This story is by Kashvi Kapoor and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Estelle… my sweet little girl, live.”
The girl sprang up from her bed with a hand on her sweaty forehead. Her body, shivering with fear, and her arms instinctively wrapped themselves around her body. She buried her head within her embrace and tried to breathe slowly. The sunlight was piercing through the window, marking the beginning of a new day.
“Stella, I see you’ve woken up.”
The girl looked up to meet the eyes of her doctor, Dr. James. He sat down on the chair near the bed and took out a pen from his peerless white coat. With a notepad in one hand and the pen in another, he threw a look towards her and flashed a dazzling smile.
She nodded. She was still trembling from the after affects of her dream and seemed in no shape to be talking to anyone but regardless of how fearful and frightened she was, the consultation with Dr. James had been a part of her daily routine.
She glanced at the wall behind the doctor and found herself getting lost in the plain colour of the wall. Her eyes were fixated, and her face drew itself to a blank expression. She helplessly tried to remember her life and why she was locked in a room. Without any clue to her real identity, she could only spend her time in this prison disguised as a hospital ward. She had no idea as to why these people had kept her there.
“Did you remember anything else?”
“Is your head aching?”
“Is there any problem you’re facing?”
Dr. James looked at her with an inquisitive look. He was not sure whether the girl in front of him was answering truthfully to his questions. Despite not having the trust of his patient, he could not help but wonder and pity about the situation she was in. He wanted to help her, reach out to her, give her hope but she would not even give him an honest answer. He felt frustrated, as if she were ridiculing him. He wanted to know.
Why was she here?
The doctor gave a few sedatives which made the girl, Stella, feel tired and dizzy. She lied down and with half closed eyes, gazed at the roof. It was white in colour, but the paint was wearing off at the corners. There was nothing peculiar about the ceiling but what interested Stella so much was the splatter of blood in the far right corner. She somehow knew it was blood without giving it a glance for a second time.
But strangely, it did not scare her, it did not give her the chills when someone usually sees blood. If she was being frank with herself, it was more like familiarity with the sight of blood. She did not tell the doctor about this because she felt this would hold a clue to her real identity as well as her real name, Estelle.
She did not put her trust in anyone in this vicinity. Everyone, apart from her doctor, knew something about her and it got on her nerves. They would evade her eyes and even her questions, would not talk to her. It all made her curious, annoyed, anxious. In the end, who was Estelle?
There was no one around her whom she could openly talk to nor did she know the intentions of the people who had imprisoned her here and hence she was always on guard and suspicious of everyone who approached her. She found herself relying on her dreams to figure out who she was. They came in bits and pieces. What she did know was she was the only one who was being kept as a prisoner. Rest of the people residing in the area were not kept in a room and given treatment.
This made her even more wary of her surroundings and the people around her. When she was alone, she would dive, deep in the core of her heart to find any memory worth remembering but all her efforts usually end with her hope being broken. With the light of hope taken away she let herself abandon every other emotion which made her feel weak. She drew her heart farther away from her soul and then let herself drown in herself.
“Estelle, that’s my name.”
She told James the only clue she had, let out the secret which had become the only thing she could hang onto, her last hope.
“Estelle Franklin, that’s your full name.” Estelle widened her eyes momentarily after which she regained her composure and started at him.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was not allowed to unless you remembered something first.”
They knew who she was but would not tell her. The act of keeping her identity away from her hardened her feelings towards them, as if she had any. They were concealing it from her which made it seem like they were somehow testing her, or rather taking a carful approach towards her. What was it about her which was making them act this way?
Days were passing like seconds and Estelle could not recall anything else. Her dreams were always the same, beginning with a dark room filled with sounds of bullets and ending with a person, tearfully, asking her to live. The face of the person was never clear, but she felt his warmth and the care he held for her in his voice. She wanted to know about him but had no way how.
One bright sunny morning when Estelle was taken around for her weekly stroll, she heard the sweet, melodious sound of laughter. She looked in the direction where the source seemed to be and saw two children playing on the swings. She was surprised by the fact that there were children here and on top of that, there was a swing. She would have never thought that something so joyful could be seen in this place which she had begun to think as hell.
She stared at them with emotionless eyes which somehow began to be filled by sorrow. Her eyes became glittery and in that fleeting moment her heart became transparent.
Estelle was startled at the sudden sound and walked hurriedly to avoid being seen by the children. A hand grabbed her arm and dragged her along the hallway. The man in front of her was tall with a big, sturdy figure. His grip on her arm tightened as the drew closer towards her room.
“Who said you could go near those children?”
Here was a man whom she had never seen before yet felt familiar. He glared at her and threw her inside her room. He was approaching her with his eyes filled with malice and body turned on with anger. His heavy steps resonated in the small room.
That look! Estelle gazed at him for as long as she could, she felt as if the man standing before was the key to regaining herself. And when the man, with a knife in his hand, lifted it to hurt her, she remembered.
“Father, please no.”
“shut up Estella. You have to be strong, and for becoming strong you must endure the pain.” The man continued to hit her with his fists and soon blood gushed out of Estelle’s wounds. When he left her alone, she cried and found herself in utter despair. But with a sudden change, she got up with difficulty and looked outside the window, the only source of light in her life. She hit the wall with all her might.
“I will endure Father but not here, I will not endure being with a monster. I will become strong and then you will be the one who would have to endure.”
Estelle started training secretly and everyday she was worn out, exhausted. But whatever she did, however much she lost, she never lost her hope or her determination. She wanted to fight for herself.
“Estelle, my sweet little girl.” Estelle smiled widely at her grandfather, the only person whom she loved with a sincere heart. He looked at her wounds and his eyes drooped.
“I’m sorry for letting you suffer.” Estelle reached her hand out and caressed his cheek.
“Runway from here.”
“Estelle…my sweet little girl, live.”
“I was in an accident that night.”
The man stopped and looked down at her.
“You’re my father. Those two children, they were my siblings”
“So, you remembered.”
“He died trying to protect you, you hear that, you killed him.” He laughed mockingly after uttering these painful words.
Estelle’s pent up anger swelled in her heart and burst all at once as she lashed out her scream. She took the knife from her father’s hands and struck her father’s chest with all her power. But it was not her body power that killed him, rather her will power to be free from his tyranny.
In the end, she began to live.