– Gauri Sinha

I wasn’t peeking, I promise.

It was 3 pm anyways, and as all the world lay drunk on mid-day lethargy, I set to alter something, anything in the 4×4 room that extended like a tumour from my kitchen. 

There is a stillness at this time of the day, and our infatuation was glorious, we had a shot at love, but I never took it. Today, bending over the pipes, it nursed my esteem back, much like old romantics of new times. The lace lips over my window were pressed shut in an adamant fit, isolating me, us, from the curse that is social living.

I would have gone minding my own business, inspecting my machines, maybe taking my tongue for a swim in bitter coffee or sat down to learn French or Psychology or Big Data, had the long moan of a sleeper pulled away from their slumber, not caught me off-guard. 

Now, I do know what opening a window sounds like, but I must confess I was deep in self-pity and that sound just…alarmed me! So, we can conclude that it was more of a reaction that I hastily removed the curtains and looked through its gawking mouth into her kitchen. 

This was my first interaction with her being. She seemed sweet, unlike buttercream, but like the rough sweetness that comes from crushing almonds between your teeth for too long. In her hand she held a knife with a cheap plastic handle, I am sure she bought that pack of three from Shopping Daily.

Her steps were heavy and deliberate, she pulled out a pear from the laps of a knotted basket, baptized its green coat, raised her knife, and stole its life. She executed the task with such expertise. Slow, purposeful, musical, rhythmic, a riot really, I couldn’t take my eyes off that murder. 

She whipped her head around suddenly, her short hair shuffling amongst themselves, but I didn’t move, I trusted her innocent unawareness more than I trusted my legs to walk or my mind to think. She looked around for another friend. Set her tools on granite and lifted her eyes over the battered basket, her lips were thinking. 

Two minutes later, in her palms slept the beautiful pear, it had a crimson blush all over its freckled body. She cooled it with water, I saw it smile. One hand to pat it to sleep, another to raise the knife. It came down in one swift crunch, unbothered. 

Her palms dipped and rose systematically, but I could see her getting annoyed with this new betrayal. It was a hard pear, there are always hard pears in a basket, doesn’t she know that? 

Her face remained soft and set, no discomforting lines, no knitting of her eyebrows. Still, her lips, those expressive, thinking lips gave her away. They pursed themselves a little tighter and straightened their backs in concentration. 

My eyes shifted to her dancing hands, they were descending into madness, I wanted to stop them, call out to her, tell her I could finish the job for her. But I didn’t, I wouldn’t.

Raw primordial anger emerging from the depths of her genetic map took her hand. Her knuckles were fire white, the cheap plastic quivered under her skin, her mortality shook its head. ‘Be careful, child.’ The corpse of the pear lay in a stubborn tantrum, her breath spilt out of energy and effort. 

I held my palms in pure excitement, my mouth dried in preparation and my heart stopped, apprehensive to beat the celebratory rhythm. Her nostrils widened only a little, sucked in air for takeoff.

The sound of metal and ceramic spilt out of the white-tiled landscape, I swear I heard a simple hiss, as I watched redness pooled around the smiling pear. 

Photo by Esther Wechsler on Unsplash

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