Five Times

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Chapter 23

Abi and Ahana jerked up from their bed on hearing a thunderous knock on the room door. The knock was followed by Adhi’s panicked voice.

“Ahana, it’s urgent. Please open the door,” Adhi was screaming with all his energy. He was worried when his calls to Ahana and Abi failed him and was more worried the every second the door opening was delayed.

It was not more than a couple of seconds; Ahana swung the door open and let Adhi in. Abi looked horrified so was the other two. Behind Adhi were his dad and Abi’s dad standing with a terrified look.

Adhi jumped straight into the point. “Lara is missing. James just informed me. He wants every one of us there with him so that he could feel less weak,” Adhi blurted everything and without delaying a second he stormed out.

Everyone followed Adhi. Though they were confused on the things that were taking place, no one dared to put up any cross questions.

Where would Lara possibly go? Where are we heading now? And why? Where will we search for Lara? If James doesn’t know where his wife is, then how could we? Apart from this, why would James need us for his wife’s sudden disappearance?

So many thoughts fluctuated in Ahana’s mind. She had no idea that Adhi had told James every mystery he knew and that made James nervous about Lara.

On the other hand, Abi was really bothered about Lara. What if she had thrown the ring somewhere in the land? What if she was attacked by the whales again? What if the so-called queen had permanently missed her ring?

Abi was really surprised by her thoughts. Am I really into the magical world? She half-heartedly believed it to be a nightmare and wished someone would wake her up and ask her what dream she had.

But she knew she was crazy because she knew everything that’s happening before her eyes were real.

As soon as the receptionist showed the way, James’ legs unknowingly started to take up the pace. He didn’t know where to go. He didn’t even have any clue of where Lara went.

James cursed himself for being so careless on Lara. The receptionist said that it was more than half an hour she saw Lara moving out. These words pierced James’ heart and he burst out.

His mind was totally blank and he couldn’t even think. Only thoughts that flooded his mind was about Lara and the ring. He wished Lara could have waited. He wished Lara had heard the mystery behind the ring that he had known from Adhi. He wished Lara shouldn’t have thrown the ring somewhere on the land. He wished that Lara had at least taken her mobile with her.

As long as the ring is with Lara, she is safe. James thought. He was still following the path his legs took him, his body trembling with fear whenever he thought about the safety of Lara.

Only after he felt a throbbing pain in his legs he stopped dead in his tracks. It was only after that he noticed that the path was never ending and he had made a fool of himself by wasting this much time. Even then it couldn’t strike where Lara could have been to.

He wanted to get some help and dialed to Adhi. It was Adhi, who gave him some hope.

“What? You want me to search Lara at the beach?” asked James out of curiosity.

“Exactly, Hurry up, James,”

“But Adhi, I think it’s a waste of time. She was already afraid of thinking of the tragedies that took place. I am sure she won’t dare to look at the beach,” James said with overflowing confidence.

“No James, your reasoning is right but the answer is wrong. She must be on the beach,”

“How could you say that?” James clearly knew that he was out of time, yet he desperately wanted to know how Adhi was sure of that.

“James, listen. I agree that she was afraid of the attack and she was tired after the meeting with Diya. You said that she had already taken pills to sleep. Putting everything in place, I guess her fear had gotten into her mind, to the extreme levels. Simply, Lara was vexed thinking about whales for two long days. She must have realized that fear of suffering is worse than the fear itself,” Adhi said and stopped.

There was a silence for a few seconds. James tried to get everything into his mind that Adhi was explaining. After a while, James’ voice sounded weary. “So?”

James didn’t want Lara at the beach.

“So, Lara might have decided to face it, she might have headed to the beach,”

Why didn’t it strike me? Am I that much stupid? Or was it that emotion took over me and blocked my senses?

“James?” Adhi’s voice bought James back to the present.

“Okay Adhi, I will check,” The call ended.

That evening, it was getting late and the sky started to darken. James ran to the nearby beach. He strode into it and looked all around him hoping to spot Lara but he failed. He walked still more miles to trace his wife but everything was in vain.

He went mad and wanted to jump into the sea and be lost forever. No emotions. No problems.

Just then, crushing his thoughts Adhi, with all other’s treaded into the beach and neared James. The moment James saw Adhi and everyone, he broke down. His face told everything.

Adhi consoled him and said they would better split up to two and search. Adhi, Abi, and Ahana went one side and the other three went the opposite side. It was Abi’s decision to accompany Adhi than James whom she didn’t know and it was Ahana’s decision to accompany her sister.

Another half an hour ran out and there was no improvement. Soon the place became dark that the nearby person was barely visible.

James started to throw tantrums at Adhi in his mind. I told him Lara won’t be here.

Everyone had their mobile torch on so that they could resume their search. Hope started to drain out of James and so everyone, except Adhi. He still believed Lara was there at the beach.

The green trees all the way along the seashore scared them to death that night because they are not sure what might get into their feet. Adhi took his steps carefully keeping his mobile as high as he could to get as much view as possible.

There was a deafening silence that alarmed Abi and Ahana. Abi walked so close to Adhi that their shoulders brushed but Abi didn’t give a shit about that. Situations change minds.

The ring of Adhi’s phone pierced the silence that jolted everyone. It was James.

“James, did you find her?” Adhi asked with high hope.

The answer was negative. James sounded low. “Shall we go to the police? It’s already late by now,”

Adhi sensed the pain in James’ voice and felt sorry for him. Adhi too was convinced to file a missing case to the police. Adhi decided the next step.

“Okay James. We can go to the……”

Adhi was startled when Abi screamed and let her phone hit the ground. For a moment he believed that Abi might have seen a ghost. Ahana and Adhi took some time to get to their sense.

“What happened Abi? Are you alright?” Adhi was tensed.

Abi’s widened eyes were fixed at one point. Adhi followed her gaze to the place but that was dark.

Adhi wondered what on earth Abi saw there! He then lifted the light to the same place where Abi’s eyes were fixed. Abi squeezed her eyes shut. The moment the light flashed on that spot, Adhi was taken aback for a moment.

After a few seconds, he regained himself. He realized that James was still in line horrified by the scream.

With a little hesitation, Adhi asked James, “What color dress did Lara wear today?”

“What? The dress color… it was… w..white,” James stammered.

Adhi sighed aloud in relief. “James, don’t worry. We found Lara,” said Adhi and nodded at Abi and Ahana approvingly.

Lara was there, in the white dress, standing in the beach, dangerously near the waves. No, No, not near the waves, but standing inside the waves till her knees full of water.

“Lara…” Adhi called out, his voice sounding in low decibel.

No response.

He then cleared his throat and raised his voice, “Lara…”

Lara stood there in the waves motionless.

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