Shared Empathy – Chapter One

A. via Flickr
A. via Flickr

She burst open the door and ran out of the building, she was in, for the past 4 hours. Without seeing around, she walked straight ahead, her steps fast and hurried. Her heart was beating fast and breaths coming in rapid bursts until she realized that everything was closing in on her and she wasn’t able to breathe. She bowed down, hands on her knees, gasping for air. It just kept on becoming difficult to breathe.

He had come out for a walk, to catch some fresh air, evening walks always helped. He inhaled, taking in the calm of the setting night and the air which was turning cooler. That’s when he heard a sound and  looked in its direction. She looked in a hurry; running from somewhere. It happened very fast; in a matter of seconds, he saw that woman come out of that door and the next second she was on her knees; choking. Guess someone else needs the air tonight he thought and ran towards her.

“Hey, are you okay ??”

She didn’t listen. He was afraid if she didn’t breathe right away she was gonna die in front of him.So, he decided to invade her personal space,”Hey!!”, he touched her shoulder.

She jerked away, obviously baffled by the stranger.

He  lifted his hands in the air,” Don’t worry. I won’t do anything. I think you are having a panic attack. You need to breathe. Take deep breaths okay. Just try concentrating on me. In and out, In and out”, He said mimicking deep breaths.

She finally looked at him and finding no other solution, decided to trust this stranger and followed his advice. It started to work, after 5 to 10 mins her breathing became normal.

When her heart rate became normal and she started to process her surroundings, she realized it was darker than when she entered this building.

“Oh it’s dark now”

“Yeah.. you okay now?”

“Yeah.. yeah, I’m better.. haha”, she tried to cover her meltdown by nervous laughter.

“Oh God I just had the worst panic attack right? It actually happens? I’ve heard people can actually die.”, She babbled on, ashamed by her folly in public.

“I’ve heard that too. Just like I’ve heard you have to concentrate on one thing and it goes away… the panic”. He found this beautifully disturbed person interesting.

“Thank God you had heard that.. haha.”, she said, looking uneasily towards the building.

He followed her gaze and asked, ” Bad memories?” and mentally slapped himself. It wasn’t his business. But he got lucky with the nervous babbler because she didn’t lash out.

“Bad Past. I was always fascinated by the untold secrets, you know the ugly past of the characters in stories.Now, I have one of my own. Karma is a bitch they say!”, she laughed again,”aaand now I have the tendency to overshare too apparently.You must be thinking I’m crazy.. morbid to be exact.”

They were so right , she thought and looked down at the street, it was wet. Did it rain? What the hell am I doing talking to this stranger?

“They do say that!”, He said, forgetting his own worries that were clouding his mind a few minutes ago.

“I should uh… I should go. It’s getting dark..”

He didn’t want her to go. He found this situation having a calming effect on him for some reason.

“Thanks .. though, really “, he heard her as she turned to go in the other direction.

“Hey wait.. don’t go yet”

She stopped and turned around, watching him questioningly.

“I have a bad past too”


Being Free

Mashal was sitting in the car, waiting for her parents and 7-year-old son to bring things from the mart. They were going on a vacation together and her son loved to munch during the journey.
Her car was parked a little away from the store, the pole light next to the car illuminated the street ahead of her. In the faint light, she saw a stooped figure moving towards her car. His tattered clothes and unclean attire told her he was a beggar. She kept watching; skeptic until he crossed her car. He went by, but for the second he was passing, made a little seed of worry grow in her mind and she thought; I don’t want to die.
She laughed at her little scare; He wasn’t going to kill you. She unconsciously looked towards her right, from where the mini mart was in sight, her thoughts drifting away.She thought how people and circumstances changed you and your entire way of looking at life. I don’t want to die, was, All I want to do is die, a few months ago.
Her mind took her back to the sting of his sharp nails scraping along her cheeks, the pull of his strong hands plucking her hair out of her scalp, the maniacal voice tearing through her eardrums. That lonely sitting in the dark, for hours, after the storm of kicks and fists subsided. When she picked up her broken self and cleaned the mess of bruises and purple blotches, the storm always left.
Later she found herself listening to the traumatized rant of her mind;
I want to die.
I want to die.
I want to die.
She was amazed how at one point of life your circumstances can make you feel so trapped that you wish for death and how when they change, when you find yourself getting free, the idea of death sounds rather distant. How, now, the idea seemed very strange but still oddly familiar. Now, after she was free, from the demon that had trapped her for 10 years.
She thought about the demon. Should she refer to him as a demon? She was glad to ask this question of herself. This was new too.
Because now that she was out of that bubble in which both of them were trapped, she could see he had his own demons. Unsolved, unattended mysteries or rather miseries which came out as strong outbursts. She could see his demons now in the form a violent mother and a ghost of a father.
She wished him a free life too and decided not to call him a demon from now on wards. He also had the right to live normally and she had seen little remnants of the normality after their marriage, in the initial years, when his addiction had not taken full control of him.
Happy footsteps and laughter approached her bringing her back from her detour to that dark niche in her mind, which,  she was happy to realize was getting lighter day by day. Her son came running towards her and started showing her all the munchies, he had brought for the trip. She smiled and put an arm around her son’s shoulders and absorbed all the excitement and thrill dripping from his face.
The circumstances change; as the former have, maybe these will too, but she wanted to remember every bit of these. She wanted to enjoy the fact that her surroundings made her think; I don’t want to die.

The little girl and the weekend


The weekend was here, well it came every five days but this particular weekend was her weekend off. She was going to stay at her sister’s house. Two whole days of no work and all play. She was really looking forward to it.

Her sister picked her up on Friday evening to take her to her house. The roads were jam-packed, it felt like everyone was out on the streets, enjoying their free time. The bright lights and the noise of the traffic was a little over whelming for her, as she usually stayed home at this hour; watching T.V or doing some work. The distance seemed too much because of the long hours sitting in the car.

For dinner they went to a restaurant, her sister said she liked a lot for their steaks. It was on the big street which had all the fancy restaurants of the city. Initially she insisted on going to some place simple: not too fancy and upbeat, but her sister planned otherwise. Deep inside, she wanted to enjoy the glam of eating out. She had eaten out before, it’s not like she was transported from stone age or something, she just wanted to enjoy this time out alone and regardless of all the worries and responsibilities on her little shoulders.

She was having this time to herself after a long time and she wanted to enjoy it to its fullest.She realized she had become a little rusty.

Riding the elevator to the cinema hall, she looked at the blingy lights of the elevator and the red numbers increasing on the top of the silver door, waiting for it to take her to her destination. She was amused to see all the shiny things around her. Her feeling was right; she indeed has become quite rusty.

Anyone who saw that girl; sitting in that big chair, feet slightly raised, eyes covered with 3-D glasses, immersed in the thrill of the picture could tell she was having a good time.

They went home, slept late and woke up late. She stayed in bed all day, watched T.V and got served with delicious food. She did nothing but lay on bed all day; looking at the ceiling fan, listening to the soft sound of T.V or her sister talking to her and dozed in and out of sleep.

Because  she could.

Saturday and half of Sunday was spent in the same way. Lazing around, watching movies, eating junk food, shopping and not caring. On Sunday afternoon, it was time to go back, she had enjoyed all the alone time but some part of her also wanted to go back, back to the rusty place that was her home.

So the little girl went back to her responsibilities.

To being a wife to her husband.

A mother to her children.

A grandma to her grand children.

Back to taking care of her home and family.

It was a weekend well spent.

Writing101 Day 18

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

I sat on the curb, watching Mrs. Pauley, stand silently outside her house as the police men and her landlord were evicting her out of her house. She looked grey today. I remember the first time I met her I told her she was yellow.

She laughed, her hearty laugh, and asked me, “what do you mean yellow , little boy?”. I told her I like describing everyone with colors. Yellow is a happy color and so are you. Mr. Paul is Red. He is always angry. She laughed and said, “Oh dear, don’t judge a book by its cover. He is a gentle man, only he doesn’t like to show it.” She hasn’t looked yellow after Mr. Paul’s death, two years back. She loved him a lot.

I am sad that she is leaving. I don’t know where she will go now. Dad said she has to go because she doesn’t have money to pay the rent. I will miss her, her lasagna and the stories of her childhood. I cannot imagine anyone else living in that house, it belongs to Mrs. Paul. I wish there was any way I could help her. I should probably go stand by her, she looks lonely, and all those men look very black.

Writing101 day 9

Today’s Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view:

Cool breeze touched his face lightly and the leaves crunched under his feet as he walked on paved pathway of the local park.  The sun had painted the sky a deep orange.The birds were leaving off for their homes. He felt the grasp of her wife’s hand get tighter; indicating something exciting was coming up in her story. Lily was telling him about her day at work, how her colleague finally managed to stand up in front of her boss. They often took evening strolls, to get a feel of the nature. He felt something soft hit his foot and looked down; a ball of red.

Julian stopped and bent down to pick up something. It was a ball of wool. He started following the thread attached to it. Lily walked with him and looked at the direction of the thread.

“Oh! I think it belongs to that lady, sitting on the bench”, she said.

“Yeah”, he said. They walked towards her.

When they approached the lady , she smiled sweetly and said, “Thanks dear, it just slipped out of my hands”

“There you go”, said Julian and handed over the wool.

“What are you knitting? Can I see?”, she asked the lady.

“It’s a sweater for my grandson”, the lady said, happily showing the sweater.

“Ohh, it’s so cute and soft, look Julian”, she said turning towards him.

She saw him flinch a little and even though he was good at hiding, she could see he had drifted off somewhere else. He smiled back but she saw a shine in his eyes.

“It’s so adorable”. She handed it back to the lady. “We should go now, its getting dark”.

She held his hand again and started walking towards home. She could feel his grasp getting tighter on her hand. A single tear left his eye, he fiercely wiped it away. He smiled and put his hand around her shoulders. She tightened her grip around his waist and said, “I am Sorry”.

She knew it would not change anything but she said it anyway. Sorry for all the sweaters tucked away in that old trunk, which they never really open. Sorry for the one that never got completed. Sorry for the knitting kit, rusting away in the same trunk. Sorry for the night, he lost his mother to a car accident.

Martha watched them walk away crushing dry leaves beneath their feet. She was sure she sensed something, that boy was uncomfortable. She silently prayed all their worries would go away. They never really go away do they, she laughed to herself. She prayed, they would learn to deal with them.

Writing101 day7

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.

Anna sat in her trailer, reading the morning newspaper while sipping away warm black coffee. Her co-star on the play, Edwards, and also a good friend walked in.

“Hey, couldn’t wait for me, haan?”, he asked  teasingly.

“You were taking too long in the bathroom. I needed caffeine”, she replied.

“Oh well I was also receiving your mail for you. No need to say thank you I know I am a good friend.” , he said handing over a pile of letters.

“Just put it in that carton over there”, she replied taking in another sip.

“You don’t read your fan mail at all?”  , he asked.

“Nope, I can’t handle the haters”  , she said with a hint of unease in her voice.

“The Annalise Keating, who literally owns the stage when she’s on it and can leave the audience mesmerized for hours by her performance, not to mention a two times tony award winner, is afraid of a few haters? That I extremely doubt are any out there! “, Edwards exclaimed.

“Ed..”, she laughed nervously, “ There are probably a thousand comments, telling me I am great, but if there is one about how my nose looks or my weight, I am done.”

“Anna, you are great you can’t be afraid of a few people who just make such comments because they don’t have anything better to do.”, he said.

“I know, you are probably right, but such comments do bring me down and stay in my head for way more long than required.” She said rolling her eyes. “I know I am a little crazy right?”

“A lot” , he said looking at her admiringly. ”Well, I can read them for you?”

“Hmm, I think I can handle that.” She thought out loud. “But can you please just tell me the good ones, the ones that tell me that I am awesome”, she asked wiggling her eyebrows.

“Of course, I can and I will burn off the bad ones.” , he replied.

“That will do”, she replied taking in the last of her morning coffee.

I took this from an actual interview with a celebrity. I found it very amusing that a great actor like her can actually be affected by such comments. Guess we all have such contrasts in our personalities.I know people who are mostly center of attention of many parties but they hate being in crowds. So, this one is about the contrast with one’s own self.Let me know how I did with the dialogue thingy.