This story is by – David Henry Mazumdar and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was a summer night. A moonlit night.
Anton led Elena from the dance floor to the stage, knelt in front of her and asked dramatically, “Elena Baka, will you marry me?” She felt rather embarrassed, feeling the eyes of the onlookers. She shyly accepted the ring. The whole floor of spectators cheered loudly.
Later, Anton and Elena were standing outside side by side in silence. He broke the silence, “We should plan our wedding with your father.”
Elena responded hesitantly, “I’ve just begun the final year of grad course. I would like to study further, do a PhD.”
“Of course, darling. You’ll achieve all your dreams. But, it’s now time to get married and live together. We’ve been seeing each other for a year.”
Elena had been living with her dad, Havel, in their estate. She had lost her mom three years ago. Her dad was the owner of the Baka Shoe Company and was well known to the business world.
When Anton and Elena came for his approval, Havel gave his blessings. He asked, “Where are you planning to live after marriage?”
Anton replied, “We’ll rent a place close to your house so that Elena can visit you any time.”
“You don’t need to rent. You can live here. This house is big to accommodate us all.”
Anton accepted Havel’s proposal without hesitation. Elena was happy that Anton was considerate.
The wedding took place in the following summer. The couple arrived home from the party. The whole house was decorated with burning candles. Anton picked Elena and carried her into the house. Music was playing on in the living room.
The couple stepped out onto the balcony. They were holding each other very close. The eyes of the two met. Their lips touched with passion. The moonlight was bathing them. Soft music was coming from the living room.
Although the new couple stayed with Havel, all the emotional ups and downs over the wedding ceremony took a toll on his health. He often felt exhausted.
The couple came back from honeymoon. One evening, at the dinner table, Elena said, “I would like to go to university tomorrow to check with the professors.”
Anton asked, “To check with the professors? For what?”
Elena replied, “To talk about my PhD programme. We need to plan.”
Anton said, “You don’t intend to start it now. We just got married.”
Elena looked at her dad and then said, “If I don’t start now, I’ll lose my scholarship.”
Anton said, “Scholarship! Huh! How much is it?”
Elena replied, “Thirty grand per year.”
Anton waved dismissively, “Thirty thousand. What’s that to Baka family? Not very much, right? You can do PhD without any scholarship at any time. I’m just asking you not to start now. Stay home. Dad will be happy to see you around all day.”
Havel wasn’t sure if or how he should intervene. The dinner continued and ended silently.
Soon, Anton set up his office in the second floor. Practically, he closed his previous office and moved everything here. His new work place and marriage relation made a great impact on his business.
One day, Anton came to Havel’s office. He said, “Dad, the D & H Developer is expanding. You know the owners. They are looking for another partner. They asked me to deposit ten million dollar. I was wondering if I could get it as a loan from your company. I will repay it with interest within a year. I prepared all the documents for it. Since it is between two companies, I want to make it official.”
Anton laid down the papers on Havel’s desk. Havel signed them, but crossed out the interest of repayment.
Elena was discontent staying home all day. She felt herself worthless. She lost appetite and weight. Doctor said these were symptoms of depression. Elena tried to find a way out. She started to look for a job. This didn’t escape Anton’s eyes. He asked Elena, “What is the resume for? Looking for a job?”
Elena remained silent. Anton continued with contempt, “Who is going to offer you a job? A linguist! Who would hire a linguist? What I earn is good for your living. Stay home. Look after dad.”
Elena grew frustrated. She leaned to grab the resume from Anton and go away. He pushed her forcibly. Her head hit the door and she fell down. Her vision grew blurred. Anton panicked and stooped to pick her up. He apologized over and over again saying, “Sorry. I’m really sorry, honey.” He called the ambulance.
Elena began to suffer from headache and dizziness. She often failed to keep balance while walking. The doctor prescribed her medication for vertigo and suggested her to use a cane for walking.
Havel knew how to combat adversity in the business world, but at home, he was a helpless watcher. He increased smoking to combat his anxiety and distress. His health condition got abruptly worse. Soon, he died of lungs and stomach cancer. Before his death, he willed all his possessions to Elena. The will also mentioned that if Elena died childless, the property should go to charity.
Anton came to know about the will from the family lawyer. He became extra careful about her health. He knew he had to keep Elena alive in order to keep everything under his control.
Elena sold the shoe business and invested the money with the bank.
Due to her restricted mobility, Elena stayed downstairs.
Anton was busy with his business. He borrowed money from Elena several times. Again, all the loans were official and, of course, without interest.
Anton hired a new personal secretary, Lynn, who often stayed after hours to finish the work. He used to invite her for dinner. After dinner, Anton and Lynn used to go back to office to finish the work.
One evening, Elena noticed Lynn’s car was still parked at the front. It was already late. With great difficulty, she climbed the stairs. From the head of the stairs, she noticed the office door was closed. She quietly climbed down and went to her room. About an hour later, she heard a car leaving from her house. She lay in her bed and pretended to be asleep.
The next day, Elena asked Anton how his work was going on. Anton replied, “Very hectic. Lynn left immediately after dinner yesterday. I continued the work. When I came down, you were already fast asleep.”
Elena was staring at him in silence. Anton felt uncomfortable. To overcome his feeling, he barked at her, “What? Why are you staring at me?”
Elena cowered in visible fear. She got up to leave. Anton grabbed her by the arm and yelled at her, “After everything I do for you, you’re still so ungrateful! You have the nerve to accuse me!”
Anton jerked Elena forcefully by the arm. Elena’s leg gave way and she fell to the floor. Her ankle twisted and knee got injured. Again, Anton stooped to pick her up, again he apologized to her profusely, and again he called the ambulance.
Elena was now in wheelchair. Anton arranged health care professionals to take care of her at home. With Elena’s money, he bought a wheelchair van for her transportation to doctors and therapists.
It was a summer night. Elena was out in the backyard, laying on a lounger, gazing at the stars, listening to the rustle of the breeze, and wondering if heaven really existed, where peace dwelt and love flowed.
She had gone to bed earlier. Soon, she had moved out. It was summer. Elena could, at least, move out and speak to the clouds.
Elena remembered Anton’s first visit. On entering the house, he had whispered to her, “You have a magnificent house.” She had taken it as a complement at that time. Now, she would understand it for an expression of greed.
Elena looked up and saw a shadow in the balcony.
“I must stop him,” Elena decided. “He cannot get away with this.”
She remembered the details of her father’s will. She thought this was the prime opportunity. She slowly got onto her wheel chair and quickly rolled it towards the pool.
A loud voice cried from the balcony, “Elenaaaaaa…Don’t.”
Elena pressed the brake hard. The wheelchair stumbled. She fell over. Her hip hit the edge of the pool, causing her lumbar jerk violently.
Maids and servants came out hearing the loud the voice.
Upon arrival, the paramedics found Elena alive. However, they inferred she would be permanently paralyzed.
Anton held Elena’s hand and consoled her, “Don’t worry, honey. Everything will be fine.”
Despite much desire, Elena couldn’t push away his claws. She couldn’t regain her strength. Being panicked, she mumbled, “Permanently paralyzed!”
Elena stared blankly at the night sky and sighed. Tears welled up in her eyes.
It was a summer night. A moonlit night.