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Wisp

Jayesh’s hands trembled as he lit his second cigarette. He perched himself on one of the two ramshackle rattan chairs, which along with a small glass table were the sole contents of his living room. It wasn’t the dilapidated state of his chair that bothered him, it was his phone, which rested on the table. It lay there occasionally glowing with incoming notifications or reminders, but mostly silent. Jayesh took a deep breath and reached out for it. He unlocked the phone and navigated to the photo gallery. That bloody photo was still there. Fairly unremarkable, it was a shot of his living room, looking out onto the balcony with stray black, hair-like wisps barely visible on its left border. The problem wasn’t its distinctly unaesthetic look. The problem was that it hadn’t been there five minutes ago.

Jayesh could’ve sworn the phone was barely out of sight for a short while when he went downstairs to check his mailbox. When he returned, the phone had moved from the chair to the table. He took a moment to get a hold of himself and then checked the house for intruders. Finding none, he turned his attention to the phone and eventually stumbled upon the new addition to his camera roll. Had he forgotten he’d taken it? He concluded that it was probably work that had made him high-strung and forgetful. Things hadn’t been very good at the office lately. He decided to take a nap to calm his nerves.

Two hours later, he awoke still feeling like hell. He took a sip of water, trudged back to the living room and sat down. A glow caught his eye. The phone. The bloody phone was on. Actually its camera was on. He picked it up and navigated to his photos.

There was a new one.

This time the picture was from the balcony looking in. He could make out the shapes of the chairs through the glass screen door that separated the balcony from the living room. But there was another silhouette reflected in the glass. It was an incoherent, wispy mass. Its shape, flowing, familiar. It looked like hair. Yes, it was hair. He could vaguely discern its strands wildly flowing, as if caught in a breeze. He closed his eyes, trying to calm himself. He could hear his heartbeat thump in his head and the blood rushing to it sounded like an angry beehive.

He had to get a hold of himself. He needed another cigarette. He opened the balcony door and gladly welcomed the strong breeze that hit his face. It was a relief from the musty misery of his apartment. He fumbled for a cigarette and dropped some from the pack on the floor. The wind blew them around and as he bent to pick them up, his phone fell from his pocket. Jayesh looked at it in fear. The camera was still on. He let out a cry, part anger, part fear.

Gingerly, he picked it up, dusted it off and put it back in his pocket. The wind was persistent and whipped his hair all over his face. Hair. He rubbed his temples in frustration and decided he couldn’t wait. He took out his phone and checked. There was a new picture. It was a view of the sky – blue with a few scattered clouds. Just like today. At the bottom of the picture, a familiar sight – his apartment building looking up. He could see his balcony. Then he noticed the dark mass of hair, wild strands flailing in the wind, looking down at the camera (at him?) from the balcony. In the middle of that dark, ungodly shape were the whites of two eyes. Jayesh pulled back in horror and slammed against his balcony railing. It was weak, dilapidated and gave way.

As he fell, he screamed but there was no sound. His face contorted with the terror of his silent scream as he hurtled to earth. He could hear the wind whooshing past his head but strangely, everything felt slow. Slower, calmer. He could feel the sensation of his clothes flapping wildly against him as he accelerated. And in those final moments of his life, his mind suddenly took him back to a hot, humid evening two years ago. He could still feel the bumps of the untilled field under his jeep as he drove recklessly across it, drunk and out of his senses. It was almost sunset, he couldn’t see very well and he hadn’t switched on his headlights. It had happened so fast. As he swerved wildly to avoid hitting a row of bushes at the end of the field, a figure had run out of them. Even though he was drunk, he could hear the sickening thud, the wheels slipping, losing control. But he panicked. He stepped on the gas and drove on, the jeep careening so hard across the stony ground it was impossible to see anything. But he did turn around to see a distraught figure, a woman with a mop of unkempt black hair, running over to the body, kneeling, screaming. The adrenaline wouldn’t let him stop. He drove on, pausing to look for a moment in his rear view mirror. He could see the woman standing over the body of her child. The last rays of the sun glinted off her wild black hair and the two eyes staring back in anger.

The sound of the wind brought him back. He could see the sky as he fell. Blue, dotted with the occasional cloud. It was beautiful. As the ground rushed up to meet him, he closed his eyes and felt at peace.

 

 

 

Based on a tweet by @curiousgawker – https://twitter.com/curiousgawker/status/389585949283610624 – “hate when you leave your phone in an empty room and when you return it’s full of photos of an old woman“.

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