It was a thing of past. About 2 years back, she left her father’s home to find some peace away from her stepmom and two step-sisters. Not to forget the so-called step-brother who had such dirty look in his eyes that he appeared to strip her through his eyes, right across her clothes.
Vidhi shuddered. Even the thought of him, made her feel extremely uneasy. But since her father had no idea about those evil intentions and he seemed to be happy in his new family, she slowly began to feel alien in her own house. After completion of her graduation, she sought a job and moved out of the house.
She shrugged those thoughts away and concentrated on getting ready. She quickly showered and wrapped a towel around her torso as she came out of the washroom to her bedroom to wear her dress and shoes. Her head had been reeling due to no coffee and no breakfast. To top it, there was a sudden scary noise on the other side of her bedroom. Someone was banging something on the wall.
The next door neighbour had shifted just yesterday and since then there had been constant noise of shuffling smaller furniture, moving the heavy structures, like almirah possibly or sofa and now someone was possibly hammering a nail on the wall. The common wall snugging her bedroom wall almost shook due to the impact. For a moment, she was so irked early in the morning that she felt like shouting but she let the impulse go.
It wasn’t a stranger’s fault that her life was so messed up.
She wore her shoes and shrugged the thoughts about her family away. But her office thoughts surrounded her. Presentation, jealous eyes, prying eyes. And then, Nitesh was no less. He was once so soft and caring during the initial dating days and had now become a pain in the neck. He was not only irritable and possessive that he didn’t let her share a good laugh with colleagues in the office, but he also called her to nag her about her presentations and work and often fought with her over silly things. He wanted to know everything about her – all the time – What she ate, what she drank, where she went with her friends, whom did she call, why was her phone busy and what she was preparing for the meeting.
Even last night, he had called her to fight as she had forgotten to call him back after his missed call. She had been busy in work.
And then he talked and talked, actually fought and fought for three hours, robbing her off her sleep and peace. She was annoyed at him, She didn’t deserve this nuisance in the name of a boyfriend. Idiot!! She wouldnt have left millions in her dad’s property if she could deal with nonsense.
For her, peace of mind was most important.
Vidhi began to feel suffocated. The little ray of hope that gave her peace away from her shitty family was becoming the most annoying tag in her life since past 4 months and she hated being bullied, followed and nagged for small things as she was a busy professional at a higher post than Nitesh. She felt that Nitesh was insecure of her.
The noise on the wall kept increasing. The severe headache made her feel as if the hammer was being knocked right across her temporal lobe, the nail crossing through her brain.
She hated it!!
Nothing in her life was going right and every little turn was turning out to be a nuisance.
She collected her handbag, laptop bag, sunglasses, car keys, home keys and rushed out, quickly locking the apartment door when she found big carton boxes and suitcases lying on the floor right outside her apartment, around and on the stairs and before it. She tried to tiptoe and jump across them but she was no cat or rabbit to do that effortlessly. Her knee-length pencil skirt was not helping either.
For a moment, Vidhi tried to squeeze in space by pushing the boxes but they were too heavy for her to shift.
‘God! What do people carry with them? Seems like it is stuffed with rocks!’
She decided to press the bell and the ask the new neighbour to shift the boxes to make way for her and before she could do that, the door next door opened and out came a tall man with a hammer in his hand. If Vidhi wasn’t getting late, she would have taken a long moment to appreciate those ruffled hair, the ragged looks with a fine stubble, dreamy eyes and worn out clothes as if he wore them every day and every night since he was born. Looked like, his supposedly maroon T-shirt had turned pinkish white after repeated washes and loose denim baggy pants would fit somewhere around a shade slightly bluish form of white. That it was tattered at knees was not a great discovery. It was straight in-the-face.
“Excuse me, can you please…” Vidhi started to speak about the carton boxes blocking the way when he smiled.
“Hey! I’m Vishal! Vishal Malhotra! I just shifted to this place last night!”
Vidhi smiled slightly, “I know… I mean, I heard it last night and in the morning too…”
“Heard it?” He lifted a brow.
“That someone was shifting the furniture and hammering the nail…”
He laughed gloriously, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I hope I didn’t disturb you!”
His words were so slow and so leisurely spoken as if he had all the time in the world to spend his life on the earth at ease with not a shred of hurry. He didn’t appear in any rush. Vidhi envied people who had so much time. She was always running short of time. She tried to speak hurriedly, trying to appear in a rush but he didn’t even notice.
“Listen, these boxes…” She pointed out quickly and was about to say more when he nearly yawned and said, “Oh Gosh! The boxes??!! The helper left them here? I asked him to bring milk for coffee when he was getting them in…”
“You should have asked him to put them aside, before he left.”
“I didn’t know that he was in the middle of something. I just called him and ordered for milk…”
“And he went running for you?” Vidhi couldn’t believe it.
He smiled, leaned by the door jamb lazily and shrugged, “Usually people do that for me!”
“Look… I am not interested in knowing how exactly people treat you…I just wanted that…”
“That reminds me…” He interrupted her, “Do you have the electrician’s number? One that comes to this building and knows the wiring and all… a few connections in my apartment are giving issues since last night. I don’t want to end up with a short circuit.”
Vidhi nodded slightly, “Yeahhhh!! I mean… I have… but you know, I’m getting a bit la…”
He had taken out his phone from his trousers’ pocket and unlocked it, “Tell me!”
Vidhi huffed. Why on earth was she even entertaining this stranger when she was already late for work. She remembered that she hadn’t had her breakfast and coffee and she had to meet the traffic while going to work. Her boss was going to give an earful to her today. And it was her presentation. Too much on her plate to take care of and then the tearing headache.
He could get this electrician’s number from anyone in the building, or maybe he could send his helpers to the security guard to get one bloody number. She didn’t have to do it. She cleared her throat, “Everyone in the building has this guy’s number… you can…”
He didn’t say anything. Just shifted his eyes from the phone screen to look at her in a weird stare with his brows raised and puckered, waiting to type the number in his phone, wondering why was she not telling him the number. Instead beating around the bush.
She found him intimidating. He was not only almost a foot taller than her, but extremely clueless about the world around him. He had no regard that his carton boxes were obstructing the pathway and that a girl dressed in office wear, wearing heels, carrying a hand-bag and laptop bag and files almost ready to shoot for work was standing before him to move his boxes.
“Is he a secret service agent and asked you not to share the details?” He shrugged.
She was not amused. Instead of indulging in a long talk, she nodded and quickly fetched her phone from her handbag, “No… nothing like that… write it…”
She unlocked the phone and shared the number with him. He smiled and typed the number in his phone as slowly as he could.
She spoke stressing on each word, “Now, if you can pleeeaaassse move these boxes, I’ll be obliged. I’m getting late for work!” She spoke putting her phone away inside her bag. She had spoken it casually so she didn’t expect the reply that came.
“My God! You are so rude! You could have said that politely!”
“Huhh??!!” She turned to him, “Excuse me! I spoke very casually. In fact, it was polite!”
“No, it was rude! You could have told me that you will not share the number as you are getting late, but you shared it. And now, you are suddenly throwing tantrums that you got late because of that!”
“Hello mister! You have no idea what tantrums are!! It seems you never had a sister or a girlfriend that you perceive even casual talk as tantrums!!” She was not even in her senses to realize what she was talking. All she knew was that she had been quite polite and was being accused of being rude and mannerless by a charming, handsome man next door.
He stood with his mouth opened, staring at her in disbelief. He spread his hands in air and then rested them on his hips, “I can’t believe this! You don’t even know me and there you are …passing judgements on my personal life… standing in the corridor, meeting me for the first time… who are you to tell me if I ever had a sister or a girlfriend?”
She huffed and shrugged, “Listen, I’m sorry! I am a nobody to talk personal stuff when I don’t even know you! But guess what, I don’t even want to know you! Now, if you can be nice enough to move those boxes, I want to go to the office, because I am done being nice!”
“Nice??! Like how? Shouting early in the morning? Calling out someone for his personal life? Behaving as if you work for the PMO?”
“None of your business actually…” She snapped at him, “Nice — as in, not banging on your door to stop making those furniture noises in the middle of the night… not shouting at you for hammering the nail in wall, early in the morning… not complaining to police about the blocked staircase and corridor… giving you the electrician’s number even when I am getting late… talking to you and tolerating you when I don’t even know you… that’s what I call – Nice!!”
He moved one box with effortless ease to clear the way and showed her the way, moving his hand dramatically, “Queen Victoria can now make a move. No one wants this dose of niceness to spoil the rest of the day!”
She walked away, “You have no idea, what a spoilt day looks like!”
The weather in Mussourie was rainy and cold in August. It had been drizzling since morning and when Vidhi stepped out of the building, she quickly made a dash towards her D’zire parked in the front of the building among the row of cars parked every day at the same designated spot. She stuffed her things quickly at the back seat of the car and took the car out.
‘Whoever said that everything happens for the good was such an idiot! I’m going to hunt the guy down and kill him!’
My life is only full of nuisance with nothing good about it!
She tried to take out her car but right behind it, there was a car parked at a slant. It was so difficult to move her car out of the parking space and turn it around without touching this new car. She instantly knew that this deep blue shining BMW was this irritating man’s car who was now her next door neighbour. For she had never seen this car before.
Irritated, she turned her car and tried to take it out of the parking spot but in the process, the two cars brushed through each other. The blue car shook massively and her automatic sensors buzzed on, making a loud noise.
Scared, Vidhi stopped her car far at the road and stepped out to inspect the damage. Her car had been severely scratched and it’s paint had chipped off along a big patch. She ran back to check Vishal’s car. The sound had made Vishal take the stairs down his first-floor apartment and rush out, switching the sensor off using his key.
“Hey! Are you visually challenged?” He asked inspecting his damaged car paint and a small dent at the bonut, “Do you even know that it is a BMW?”
“Don’t talk to me like that!” Vidhi huffed, “It doesn’t matter if it a BMW or an aeroplane, if it belongs to someone as annoying as you!”
He folded his arms around his chest calmly. “Excuse me! You bang into my car, a new BMW, damaging a good deal of it… you have been shouting on me since morning and you call me – annoying?”
She shrugged and brushed off any more discussions, “I’ll pay the damages!”
With that she turned around and was about to walk off towards her car parked ahead at the road, when he held her arm swiftly, “Wait!”
“How dare you touch me?” She hissed.
“We didn’t even talk about the damages. I didn’t ask you to pay them.”
“What do you want?”
“How can you insult me and leave?”
“Insult?” She narrowed her eyes angrily, “Touching a woman without consent is not respectful either! Leave my arm!”
“You can’t leave like that!” He was firm and composed.
“I said that I’ll pay the damages. What more do you want?”
“Apologise!” He stared deep into her eyes and moved his brows softly to make a point.
“Dream about that!”
“I said – Apologise!”
“I won’t apologise as I did nothing wrong. It was an accident. You, in fact, should apologise for behaving nasty with me, since morning!”
Strongly and firmly, he was holding her arm in a tight grasp, while she struggled with him. He smelt heavenly and his hand was velvety but strong. She tried hard to not let these thoughts enter in her mind, but they did, without her will.
He declared straight, clenching his jaw, “You are not going back to your car!”
“Let me go!”
“I’ll complain in police! You are a brute and such a bully. I hate it that you shifted next door!”
“We can discuss that later. But right now, you are not going to your car!”
She struggled and tried to retrieve her hand from his hold, wincing in pain, “Vishal Malhotra, you are the worst thing that has happened to me in a long, long time!”
“Vidhi Murthy, you have no idea what is good and what is bad! So, let’s not be judgemental so soon!” He threw daggers with his reddened eyes.
She flared her eyelids wide and stared at him, “How do you know my name?”
He dragged her away, towards the far end of the building, far from the hilly road and tucked her to the wall of the stairs.
“What are you doing? Stay away from me!” She hissed angrily.
He held her strongly, stared deep into her eyes, and shouted, almost scolding her, “Are you an idiot? Didn’t you hear that ticking sound coming from your car?”
“Ticking sound?” She frowned.
Before he could reply her, a deafening sound shook the entire building and left the iron doors rattling to shake, while her car was blown into pieces with a blast ensuring that it was turned to rubble up in flames.
A bomb had exploded inside her car.
She realised that she had held him due to the impact of the sound of the blast and he had supported her with his arms around her. With her heart beating hard, she slowly separated from him and turned to look at her car. Her throat was hurting and her feet trembled. She held the wall for support. Her eyes widened while her ear hurt due to the splitting sound still ringing in her ear.
She whispered, “My car!”
He pressed his lips together and shrugged, taking his hands away from her. Softly, he reminded her.
“The ticking sound!”
…………………… End Of The Story ………
Thanks for reading 🙂
( Siggie credit : @Friendly_bini Thank you Bini… you are love )