Stone Cold (Part 1)
A salty droplet hit her lip, a tear. How could it be? She doesn’t cry, she can’t. Not since two years ago when she broke. Broke into a million pieces, every bone, every atom. She got up from the 3-feet high stool in the kitchen, and advanced to the lounge.
But what broke her? What shattered her? What changed the tender-hearted 21 year old into a stone-cold juggler of others’ emotions?
“Jules! Honey the van’s here! The sandwich is on the table, don’t forget it.” Julie’s father tried to reconcile after last night’s pointless argument involving permission to a friend’s party.
Ignoring her dad’s loving voice, Julie grabbed the Tupperware and walked straight out, slamming the door behind her, leaving her father empty-armed from the daily hug.
“Why’re you in such a bad mood today?” inquired Sharoz, her Hyderabadi best friend.
“He’s not letting me go to the party tonight,” she said rolling her eyes.
“Are you kidding? You don’t even know Mary, you don’t even have the obligation to go. It’s okay, at least don’t fight with your dad over such a petty issue.”
“Ughh. Why are you on his side?”
“Because I know one always regrets the useless fights with their parents. Something always happens to make you regret it.”
Sharoz lost his mother to a sudden car crash which made him more vary of how Jules treats her parents, so he tried teaching her to be kinder and more easy-going with them – not that it ever made a difference to her. Nevertheless, he fulfilled his duty every time.
Overseeing this too, she kept walking alongside him to the Physics lesson.
The bell rang after a total of 3 lessons, and the never ending day finally let Julie return home.
Smoke grayed the sky, streets away in a thick horizontal, as Julie rested her head on the yellow school bus’s glass window, peering out with music blasting from her earphones. Little did she know, the smoke signaled the journey to her own house.
Horror-struck and with the heaviest strides, she let herself in the white door with shattered windows. Fire. Gas-oven explosion. The kitchen, the lounge, the guest room. Blackened walls and dark air, broken crockery, frames and glasses. The panorama made her shake hands with the dreaded guilt, the remorse that can’t be expressed anymore, the regret that can’t undo what stared straight at her.
“Mom! Dad! Mom! Dad! Mom!” she shouted her way upstairs, dismissing the fact that her bag with the newly purchased laptop rolled down the stairs.
“Where are you!?” looking for answers, she barged in every room, tears rolling like snowballs from the top of a hill.
Soon figuring out the neighbors might have informed an ambulance and the fire department, she phoned Mrs. Drew.
County Hospital, room 325, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron, burnt victims from a house fire.
Thankfully, Jules had a permit (despite her opposition to learning how to drive when she has the benefit of her parents and friends with cars), and could drive a block and a half to the hospital. In less than 4 minutes- which seemed like 4 hours- she parked the car, asked the receptionist about which floor her parents were on, reconfirmed the room number and took the stairs to the third floor, running as if in a marathon…
By Eeman Adeel