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Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Daily Life | 5 comments

Short Story: Guilt Trip

canstockphoto22421161It was the meeting. He did not stop because of the meeting. He slowed the car- the brand new Verna- and rolled down the window. Curiosity always killed the cat. As the hot air hit him (the air conditioned interiors had closed him to his surroundings), in wafted a very repulsive smell- something very human. Sweat and blood. A man walked over to him, the movement momentarily distracting him from the body lying on the road. He was twenty-ish, well dressed but the blots of crimson on his shirt caught the eye. Frantic, with short breaths, he emerges out of my dream. I can still hear him asking, no, begging, for a ride to the hospital. But I don’t stop.

No amount of scrutiny, no amount of contemplation can reveal to me the root of my actions. Apathy? Has the world made me this indifferent to a fellow human’s sufferings? Or was it just because the Verna was new? I can almost see the Marxist of college times laughing at me. Or perhaps it was the meeting. It was most probably the meeting… The reasons suddenly gush out of me- multifarious, they jump out and stand next to the dying man. They start speaking all at once- slowly turning pale, losing out all meaning.

A vain sense of shame, a desperate need to mourn, a gnawing sense of self-loathing, but somewhere in there, also a draft reasoning. There was a whole crowd there. Someone must have helped them. Or maybe they weren’t that hurt (the image of the immobile body fritters in)- if they were, people would have gone to their aid before my arrival. Blind reasoning and wishful thinking- a camouflage for ethical failing.

Not love, guilt is rudimentary. Depravity is the only thing innate in us.

There are cockroaches in the room. Hard to find, but I know they are there. They remain hidden in the daylight. But they are out at night. Like now. I can feel them. The clicking of their antennae, a slight flutter of the wings. They are slowly making their way towards me. The phantoms of a million pests running up and down my sweat drenched body. I can feel them- now on the arm, now on the nape. A tingling sensation, but a cursory brush makes me question the reliability of my own sense organs. The heat, the tee sticking on to my belly, the specters of thin antennae prodding my skin. I’d never realized how gross nights were. The twenty year old with the blood splatters is laughing at me now. This is getting hard. The cinders have turned into sparks, from sparks to flames, and now the fire is raging. With a desperate desire to atone, I reach out for the gun.

Epilogue

A new video was trending on YouTube. “Shocking! Road Accident -Social Experiment”

 

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Bhavya Vishwarajan is an aspiring writer and literature student from India.

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5 Comments

  1. I like this story, but not sure why you put curiosity killed the cat. It’s a clever end, I wasn’t expecting that.

    • Thanks, Andy!I’m glad you like it. I had used the curiosity-cat bit to allude towards the ending (he sees the body, ignores it, the image comes back to haunt him and the hallucinations inevitably bring about the death). I guess I should have brought in more clarity. Sorry! I would love to know how you had expected the story to end though.

  2. Great story, Bhavya! I really didn’t see the twist at the end coming. I think the Verna is a slightly jarring note, as it’s not a well-known model of car, so it doesn’t give an immediate image – you might want to consider changing it to a famous brand. I’m not sure why you started in the third person and continued in the first person, but I kind of like it – it works, somehow. You’ll notice I changed your original title, ‘An Anticlimax’ as I felt ‘Guilt Trip’ was more appropriate because of the other meaning of ‘trip’. What do you think of the new title? I liked the idea of the cockroaches as guilty feelings, but I’d suggest you change the word ‘pests’ to ‘insects’, as ‘pests’ suggests they are a minor irritation rather than seriously disturbing. I’m a bit unsure of the cinders/sparks/flames bit, as you’re mixing the metaphors, which weakens the writing and can confuse the reader. Perhaps the cockroaches could turn into larger, more dangerous animals instead (e.g. cockroaches/lizards/dragons) to continue the same metaphor? Anyway, despite my criticisms: good job.

    • Thanks for the comment, Lucy. I’m not much into cars and Verna was actually the first brand that came to my mind. Perhaps, as you suggested, I should replace it. I have used the third person pronoun to show it was part of the dream sequence- have always wondered what dreams look like outside of the mind.As in, if they could be viewed like a movie, involving the dreamer more in it (The shift in narration is also because I have been reading Dostoevsky these days). Thanks for changing the title.I like the pun on the new one. 😀 No particular reason for using flames, it was just a reference to the chaos on his mind. Roaches seem to rule though! 😀 Thanks again for the comment. I will consider your suggestions.

      • * Emily. I’m so sorry, have always been bad with names. Age is starting to show. :'(

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