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You and me Babe
How 'bout it?

Story: Safieh Kabir
Illustration: E R Ronny

Heartbreak doffed his dark hat, and offered to the woman two hard, silky eyes.
“How are you today?”
“Never better,” the woman replied, reaching for the red lipstick in her back pocket. Her eyelashes fluttered clumsily as she glued on her tunnel vision, necessary to ignore the sultry sirens clinging to his arms and hair and shoulder-blades. “Could you give me a moment?” Only a moment was required for her to turn away and shove her helpless, throbbing heart into a stone box; safety measures. When she turned back, her face was icy, daring. “Let's go for a ride.”

Heartbreak drove fast, with no seat belt on. He never stopped at traffic lights. Good Sense and Principles, in their big, lumbering sedan, didn't have a chance. The woman didn't even notice them trying to catch up; she was too busy not looking at Heartbreak's one hand on the steering wheel (he had bitten nails), and the other resting on the gear-stick, dangerously close to her thigh. With a thudding vacuum in her ribcage, the woman dragged Innocence from where she was hiding, terrified, under the dashboard, and ground her into a cosmetic product. This, she gargled thoroughly, and spat back out as dreamy eyes and bouncing giggles, to which Heartbreak turned one amused eye, and said,
“You're adorable.”
The woman snatched away his cigarette and asked, “Aren't I enough?” Sly, experienced Heartreak gave her a tender nod. Back home, from its cold prison, her foolish heart strained towards him.

Heartbreak kissed her while driving, but he wasn't satisfied. He turned into a dark corner.
“Come back to my house?” Slowing down was his first mistake. Good Sense and Principles, panting, caught up and slid into the back seat. The woman glanced back at them nervously.
“I can't. You don't love me.” Heartbreak ran a deliberating hand through his hair, and then leant closer. He smelt of burnt grass and the debris after a tornado.
“And what if I do?” Wishful Thinking slid in through the window, added assumption to implication, and threw Good Sense out. Principles lingered for a while more.
“Okay, but...”
“Don't worry,” Heartbreak smiled. “You're beautiful, but I can control myself.” Ascent and Excitement leaked from the woman's parted lips. Principles, exhaling defeated exasperation, left of his own accord.
Heartbreak, smiling like a schoolboy, stepped down on the accelerator.

Back in his bedroom, the sirens detached themselves from him and leant back against the furniture to watch the scene unfold. Far away, the woman's heart was slamming determinedly against the walls of its cell, while her eyes, present on set, grew big with anticipation. The sirens whispered amongst themselves, laying bets, “One minute.” “I'd say twenty-six.” “No, thirteen.” “Nine.” The woman's eyebrows curved into question marks, and she extended a confused hand. Heartbreak patted it pacifyingly.

“Now,” hissed a siren, clapping her hands with glee. And the naive heart, having broken free and soared towards its doom, came through the open door and fell, flopping, bleeding, warm, into Heartbreak's waiting fingers. His triumphant smile was almost kind, and the repeat doffing of his hat was entirely civil. Cruelty only appeared afterwards, when he walked out of the room without another word. The woman, with fading lipstick and burgled body, could only watch.

Title taken from the song Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits


BETA WRITERS

This story portrays something very tragic that happened very recently, and something which should be looked into. For next week we have 'CHARGE!' as our topic. All submissions need to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com by Sunday noon. Word limit: 350-500 words. Good luck.

No

By Sarzah Yeasmin

Aleya embraced the hijab with great care round her face and blanketed her forehead with a magenta band to avoid any possibility of hair showing around the flicks of dopatta, hanging loosely in georgettes covering her ears. She walked out the slum hut, the dopatta wrapped neatly around her chest. There are times when Aleya had fallen back in bed amidst the fresh frosts of fading November blotches on her bare feet. She settled on her sweeping curiosity today. 'No, I just hope it's not his body' she kept saying within the fluent silence of her coupled lips, on her way to the burn unit.

She hastily climbed down from the rickshaw. 'What are you here for?' asked the low level government clerk while he sputtered the raw red of paan pata on the overgrown festers of the mosaic, controlling the flaunting lungi's grip with the highest authority and restricting Aleya's interrogatory eyes to shutdown in suffocation from his bureaucratic gestures . 'I am here for my husband' Aleya replied composedly, concealing the heavy strains on her breath. 'O garment's worker?' 'Yes', 'Manager?', 'No', 'Low level labor?' 'Yes' 'Okay go'. As the trail of inspections went on, the clerk eyed Aleya with his vulture sight, setting Aleya trembling with soreness.

Entering the gates of the medical college, she was puzzled by the flood of heads bellowing their hearts out. Bodies enveloped in white were hurried on to the pick-up vans, with women of all ages going comatose and regaining sense to pass out again. A canopy grew on Aleya's eyes and deafness settled on her ears. She could not recall her recent existence, being pushed back and forth, she got lost in the crowd - suspended like the swarm of bees in the beehive. The trimly packaged corpses occupied the front row of the balcony while the people shoved sluggishly in lines, clothing their nose from the stench in the dead air. A man collapsed between the lines as hands from all sides poured down in his support. He entreated on his weakened knees to Allah, he knew his daughter by the nosepin which was the only apparent thing on her coaled face fleshed out in pink gapes which were feeding under the scorching heat of pre-winter sunlight. Aleya stared at the man hammering his breasts relentlessly with his hands. She felt her nosepin; it was the first ever wedding gift she got from her husband. Even in times of need, he did not let her sell that nakphul.

She saw the field wardens off the site tying the white threads with sticker numbers on the legs of the other dead bodies. Her heavy watery eyes, blinking on the verge of the fall, searched for the remains of a blue print shirt. Aleya held her heart back and uncovered the face from the white… No, it was not her husband.



 

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