the deal - Book 1

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Twenty Five

The world was a splash of colours. Red first. Flying off the broken pieces of glass slicing through the soft flesh offering little resistance. Throwing out dazzling shades of red, from flying lighter to going darker. A redness like I had never seen. Even before I could begin to enjoy the scene, the sparks burst out. The roof of the car crashing onto the road, the metal screeching and crushing under the weight of the car. Twisting shapeless in the heat from scratching away over the road. Sparks of a multitude of colours. It was no lesser than the sky of Diwali night.

In the back of the car, we were floating through space. Just as the car was lifted off the road, we were thrown off our seat too. Aniya still sleeping, leaning over me. And I, too confused to understand what was really happening. Succumbing to the trick of the mind, making it seem like it was all in my head, floating in happiness because that was how perfect it was. All of us in the car, Aniya and I together. Just the way it was supposed to be. So powerful was the deceit of the mind, that it seemed like we were floating in space forever. Which was probably why the crash was so sudden. I could hardly register a thing. For the longest while, I was blinded by the colours and sparks of the crash, deafened by the screeching of the metal and the groaning of the road. Later when I could see, I was a heap on the upturned car. Aniya crumpled next to me. Lifeless. Or so it seemed. Too stunned to be able to do anything, I remained staring. Incapable of comprehending what my eyes were seeing. Aniya was nothing like the Aniya from memory. The smile that showed up on her face every time she looked at me was gone. The eyes ever shining with all the things she wanted to do and thought up, were closed shut so tight, it felt like they might never again open. The warmth she eluded was gone, leaving her in a state of coldness the likes of which I had never felt. I couldn’t move. Even trying to was too painful. That was worse, because I was looking straight at Aniya. Unable to understand what the many feelings filling me were. When it seemed like too much, I braced myself and turned. As far as I could.

I couldn’t see mom. But I was looking straight out the front of the car. The glass no longer existent. In the absence of which, the steam of the road blew easily into the car, bringing along the strong acrid smell of burning. The smell was strong enough in itself to throw our head into a spin, overwhelming our senses. If only we weren’t already too far gone. Looking out through the front, brought back memories of the time dad taught me to drive. His words talking about how much one could see if one truly was seeing, through the windshield of the car. It couldn’t have been more different from that morning. The whole waking world was beyond the glass that morning. All that stood staring in through now was the steaming road, in agonising screams from the car crashing over it. A darker scene I couldn’t fathom. And it didn’t matter. Because inside the car, in the front, I could see dad. The steering wheel crushing into his chest. And he collapsed lifeless over it, under a coat of red. At that moment I couldn’t understand what the red was. Everywhere I looked I could see it. Like we had been under a shower of red, and it painted us all in its shade.

Even then I couldn’t comprehend. I was fighting the pain, struggling to keep myself from losing to the darkness. Then, as I tried to look at mom, it became too much. And I fell.

Swimming in the blue, it is different. On the background of the blue, the red from the glass look brighter. The shades of the sparks sharper. The world itself seems more lit up. More made up.

We were in the back, floating over the blue. And it truly felt like heaven. Overflowing with warmth. An indescribable feeling of belonging oozing through. Like it was all exactly the way it was supposed to be. Like we were exactly the way we should be, where we should be. Like nothing could possibly go wrong. Until the moment it did.

The roof of the car struck against the road with a chilling crash, that was amplified a thousand times by the blue. As were the colours. Blinding and deafening so much worse. It took longer than before, regaining my sight. The pain was a thousand times worse too. Almost as if all my senses were heightened, so much more acute. I could feel everything a thousand times more clearly, even the pain. Almost immediately I would have succumbed to the darkness. If it wasn’t for Aniya. And dad. The memory of seeing them. I had to see again, see for something more. Grasping onto the last of the tiny hope for the miracle.

The blue was dense around everyone. Dense and leaving. As if being sucked away. There was a surge of blue, falling from above, reaching for the blue around them, sucking it all away. And along with the blue, sucking them away too. Was that what aunt told of? The system taking take away the souls after death? Was that the system from the stories aunt told? Was that what was happening? Was someone seated comfortably, watching all of it breakout? Watching the blue snatch away my family?

With the sparks spent, so were the colours. All that remained was the darkness of the night and the grey steam of the road. And the blue. I had pushed myself as far as I could, trying to look to the front. To look at dad. I couldn’t have been in more pain. Dad was in his seat, chained by the seatbelt. The steering wheel was crushing into his chest, and he was under a coat of red. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew what he would look like. What expression he would be carrying. I knew all the expressions he was capable of. Could see them all on his face.

At the moment though, I would give anything to see him. Even if it would be unbearably painful. But he was too far away. No amount of turning and twisting was going to make me able to see. Only thing left was to push harder, beyond the pain, and turn to see aunt. Because that was where the blue was.

She was where she was seated. Until a while ago, laughing. Smiling. Looking at me with the same look in her eyes as the other three. Now too she was the same as the others. Crumpled. Collapsed. Lifeless. And around her, I saw the blue.

When she told us stories, the blue would be a storm. Centred around her. No gales leaping off her. Like she was an entirely different entity. Like the blue around her was her own. As much hers as it was a part of the rest of the blue. I knew what to expect even as I was turning to see her. The blue around her, a thin blanket. Connected entirely to the blue of the world. Like it was sucking the very life out of her.

I was wishing for her to open her eyes. Look at me. Tell me about all those stories she told us. Were they true? Was she trying to tell me something that I was unable to understand then? Was I able enough to understand if she told me now? I thought I was. I was finally able to see the blue. Finally able to see beyond the words of the stories she told us. Finally able to see how different I was. If only she would open her eyes now. If only she would tell me the stories now. If only she would wake up and tell me what was happening. Why all of this was happening. Because I was certain, if she could awaken, she would tell me everything.

But she was gone. As I was looking, I saw the blue get thinner. Like it was dissolving off of her. Off them all. Turning into smoke that was evaporating right in front of my eyes. They were leaving. And there was little I could do. A hopeless heap crumpled in the back of the car. Only able to see them departing.

Outside, the song was still ringing in my ears. What was so special about it? Should I even bother asking myself that? It felt foolish to be considering the question. It was a birthday party like every other. And yet, that wasn’t true. It was a dinner party like no other. For so many reasons.

Aniya was leaning against me, for me to hold her up. She was tired. So ready to fall asleep. So asleep already. The others were always fine with us, as we were. But tonight they were a little different. Teasing a little more than usual. Was that just my imagination? It somehow seemed more.

“Alright love birds, get in. We’ve got home to head to,” dad said. There were snickers in reply, a blush on my face from embarrassment. Unable to come up with anything to say in reply. That was Aniya’s talent. She was the one with the wit.

In the car, we were driving home. The four sets of eyes looking at us, teasing. Laughing. I was in too much happiness to care though. Aniya was leaning onto me, wrapped her hands around me. Asleep. The way we should be. The way we were perfect. So wrapped up in the happiness was I, were we, that we didn’t even notice it happen.

The blue had enveloped the car, and us inside. Around each of us like a blanket. A larger blanket around the car. As we drove on, through the dark night, the blue started to change. Ever so slightly. Continuously. Until it was thick around the car. As if trapping us in a droplet of blue. A droplet engorging as we drove on. Growing little in size, but getting denser and thicker. Frighteningly so.

It was hard to believe I hadn’t seen it before. How could I have been so blind? What surprised me even more was the ease with which I could accept the excuse. It is only now that I can see. The wonder left easily enough. As I was drawn back to the droplet of blue we were in. And then, we exploded.

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