Stories · Writing

Flash Fiction Week – Day 2 – Regrets


Story Prompt: If only she had taken the rumors seriously…

 

My Story (554 words):

“You guys can’t be serious?” Nasreen snorted. The only woman in an office of males, she was the epitome of the confident young woman. And the lone voice of sanity here, it seemed.

Bilal turned to her with an earnest expression. “Why not? It’s not exactly unknown. And it makes sense. That’s why the mithai shops have so many lights.” The others nodded.

“It couldn’t be for something simpler, could it? Like I don’t know, to illuminate the stuff they have on sale?”

Asim put down his coffee cup and leaned forward, a small smile playing on his lips as he looked at her directly, teasingly. “If you don’t believe the rumours about Jinn inhabiting mithai shops, why don’t you prove it wrong? Come on. My cousin has his own shop and I can get the keys from him. We could go to my place after work and then head on to the shop at midnight.”

Nasreen knew this was just a pretext to get her alone. Asim had been hitting on her, directly and indirectly, for months. Well, what the hell, might be fun, she thought, and agreed.
*
They were both slightly drunk when they pulled up next to the mithai shop. It certainly didn’t look any different, but then again the shutters were down. Nasreen couldn’t help noticing that the lights around the place hadn’t been switched off.

They got out of the car and Asim fiddled with the padlocks, then pulled up the shutters with a roar that sounded way too loud. The inside of the shop wasn’t illuminated, although light from the outside streamed in part way through the glass front. He looked over at Nasreen.

“Do we have to go in when it’s so dark?” she muttered, but reaching out for the glass door handle anyway.

Asim smiled. “Oh I’m not going in. This is your dare. Go in, stay ten minutes, come back out and you’ve won. You don’t even need to get as far back as the fridges.”

Nasreen rolled her eyes, then stepped into the shop, smiling, feeling his eyes on her back. The darkness seemed more absolute here, and she paused to let her eyes adjust. But it just seemed to get darker. She took a few more steps into the shop, stumbling towards the showcases, and felt the temperature of the room suddenly drop. Her last memory was of a shrieking sound and the smell of something burning.
*
Asim was smoking a cigarette when Nasreen stumbled out, two minutes short of the limit. He opened his mouth to tease her about it, then looked at her closely. He felt the bottom of his stomach drop away.

Dear god, her hair’s gone white!

Her gorgeous black hair was white as snow and disheveled, and her face had a faraway expression that terrified him. Suddenly, she crumpled to the ground. Asim hurried towards her, noticing the singed look of her clothes, the burnt smell hanging around her. Then he took a glance inside the shop.

The shadows lying on the floor suddenly seemed to rise and throw themselves at the glass. His mouth gaped open as he saw them strain against the glass, and suddenly the smell of burning got stronger.
Abandoning the girl in her fugue state, he turned and ran for his life.

 

Tamoor’s story (329 words):

There is nothing more to be done about it, she thought,  I had lost my virginity to a bicycle

She knew she should have paid heed to those rumours, don’t ride a bicycle or you will lose your hymen and then what will you tell your husband. She simply refused to believe it. She had read somewhere that the part of the brain that makes all the decisions was a creature of instincts and loud emotions. Spurred on by what it desires as it twists the logic circuits to find reasons that suit its needs.

Wel,l I need the exercise, she thought.

That really wasn’t it, was it. It was because she loved to ride that bike. She felt so free when she was hurtling down a winding slope. With the wind in her hair and her knuckles white upon the handle bars. Nothing had made her happier, even when she fell down once and banged her nose, blood streaming down her dress in a torrent. What she wouldn’t give for a bit of blood right now.

She lay curled on her side. What would George think of her?

She felt his hand on her naked shoulder

“What’s the matter?” he said

She turned to him, her eyes lowered with shame.

“You have to believe me, George, I didn’t lie to you.”

“It’s OK, darling.” He looked at her smiling, “I forgive you.”

“Forgive me for what?”

“Even if you were with someone before that’s fine , what matters is now……”

She reacted almost as quickly as if she had touched a hot stove

“But I wasn’t.”

“Shhh…. That’s OK, and in a way I’m happy. I wanted you to enjoy our first time and losing your virginity would have been painful, so in a way I suppose it’s for the best.”

“But…”

“What, darling?”

She looked at his face and she detected no hint of anger or regret and his eyes full of love.

“Nothing, sweetheart. Absolutely nothing.”

 

Some points: I seem to have taken the cliched route on the topic, and reverted to my usual love for horror <3. Tamoor’s take is unexpected but I liked it. Certainly he does the job in less words than I required but it’s still rather satisfying. Both of us have taken actual rumours as the basis for our stories.

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Week – Day 2 – Regrets

  1. Okay this time I like Tamoor’s story much better. Shumaila why would you write a story that perpetuates the jinn myth?! I liked Tamoor’s story better because I was subjected to those rumours growing up too. And it really is such a shame was riding a bike is not only fun it is also a perfect way to commute. The only problem I had was that the husband was called George. I doubt if there are many Georges out there who would have a problem with their wives not being a virgin. I’d rather the husband was called Javed. But even with that minor flaw I like Tamoor’s story better.

    1. Because its just a myth. Writing vampire stories doesn’t make them more real or people believe in them more! Well, ideally. I liked Tamoor’s story more too tbh and I had the same issue with the George 😀

  2. I don’t think there’s a problem with the jinn myth (and I’ve never heard the mithai shop superstition but I love it! Jinns with a sweet tooth!) but it would have been much more satisfying if there had been more atmosphere, more interaction with this story’s antagonist–the jinn.

    1. I was really short for both time and words in this, and I agree that both atmosphere and otherwordly interaction are lacking because of that. I *might* try writing it again some time with more time and more words.

        1. Hehe. Well if you like stories about Jinns, you ought to try Aura of the Jinn by Haider Javed Warraich. Absolutely fantastic novel by a senior of mine at AKUH, it has such a good mix of the scientific and the mystic and a great ending.

  3. As for Tamoor’s story–it starts off strong (a bit disorienting though, when you learn it’s not a gym she’s in 😛 ) but losing your virginity to a bicycle is kind of a desi line of thought so…yes, I found “George” a bit more cliched actually. Plus, I don’t like that name. 😛

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