by S.S. Tehreer
A couple moves to a new place. Strange happenings disturb Lizeh, affecting her mind.
|New places and new people have always scared me. I've never been one to participate in social events, not even going to birthdays of my immediate family. The last time I was at a birthday was two years ago. It was my father's 65th birthday. He insisted that I take the time out of my busy schedule to come. I hated every second of it. I hated that there was no space in the room where we cut the cake. I hated that I had to smile. I hated the fact that my shoulders grazed against other people who stood next to me. I hated the smell, that awful smell humans give off when there's too many of us in a room. I remember not being able to breathe the entire time.
That was until I met him. A silent smiling face, the wiry hair, the big round glasses hiding beautiful almond eyes. We looked across the room from each other and we haven't stopped looking since. We looked at each other the same way when he asked me to marry him. We gave each other the same look when we finally got married. People don't appeal me. But this particular person is the most appealing. My whole world. And now he has to leave me.
"Baby it's only for a few months. If I could I would take you with me I would", Daniyal was unloading the car. We were parked right in the middle of the road. I couldn't tell if it was a road or sidewalk. Most always look the same in this country.
"Exactly! That's what makes it worse", I pulled my handbag on my shoulder and stomped through the rot-iron gate.
Daniyal tried his best to catch up to me. Too many boxes in his hands. But he fell on the stairs. Clank! All my trinkets fell down the staircase. The different brass miniature Eiffel Towers came banging down the stairs. I threw my handbag down and chased after them. My precious towers, my dream, my only hope.
"I'm sorry Lizeh", Daniyal began scooping up the Eiffel Towers and neatly placed them in the box. I ran down and picked up as many as I could hold. Daniyal knew how much I hated these precious pieces being tarnished. He needed to be more careful.
Placing them back in their box I walked up the stairs again to see my new home. It was a rental, the same marble floors every house in Pakistan had. The same whitewashed walls, the same ugly ceiling fans, the same large paned windows. It was the same, and I liked same.
"The truck should be coming anytime soon with our other things", Daniyal hugged me from behind and kissed the back of my head, like always.
"I don't understand why we couldn't just stay in Islamabad. I can always live alone, I always have", I leaned back into him.
"Lizeh, you know I can't leave you there alone. Besides, you promised you'd compromise" he tightened his grip around me. "You're technically living alone, my parents will just send little Ammar to check on you, only once a day. And we'll talk almost all day, every day."
"I don't understand why I need to be checked in on. I'm not four Daniyal", I peeled away from his embrace.
He leapt in front of me and took my face in his hands. Daniyal looked at me the same way people look at battered homeless puppies. But I knew it was because he loved me. He took in a deep breath and sighed with a loud huff. Patting my cheek, "no one thinks your four Lizeh, you're audacious, brave, and courageous. A-B-C", Daniyal flicked the tip of my nose. I laughed. Same.
Thankfully the moving trucks came before it got too dark. We were able to unload and rearrange the house to our liking. Our room was once again, our room. Everything was exactly as it used to be in our old apartment. The same carpets, same furniture, and same arrangements. The bed was on the far wall, a lamp to each corner, and our nooks on each side. The same mini succulent plant, parallel to the table's sides, and exactly six inches inward. Almost in the middle of the table but not exactly.
Perfection! It felt like I never left Islamabad. That was until I heard the doorbell ring. It was the sound of young chirping birds. I gasped, jolting the side table that swayed, making the succulent and my books move with it.
"Lizeh! Baby, it's fine. It's just Ammar, I told him not to ring, he just forgot", Daniyal placed his hands on my shoulders. I relaxed.
Daniyal had opened the door for Ammar. I heard them talking in hushed tones from below. Their whispers were echoing off the walls of the house.
'Don't sound too excited okay?' I heard Daniyal instruct his little brother. He wasn't so little like everyone called him. He was at least twenty five the last time I counted. I didn't really like him. His nose was too big for his face and his ego was too big for his tiny frame. I hated the way he would look at me. Always smiling, always trying to act the sweetest little thing in the world. He would call me bhahbi jaan, with emphasis on the jaan. He was nothing like my Daniyal. Total opposites. Not same.
"Bhahbi?", Ammar walked into my room. He was holding a red coloured box and extended it to me. I looked over, it was a box full of traditional sweets, all of them barfi. The neat little squares of opaque looking milk solids, packed with precise to ensure the maximum taste of sweetness. My weakness. 'What a clever little boy', I thought.
"I'm glad bhabhi jee that you decided to move a little closer to us", he sat on one of the armchairs I placed in our room.
I smiled back at him, Daniyal came and sat down next to me in our bed.
"She's the best Ammar. I only had to explain to her once and she was completely on board. The best wife a man could ever ask for", Daniyal hugged me from the side.
We chatted for a while. Well, both brothers talked for a while. I just stared at the barfi box. I was waiting for Ammar to leave so I could take another piece out.
"Bhabhi, would it be okay with you if I can come by before I go to work?", Ammar looked at me dead in the eye. I bet he knew how much I wanted a bite. He was purposely delaying his leave just to make me wait for more. Hated him.
"Umm, that would be okay", I replied making sure to sound disingenuous, "just make sure to give me a missed call", I added.
"Yes, today was completely unintentional and I'm really sorry about it", our eyes met as he said sorry.
Screeching sounds burst from the kitchen. A songbird was screaming for her life. The cries pierced through my ears. It hurt so bad I thought my ears would start bleeding. I covered my ears as best I could but that God awful sound kept reverberating through my ears.
Both Daniyal and Ammar had already run out of our room. They clamoured through the hallway to get to the kitchen. I squeezed my ears so hard, pain sprouted throughout the curves, the cartilage growing pain that spread to my throat. I couldn't help myself and ran towards the kitchen too.
I kicked the door open and found Daniyal and Ammar standing in horror. Both faces contorted to the outlines of confusion and disgust. I followed their gaze only to see a small songbird being mutilated between exhaust fan blades. The blades had locked the little bird in their grip. Her neck perturbed out of the fan's protective guard, while the rest of her body was being chopped by the blade. She screeched begging for mercy. But the fan would not stop.
"Ammar please get her out of here", Daniyal requested.
Ammar came in front of me and began walking me out of the kitchen. I traced my steps backwards, still focused on what should have been the view of the little bird.
"Bhabhi please", he held onto my shoulders and closed the doors behind him. Not same.
I twisted and turned in bed. There was the same walls, same bed, same ceiling fan, but not the same sleep. Today's sleep was different. I blame the bird. Stupid bird trying to sneak into my house. Got herself killed.
"Baby?", Daniyal sounded groggy. I sighed, finally realizing that I was sitting up. I didn't answer him. He turned on the lights and sat up with me. I felt his hand on my back, he began running his hand over my back. That made me feel better. Same.
"Sweety, I know you'll miss me. But remember it's just sixty days. They'll go by so fast, you wouldn't even realize it", he got up and rested his head on my shoulder. "Besides, think about it. Sixty days all to yourself. Sixty beautiful days of Alizeh. Sixty days to paint, write, and you were telling me about all those recipes you wanted to try out. You can use the time to make test runs. When I come back you'll be a pro!"
"You're right", I turned to face him. "But I'm no fan of your parents barging in unannounced. You know how I like to keep a schedule", he stiffened his grip on my back and smiled.
"Of course dear", I felt him pulling me down into the bed. "Just promise me you won't sleep all day and night, and promise me you'll eat, and most importantly shower".
"Don't be silly Daniyal."
It didn't take more than a week and I returned to my sameness. I lay in bed all day and night. The TV was kept on 24/7. I watched Pakistani soap operas all day, and Netflix all night. I made sure to track a pattern of Daniyal's Skype calls. That way I looked prim and proper when he called.
"So what recipe are you trying today Lizeh?", the video was a bit of a blur today. I saw a hardhat on him which meant he was out on the field today.
"Today, we'll be having creamy chicken Mexican pasta. I saw the recipe video on YouTube", I made sure to smile a few seconds extra.
"Be careful Lizeh, make sure to go for a walk at least. Just don't go too far", I hadn't been outside since we moved in months ago, except for when Daniyal would take me up on the roof for tea.
"Don't worry Daniyal, you know I'm not -"
"Yes, yes, you're not four. ABC, remember Lizeh", he smiled. I smiled back. Same.
Clank, clank, clink. And the screeching began. The high pitched sound of death ambushed me. The phone fell from my hand and I covered my ears. It was loud, it felt like someone was forcing a needle through my ears.
"Not this bullshit again!", Daniyal yelled through my phone. "Baby close the door. I'm calling Ammar!"
I had to sit through that horrible sound for hours before Ammar finally came. The songbird yelled and yelled for hours. She wouldn't stop for even a breath. The deranged sound became forever engrained in my memory. Even after Ammar had left the sound didn't go away.
I was awake all throughout the night with that terrible sound echoing through my ears. The screeching of the bird, like a small child delirious from tears. I couldn't stand it anymore! I checked my phone, it was 2:00 AM. I knew the bird was no longer stuck but I could still hear her cry. I needed air. Not same.
As soon as I opened the door to the roof, a gust of cool air almost threw me off balance. The temperature was completely different to our house. It was hot and stuffy just downstairs, yet the air outside was cool. I stepped out in my pyjamas. They were cotton trousers and a grey cotton t-shirt that had the word 'pretty' written in pink cursive.
It was quiet outside. Just the occasional howling of a stray dog. It was also very dark, but not like how a room gets dark. The light of the waxing moon was the perfect amount of light to illuminate the roof. There wasn't much on the roof, just a geyser that kept the water hot. The neighbourhood was all fast asleep, except for one little room.
The house across the street from me. Well, it was technically across the street from me. In the rows of houses in our neighbourhood, there was an empty lot between houses right in front of ours. Across that empty lot was a three-storey bungalow. The entrance was encased in crawling ivy. The property was wrapped snug like a blanket with the branches of tall trees that grew outside its gates. The half-moon only lit parts of the street before it. All the lights were off in the house, as was the case for all our houses including ours. Except for one dim light, on the third storey.
I squinted to try and see what was in the window. Someone stood bent, just bowing. I couldn't make out their face. I couldn't make out what they were wearing. It only looked like a white sheet. I squeezed my eyes more to try and focus my vision. It didn't move, just stood there. So I stood too.
I heard something from below. I ran down without looking back at the house. I ran as fast as my feet can take me. The last step was a little higher than the rest and I twisted my ankle, falling forward, hitting the cold marble floor. Same.
Light seeped through one of the windows. It forced me to wake up, but the burning on my chin, nose and forehead wouldn't let me wake. So I ignored the light and went back to sleep.
"Bhabhi?", Ammar was shaking me. He sounded worried. "Bhabhi?", he called out again.
"What?", I managed.
"Bhabhi, it's almost five", he lifted me off the floor with ease, taking me towards our room. "I won't ask how you got here, but you really need something for your face."
"I thought we'd agreed that you wouldn't come no matter what", I hissed.
"And I thought you'd hold up your end of the bargain and speak to Daniyal on time", I hobbled along, using him to keep the weight off my busted ankle.
He opened the door to our room. It was a mess. I gasped.
The lamps were thrashed against the wall, bulbs shattered, lampshades shredded like paper. The bed was flipped over, a hole the size of a basketball in our TV. The succulent plants torn from their tiny pots. My perfect plants. Not same.
"Bhabhi?", Ammar looked at me with wide eyes.
"Why?", I couldn't take it. The walls weren't the same. The table wasn't supposed to be there. I was gasping for air now. The books are all wrong. Why are the pictures on the wall slanted? Not same! Not same!
"Bhabhi calm down. Please stay calm. I'll fix it", he tried to sit me down. But I leapt from his side. I barely made it through the door before I fell.
"Bhabhi don't move! There's glass everywhere!"
Ammar stayed for hours. He cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. He sorted, organized, and arranged. But it wasn't the same, it just wasn't.
"Bhabhi, maybe you should come home with me."
"Maybe you should leave me be."
"Bhabhi, please. Be reasonable."
"You can go now."
Nothing was the same. I hated it. Most of all I couldn't watch TV and our room was a mess.
Chirp, chirp, chirp.
That horrid bell. I jumped. I checked my phone, it was around 11 PM. All my neighbours should be asleep. Maybe Daniyal rushed home? That can't be, he's in another country. The bell rang again. That ugly chirping sound got me again.
I managed to get out of bed, balancing on my good foot and hopped downstairs. I made my way across the car porch, opening the brown painted iron gates.
Someone stood outside, their back towards me, wearing a white shawl.
"Yes?", my voice echoed in the empty street. The stranger turned to face me. But I couldn't see the mouth or nose. Only when the stranger spoke, I recognized that it was a her.
"Hello", she whispered.
"Can I help you? Not to sound rude but it's really very late."
"Yes, it is late. I work all day and don't come home until late. I heard you were our new neighbours, so I thought I stop by. I also brought this", she held out a red box, opening the lid to reveal perfect square cut barfi. My mouth watered. I couldn't resist.
"That's very kind of you", I took the box. "Do you live next door?"
"Oh no", she snickered, "I live across the street, well technically across."
I looked up from the box to the bungalow captured by wild foliage.
"You're not covering your head."
I touched my head. She was right. No shawl, no scarf, just my hair.
"Well, I've never worn one in my life."
"I see. So you're not from around here?"
"No we just moved here from Islamabad", I smiled but prayed the conversation would end.
"Wonderful! Well, I hope to be seeing more of you", she nodded and turned to leave. I closed the gate, this time locked it. My leg could no longer keep my weight, so I crawled across the car porch and up the stairs.
I got into bed with the box in my hand. I'll just take one. Just one and no more. I took a bite. The hard walls of the chalky barfi filled my mouth. I felt the walls of milk crumble every time I chewed. Two pieces wouldn't hurt. I took another. 'Three is the magic number' I thought. After twenty-six I lost count. Same.
"Bhahbi, this isn't going to work if you keep on doing this."
I grunted at hearing Ammar's voice.
"Get up already. Daniyal is on call, at least try to look awake."
I forced myself up and looked in the mirror of my dressing table. I patted my hair down and rubbed my eyes. 'Again?' I thought. Ammar handed his phone to me, the light forcing my eyes to open.
"Lizeh!", Daniyal lurched forward into the phone's camera.
"I'm fine Daniyal. You didn't have to send your little brother after me!", I rolled my eyes at him, it was annoying how much he would cling.
"Lizeh, I was worried, you weren't picking up any of my calls or answering any messages. Try to understand…"
"I'm here aren't I? I can't go anywhere, I don't know anyone! I'm here!", I screamed. Ammar backed away from me and left the room.
"I know Lizeh! But I'm not forcing you to be alone. You wanted this remember? I offered for you to stay with my parents. It's a huge house, they wouldn't even get in your way! But you wanted to be alone!"
"Yes well, maybe I do wanna be alone! What's wrong with that?", I roared as I've never done before. "Why must I always be watched upon? Why must you always get every single detailed update of me? Why?", I rose from the bed. The words escaping from my lips made my chest swell. I felt like someone was blowing hot air into me as I expanded with my fury. The thumps of my heart grew louder in my ears, breathing was getting difficult. "What am I? Some sheltered butterfly? Am I fragile? Will I break? Am I made of glass Daniyal?", I choked on his name. Tears stung my eyes now, I felt the hot drops streaming down, leaving the feeling of scorched earth behind.
He was silent.
"Lizeh", was all he managed after an hour of silence.
I looked at him from the screen. It was no difference, he was always behind a wall. I could never get to him.
"Lizeh, you know you don't have to stay inside. You can go out, leave the house, see our neighbourhood. Heck! Go to the market. Get whatever you want", he sniffed. "Babe, I love you. I love you Lizeh, you know that right?", Daniyal heaved on his chest and let out a sigh.
"I know", I whispered.
"Then don't ever think otherwise again. Please. And if you don't pick up my next call or answer a text I'll book a flight home immediately", Daniyal looked at me with hard eyes.
"O come on, don't be so dramatic", I giggled. He laughed along with me. We were laughing but we both knew he was telling the truth.
"Are you taking your medicine Lizeh", he asked. I nodded.
"Good. Have you eaten?", he asked, I nodded again.
"Good. Now go out with Ammar, he has the car and you have to go out", he said in his grown-up voice. I tsked at the request. "Yes, you are going to go. For my sake", Daniyal flicked the tear from the corner of his eye. I nodded.
"I have to go now, but you can always talk to me Lizeh. In any way you like, especially this way", he blew a kiss into the camera and I blew one back. Same.
Throughout the entire time Ammar walked and talked as we roamed the market, my thoughts went back to our phone call. Why was I yelling? And why was I saying all those things? I didn't mean any of them, at least I think I don't.
It was probably from the barfi overdose. Maybe excessive sugar has a way of making you do things you don't think you can.
Ammar left as soon as he dropped me home around 10 PM. I made sure this time to answer all of Daniyal's messages and even sent voice notes. It was almost midnight when sleep found me. It was a slow sleep, that comes to you with a gentle touch. I hadn't slept such sleep in years. As I closed my eyes to the world before me, I drifted someplace else.
It was dark, darker than all the dark I've ever seen in my entire life. But I knew for some reason I was in our room. The same bed, the same carpet, and the same side table. Everything felt the same, the same it’s always been. But something in the back of my head kept screaming 'not same'.
I reached for where the light turns on. It was there but it didn't work. My hands felt around to see what was close to me. I felt the side table, looking for my phone. It wasn't there. I felt my way around to find the carpeted floor, finally getting down on all fours to crawl. The carpet was soft beneath my skin but worn. It was after some crawling that I finally reached the hallway. I could feel the cold marble on my skin. There should be a light switch.
I slowly rose from the floor, feeling the wall to find the switch. It was there but not working. 'Shit!', I thought, 'what know?'.
I heard a low hum coming from behind me. Or maybe on my right or left. I couldn't tell. It was low and seemed distant. It could be miles from me. I blinked into the darkness and that's when it got louder. The screeching turned to a howl, finally turned to a painful yell. It sounded like the songbird as it was being mulled. The distressing sound not only became louder, it felt like it was getting closer to my ear.
The panic was setting in. I gasped for air, as much as my lungs could hold. My armpits were getting wet, the moisture seeped into my t-shirt and made the fabric stick to me. Without thinking I began to run. Anywhere, just away from the screeching. I covered my ears and ran. My toes smashed into something, maybe a wall, maybe a door. The dying bird seemed to be following me. The further I ran the closer it tried to reach me. I turned a right and fell forward.
My nose was the first to make an impact on the cold hard stairs. It hit the ledge of stairs as I tumbled forward. My rib cage smashed into the stairs. I felt a sting in my ribs, the pain flared up and I forgot to breathe. The descent stopped as my back hit a wall. My body felt twisted like a raggedy-Ann doll. My hand tried to shoot up to my nose. I didn't feel anything. Nothing wet or sticky. I couldn't even feel the weight of blood on my skin. There was no blood. Not a single drop. I checked my mouth, all my teeth were there but no blood. I got up, dusted myself off. Nothing was aching, no pains, no welts or bruises. I was the same.
But it was still dark. I slid my feet across the floor, searching for a wall. The tips of my fingers finally felt cold iron. I felt the lock of the door and snapped it open.
The light of the moon illuminated the street before me. The gravel and the tufts of grass were clearly visible. I stepped out, leaving the dark behind. I almost stepped on something, a red box of sorts. I picked it up, opening it to find barfi. The same barfi. I looked up and across the empty lot, the bungalow was completely dark. Except for that one tiny room on the third storey. A shadow stood there, hunched against the window this time. What was supposed to be a head, leaned on the window. The same shroud of white covered the entire body.
It was a dream after all. I can just open my eyes and be back in my room. 'It's my imagination. Just open your eyes, I told myself. Since it's just a dream, I'll be taking that box of barfis too.
My eyes were open but I forced my mind to open them. This was a dream and I just had to open my real eyes. I forced the muscle of my eyelids to widen, but I still saw the road. I tried harder. But nothing.
So I stepped inside the house, maybe that would do it. I stepped back into the utter darkness and closed the door. 'Open up now!', I screamed in my head.
Just like that, I was awake. Same walls, same bed, same side table. I looked down in my hands and even saw the same barfi box the lady from across the street gave me. Same.
I don't remember how many pieces I ate before, but the box was almost full. So I ate them again. The only good thing about my life was the exquisite feeling of tasting barfi. It gave me relief, it lulled me. I felt peace. Same.
"You have got to be kidding me!", Ammar was yelling. I felt the annoying screech of his voice in my ear. But my eyes wouldn't open. Maybe if I ignore him he'll go away.
"Bhabhi! How exactly have you put on this charade with Daniyal?"
The accusation in his tone made me jump up. I was apparently on the floor of my room. I bumped my head against a chair. The bed was cut open, foam escaping from the mattress. Books, pages, and wall hangings were all shredded or broken, lying on the floor.
"Is that...blood?", Ammar pointed to the wall.
I followed his finger to the wall. It was smeared across the wall. No particular pattern or writing. It wasn't bright red, more of a darker brown tinge like it was dried.
"What time is it?", I tried to ask. My throat was dried and my jaw was locked. I could barely open my mouth to speak.
"Bhabhi, it's 6 on the dot. And I haven't been here for weeks. You promised me you'd speak every day with Daniyal, which you have. But Daniyal said you sounded too chirpy, that piqued my curiosity and I came right away", Ammar was confused. He tried to match what he said with what he saw.
"Bhabhi, this is wrong", he whispered. He tip-toed across the room to avoid glass. "Did you do this now?", He asked.
"I didn't do any of this!"
He grabbed me by the shoulders. I tried to push him but my arms had no strength.
"You're saying that's not your blood?", he grabbed my hands, forcing the palms up. There was a wide gash across my palms, it looked to be recovering. It partially formed a scab over it. But the gash was too wide.
I looked at him and shook my head.
"I didn't do this. I didn't!", I tore my hands from his grasp and ran.
"It's just a dream. I'll open my eyes now", I strained on my eyes to force them open. My hands squeezed into a ball as I mustered all my power. "You're not here. You're not real. Just like her. You aren't here",
"Her who? Who bhabhi?", Ammar leapt to catch me. I ran down the stairs. " Bhabhi! You're not well! Let me help you!", he screamed from behind.
"No, no, no", I stammered. "I didn't ask for help! I don't want help! Stop! Coming here! Stop!", I ran into a room downstairs and locked the door.
Ammar was banging on the door. The door thumped as he tried to force it open.
"Bhabhi! Don't be selfish! Think of Daniyal please!", he screamed from behind.
"I'm not selfish! How am I selfish? You're the ones that are selfish! All of you! You! Your stupid mother! Your stupid father! And especially Daniyal! All of you!", I screamed at the door. I threw things at the door. Anything I could find. Remotes, books, my prized Eiffel towers.
"Bhabhi please, let us help you. We're not the enemy", I heard Ammar choking on his words. He was sobbing, I heard him taking hard breaths. "Bhabhi please, stop. What happened to you?", he had stopped trying to break the door open.
"I was fine before any of you. I was perfect. Everything is the same. Same! You all took that from me! My job, my house, even my parents. You took them!"
"Bhabhi please. Don't say that. Try and remember, please. Try!", He yelled. He took a deep breath, "Bhabhi they're gone, a long time ago. Please remember. Stop being so selfish. Everyone has to die sometime. It was a natural death."
"No! Lies!", I yelled. I threw a vase at the door. So many lies! Always the lying, the cheating, the stealing. Always the same.
"Shame on you all! Damn you all to hell! Damn you all!"
"Bhabhi if this doesn't stop, I'm going to have to call Daniyal. This is final. You're coming home with us!", he banged again. "It was stupid allowing you to live here all alone. You aren't well".
Those were the last words he spoke. What followed was days of silence. It was always the same. The same silence, same room, same dream. Same.
I waited everyday for the same sleep to take me. And every day it never failed me. I sat locked in the room, sitting on a sofa, and watched the door. The knob never turned, but my eyes grew weary and were forced to close.
I was back in the darkness. But this time I was immediately at the door. No falling, no screeching, and no searching.
The box of barfis was exactly in the same spot. Exactly five steps away from the door. I reached out to take them but this time the woman wearing the white shawl appeared. Her face covered like before. Her eyes were brighter under the moonlight.
"Did you like my gift Alizeh?", she asked.
"You leave these here every night?"
"Of course, we are friends after all. And you have a lovely home. A lot of women would kill to be in your place", I couldn't see her face, but her eyes were smiling.
"You're right, I guess."
"You don't agree?", she was confused.
"Well, who wouldn't want to stay home all day in their pyjamas? But it gets boring, especially since my husband isn't home. "
"Do you love him?", she stepped back as if to leave.
"I do love him more than anything, but -"
"But? Why but?", this time she stepped forward.
"But I miss my old life. I gave up everything when I married him. It's the only thing I regret", I looked down at the box. Tears streamed down my face. They were cold tears, not warm from anger, but filled with longing. I knew Daniyal loved me. He did everything he could for me. But I wasn't… happy.
"How sad Alizeh. It's truly sad to see you suffer. But it's even sadder to see Daniyal suffer."
"How is he suffering?", I choked. I did everything he always asked. I do everything he expects. He said I was perfect. How could he possibly suffer?
She lifted her veil. And what hid underneath was a wide mouth, her lips sat on her face from ear to ear. She smiled to reveal sharp needle-like teeth and a lizard's tongue. Her nostrils flared. Her eyes became as dark as the house. There were no pupils, no light, no whites. Just dark orbs sunken in her face. She took a step closer, smiling, licking her thin lips, then grazed her tongue over her sharp teeth.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk. We can fix that can't we, help Daniyal? Lovely Daniyal. Delicious Daniyal", she lurched forward to grab me. I stumbled back into the house and kicked the door closed. It was dark again. I screamed as best I could. I screamed until my throat hurt. I screamed until the muscles of my throat pained me. I heard her breathing. I felt the hot breaths she took on my skin. I felt her presence, she was hovering over my neck.
This was just a dream, only a dream. My eyes had to open. Open up!
And open they did. I was standing in the hallway, Ammar was there and so was Daniyal. Both looked like they were seeing me for the first time.
I looked down at myself. I was wearing a white shawl covered in fresh blood. I felt it on my skin underneath the shawl. The pain of opened wounds stung me. There were cuts all over my thighs, arms, and hands. It was the cuts that allowed blood to tarnish the shawl. I gasped at myself.
"Baby, please listen to me. Stay exactly where you are and let me come to you", Daniyal said with a steady tone.
"Don't touch me!", I stepped back, my arms behind me as I steadied myself against the wall.
"Lizeh, please, please, please don't argue with me now. I have to help you, baby",
"I don't need your help. I didn't do this", my heart was beating out of my chest. I heard the pace quicken in my ears. "You have to believe me Daniyal. This wasn't me. It was her!".
The realization hit quickly. The barfi, their intoxication, and my blackouts. I let her in. I fed her. She did this to me.
"Baby no one else is here", Daniyal whispered.
How could that be? She was a dream? But no! I heard her, I saw her. The teeth, the tongue, those eyes. I've felt their presence. She's real!
As my thoughts overcame me, Daniyal took the opportunity to grab me. He grabbed me from behind. Encasing me in his grip. I struggled to find an inch. So I pushed my head back, making sure to hit his mouth. He winced from the pain. I bounced as he held me. But Ammar leapt forward and grabbed my ankles. Both of them balanced me in the air.
I kicked and twisted my arms. I yelled and screamed. They managed to bring me out into the car porch. My screams now echoed on the marble floor.
"Stop Daniyal! STOP! She's after you! She wants you!", I kicked Ammar harder.
Someone opened the gate for them. He was wearing a grey orderly uniform, with a thick moustache. A woman in the same uniform was with him. The road was partially lit. The sun had set and darkness crept to take its place.
A white van was parked out front of the empty plot, doors opened.
I struggled to be free. But to no avail.
"Daniyal please listen to me, please" I begged. Tears rolling down my eyes.
"Baby you're sick", he was crying too.
"No, I'm not. Please I'll do anything just let me go. Please", I moaned.
That's when I saw her. She stood in the middle of the empty lot. Taking her veil off.
"Daniyal!", I screamed. "She's the one, she did it! Look!", I kicked with more ferocity, Ammar fell and my legs were free.
"Lizeh stop! We're trying to help you!"
"No!", I almost freed myself. But the man ran forward and grabbed me. The women followed.
I felt a stab on my shoulder. A needle pricked my skin. My eyes were wide open and I yelled. But I couldn't hear my screams.
The woman removed her veil. A wicked smile crossed her face, her sharp teeth revealing themselves.
'No', I thought. Before darkness engulfed me.