My cries merged with my mother's sobs. The voice was wailing at the top of its lungs. Most of all, more than the shock or the icy feeling in my heart, an uncomfortable feeling of guilt started gnawing at my conscience. Just what had I done? Just...
I could imagine my Dad driving, his mind disturbed by our fight, by the things I said to his face. He was so distracted that...
"Amy...The taxi is here..." My mother pushed me into the waiting car. I was hardly aware of the journey and didn't even bother to wipe the tears rolling down my cheeks. A lump rose in my throat whenever I tried to speak.
When the car finally stopped, I was at the point of fully breaking down into loud cries. My mother held me as she helped me out. I could feel her hands shaking. Her eyes were dry but I could feel the silent sobs she was trying very hard to stifle.
The ICU was a horrible place. I saw through the glass that he was attached to a thousand instruments. There wasn't an inch of his body that wasn't bandaged. My mother was called away to see the doctor leaving me all alone.
"What happened?" An all too familiar voice called out from behind. What I felt immediately was an irrational anger. He was the one that started everything...He was the reason I fought with Dad...
"Amy...I just heard that..." I bit down every harsh word that had risen to my lips when I saw how scared he looked. There was even a glint of tears in his narrow eyes. "How is he...Have you spoken to the doctor?"
"Mom has gone to meet the doctor right now..."
"It's going to be fine..." He wasn't even looking at me when he spoke. His eyes were on my Dad. And I could hear the voice crying...
Somehow, I couldn't find the courage in me to go in with him. The confirmation that my Silent Love killed me was minutes away. Or so I felt. And... That would mean...
I had been a loser in life. A doormat who willingly let all the bullies in school stamp all over me. I chose to hide myself behind pleas and tears rather than confront the people who made it their personal mission to make my highschool life a living hell.
I've turned out to be a coward in death bound by the affection for a boy who had nothing but contempt for me.
Loser in life. Loser in death.
I could hear their taunts now. Exactly the kind of thing they would say to me if they could see me. It shouldn't bother me, I know that. I'm not the highschool girl anymore. But it did. It did because some part of me will always be the vulnerable insecure highschool girl.
It took me a while to realize that, lost in thought, I had wandered into the lonely road where my life ended. Someone had hung a huge picture of me on one of the tree, complete with a tearjerker caption. It felt eerie standing there, knowing that I had been walking that way, unaware of my impending demise.
I walked over to the precise spot where my broken body had lain. What had I been thinking? Minutes before the car crashed into my back? My mother...I remembered suddenly. She had said there was a surprise for me when I came back home.
It was then that...
Lying in a pool of my own blood I had looked up. The car was just ahead. It had stopped. Then...It went in reverse and ran me over...Again and again and again.
I screamed like a kid awoken by a nightmare. But there was no mother or father to hold me or comfort me. And this was no nightmare. Someone murdered me...
One blurred picture popped into my head. Just near a tree there was a figure. It was a girl, I thing. I remember the hair. And I also remember a high pitched scream.
I don't even know what to say...I'm too ashamed to reveal the details big fight I got into with my father in front of both Jenny and Nancy. I could perhaps console myself that it hurt me too much to hear lie to my face and the explosion of anger that happened was completely justified. But really it was not. The things I said were so cruel and unthinking. The stony silence of the voice did not make me feel any better. If anything it fueled my already boiling temper. Him stopping me from walking away and just cooling off my feeling in my room didn't help either. He held me by the shoulders and looked me in the eye and lied. Even told me to stay away from the Inspector.
"He is just trying to stir up trouble. You have to believe me Amy...I am not and never will be the person he accuses me of being..."
That look of sincerity in his eyes broke me. I knew he was lying. Even though I had no proof other than my power I just knew it. The sadness I sensed in the Inspector had been genuine. I believed that.
"You know what..." I blurted out. "You are not the person he is accusing you of being. You are worse. You did a horrible horrible thing and you just refuse to admit it."
"Amy...This is not a conversation we should have on the street. Come inside...Calm yourself."
"I will not!" I think it was the fact that he was so damn calm that kind of pushed me over the edge. "Were you or were you engaged to his sister?"
"Amy...That is not..."
"Don't you dare tell me that it's not something I have to know. I have to damn well know. Everyone's talking about it at school. Behind my back. Please...Just tell me what really happened."
"He has told you what really happened, hasn't he? You trust him, don't you?"
"You are just speaking like a child!" I cried. "Just..."
"Enough, Amy! It's better for both of us if this conversation ends now."
"You mean its better for you. Fine! Leave! I don't care. Go! You obviously don't care even the tiniest bit what I think of you. Go!"
With that, I ran off and shut myself in my room. It was hours before I came out. My mother was holding on to the phone crying. She stared blankly at me when I approached her. The voice was sobbing uncontrollably.
"He was in an accident..." She cried. "He...They..."
"They are saying that he might die." The voice wailed. To be continued...
For a while I could only watch him incredulously. Why? He looked like he couldn't care less when he arrived at my funeral? Was that an act? And was the mask slowly falling off? Or...
It had always been complicated between me and Mathew. Or at least as complicated as teenage drama could become. Now, almost detached(I couldn't say fully detached) from my life as Ophelia, I could see how absolutely silly so many of my choices were. He was nice when I first met him but there was absolutely nothing special. It had been silly of me to crave his attention.
Well...Teenagers can be stupid.
Heck! Even teenage ghosts can be stupid.
The horrified glance he gave his Dad's car filled me with a dark dread. Yes...There was anger in me for the one who ended my life but...
What if it was the same person whom I nourished a soft spot in my heart? Someone whose dislike for me made me determined to win him over(I never did anything to win him over. People like me never do.)
Yes, I was all kinds of stupid and pathetic.
But that realization didn't make my feelings for him go away. I suspect I would have never forgotten him if I had been alive...An older me would have laughed at this particular episode of life and called it the most irrational thing I ever did. But Mathew would have always been there, in my thoughts and heart.
My Silent Love.
Could I murder him? Could I murder him anymore than I could kill my affection for him?
"Are you suggesting..." I asked slowly. "Are you suggesting that the Manager, Michel Sir, was involved in Jolly's parents murder? Your father?"
"Do you think I want to believe that, Amy? I...I..."
Quite suddenly, a memory flashed in my brain. Not him... I looked straight into Jenny's frightened eyes. "You've been trying hard not to believe it, haven't you? Until..."
"Yes...Until the evidence was thrown practically in my face. I mean.." She paused. Nancy encouraged her gently. "Would you want to believe that...if it were your father and...I don't exactly like him but that does not mean I would believe the worst..."
"I'm sure Amy knows exactly how that feels." Nancy said, matter of factly. "After all the Inspector...He has been spreading lies about her father...And almost everyone's talking..."
The voice laughed smugly. Taunted me...Taunted me as Nancy stared at me with those empty emotionless eyes of hers. I would have jumped on her and slapped her if I weren't super aware of how mad I would appear.
"You're a fool to believe that you know..." She said. "Uncle Tony would never do anything like that."
"The Inspector is not lying...I know he's not. He..." I said without thinking. "Nancy...you might hate me but don't be so low down as to..."
"I mean it Amy. You are an idiot to believe a word of it."
"Amy...Have you been talking to Vikram? Do you believe his words over mine?"
He was surprisingly calm as he faced us three. I could barely meet his eyes. The fear...the horrible guilt...I could feel it. He was guilty. Just as the Inspector said he was.
"He...He was not lying, was he?" I asked. "You...You really..."
"No...Amy...He is lying. He wants you to hate me."
"No Dad...I did not get that impression from him. He hated you. He hated me. But he was sad...dreadfully sad. But I do get the impression that you want me to dislike him...not to trust him..."
"Are you calling me a liar then?" He was so damn unemotional...So...Something inside me snapped. I turned to face him. Tears had started to run down my cheeks.
"I know you are. You are the reason the Inspector lost his sister..."
"Amy...I am not."
The voice didn't speak. It was as if he had shut out whatever secret it was deep inside him. He moved towards me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Trust me, Amy. He is lying."
I shrugged off his hand and turned away. "The liar here is you."
As Veena and Mathew walked home together after school, I noticed that Mathew looked very, very down. He snapped at her four times when she brought my name into the conversation. Why did she she have to do that though? Was it really worth it, hating a dead girl? I was never a competition. Mathew wouldn't so much as look at me when she was with him. And after the awful gossip started to spread...He would never stay in the same place as me.
I was always a person who kept my secrets to myself. I never let anyone see how I really felt. Didn't it seem foolish to believe that a closed up person like me would reveal that I had a crush on Mathew to the whole class? Apparently, it wasn't foolish to Mathew. He really got it into his head that I was a horrible girl who was clinging to him.
"Is she really worth mourning for, Mathew?" Veena simpered. "It's sad and everything that she died but really? You didn't even know her."
Yes...He never knew me. The Ophelia he knew was a distorted painting done by my classmates. I wasn't that girl. He would have liked the real me. I am sure of that. Pathetic, I know.
"SHE IS DEAD, VEENA!" Mathew exploded. "Do you even understand how I felt when I heard the news? I didn't want to see her...I..."
Dissolving instantly into tears, Veena just walked away from him. For a moment, Mathew looked stunned. But he made no attempt to go after her.
"Ophelia..." He muttered. Then blinking furiously he walked in the direction of his own home.
I don’t know how I managed to walk home. It was a story I had already heard him blurt out in anger but, sadness I sensed in the Inspector’s voice haunted me better than the voice ever could. And the fact that my Dad was responsible twisted the knife in just a bit further. Nancy and Jennifer were both standing at the gates, both looking even more miserable than I felt.
“What’s wrong?” I asked quickly.
Nancy opened her mouth to speak but Jenny spoke first. “I…I want…There’s something I have to tell you.”
She sighed and looked away. I saw tears glistening in her eyes.
“Blackmail…” Nancy said. There was no malice in her voice, just a sad resignation. She put an arm around Jenny’s shoulders and continued. “Today morning Jenny’s Dad had a visitor.”
Jenny broke into such loud sobs that Nancy had to stop comfort her again. After the crying stopped Jenny took up the story. “Do you know who it was? Roy Sir…”
Roy Sir…Our always joking and happy Physics Master. At least that was what he had been till Jolly train wrecked his life. His whole family was a broken mess now and I think it’s simply because he’s too shattered that he has not given resignation and walked away from the wretched school.
“What did he want?”
“He looked so off…That was why I…I tried to eavesdrop.” Jenny said. “He…He…”
“You’re not saying that he asked for money, are you?”
“Of course not!” She cried. “What he wanted was…My Dad should go to his wife and tell the truth. Or else…else…”
Jennifer wept so bitterly that she almost sank to the floor. After she was back in control of herself she looked at me with swollen red eyed for almost a whole minute before going on.
“He said he would reveal that…My Dad helped Uncle Elias to murder Jolly’s parents. He said…He said he would tell the Inspector that My Dad and Uncle Elias have the greatest motive to want Jolly dead."
It felt weird to walk into the school with Mathew. To look into a huge picture of me adorned with a flower garland. I was gone but the school was the same as usual. Except for a moving speech by the principal during which he called me a fine young woman and talked about what a loss my death was to the school. I laughed so loudly that I was afraid of people actually hearing me. Did he even know me? I tried to recollect the number of times we had actually spoken. Nope…He had always been the grand principal who existed only during the morning assemblies.
The visit to my classroom was torture. My seat was empty and everyone shuddered as they passed it. Even my dearest friend, Maya. She had moved away from her seat which had been right next to mine. Her red eyes refused to even look…Why? I was a friend Maya…Your best friend…Why in the world are you so scared of me?
“At least you are free of her now, Mathew.”
I turned around on hearing the poisonous voice. She was there, just as beautiful and perfect as I remembered. Her clear blue eyes and beautiful curly hair made every girl in the room insignificant. Her voice, pure and sweet, mesmerized everyone. Veena , the most popular girl in our school. The class beauty queen. This was the girl I had competed against for Mathew’s affection. How foolish of me to believe I even had a chance.
When the darkness cleared for the second time, I was in my Dad’s car, which was presumably speeding towards a hospital. It took the whole day for the many different kinds of tests to be performed. The results, which a very puzzled doctor told my Dad, were baffling. There was nothing wrong with me that could cause me to pass out. Of course I knew the reason I blacked out but how in the world could I explain my so called power to a doctor?
I was dead tired that evening, my head feeling like it would explode. For no other reason than to calm myself, I took a walk to the park.
The untended trees and bushes rustled in the wind. Flowers bloomed here and there, scenting the air. I tripped on soda cans and paper plates god knows how many times before finally sitting down on a dusty old bench. I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths. Slowly, my headache started to subside.
I jumped on hearing the voice, wondering who on earth had wandered into the deserted park. Inspector Vikram was already apologizing for startling me by the time I greeted him. He looked odd in his casual clothes.
“Are you talking a walk too?” I asked. He shook his head. I thought he looked rather miserable. He sat beside me without answering the question. Twice he looked at me as if he wanted to tell me something but didn’t.
“Do you know what day today is?” He asked me finally. “Did Tony…”
I twitched uneasily in my seat, realizing what he was talking about. Clara…The name sent a chill down my spine.
“He was my best friend. He could have told me…” The Inspector said rather wistfully. “He…” I didn’t need any special power to read the sadness in his eyes. What could I say to him? I thought for a while, trying hard to find something comforting. Nothing. Everything I came up in my head sounded so hollow and useless.
“This same day, many years ago…He married a wretched thief’s daughter the day he was supposed to marry my sister. I…I haven’t…” He paused, wiping the tears from his eyes. “Ask your father about it, won’t you? Ask him about the abominable way he broke a poor girl’s heart.”
I tried to speak but he cut me off. “She ran away from home that day. I haven’t seen her for 18 years.”