This week's short story comes to you from the lovely Adeem Sadiq. If you haven't read his blog yet, here is a little bit to help you get to know him:
Adeem is a 32 year old single male currently living in Lahore, Pakistan. He is legally blind. He is an aspiring writer and is currently working on his first novel.I hope you all enjoy his story!
Blameless by Adeem Sadiq
A clear and yet muffled scream, as if a final gulp of someone drowning. There had been many screams before but the last one played again and again inside his head and he could not stop that exultant sound.
His cell rang in the other room but he could not face that room because he would panic by seeing imaginary stains everywhere. What an emotional wreck. Nervously, he stared at the closet door, expecting her to walk out at any moment. But no, after another argument she left for good. He wondered why it did not end sooner, wondered why they stayed together for so long in torment. They fought over little things, which in isolation meant nothing, but when put together meant a lot to them.
A certain level of cleanliness was expected when living with a woman, not socks on a tea stained dresser, nail and hair clippings everywhere, and a half eaten apple near the basket, as if she missed her dunk shot. Constantly, she read literature on how certain foods could overcome minor to terminal diseases. Eating healthily, losing weight would not have made her pretty because it could not have fixed her hooknose. She thought his contempt came from her average looks, but it was more about her habits.
He came out of the shower, revitalized after scrubbing away memories, freeing himself of an unwelcome stench. Pleasant scents and soft flowers were his weakness. The water inside a jug, which acted as makeshift vase, had gone stale, and the roses were withering because of that. After changing water he made the bed, and then decided to sweep the floor later because his back ached from all the scrubbing he did in that evil room.
There were hushed murmurs outside. No doubt concerned people checking on a house, where they thought an abusive husband lived. Who was the most notorious person living in their neighborhood? She would have known because she devoted more time to others, even at the expense of her own house. He had been too busy to be social and did not care. It was none of their business, so he would not answer the door.
There was nothing strong or soft to drink in the fridge so he poured a glass of water straight from the tap. She thought alcoholism was behind his temper, so she kept the fridge empty. Her focus was on making everyone better, trying to fix people. If he were in his usual stupor then he could not have hurt a fly.
The kitchen window gave a full view of the main street. It was peaceful for now outside but a shimmer caught his eye, a swimming pool. He had stared out of this window while having unhappy meal after unhappy meal; he had walked past that redbrick house at the expense of several shoes, and never saw any swimming pool.
His mind was sensitive to minute detail today. For the first time he noticed a sizable lump over her collarbone. She was hiding an illness and goaded him; she got off lightly again. This place never felt like home and that was why he never noticed little things. It appeared she let the relationship, which was never supposed to last, fester until it ended in tragedy and hurt.
A police car entered their street with flashing lights, an indicator that they were responding to an emergency. He lifted the lid of the drainage and threw in a knife with red stains. A few minutes later there was a knock at the door. He adjusted his collar and practiced a sympathetic smile before answering.
The officer, who wanted to check his house without search warrant, had shifty eyes. He knew his type. Probably, as a boy he got bullied, and now overcompensated his inferiority complex through authority. His partner stood apart with an air of a man who did not like to meddle.
"No need. Come on in officers," he said genially. "But she is gone."
"Where?" the officer with the shifty eyes asked as he entered alone.
"No idea. She left in a huff. Women, eh?"
The shifty eyes checked every room, acting important even though he was clueless. And then he stopped and inhaled deeply. "You cleaned this room with washing powder, why?"
His arms tensed. The shifty eyes were smarter than he thought. He was short though, and he could take him out, but there was another one outside. "I was about to wash the other room too," he said, smiling. "The whole house is a mess."
"Open that closet," he said, coldly.
"Get a warrant. I won't let you handle my personal stuff."
“Too late." And the shifty eyes searched the closet despite his protestations. It was filled with superhero costumes. He did not comment on his belongings, and only told him his work was done here, and he was sorry for any inconvenience.
Fooling him was too easy. As if he would bloody his precious collection. She was in another closet with her own dresses. That should give him enough time to run and start a new life, with a new identity.
There was a knock at the door, urgent, ferocious, and he jumped.
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