I’m trying my hand at creative writing in an endeavour to get better at this by practising and this is my first project towards this. I have signed up under the ‘Story a Day’ website/group to start my project and this is the first story I am publishing under this 🙂
I would love to hear your comments and feedback for improvement. Thanks and happy reading!
Ella and I have been friends since I moved into this house, in India. I have to travel a lot due to the nature of my job. This leads to always having to make new friends on the move, or be lonely. I know people think that in this age of technology, it will be easier to keep old friends via social media or email or phone calls, instead of making new friends. But I differ on that. I had noticed over the years, that with old friends, one starts to have an expectation of a deeper connection and a support that should always be available. But that is unfair, since everyone is really busy today in their own lives and challenges. And the technology doesn’t take that away. Instead, it takes away the personal touch a face to face conversation would have. Which is why, I always found it easier to make new friends or acquaintances one can hang out with, instead of hanging on to old friends for companionship.
I met Ella in one of the book shops in this little town. Books are to me what you would call having an immortal and omnipresent companion. I will always have a book with me, if nothing else works. So, that Saturday morning, I went to one of the little hidden book shops that I had discovered. I had been browsing for a while, when I decided on a book. Just as I was about to pick it up, a voice behind me said, “I’m not too sure about that one”. I turned around to see an attractive woman, with short hair and wearing a simple jeans and a t-shirt. I always like people who I find at a book store and who have recommendations or suggestions on what to read and what not to. So I instantly decided I liked her. But there was something strange about her. She kept her distance, literally, physically, and I was never able to get her address or phone number.
We used to meet every day at the book shop. I tried asking her out, to meet her at a coffee shop maybe, or for dinner at my place, but she would always decline, saying something that would not make any sense. Such as, “I’d rather stick to this place” or “It would be difficult for me to meet you anywhere else”. We had found a corner of the book store where we would pick up a book and read it together or discuss it. I would meet her there every Saturday morning. Sometimes the book owner would give me strange stares, and I would feel bad about reading books for free there, so I would end up buying a book on those days.
That Saturday morning, I turned up at the book store, and Ella wasn’t there. This was very unlike her, since she was always there. I didn’t even have her number or her address to check if she was held back due to something. I waited for half an hour, and there was still no sign of her. I went to the store owner to ask him if he had seen Ella earlier today, and he asked, “Who?” Now, I was annoyed. I told him, “You know, the one I meet at the corner end of the book store every Saturday morning?” He just looks at me impatiently and shrugs his shoulders. While I’m waiting, all sorts of thoughts come and go through my mind. What could have happened to her? Is she is trouble, or is she unwell? Or was she just bored of hanging out with me? But of course she could have come and told me so face to face. This was so unlike her. If she had another engagement, she could have told me too. After all, she had my phone number and my address. I wait for another hour, and then decide to leave, feeling quite worried and dejected. Maybe she will have an explanation for me next week.
Next Saturday, was the same. I waited, asked around, and started getting worried and very angry too. I don’t deserve this, if she doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore, I’m OK with that too, I thought. But there was a part of me that was worried too. What if she is in trouble? Maybe I should do the decent thing, and report this disappearance to the Police. I go down to the Police station and inform them about the missing friend.
They ask me, “When did you last see her?”
“Two weeks back, on a Saturday”, I reply
The Police taking down my complaint looks up and says irritably, “And you decide to file a missing person report after 2 weeks!!? Don’t you know that if she has been kidnapped, then her best chances of survival are within 48 hours of her disappearance? What sort of a friend are you? Maybe she hasn’t disappeared, maybe she has just gone away, on a trip or something”
But I find that odd, so I insist that he take down my complaint and make some enquiries on my behalf. I give him a description and her name, since that is all I had of her, and leave the station around afternoon. I am thinking about her when I return home later that night and I sense there is someone in the house. My first reaction is that of fear and to quickly run away. But I gather my courage and quietly turn on the light. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was Ella! In my house! “Ella!”, I exclaimed. I had so many questions to ask her and I wanted to run and give her a hug , but I refrain from doing either, and simply ask, “How did you enter my house?”. She looks at me sheepishly and says, “ I told the watchman, I was your sister and he let me in”. Before I can say anything else, she says, “I’m sorry I couldn’t come to meet you at the book store the last two weeks, but you have to believe me, something urgent had come up. I took a great risk in coming to your house, and have broken some rules to do this. But I had to let you know before you went looking for me again, that I have to disappear again. I don’t know when we will meet, but you should know, you have been a good friend. I have left something for you here, to remember me by”. And she points at something silver on the table. It is a bracelet with strange symbols and charms dangling by it. It is mysterious and beautiful. Just at that instant, two things happen, there is a slight cold wind, and I am distracted by the bracelet for maybe a second. When I look up to ask Ella, what those charms mean, she’s not there. The door is open, and I am left alone, with a cold breeze, and that bracelet on my wrist.
Next morning, on my way out, I try to look for the Watchman to reprimand him for letting any stranger into my house without checking with me first, when I find Police outside the apartment. When he sees me, the Police officer comments, “Wasn’t it you who had filed a missing person’s report yesterday?” I nod and wonder why they’re here. “Looks like there are a lot of people turning up missing around you“. When I look at him confused, he says, “The watchman is missing. His wife came by this morning to file a complain and she looked worried. She said, he was supposed to return by 8 pm, but he never got home. If you excuse me, I need to make some inquiries now“. Before leaving, he pauses and turns around and asks me, “What time did you get home yesterday?”. And I say, “Just around 8 pm“.
PS: I have left this story open ended deliberately 🙂