Notion Press Malaysia Short Story Contest 2017

Living In with My Best Friend

By Kamala in Fantasy

I stare down at the floor; red blood drops on bright white tiles, making a trail from the bedroom to the living room. She must have walked from bedroom to call her husband sitting in the living room.

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Disbelief, reluctance and fondness is what I felt as I looked at my ringing phone. “Shasimenon, mobile”. I press hold the green and swiped to answer. It has been a long time since I heard my best friend’s voice on the phone.

The rain hits heavy and cold against the windshield and splashing on the side of the car. Our Porsche still smells new and Ivan my husband weaved between other cars on the road. He just returned from Philippines business trip a couple of weeks ago and will again leave to India tomorrow evening.

We are married for seven years; in the pan of those seven years I had two miscarriages which broke us into pieces at all levels. We are no more talking about making babies like we excitedly did on the first year of our marriage. We avoid the conversations at all cost and we are no more spending time with our friends who have children. It’s not because we are jealous of them, but we are tired of their free advices and no matter how carefully they handle the topic it still upsets us at the end of the day.

I sighed when we arrived at our condominium building. We live in a perfect suburban area, with quite streets, a few malls and loads of greenery. It’s a gated community where security and privacy of the residents come first above all. Ivan is excited about living in an affluent township, a perfect place to unwind from his tiring business trips.

A cloud of depression and heaviness seems to surround me every time Ivan leaves for his business trips. I try my best not to show my loneliness because I understand it is his passion. After all, he is working very hard to provide the best live for us. I used to travel with him a lot too. Now I spent almost every moment taking care of our home and nurturing my mini garden.

Ivan was in the room packing for his trip tomorrow. I sat on the oversized reading chair in the living area and my thoughts were back to what Shasi’s said on phone this evening.

After Shasi ended his call, I took a Grab car and went to his house. Entering his house felt like entering a time warp. I took a deep breath and looked at Shasi who is sitting in worn green bean bag with his cigarette still burning on the ashtray. He is sad and his forehead is wrinkled in the middle.

“I don’t know who else to call. You are my only friend. She is crying the whole day and I don’t know how to console her”, his eyes became ponds of tear.

I stare down at the floor; red blood drops on bright white tiles, making a trail from the bedroom to the living room. She must have walked from bedroom to call her husband sitting in the living room.

Shasi grabbed my hand and brought me to Erna’s room. I promised myself not to see Erna again in my life, but here I am standing inside her house holding her bedroom’s door knob.

I know Erna have wronged me in many ways, but I am here as Shasi’s best friend. Shasi needs my help now and I will be here for him, no matter what the situation may be.

I gathered myself together and twisted the door knob. The door opened and I saw Erna lying on her bed. Her high cheek bones were sunken in deep sorrow and her dark eye circles were staring at me. Before I could say anything, she started to cry. “I lost my baby boy. We lost him.” she wept.

I hugged her tight; their pain reminded me of my own pain few years back. First tear broke free from my eyes and the rest followed like a small stream.

After about one hour Erna finally started to calm down. I wheedled her to take a shower and get proper rest. Her body must be weak from blood loss and her state of lowness will only delay her body’s healing process. There is no worse feeling for a pregnant woman to go through confinement period and not having a baby sleeping next to her. I remember how depressive it can feel.

I came out to the living area and saw Shasi mopping the floor. They are sad and heartbroken just like any parent who lost their child will be. I know no amount of words can comfort them. I can only be a listener and company them during this stressful moment. It’s even better to just shut up and just listen.

“How is she doing?” Shasi asked.

“She has slept”, I said.

“I thought you will never come”. He looked into my eyes with love and gratitude.

“Anytime, I am always here”, I smiled and rubbed his shoulders.

“I am going to send Erna to her mother’s house tomorrow. Erna wants to be with her mother until her confinement period ends”, he continued.

“I think that’s a good idea too. She needs special confinement food and care”, I nodded.

Shasi called a taxi for me to return home. After a short tour around the busy city I arrived home. I extended MYR30 to the driver and got out from the taxi.

“Madam, did you enjoy seeing both of them in pain, just now?” the driver asked.

I turned to him, gave him a sharp look. “What? What are you talking about?” I asked in fury.

The driver smiled and immediately left without saying anything.

“How he can be discourteous?” I shook my head. My jasmine plants at the balcony are just blooming and the fragrance of jasmine flowers shifted my thoughts back to my oversized reading chair. I wonder if Ivan has finished packing his stuff. I got up and went to our bedroom to check on him.

He has nicely packed his luggage and already sleeping. I wished good night to my mini garden plants, my furniture and to my bolster. They are my friends in this house out after Ivan left to work.

Ivan’s cell phone vibrates me awake. I opened my eyes to see the window as the sun rays forcing us to remove our blankets. Ivan makes a sound; he slides next to me. His chin is easing on my shoulder.

“Please say you enjoyed their pain yesterday. I did it for you”, he said absently.

“What do you mean? Ivan? ” I asked.

I held up his chin to look at his eyes but he has returned to his dreams.

An unsettling feeling began to invade. I got up from the bed scratching my forehead. I haven’t told Ivan about yesterday’s incident at Shasi’s house and how the taxi driver could possibly know about Erna’s miscarriage?

I drove Ivan to the airport and returned home around 7pm. I called Sahsi to check on Erna’s condition. It seems he has sent Erna to her mother’s house. I ordered pizza for myself and went to bed early after watching Seinfeld.

A humming sound from the kitchen woke me up. I swiped my phone and it’s 2 in the morning. It’s my favorite song.

Is Ivan’s flight canceled?

“Alvin is that you? I told you many times not to come uninformed” I sighed.

I switched on the kitchen light.

“Who are you? What are you doing in my house?” I shouted.

“Oh, I am sorry did I wake you up? I am just looking for some potato chips. Where do you keep them?”

He was wearing a pajama and he looked very comfortable as if he is living here with us.

“What are you talking about? No, I am giving you any have potato chips. They are mine. Now get out from my house or I will call the police!” I ran to the bedroom to get my phone.

Something is odd. My bed sheet, I just changed the cover this morning. The weirdo outside is wearing a pajama that has the exact pattern as my bed cover. And where is my favorite bolster?

“You slept on my bed too? How dare you!!”

“How long you have been inside my house? You touched my things? What else you stole?”

“You are so dead when the police arrive in a while”, I said furiously.

“Oh calm down. Do your ‘chill dance’. You stopped dancing after your second miscarriage. You used to dance in front of the mirror every night, remember? I sure miss your dance,” he said mimicking my ‘chill dance’ moves.

I stopped dialing the police and put my phone on the table. I pulled out the dinning chair and sat.

“Who are you?” I asked the man.

“No one knows about my ‘chill dance’ except Ivan. Even he doesn’t know I dance in front of the mirror,” I looked straight into his eyes, hoping to get an honest answer.

“I know you will calm down if I mentioned about the 'chill dance'. Hey, did you go to see Erna yesterday? I want to punish her until you are avenged” he said in a stiff and sully tone.

“Punish her for what? She had a miscarriage. Miscarriage is not a punishment!”

“It is a punishment for her from us your friends in this house. Now she knows how it feels to suffer a loss. Instead of comforting you during your hard times she used your weak situation to her advantage. Have you forgotten?”

My eyes are now frozen over, while my thoughts wandered deep inside. The pain is still in here, I know it but I have put all the memories inside a box, locked it and threw the key somewhere I couldn’t find.

I have cried many nights and Ivan do not let me contact Shasi after that incidence. That’s the reason why I didn’t tell Ivan that I visited Erna yesterday.

How could you Erna? At that time Erna wasn’t married. She wouldn’t understand the excitement of getting pregnant, waiting to hold a tiny baby. She couldn’t understand the distress of losing all the hope within two hours. Maybe she would have known if she has gone through miscarriage like me.

At least that’s what I told myself so that her betrayal made sense to me.

“I will be happy if you are avenged” he came and sat beside me.

“How you know so much about me? I never told anyone about my pain”.

“Yes you do. You talk to me every night. Your tears wet my shoulders as you fall asleep every night. I am your best friend for many years. So does the coffee table, sofa and the tiny plants outside the balcony. We know your joy, we know your pain, we know the moment you felt so much love for Alvin. I can even know how tired you are after a long day”.

“But… but Erna’s miscarriage? How…?”

“Oh you see we don’t think much. Our minds are empty and calm most of our lifetime. That’s makes it easier for us to manifest anything we put our focus on. It was your Little Black Dress’s idea. We hated watching you cry every night. Then one day, Ms. Little Black Dress suggested we should let Erna to taste her own medicine” he told enthusiastically.

I woke to our marble dinner table; the radiant sunlight filled our living area. An empty potato chips bag is on the coffee table. The man I saw last night is nowhere in the house. I got up and went inside the room and saw my favorite bolster is on the bed.

Thousands of cold water drops hit my skin as the last night’s dream played on my mind over and over like a movie. I will never enjoy Erna’s miscarriage even for a second and I never wished her and Shasi to go through this hard situation.

Today is Thursday. As usual I will company Erna to the miscarriage support group. It is her 6th week and she is recovering fast. After Ivan got back from India, I told him that I am going to continue my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I am working as a tutor at a refugee camp. Plus, we also have added two new furry members to our family. We are no longer living in that lonely apartment, but in a place far from the city with a bigger garden for me.

Ivan and I will do the ‘chill dance’ sometimes, and I dance in front of the mirror when Ivan is not looking. I still talk to my plants, furniture and my favorite bolster in my house. I hope they hear me and happy to see me smiling wide every single day.

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