Kaitlyn Didn’t Sing

Kaitlyn didn’t sing. She talked real sweet, though. Maybe that’s why her parents thought it would be a good idea to send her to Mrs. Callaghan to hone her singing skills. But Kaitlyn wouldn’t sing. In all of three hours of gentle piano playing by Mrs. Callaghan, coaxing by her parents and giggles from ten other kids already in the voice-grooming process, Kaitlyn simply stared at the studio mirror behind the piano, Mrs. Callaghan, her parents and the kids.

On the way home, Kaitlyn stared out the window for a while and then fell asleep for the rest of the ride back. She was a bright child, topped her class and all her friends and teachers loved her. She would recite poems but she would not sing. She would listen to music but would not sing.

A few months after their first visit to Mrs. Callaghan, Kaitlyn’s mom heard her daughter sing in the shower. She stood outside and listened and her voice drifted clear through the low hum of the drizzling water. Kaitlyn sang ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles. Her mom remembered singing it to her everyday at bedtime, till she was five.

They finally decided to give Mrs. Callaghan and Kaitlyn another try.

But Kaitlyn would not sing. As much as she tried to maintain a graceful composure, the patience wearing thin was clear on Mrs. Callaghan’s face.

“Maybe it’s not her thing.”

Her mother tried her best to convince the piano lady that Kaitlyn had sung in the shower, and had sung beautifully. But Mrs. Callaghan sighed and shook her head.

Kaitlyn hung by the piano, staring at the studio mirror that formed the back wall, while her parents fought for another chance.

“She doesn’t want to sing! There’s nothing I can do about that”, Callaghan had her last say.

Dejected, her dad called out, “Come on, Kaitlyn. Time to go home.”

Kaitlyn jumped down from the piano bench and raced over. But the Kaitlyn that had sung, stayed back in the mirror.

She’d sing again.

Detective Macy Had A Hard Time

Detective Macy had a hard time from his boss, Captain Kilborough. He spent his working hours getting coffee and got woken up at night to retrieve some paperwork the Captain had forgotten at the office. In the two years he had worked under the man, he had been let into all of two investigations. Not that his opinions were considered at the time, only to be realized later that he was right. Macy was smart, agile and hard-working. Three of the many qualities that had gotten him into the field.

Understandably, he had expected better treatment and consideration of his abilities when he started out. He had approached Kilborough too, demanding to know why he wasn’t assigned more cases.

“You’re not good enough.”

Blatant. Stumping.

You’re not good enough.”

He was angry. Furious.

The next murder was particularly mind-boggling. For the first time, the Captain needed time alone to think. When Macy arrived with his coffee, he was still thinking. Hands locked behind his stooping head, elbows resting over the table-top – he was puzzled.

“I know how she was killed.”


“I know how she was killed.”

The captain smiled. He spun around in his chair, got up and walked out of his private office. Macy followed.

“I know how she was killed”, he said for a third time so that everyone else could hear. The captain said nothing.

Macy smiled. He had showed him he was good.

“I’m sure you do.”

Kilborough handcuffed Macy. He showed him he was better.

I’m Leaving

Perhaps I was even excited about leaving. I told him I wanted to leave, wanted to see the world. I need to get a life, I said, a proper one. Consciously, I suggested that I did not like my life here. He didn’t respond to that like I was hoping he would. Eventually, we moved on to talking about other things.

We always had a lot to talk about. But neither of us was stranger to the fact that silence was preferable at that moment. Nevertheless we kept talking, trying to somehow tease our consciousness away from the beckoning turning point in our lives.

“It wouldn’t be so bad”, I suddenly said, “we could Skype.”

He was quiet. I swear I could hear him breathing as we made our way through traffic, thinking. I laughed a little, probably out of nervousness. I needed to hear him say something, anything, so I could assume he still hoped things would change. I hoped things would change. But I probably was not making that very clear back then.

I had to resort to stealing glances at him; I couldn’t hold his gaze for longer than a few seconds. He walked with both his hands in his pockets, head slightly stooped, perspiration settling over his brows and upper lip. But I knew he was looking at me, at my face and into my eyes, looking to find something I was half-sure I didn’t possess.

He said nothing.

Late in the evening the next day, I finally realized that I could leave if I wanted to and I probably might. I had gotten accepted to study Law at a college, a few thousand miles away. Before I had time to decide whether it was a good idea, I informed him about it. Admittedly, I was excited. Because while I fantasized about life away from home, there was a part of me that wasn’t a cent percent sure that I’d make it. And the same part of me hoped that I wouldn’t, which made all the fantasizing, even if a little, harmless.

He reacted with surprising enthusiasm. Well, surprising after his approach to the whole idea just the other day. He told me all about how happy he was for me and wished me a good life ahead. There was a hint of finality to his reply. I was suddenly disappointed.

I thanked him and expressed a little more excitement. He returned the favor.

“I don’t want to leave.”

Quiet. I could hear him breathing again, at the other end of the line. Heavy breathing, rapid breathing. I knew his next reply would be calculated, if at all.

“You will”, he said, “I’m fine with that. I’ve..accepted that.”

He meant that he had gone through a phase where he wasn’t fine with me leaving. That was good to know. But I didn’t want him to be fine with it eventually. Because I didn’t want to leave.

“Good”, I said.

We went out again the following day. We were both stealing glances at each other. We were both conscious of the other watching, observing, waiting. We separated. I separated. I couldn’t hang around him anymore, too many voices in my head.

I traveled around the city, went to the mall. I looked around at all the people I didn’t know, people who didn’t matter to me, people with completely different lives. In effect, it was like a smaller version of that world I wanted to see so bad. I missed him a little bit.

I don’t like crowds, I don’t like too many people silently judging me. With him, I’m confident enough to not care about most of the judgements. I really did not want to leave.

I was waiting for the train back home, when he called out my name. I turned to hold his gaze, I decided I was going to. But he turned away as the train pulled in. I hurried over and smiled at his girlfriend.

“I heard you got accepted. Congratulations”, she smiled back. I like her when she smiles. It’s rarely calculated, unlike most others.

“Thank you.”

“First on the list”, he added.

I smiled at nothing in particular. I didn’t want to leave.

We boarded the train, his girlfriend and I. He smiled and waved good bye to her. Just before the doors shut, he looked at me and held my gaze even if for the shortest while. That’s all I needed. As the train pulled out and he got lost in the crowd, I knew I was leaving.

But I didn’t want to.





Sweat trickled down the clean-shaven face. Norman was only keeping up a brisk pace, but it felt as if his heart would give out. Two hours and twenty three minutes since he’d left Preston’s, without a penny in his pocket or any kind of ID on his being. If he were to die that day, it would take Kelly at least a week to be informed of his death. Kelly was all he had – his friend, his family, his wife. They had no kids. And Kelly didn’t seem to want any.

Five minutes later, he allowed himself to turn around and scour the streets for the small man in leather jackets, black pants and leather boots. Norman had never observed the man’s facial features too properly, and in any case, the gun was a fair warning that he should keep his distance.

But the phone call the other night – that told him to make a run for it.

The threat was blatant, obvious and carried no undertones of a greater scheme behind it all. Norman would die, shot in the head, even if he decided to run. A strange surge of optimism, probably developed through the three years of dealing drugs on the side, made him decide to try anyway.

Salesmen always made good drug dealers, Norman thought. They traveled around and no one suspected a thing. Well, almost. Lately Kelly had been giving him the ‘squint eye’. And Norman had been kissing his way out of trouble. Before boarding the Dallas flight however, Norman had looked her straight in the eye and told her he had gotten a promotion and they wanted him to sell larger packages, subtly glancing over at the duffel bags he would not let her touch, as he spoke. Delicate stuff, he said, priceless.

Nearing four hours and ten, Norman allowed himself to slow down. He decided he’d like time to go over his short, miserable life before they put a bullet through his brain. There was not much to go over, he’d done a whole lot of bad but so near the end of his time, Norman realized, he wouldn’t do things any different even if given the chance. He thought about Kelly. He loved Kelly, with all his heart. Probably the one thing he did right and as true as he could manage, was Kelly.

His heart began to burn now. His throat was dry and closing up fast, his stomach churned violently, threatening to release last night’s take out and a substantial portion of bile. Norman bit his tongue, trying hard not to puke. He couldn’t risk letting his body lose more fluid. And just when he thought he’d pass out, someone grabbed his shoulders hard. And then he passed out.

Norman woke up to total darkness, tied hands and feet, a stinging smell of urine and a massive disappointment at having woken up still alive. He hated the drama. All the drama in the world wouldn’t count for shit when he died; he’d burn in hell. When after a long while nothing happened, Norman decided to hold his breath till he died. He fell asleep instead and dreamt of Kelly. She was more beautiful than ever, the blush of pregnancy clear on her fair cheeks. Kelly was finally pregnant; her belly was swollen ever so slightly, her skin was shinier and her hair more lively. But she was not smiling. She didn’t even look happy, just smug and distant. And the man standing beside her wasn’t Norman as well. He was balding, and smelt undeniably of beer, blood and urine. He wore a blue shirt and black pants, which on any other man would have added positively to his appearance, but it took from him. He looked sly and far more dangerous than the guy who had been following Norman.

The worst part was, Kelly held on to his arm fast and tight and far surer than she did with him. Maybe because the guy was holding a gun and Norman was tied helplessly to a chair. In the fifteen or so seconds it took for the bullet to hit his temple, Norman realized the guy was an excellent shot, death hurt more than he had anticipated, and why Kelly didn’t mind not having kids with him.






Kevin Tatum Died

Kevin Tatum died of drug overdose, said the police, family and girlfriend. However, law did call for interrogations, but they lasted only all of four hours.
Ian Fernandez, Liam Spacey and Marie McKesson were charged with possession of cocaine. That came as no surprise to anyone. The rest of Kevin’s class were dorks, anyway. If anyone was guilty of anything, they had been taken in, save the one that died and escaped to hell.
Not much changed after Kevin; the school still hosted the Science Fair and the annual Mathlete Meet.
Norman Feller led his team to mathematical victory. That too, came as no surprise to anyone.
Celebrations followed at Feller’s house, attended by all five members of his team. Feller’s mom made pie, delicious pie. Before 7, everyone went back home save Denise Ackermann, who stayed back for another slice of pie.
Denise was senior to Norman in years and in school, but Norman was the veteran when it came to brain power. Denise and Norman hardly ever spoke after Norman replaced her as team leader. No surprise there. Again.
That night, things changed. Denise spoke, said congratulations and even left Norman a small gift.
However, it took Norman a few minutes after she left to finally realize that Denise and he were going to be friends, and he hastily undid the first token of their friendship: a flash drive marked with the initials ‘K.T’, a used syringe and a note which read :

“I did my bit to keep our secret. And you’re going to be a father.




It was something about a movie, possibly. Or maybe it was something about diabetes or Viagra. It could have been anything really, they always talked about random things; it was hard to keep track.
But it was definitely a busy street, and some heated conversation and summer, when she felt it again – that same erratic urge she’d been trying to curb since the last few months, and before she could help it, she spoke,
“You know, I…”
He turned to her with upturned eyebrows the same instant his phone rang.
“I think you should take that.”

Yet again, almost.


“He said he’d sing for me.”

“He said he’d sing for me.”

He even had a guitar. He said it’d be perfect, and it was. It was under the moon and a clear sky, on a boat with lots of candles. With him, the world didn’t matter and everything fit, like they were supposed to.
They had so much in common, it was almost unreal. They talked for hours, getting to know everything they could possibly know about each other.

At the wedding, she picked out the orchids because she knew they were his favorite. She picked the wine and the Mexican vanilla cake. Everything he’d like, just the way he’d like them – she made sure of it all.

And finally on the big day, she sat back and sipped on the wine she’d picked and watched him put the ring she’d picked on the finger of the girl she’d picked as best friend when they were six.

And afterwards, he sang for his bride like he had said he would. It was perfect. And she took pride in having made sure of that. After all, they’d spend years knowing each other.

It was like she could read his mind and predict his every move. Killing him wasn’t half as hard as she’d thought it’d be.

Freeze In Forever

Fearing that moment might freeze in forever, she made a move. Their hands touched but he did not turn to look into her eyes as she had hoped he would. Instead, he kept staring into a space she wasn’t part of – a space full of all the thoughts his voice never made known to her, a space full of his complexities, concerns and opinions, all she couldn’t understand, all that she was locked out of, his space and nothing else.
The wind picked up and a faint scent of his deodorant hit her senses. She breathed in a little bit of him, held it, praying for the day she’d finally be let into that space he kept relapsing into, and let it go.
It was hard for her to explain to him how she felt; they were a tumbling, rolling bundle of all these emotions that fit just perfectly together and they moved her world, lifting her off her feet and at the same time, helping her hold on to everything she thought she’d lose grasp of.
She couldn’t explain how she’d come to feel all that, why now and why him, but she knew that there was no going back. And she couldn’t dare to hope he’d feel the same way.
Reality was too full of couldn’t, wouldn’t, and shouldn’ts for entertaining a hope like that.
But reality was also that moment, right then, the two of them, quiet and unmoving, throwing caution to the world with all its noise and inescapable frenzy.
Reality was fearing that silence would reign forever, till he intertwined his fingers with the ones that touched his. And reality burst forth with life – memories, thoughts and opinions she thought she’d never be part of. One by one words were articulated and little by little their spaces merged and everything she’d felt started to find consolidation.
And that was the moment that froze in forever.


A lot of people turned up at Natalie’s funeral. The whole lot of them, genuinely grieving. Natalie’s was a presence most enjoyed. No one had imagined she’d leave so soon. No one had asked her to stay, either.

She wasn’t an easy child, no. But she was all too lovable. When she was gone, her family lost it. Understandably. They had to be seen to, frequently. The funeral had been arranged by Natalie’s relatives. Her father had begged to pay for it.

The priest said what he had to, what he had been paid to say; he didn’t know Natalie. The ones who did, couldn’t quite sum up what she had meant to them, in any of their speeches. But they didn’t need to. All of them felt the same way and knew exactly what the other meant.

Her mother wanted to bury some of Natalie’s things with her – her diaries, art-books, scrapbooks, and anything else she felt symbolized the fact that there was so much more to her daughter than she had been aware of. She didn’t want to know a different daughter without being able to tell her how she felt about her.

The coffin was lowered, prayers were said. Natalie was now officially gone and her life, as they knew it, was broken and down and analyzed, all of a sudden with interest.

“Pity she had never fallen in love.”

That was the last word. Still grieving, one by one they went home. And only after they all did, he decided to show up. His face twisted with unimaginable grief and shamefulness, he decided to sit down by the tombstone and say everything he didn’t but should have.

And hour later he left, having only sighed. He was in love, but she would never know.

But all he really had to do was read – her mind, her eyes, read through what she said and read all of what she wrote and he’d know.

But he didn’t. And now he couldn’t. Ever.



The Important Thing

The important thing, she learned, the important thing was to walk on without looking back. And even if you’re walking along the highway alone, in pouring rain, especially if you’re walking along the highway alone in pouring rain, a car will stop. Or two. Or four. And in the fourth car, after you’ve rejected the first three with crossed fingers and daring to push your luck beyond it’s boundaries, will be a handsome man. You’d get in and run your hands over the plush, warm seat and simply breathe in the air of the Sedan you’ve wanted for so long, taking care to make your admiration of the vehicle known to it’s owner. If the owner smiled, and in all likelihood he will, and in the privacy of the moment threw quite a few glances over your body with questionable intention, you’d smile back. And run your hands up his thigh. But not before you’ve shaken the rain from your hair and unbuttoned your shirt down to just about let the man’s imagination run wild, ferocious even.

You’d pray in your mind that he did not have a second woman waiting for him at home, or even if he did, he had balls enough to give her the slip. The Sedan would probably halt at a mansion-y house, and the owner would be kind and horny enough to ask you to spend the night, because it was sinful to let such a young woman out in the streets at night, in the rain.

Well, sin would prevail. The night would not be quiet, and both of you would make the most of each other, till you’d be spent and would have to drop down breathless. And in the following moments of letting the event sink in, you’d hope that the man had had been sex-deprived for long enough to let him fall instantly asleep, after having fucked her to satiety.

Then the syringe would pierce his arm and he’d wake up with wide eyes, only to fall asleep again. You’d take the money, take the car and reflect, as you drove off, on blowing your chances of ever witnessing the Pearly Gates.

But, as you had learned, the important thing was to not look back. You’d just keep on moving forward and hope that the rain would wash away the sordidness of your soul. Tomorrow would be another highway and tonight’s lesson.