This story is by Prakriti Bakshi and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Time Will Tell
It was a typical Monday morning. Sunlight streamed in through the window, and the birds sitting on the trees chirped away in oblivion. Jolie Blanc pulled the covers tight over her head trying to block out the sunlight and the disdainful chatter of the birds. It didn’t work. She pulled the covers off with a scorn, knowing well that she couldn’t get back to sleep now. It took a full 10 minutes of thought in a horizontal state to reboot her mind and prepare her for the day ahead. She trudged over to the large French windows and stared off into space. “Birds were alright but what were they so damn happy about on a Monday morning” is probably what she was thinking. 7 years has taught me a lot about Jolie. She isn’t a morning person.
She glanced my way and I dutifully displayed that it was 7:31 a.m. As she headed over to the kitchen to get some coffee, I reminisced the day I’d first met her. It was a cold winter evening. I was set in the window of a vintage furniture shop downtown. A small antique table clock like me wasn’t much of a find but Jolie had crouched down in front of the window and looked at me like I was made of gold. Two soft brown eyes, a cascade of jet black hair and a delightful expression of amusement is how I’ve framed the memory. Why she was so happy to see me remains one of my life’s mysteries despite the pieces of a backstory I’ve caught over the years. Something to do with her grandfather, railroads, and pineapple?! I could have heard that wrong.
Breaking my reverie, Jolie came back into the room and sat at her desk. She was an author of the satirical column ‘Point Blanc’ and was amidst the process of writing her first novel. With her hair pulled back in a neat ponytail and an air of purpose she took a sip of coffee and opened the laptop. I could never see what she was typing away, but just left of the laptop screen, I enjoyed watching her expression change as she wrote. It was a cycle of determination and frustration. Unbeknownst to her, when Jolie thought she was locked away in her room alone writing, there were actually three conscious beings present in the room.
Just as Jolie’s dainty fingers suspended themselves over the keyboard, hovering till further command, the third conscious being appeared on cue. Fabula was an apparition of the creative force, the deity of writing. As she would put it, it was 2018 and we still did not have a genderless pronoun of proper tense. “Must people reign me into these gendered confines. I’m androgynous, of course” For lack of proper pronoun I’m going to use ‘they’. As Jolie tried to write, Fabula paced to conjure the perfect ideas for her. I just waited patiently until Fabula was free so that we could chat.
When one sits 24/7 on a desk, observation is the key to passing time. I’d noticed some changes in Jolie. She’d stopped humming as she worked around the house; she seldom made it out of bed before noon; she wasn’t eating well; I hadn’t seen her talking to anyone but herself lately, and worst of all, she spent a lot of time stifling sobs. I intended to share my concern with Fabula today.
“I’ll see you soon Samay. I’ve started Jolie off with a great idea today. I’m sorry I can’t stay long. I’d love to chat but I’m getting late for an appointment with that writer with a horrid block I was telling you about.”
My name is Samay, by the way. Fabula named me after the Sanskrit word for time. I love it. I bid Fabula goodbye, hoping to see them soon. We had great conversations, and we both loved Jolie. Maybe it was the fact that our conscious was metaphysical. As I was deep in thought, Jolie slammed her laptop shut and put her head down. Something was wrong.
‘Happily ever after’ was such a lie. Fairy tales should be booked for blasphemy and false propaganda.
In each person’s life, there comes a moment that calls for instant action. A moment in which a decision must be made. A moment post which nothing ever remains the same. A heartbeat before the moment, I knew this was it.
My hands were tied in a perpetual state of rotation and if I did anything that disobeyed the laws of my existence I would be cursed to many lifetimes of loneliness and pain. But if I didn’t, Jolie would be gone forever. Both our lives were in jeopardy.
Jolie was not in a good mental state. I knew that, and I did nothing. I willed Fabula to appear and create happy thoughts in Jolie’s mind. Silence. No one came. There was no time to think.
Jolie has two envelopes on the desk that say mom and dad. There are other stacks of paper, and a handgun. This shouldn’t be happening. She has so much to live for, I have so much more to know about her.
She picks up the handgun. I do nothing but stare. She loads it with a single bullet. I do nothing but stare. She turns off the safety catch. I do nothing but stare.
As she raises her steady hand to her head I can see the pain in her eyes. It’s unbearable. This young woman who I love so much doesn’t see her own worth. If I had a heart it would’ve shattered.
There is a finger on the trigger. She closes her eyes shut.
“JOLIE. WAIT” I scream.
A handgun clatters to the ground. The birds are chirping in the trees.