She sat in the local café, sipping her coffee and looking out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. Soon, she found herself staring at the horrible object while her brain forced her to relive the memory of what had passed two months back. She was fighting against her brain to erase the scene from in front of her eyes, forcing them to look away, but she sat there paralyzed; unable to move, let alone blink. Just then she felt a light tap on her shoulder. It was the waitress. Anya could see her lips moving but her ears failed to catch the words. And then she felt a hot wetness in her lap – in her daze, she had spilled her coffee and it had finally found its way to her lap.
“Miss, are you alright? I’ll get this cleaned up. You may sit here, please,” the waitress gestured at another table, “May I get you another cup of coffee?”
Anya was looking at the waitress, her mind far away. ‘Sally’ said the badge on the waitress’ uniform. She tried to say something to Sally, but all she could manage was mouthing the words. And then a thought jolted her out of her stupor. The knife!
Anya stood up with a jerk, her wide eyes frantically looking on and under the table, hoping to find the knife.
“Did you lose something, Miss?”
It’s not here! Where did it go? “Where-where-” Anya mumbled.
“The kn- Um, the- my scarf, my blu-blue scarf?”
Sally looked puzzled. She didn’t remember seeing a scarf on the table when she came to it to check on Anya.
“Ma’am, I don’t remember a scarf. Are you sure you had it with you here?”
Anya, who was half-bent checking for the object of her hunt under the table, paused, beads of perspiration visible on her pale forehead. Was she dreaming?
Straightening up, she gave Sally a nervous laugh, “I probably spaced out for a while there.” Picking up her bag, she told Sally ‘thanks’ and swiftly made for the exit.
“Anya? Where are you going?”
Anya’s mother, Felicia, had just walked in on her daughter packing a little bag – more like, stuffing a couple of clothes and toiletries in it. Felicia was a frail, sickly-looking woman whose short, grey hair did a fine job of hiding the worry-lines on her forehead. She had a long face with deep-set green eyes that were once impenetrable and proud but now gave away the slightest change in her mood making it very easy to read her.
Ignoring the question, Anya continued darting from the bed to cupboards and cabinets, fetching something every time.
“I have to go. Where? I don’t know. But I cannot stay here, at least not for a few weeks. Don’t worry, it’s for the best. I know this is unexpected but-” Anya’s voice trailed off as she went out of the room to get something. Felicia, close at Anya’s heels, kept the questions coming. She was surprised at her daughter’s decision to leave and her worry was easily reflected on her plain features.
“But at least tell me why!”
Anya, disregarding the question dashed to her room to put the small packet of medicines in her bag before zipping it up. Picking up the bag, she looked around the room to see if there was anything else she might need. Turning around, she tried to give her mother a reassuring smile but the panic in her dark-green eyes was so obvious that the smile did anything but put her mother at ease.
Leaving Felicia standing in the door-frame, Anya walked out with the bag in her hand and sat on an ottoman to put her shoes on. Bent over her shoes, her mind was busy dealing with everything except the shoelaces she was trying to knot when a sharp gasp pierced through the still air of the house, bringing Anya back to the present. She sat up and faced her mother.
Felicia looked at her daughter as if she were a ghost. Her face had gone white, and her eyes were starting to well up. Concerned, Anya started to get up but her mother was already next to her, kneeling. Now that she was up close, Anya could sense that something in her mother’s eyes had changed. The fear and anxiety she had seen there a minute back were gone, and a new kind of steely resolution had taken their place.
“Y-You’re bleeding, Anya! You’re wounded!”
Anya’s face froze. “What do you mean I’m–?” And then she felt the same sensation of wetness, as she did at the café, slowly trickling down the length of her legs. Looking down, she saw that she was bleeding profusely from a deep flesh wound on the side of her stomach, a pool of blood slowly collecting at her feet. But there is no pain! This can’t be happening.
Before her mother could think of anymore questions, she gave her a quick tight hug, and got up to leave. “Don’t you worry about me. I’ll keep in touch. Take care, Ma.”
“Anya! An- Don’t you leave me here to die again!” her mother cried.
But Anya was already out of the door. The events that had just occurred dawned on her – she was talking to herself again, conjuring up her dead mother’s presence, seeing her so vividly as if she were real; as if she were still alive… it scared her. Feeling the chill of this realisation she hugged herself. I need to get away. But where?
[To be Continued.]