Contest 11: Of Narcissism and Unrequited Love

Echo-Narcissus-1

CLOSED. Last date for entries was Wednesday, 14th January, 2015. Don’t fret if you missed it. Contest 12 will be coming soon.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been wishing to do image prompts for a contest. After Contest 10 dealt with mirrors and reflections and things like that, I thought it will be nice if we can take our writing inspiration from one of the most famous characters to come out of myth and fable. His name is Narcissus, and many of you would know that he had a particular affinity for the mirror – or any reflective surface, really.

But his story is also closely linked to that of Echo, the wood-nymph who falls in love with him, and how she pines for him in life and death. The moment above, that John William Waterhouse chose to paint, depicts their love story with precision. On one side we have self-obsession, and on the other we have the pain of unrequited love.

You can choose to write about either of those two topics.

Topic

Echo-Narcissus-2

The prompt for this contest is to use one of the two paintings above as inspirations to write a piece on whatever comes to your mind. It is preferable that you write about either self-obsession or unrequited love (because those are the two dominant themes of the two images), but if you would like to set your mind free and write something else, that’s fine too. The only rule is to use the images as prompts.

1. You can write a piece of fiction that involves a character pining for a lover.

2. You can capture your feelings in a poem, if you feel so inclined. Or an essay or a mood piece.

3. You can interpret the images above in any way you wish, and you can draw inspiration from any part of them.

4. Word limit, as usual, is 300 words. But you know that we don’t impose this rule very strictly. If your piece must be longer, so be it.

5. Use your own experiences of obsession and unrequited love as beacons in your writing. Dig out those emotions, feel them again, crystallize them, and transmit them onto the page.

How do you enter the contest?

It doesn’t get simpler. You leave a comment to this post. If you leave two comments, they will count as two separate entries. The maximum number of entries you can submit is three. If you leave more than three comments, I won’t tell you off (I’m too nice for that) but I will only pick the first three.

What’s the prize?

A Flipkart e-gift voucher worth 500 Indian rupees. It looks like this.

Flipkart-Voucher

No, you can’t touch it, but you can buy things – especially books! – with it. If you live outside of India, your choices are limited to e-books because Flipkart doesn’t deliver internationally (yet).

How is the winner selected?

Each comment will be rated on three things:

1. Clarity: We should understand what you’re trying to say. Good grammar and punctuation will help. So will a reasonable structure to your entry. Beginning, middle and end.

2. Personal Touch: We’re interested in getting to know you better. So go for depth, specificity and honesty. In narrative pieces, the deeper you take us with you into the scene, the better it is.

3. Beauty of the writing: Make your words sing. Give rich sensory detail. Describe well. Transport us to to your world. Be cogent, crisp and clear.

The above three criteria are ranked in the order of importance. So clarity is more important than personal touch. And personal touch is more important than evocative writing.

Rules/Guidelines/Suggestions

1. The closing date for comments/entries is Wednesday, the 14th of January, 2015. The winner will be announced on Saturday, the 17th of January, 2015.

2. When you enter comments on this blog, you will find a separate text box asking for your email. I recommend that you enter your email into this, so that I will have a way of contacting you in case you win. Rest assured that I will not use your contact information for any other purpose, shady or otherwise.

3. Sexually explicit or offensive material will be deleted at my discretion.

4. Avoid plagiarism. I will check for it, and remove entries that I think are lifted from elsewhere.

And finally…

Have fun! If you think this is the sort of thing your friends would enjoy, share this post with them and invite them to participate. You can share it with just a click on the sharing buttons below.

See you in the comments!

Images Courtesy: 1, 2

Comments

  1. Wings of Harmony says:

    Oh! I was aware of Narcissus falling in love with is own reflection, but not of the unrequited love! I am in! This is very intriguing! 😀

    Like

  2. “Narcissus falling in love with is own reflection” This is an amazing mythology I ever read.

    Like

  3. He had only time on his hands now… something he never thought he’d ever have. You would think that a narcissist had neither the time nor the inclination for reflection, other than the one in the mirror. He smiled at the thought. Folk had been wrong before, and if they thought they would write him off as a self indulgent specimen of humanity, they’d be wrong again. In his youth, he saw only his immortality. So, when she came into his life with her quick wit and sharp intelligence, it got his attention. In the larger scheme of things, it was fleetingly momentary, though he didn’t pay much heed at the time. He called her his mirror. Not because she propped him up as the rest of the world did, but because she mercilessly tore through his barriers of self indulgence like no one else had. He couldn’t keep up pretty pretenses: she had a gift for seeing through any facade he raised. It amused and shocked him simultaneously. Somehow they became friends. Being a self confessed narcissist he told her as bluntly as he could that she didn’t stand a chance if she thought they might ever share a future. He was destined for great things and only the greatest of beauties would befit him. He didn’t stop to analyze her bright smile at that time. Funny, how time flies. Funny, how age makes you think of long forgotten things. He had met and married one of the most gorgeous women imaginable. Life was fabulous. So, why was he feeling so morose decades later. He suddenly remembered her impish smile. She’d have imprudently said, “Who’d have thought a narcissist could fathom unrequited love that didn’t stem for himself? ” And in that instance he knew he was a narcissist no longer.

    Like

    • Hi Vinisha! You’re first this time, so congratulations already 🙂 I liked the sentence in this piece that a narcissist doesn’t have time for reflection, other than the one in the mirror. I also liked how you ‘twisted’ the tale, how the narcissist actually could tell that the other person loved him, whereas a true self-obsessed person would not even notice someone else’s emotion. Also liked the whole flow of the piece. I think it moved well, though a couple of paragraph breaks would have helped. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  4. They sat across each other at the small restaurant table, talking, smiling and nibbling at the starters. People glancing at them from time to time might easily think that they were old friends, and they’d be right. Their comfort level with each other held an ease not easily found or often seen.
    None would guess that this was their farewell lunch. He had proposed, she had declined, so now, he was off to marry another. He didn’t marvel at her poise or suspect her composure. She was the epitome of calm waters; she always had been. He forgot that still waters run deep. She thought back to the day he had suggested they wed. It had started out in jest to begin with, then turned serious when he realized that she was turning him down. He never knew that she had seriously considered it, until he asked her to convwet, for him. She grinned and asked if he would do the same, for her. Let’s adopt each others surnames too she had added for good measure.
    He didn’t find that funny. She explained her point of view:you convert only if you believe, not for love or money. She was proud of her stand and rwfuaes to relent. He’d walked off in a huff, muttering she was impossible to deal with. That was a month ago. Who’d have thought in thirty days he would find love again? She told him she loved him, but wasn’t in love with him. She wished him joy. They chatted across that restaurant table as old friends do, not knowing that one thought the other a narcissist, and the other was dying the slow death of unexplainable, unrequited love.

    Like

    • Another good one, Vinisha. On reading this closely, I found that there was a case to be made for both parties to be called narcissists, and both could claim to be a spurned lover. I liked it how you left that open, without telling us explicitly who is thinking what. That layer of depth you gave the scene, I think, elevated it to a different level altogether. Thanks for sharing this. Made me think.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This, she thought, is what happens when you stumble into an arranged marriage! Never mind that at the time, it seemed like a good idea to just escape impossible parental pressure to conform to societal dictates. Never did it occur to her that her counterpart might be in the same boat. It should have, but it didn’t. She was no ninny, but boy, had she been naive! She rolled her eyes. She needed to snap out of it! No point in crying over it now. She watched her better half preen in front of the mirror. She didn’t know whom she felt like castigating, but there was no time for that now. The wee twins were bawling: life beckoned.

    Like

    • There is some subtlety here too, about arranged marriages and societal pressures, though I am asking myself what pressure the guy had to face. The preening suggests to me that he is homosexual, but again it could be something else. I like how in all your entries to this contest you’ve left things open, and added depth. Great work 🙂

      Like

  6. “It’s alright,” she said in an attempt to placate him.

    Didn’t work. Never did.

    He scratched his stubbled chin as he gazed into the mirror she was holding in front of him. “I look like a homeless man,” he scowled.

    “It’s alright, dear” she said, this time a little less pleading and with a little more finality.

    He flung his arm in a rage and the mirror landed on the wall, crashing into a thousand bits, bringing down a few hanging picture frames to the floor along with it.

    “Alright! Alright! Alright! It’s all you fucking say!” he screamed, “It’s not alright. Nothing is. Get your lazy ass off the chair and get me a razor before the guests arrive…”

    She got up silently and walked towards the bathroom.

    He sat there, a huge scowl wringing his face like a wet towel, staring at the broken pieces of glass. Amidst the mess was their wedding picture. She stood gushing in her lavish bridal finery. He stood next to her, his hand holding her in a protective ring at her waist. He looked like a Greek sculpture- strong jawed, tall and virile.

    He remembered his wife stealing a few glances at him during the ceremony. She could not believe her luck in landing a man like him. He read the surprise in her eyes and that did not surprise him. Neither did the not-so-discreet comments her friends made in her ear – “I would like a piece of that!” He stood straight pretending he did not hear them and flashed his charming smile at the guests.

    She adored him, in fact, she worshipped him. He worked out like a maniac. Kept his body fit. Shaved like a fiend – Five o’ clock shadows were demonic spirits and he exorcised them wielding a silver razor.

    As he stood in front of the bathroom mirror, staring it it for hours together, she stood right behind his shoulders with a wide grin, enjoying the private show.

    On his way to work, one day, all he did was check his perfect eyebrows in the car’s rear-view mirror. He took his eyes off the road. Just for a second. That’s all he did…

    She took only a moment to find the razor but she stood staring at the bathroom mirror, puffy-eyed and tired.

    Her paraplegic husband could no longer stand in front of the mirror. She sorely missed the pleasure of watching him shave; among a few others.

    “It’s alright,” she said to herself and sighed deeply, “It’s alright.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Powerful piece, Pirithivi. Thanks for sharing. Loved the short wedding flashback, and the characterization of the husband. Would have liked a few brush strokes for the wife too. She comes across as a bit of a linear woman, though actually when one thinks about it, she’s the stronger of the two, trying to make the best of a bad situation. Still, I liked the piece overall 🙂

      Like

  7. Yusra Gulab Jamman 🍰 🐒 says:

    Firefly (A Love Poem)

    Firefly, I found you
    lost in a long night
    I believed you dancing, but
    you were flashing, flitting, fighting to be free –

    The stars know
    I have followed you,
    breathed the woodsmoke in your wake,
    scarred my fingers forging fantasies
    from the firesparks you scattered

    In moonlight, I have marvelled
    at the veins across your wings:
    calligraphy ignited
    by the flare of your blood –

    Now you have found your morning
    Your sweet expanse
    of summer sky

    Now each night I
    struggle

    In darkness
    I sweep the soot
    of a non-existent flame

    ❤️ Yusra Gulab Jamman

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rohit Bhasy says:

    “Meet me at 6, after college, on the fifth floor, at our usual place.”

    He re-read the message.

    “I need to make it sweeter”, he thought.

    Unwillingly, he added a smiley at the end 😃 and hit ‘Send’.

    Few seconds later, his phone screen flashed her name.  He had renamed her from ‘Love’ to ‘Bitch’ in his contacts list.

    The message from her read “k”

    His head throbbed with pain, as one memory after the other flickered through his mind like a flip-book. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes.

    “It will end today” he said to himself, his insides screaming, but none of it leaving his mouth. Not yet.

    He was there at 5:45pm. He went through each episode in his mind, the things he had done for her, the things he had seen and those which he had heard from his friends and made a mental note of each of those events. He didn’t want to miss anything. He was ready.

    She came up the stairs at 6:05. She smiled at him. It was not returned. 

    She hadn’t changed, he thought. The hair that fell neatly, just beneath her shoulders, the perfect eyebrows, the light in her eyes, her infectious smile. It was all there. She was wearing the pink salwar kameez that he had once complimented her on. He was awestruck by her beauty back then. A delicate pair of ear-rings clung softly to her ears.

    “Do you love me?”, he began.

    She was visibly taken aback, but managed to fake a smile.

    “Of course I do”, she said, without batting an eyelid.

    “I saw you with Rahul yesterday”

    He noticed the colour draining from her face. She hadn’t expected this. How could he have known?

    Her eyes momentarily looked at the floor, and then, quickly up at him. The confidence was back.

    “So what?”, she said with a hint of arrogance.

    He felt a stab of anger within.

    “You were in his arms, his hands on your hips. You want me to believe there is nothing brewing between the two of you?”

    Her head bent downwards, shoulders drooped. Some moments passed in silence, before she looked up with tears in her eyes. She was caught red-handed. But he knew better. He wasn’t going to be fooled this time. He knew now, that the tears only meant that she wasn’t going to give up so easily. She wouldn’t admit defeat just yet.

    He pressed further, “I didn’t believe my friends when they told me that you were not right for me. That, using guys was a habit with you. I was fool to not believe their words. I had my doubts when I saw you growing close to Ashish. Did you really think it must have missed my eyes when you started sitting with him more often, when you laughed at his jokes, grabbed him by his arm and took him out of the class ‘to meet Professor Jairam’?

    He paused for a moment, expecting to hear a retaliation. There wasn’t any.

    He went on, “You know the first time I saw you, I knew you were the prettiest girl in the class. Maybe you knew that too. And I being me, never in my wildest dreams, thought that you would be mine. So imagine my surprise, and my utter joy, when you said that you liked me. For someone who had never been in a relationship, this was nothing short of hitting the jackpot! I was surprised when you said that you were single. And I thought how lucky I was! But back then I could have never realized of how your mind actually worked. You are always obsessed with yourself, always wanting to be seen, to be appreciated, to be given love, but you never ever return what you receive, never express your gratitude. I could never understand what you actually thought when I gave you the roses or when we went out on the lunch date. The look on your face conveyed nothing. It was just blank. I did not admit it then, but i admit it now. I was disappointed and hurt. You never let me know how you felt about it, when all I had on my mind was to make you feel special. Never once did you willingly say that you loved me, unless I asked. Coming to think of it, you were being partly truthful to yourself there atleast. You never really loved anyone but yourself, and you didn’t want to loose a perfectly innocent fool like me for all the heaps of genuine praise I showered on you and for the things I did to make you feel special. You enjoy the love and admiration you garner from the boys, and you don’t really mind where it is coming from as long as it keeps coming. And you don’t know where to stop. And then you are embarassed when you are caught red handed, cornered, like you are now. But I now know where to draw the line. I can no longer take the humiliation that you unknowingly inflict upon me. Hence, i end it here. Love feels great only when it is reciprocated. But with you I have no hope of receiving it.”

    Her eyes were now blank, as they had been when he had given her the roses or when he had taken her out for lunch. She knew her game was up. But admitting defeat was something she hadn’t learnt.

    “Fine. If you think so, then I have nothing else to say. Even after telling you there was nothing between me and Ashish or Rahul, and that we are nothing but friends, if you don’t believe me, so be it.”

    “She won’t understand. She won’t change” , he thought. His anger subsided. He no longer wanted to continue the argument. Though he loved her, he knew she didn’t love him. That was all he had to know. That was all he could hope to know.

    She turned around and made her way down to the exit. He stood there watching her go, till she disappeared outside the college gate. He had read the word ‘Narcissist’ somewhere and had looked it up the dictionary.

    “She fit the bill perfectly”, he thought, and allowed himself a smile.

    A year later, he received a call from an unknown number. It was from someone named Monty. Apparently, Monty’s friend was another victim of hers. He attempted suicide when she rejected his marriage proposal. Monty said they were in a relationship for the past six years….

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    • Hi Rohit. I feel like I’ve read this story somewhere, or seen it in a movie. Maybe you could have tried to bring a twist into it. I think that’s what we should all try to do as writers: bring freshness into old stories. You’ve managed to capture the disinterest from the girl very well, but as a reader, I found myself asking why she was like that. Maybe a little bit of space allocated to her character would have given us more layers. Some of the space taken up by the narrator’s long monologue in the middle could have been used to tell us the girl’s story, I thought.

      Having said that, though, nice piece. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  9. The night is beautiful. Unholy, Unclothed, Sliding and Shimmering, like a broken ribbon. I watch her unfurl around me as I take in the glorious smoke within my lungs and release it slowly, tainting the night, with my breath. She is pleased and turns gray, like my vision.

    I tug at my collar and pull it up, blocking the cold breeze that had been victoriously freezing my insides. It’s 3 AM and I stand on the pavement lining the bridge, almost fifty feet higher than the flowing expanse of the mercurial river below. I take another puff and tap the cigarette ash off. The burning end smolders like crushed ruby as I toss the impotent stub into the air. I don’t need it anymore. I need to understand.

    It has been almost a week that I have heard or seen or felt her. Her eyes, her voice, her fragrance, her laughter – it had infected my soul. Her skin was smooth and soft like a ripple on the sea. Every curve of her body, every inch of hers – was mine. Skin to skinheart to heartsoul to soul. We were entwined in harmony and melancholy like Celtic knots. Or so I thought. There is always a weakness that can rip open the knot.

    I was lost in the labyrinth of emotions with her. I was in love. But she was a void in that very love. She had altered something in my very own idealism. She had been the woman for me. Like a spectrum – light scattered into different colors. But when the light is too bright, it blinds you, leaving behind only shadows. The day before our lives took a U-turn, I was talking to her. Our conversations were smooth – I loved to hear her talk. And she did that most of the time – while driving in the car, while shopping, standing before the huge mirrors of the dressing room, and even when she looked into my eyes. There was a restless aura around her, when she spoke, as if there was so much inside her that she wanted to unburden. But soon, it had become like an endless sickening trickle of honey.

    I never understood love, Parth.” She says one day, her lower lip pouting indignantly, distracting me from the words flowing from her mouth.

    Why would ANYONE love me?” She asks, as I idly wonder, where she is getting at. She sits close to me, playing with the buttons of my shirt, her fingers just shy of my skin. My heartbeat is uneven. I remain quiet though, waiting to let her finish.

    You know, I am so scared. Sometimes, when I think that you will leave me, the thought hurts like crazy. It’s like physical pain.” She says, her eyes widening in a dreamlike trance, for a brief second. I chuckle at her expression and pull her close to kiss her forehead. She pulls away, unconsciously wiping her forehead, as if the kiss would have tainted her. I sigh feeling humiliated and sit back, raising a brow enquiringly.

    You are always surrounded by women. They love you. They find you charming and so cool. Some of them are so hot! If I were you, I’d have dated someone else.” She says, looking at me with a blank expression, almost sounding jealous that no one was looking at her.

    Kyra, I love you. Not them. None of them. I may flirt, be affectionate even, but it’s you who I love. Truly, madly and deeply.” I finish lamely as I notice her staring at her own reflection in the window pane, critically assessing her face.

    Kyra was different – she was not typically beautiful – but she was beautiful nonetheless – charming. There was a glow on her face – even when she was sad and burdened – which gave her an ethereal look. Her eyes were dark, large and innocent. There was a mystery and twinkle in them which she disguised so carelessly. Her smile was the best – like a child’s. She knew it and used it liberally. But she would never let anyone close to her. Mostly because she seemed to be busy with her own reflection all the time.

    The night following the day, she asked me to leave her, to give her a break. Give her some time. She said she needed to revamp herself. Make her feel better about herself.

    And what about me?” I had asked, incredulously, pain shooting through my heart like pins. Revamp? After dating for months. Almost an year!

    You? You were a friend, always will be so.” This, after the intimacy and love, which I felt for her.

    Besides, love and all that, I think I have wasted too much time on it. You were not serious about me, were you?” She asks, as if challenging me to deny her statement. I look at her shocked, as she reapplies her lip balm, checking her reflection on the back of a spoon.

    I watch her, feeling odd, recalling all the moments when she would stare deep into my eyes. Was she checking me out or herself?

    I would never know, but a cold dread makes me shudder, as I watch the sun rise at 6:45 AM. I do not think I would want to know. EVER.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good piece, Pradeeta. I thought it started well. The first two paragraphs were almost tactile. Then, later, when the guy was describing Kyra as beautiful and different, it felt as though it was being overstated a bit. But overall, I liked the piece. In theme, it was the same as one of the earlier entries, but I think you went in a little bit deeper and it came out fresher. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  10. “I want it to be perfect, like, do I look fine?” Eric asked as he looked at his supposedly best friend, Jane. “You look better than ever. It’s just
    modeling.”

    “Just modeling? It’s about my life! The fame, the money and fans. I had been doting on this for a while. I mean, I’m perfect for this job, people would love me.” Eric says, his confidence shining proudly as him and Jane walked down the pathway, on their way home from the university. “Hey, can you manage a coffee with me tonight?”

    “Oh, what? I didn’t hear it.” Eric says looking at Jane who shrugs off the feeling. “I, I was just, asking if you could catch up for coffee tonight.” Jane said with a grin as she pulled on her bag strips.

    “Why not? I’m free and stuff. Are you asking me on a date or something?” He asks with a smirk plastered on his face as Jane giggles nervously. “Of course not, we’re friends. Soon, best friends.”

    “Yeah.” Eric says nervously as Jane nods, her red hair was messy as ever, but that look suited her. Eric and Jane were friends since senior high school and now, they liked to be around each other and prefered the company. Eric always liked Jane, he found her enchanting. He knew a couple of guys who had a crush on her, he was friends with them. They would plead him for some information but Eric wouldn’t pass it.

    Eric liked to know that Jane trusted him. The night they shared coffee, they shared some talks. Eric blurted out his high school feelings to her as she laughed a little. She didn’t answer his question about being in a relationship. She simply smiled at him, asked him about the lectures which would be held the next day and told him to wait.

    The next day he walked into the university as one of his friends approached him. “Hey, done with the studies?” He started the conversation. Nick was his friend when he joined the university, he was a nice guy. “Not fully. But I have done few important topics.”

    “Good for you. Jane has a boyfriend, heard that? I’m so jealous of Jeremy.” The moment Nick said that, Eric knew he had stepped the wrong foot in the conversation last night. Jeremy was like one of those guys who was known in the bad way, yet people liked him because… That’s how the society worked.

    Jane ignored him the rest of the week. On saturday when he was coming back from his piano lessons, he bumped on to her as she gave him the smile because of which he fell in love with her. “Hey Eric, long time. Right?”

    “Uh, yeah. I’m sorry. How’s Jeremy?” Eric asked nervously as she chuckled. “Jeremy? I’m not with him. I’m in a relationship with George.”

    Another guy related to Jeremy. Even worser than Jeremy.

    “Oh, alright. I have to go,” Eric said, he had no idea what else to say to keep the conversation on as Jane looked at him for a second. “You little twit, you got a internship at that big company you had been doting for!”

    “Woah woah, who told you?” Eric asked surprised, a small smile made a way to his face. Jane grinned as she looked around and looked back at him. “Mom did. She met your mother yesterday, she looked so happy.”

    That was another night, the night Jane started talking to him again. His topic long abandoned. He felt a little bitter but at least they were still friends.

    It had been 2 years since everything happened. He was now a responsible man and he was working at a decent place with a fine amount of money. He lost contact with Jane when she decided to abandon him again for no reason. If he said he didn’t care, he would’ve been lying.

    “Hey, catch up for coffee?” Jack, his partner asked as they were getting everything packed up for leaving. Coffee. Reminded him of the time he asked Jane to be his girl. “Sure.”

    They decided to abandon their cars and walk up to the nearest Starbucks. “I have heard the baristas are pretty nice there.” Jack says as Eric laughs a little. “Of course Jack.”

    As they entered the place, it seemed prettt empty. They took a seat at one of the cherry red chairs as Eric looked around. “So, what can I get you guys?” A voice asked. Eric looked at the girl, she had blue hair. Her eyes were similar to Jane’s. Pretty green ones.

    “Eric?” The girl said as Eric looked at her badge. Jane.

    “Jane?” He repeated as there was an eerie silence between the two as Jack stared at them. “Oh my gosh, look at you. You’re like, man in black and stuff. You look so chic.”

    It was the typical Jane. Still hadn’t changed. “And you’re a barista.”

    “Thanks, made me feel perfect.” She says as Eric chuckles. “Coffee with me? Tonight?” This time it was Jane who asked, not Eric. Being a guy in love, he readily agreed. Jane smiled as she waited for them to order.

    That night she officially became his girlfriend. They were walking through the pathway once again, different place. Until a scream was heard, somebody was calling out for Jane. “Stop! Jane!”

    Eric turned around to see the similar face, George. “Where the hell were you going with this man? Get home!” He yelled at her face as she rolled her eyes.

    “Yeah. I’ll be soon.” She mutters as Eric looks at George. “What do you mean? She is my girlfriend.”

    George laughed at Eric as he looked at Jane. “Well, pretty impressive. Saw the nerd making money, running after him. I have been her boyfriend for almost three years and I still am.”

    “Jane?” Eric says as Jane smiles at him. That smile.

    “Narcissist. Fits in, doesn’t it?” Jack said from his back as Eric chuckles. “Unfortunately, unfortunately… It does my friend.”

    Like

    • Hi Aarya. Thanks for sharing this. As I said about a similar piece earlier in the contest, I would have liked more characterization about Jane, the woman who seems to find pleasure in jumping from one man to the next. There was also more telling than showing in your story – especially where you tell us that Eric and Jane are childhood friends etc. But those minor gripes aside, I think you have for yourself a nice story that you can develop further. I hope you do 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Deepa Kurup says:

    Here am I sharing the story told
    by aunt’s study table; yes study table!
    The saga of His narcissism
    And
    Her unrequited love;

    He ,from the minuscule life
    to the larger than life,
    leaped within
    a wink of time,
    simply because of his
    most daring progress
    towards the unknown

    So innocent so impulsive,
    enhanced by the
    pinnacle of curiosity
    surmounted outwitting all
    competitors, even the dare-devils
    which flabbergasted
    the whole universe,
    Yes! the Whole Universe!

    Curiosity ,so unbelievable
    Innocence, so serene
    Impulsiveness, so unfathomable
    Thus became he the exceptional fool of
    the whole universe, The Unbeatable
    Wonder of the Whole Universe

    So effervescent was his ascent that
    It compelled even the
    supreme-most compassionate
    wisdom to ascend down
    to earth ,to get personified
    into the most Enchanting maiden!
    That also! Only and Only For him!

    So so was she influenced by
    his innocent love for her
    that ,the supreme power
    surrendered at his feet
    herself and her power,
    her wisdom, her abundance
    her charismatic beauty
    everything and everything
    belonged to her at his feet,
    embracing him and only
    him as her identity.

    And the outcome?
    Can you ever guess what the
    outcome was?
    The outcome so unbelievable was
    his tranquil but upsurge
    transcendence from the
    one and only epitome of
    innocent curiosity and impulsiveness,
    to the most handsome,the all prevailing
    ruler of abundance and beauty
    of th whole universe

    From there started an era of
    style and sophistication, an era
    of the most charismatic couple
    of the whole universe
    He made her his heart throb
    so whole heartedly that
    he was no more in his heart,
    only and only she there
    yes,only and only she!

    From also there, started, the
    tragic twist of the most romantic
    story which was full of
    only and only roses
    with, his turn towards narcissism
    resulting in her unrequited love,
    the consequences of a water-
    heart in a wind soul !

    He became bombarded
    with self complex,
    trying to figure out and figure out
    what was so unique in him
    that the epitome of power, beauty,
    abundance, wisdom ,the possessor of
    uncountable qualities ,both
    existing and non-existing,
    descended down only for him
    and surrendered herself at his feet?

    He wondered and wondered to find out for him
    what w’s most enchanting in her?
    And he felt it is her mesmerising beauty,
    her ever serene beauty

    So he, for the first ever time
    in his whole life
    Yes ,for the first time
    in his whole series of lives,
    bk’s never before was he bothered
    about himself ,what himself?
    even he didn’t exist for him
    As he was only and only
    head over heal occupied in
    ascending towards the supreme compassion
    with innocence so unbelievable!

    The same he, for the
    first time in all his life
    looked to his reflection
    and lo! He couldn’t believe
    at the reflection he saw in his beloved’s
    breathtakingly beautiful eyes
    Yes ,in those entrancingly enrapturing eyes,
    he saw himself ! the most handsome
    of all the men of the whole universe:
    He pinched himself in disbelief ,
    then the reflection also pinched
    Exclaimed he in utter disbelief
    ”oh my ! me? so handsome?
    this might be the one and only reason
    of the embodiment of the supreme,
    to become the beloved of
    only and only me, mine and only mine!”

    From then, Yes! From then; he became
    obsessed with his reflection
    Yes! with the reflection he saw in
    his one and only beloved’s eyes!
    From there encroached the clouds
    of grief ,in the clear sky of the
    most charismatic marriage
    She attuned into his life
    as fish into water and,
    he as fish into sand

    He got obsessed with his
    reflection in her eyes, not with her
    ardent love twinkled there for him
    He became and became obsessed
    with the idea of love ,not the love
    personified in- front him as his beloved!
    Here started his narcissism and it’s
    Consequences, and her grief, of unrequited love:

    Here ended, the story told to me by aunt’s study table
    The Fool flashed the most bewitching smile
    which ,belongs to the most innocent, like him only!
    While the queen of Cups looked longingly to the King Of Cups
    with eyes moist with the suppressed tears of unrequited love
    looked longingly to the King Of Cups and
    and
    He ,to his reflection in the tears of her eyes!
    On aunt’s study table!

    Like

    • Hi Deepa. My first thoughts on this poem was that it was longer than it needed to be. It also came across as being over-written. A lot of adjectives, a lot of exclamation marks, and some repetitions as well. Generally speaking, if you want your reader to exclaim, the writer should not 🙂 The concept of your aunt’s study table telling you a tale is a good one, though. I would like a table of that sort for myself. You have a poem here that is workable, but it needs to be rewritten a few times to make it tighter.

      Like

  12. Of Narcissism and unrequited love.

    Kyra checked her watch for the fifth time in last three minutes. She was surely becoming nervous and extremely conscious. This twenty year old lady wasn’t the one who gets wibbly-wobbly in her knees because of some charming co-passenger next to her. She is strong, assertive and a living symbol of confidence. But something about her mysterious co-passenger made her feel different. Amidst the sweaty, foul smell of the train riding crowd she could smell the almost-heavenly aroma of this mystery passenger next to him.

    “Kyra, you’re silly. Do you realise you’re losing your heart for some nameless stranger?”, said Liz, her bestie. You can almost spot the ridiculing exclamation in her voice.Kyra talked about how she fancied him to all her girlfriends.“I know, but I can’t help it. It feels right.”, said Kyra with her eyes wandering in the direction of the football field. She was undoubtedly distracted. Very distracted. The ultimate hater of train rides started boarding the seven-thirty train to NYC every single weekday, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mystery man. Little did she know that he wasn’t fancied by her, or anyone for that matter. He was deeply in love, with himself.

    Aryan freshly walked out of a suicidal relationship. He was always sceptical about the whole idea of girls and dating. With his latest experience, he was forever done with this whole ‘love-affair’. “Can you believe what she called me? A self-obsessed bastard!”, he said, hitting the bar counter. Down with three drinks, he was slowly losing his rationality. “I mean after everything I did for her. She thinks I am narcissistic. So what if I take care of myself a little? I mean, I am awesome and the best thing around. You know what? Let her burn, I am in much better company. My company. It is perfect. She doesn’t deserve to be a part of my thoughts.”, Aryan said, ruffling his sandy hair. He pulls his phone out and clicks a selfie. “Look at this dude! Doesn’t this look so badass. I am totally uploading this on Instagram. What caption should I give?”, he said poking his mate sitting next to him. He made that thinking face that his ex-girlfriend dubbed to be cute. “How about #InMyCompanyBestCompany #NoBodyElse #HavinFunByMyself #HawtAndHandsome”? , that wild glee in his eyes could almost make anyone believe he was angelic.

    “Hi, my name is Kyra.”, she said with that docile tone. Hands stretched out. It took Aryan a few seconds to respond. “Aryan.”, he responded and resumed staring at his image in the metro windows. Love in its early stage can be described as a feeling of pure ecstasy.. the problem with love is, it isn’t rational. Aryans’ coldness in response didn’t stop from Kyra’s’ emotions to escalate.

    —-

    “Someday he’ll realise.”, Kyra said with that naive hopeful eyes gleaming. “Oh god! sweet heart, he will never realise that. You’re burning in a fire that’ll consume you.”, her friend was getting frustrated. “Listen”, she said in a low comforting voice, trying not to frown too much, “This man, he is no good for you. To him no one is more important than himself. He is the living embodiment of Cleopatra. You’re just being the Mark Antony and scripting a live Shakespeare.” Kyra was not convinced, she never was. She was staring at her nails which were painted dark blue, Aryan’s most frequently worn colour. “That’s the thing about unrequited love, it can exist in a way once requited love can’t.”, she said in that dreamy voice. “Liz, you don’t understand. He is not someone I love, he is a choice I make. Every single day of my life. I’ll happily burn in this fire because he is the chaos in my soul that gives birth to a dazzling star. He unties the knot I have so recklessly woven myself into. He is my gravity. I can’t help but fall for him.”, she said staring into Liz’s eyes. She sounded strong and hopeful. Liz knew she would never understand how Kyra felt but she couldn’t help but admire the unadulterated emotions she was witnessing. “Then be it, Kyra”, she said with a forced smile.

    Its been five years, Kyra still travels in the same crowded train, same time. It is always the same scene. Amidst the jostling you will find Kyra drowned in Aryan and he,in himself. Two hearts, splendid and untamed ,have galvanised their souls into something the world will never understand. Kyra found her idea to live for in Aryan. Aryan found the idea to die for in himself.

    Like

    • I liked the way this ended, Sneha. And I think yours is probably the first entry in the contest that used the image as a ‘direct’ prompt. The concept is a good one, but I do have some complaints about the treatment. You engage in some ‘telling’ during the scene, especially where you start with ‘Aryan was just done with his suicidal relationship’ in the second scene. Even in the first paragraph there are symptoms of telling. Rely purely on action, description, thought and speech of your character (and her surroundings) to convey the story and the emotion.

      I think this could be a good story if you rewrite it. Very poignant, the ending. I hope you revisit it. Feel free to send it to me when you write it again 🙂

      Like

  13. Roshan Hegde says:

    If there is one thing I can be absolutely sure about, it is the reality that I exist. And, because I exist the world exists (for me).

    Since the time this physical form has come into being, I have glared at mirrors and stared at still waters while also feeling many things and thinking a millions thoughts.

    Even after longing looks into the eyes of loving, caring, kind, gentle, vicious, obnoxious and rude men and women, I must confess with a tinge of despair; I see myself no nearer to understanding the meaning of either love or life.

    Love, an emotion more coveted and cherished by all of life more than life itself. More people in the world long for love than for food. Only when it is an act of giving with only the expectation of bringing joy to the recipient, can love be deemed true to its essence of expression.

    Ironically, most of the love that I have seen, heard, read and participated in seems to me a futile exercise in prevention of self-disintegration.

    For, when I say I love you so much to my mother, sister or even my best buddy,

    I hear a faint voice within, one that I chose to ignore, since the death of innocence, saying, I need so much of love to survive and what will I do without you?

    Seems like all life (and love) is but a paradox as giving yourself to the other you’re merely fulfilling yourself.

    It is my honest feeling and direct experience to some extent that, all love is narcissistic when it is tarnished by the desire for reciprocity. Otherwise, the question of requited/unrequited wouldn’t even dare raise its doubtful head.

    Like

    • Hi Roshan. Interesting thoughts. True to an extent, of course. All love is selfish, apart from the love of a parent for a child? That could be argued is the most unselfish form of love in humans. Romantic love, of course, is more complicated, and is riddled with inconsistencies, tautologies, and as you said, narcissism. Psychologists say that everything we like and love are just extensions of our self, so we only like them because they remind us of ourselves. So in that way, the most passionate of lovers are perhaps the most narcissistic. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  14. Wings of Harmony says:

    “I will not touch my phone, I promise.”

    I look at myself in the mirror, imagining myriad poses for the next selfie to upload on the social networking website. I had recently started to notice the subtle changes in my physical profile, as I had grown older and qualified as an adult. It was inevitable that I needed to tell those who mocked, oh I mean appreciated me for my “cute, bunny, panda” like looks, that I was definitely “hot, charming, and beautiful” looking now.

    Tring!

    OH MY GOD OH MY GOD! Is that the first like? What took so much time for them to notice! Hmpf.

    I resist the urge to pick up my phone while looking into the mirror, as another thought flits through my mind. I love my eyes! I must ensure to highlight them in the next picture! Take that you people! Let me see how can you NOT compliment me.

    Another ten notifications later, I feel the itch and pick up the phone to check the comments as well. 98 likes! Yes!!! The first comment is from Rohan. That prick.

    “Wow! You look stunning!”

    Ah, maybe not that much of a prick.

    “Cute! As usual” Anamika says. That jealous woman. Huh. Cute? Really?
    I will check my likes later; I have to check out her profile.

    DAMN IT! Each of her pictures have more than hundred likes! What do they see in her!

    I feel depressed suddenly. Why does she get more likes than I do! I have to put up another picture tomorrow.

    Niyati! Niyati! Where are you?! I hear my mother screaming from the dining room. Oh God! I look at the mirror once again, check my reflection and leave.

    I will have to change my look now. Maybe I will go for the “cute, bunny, panda” like look again. I hope you are ready, Anamika!

    Like

    • I think this captures quite well all our fears. I guess even the most rational of us have not refrained from comparing our likes/shares/comments with those of a more famous friend. We don’t ever compare ourselves with those ‘less famous’ than us, do we? Facebook has managed to put a number on such things as popularity, and it’s impossible to get away. But we must try. Thanks for reminding 🙂

      Like

  15. Zainab Abrar says:

               This poem is on unrequited love

           Daze Of Happiness

    The things which you feel and unfeel
    Is not the way it works out

    Going out of steam
    Is the norm to do it how

    When you get the drift of going around
    You find it high up in the air

    Where the vulgar green of the walls
    Mixes with the purple coloured love potions

    I see saw said sum
    Love lord liked laid

    Did do damn
    Doing it everyday

    Of your wonderful eyes
    Which velcro me

    Why don’t you call and ask me
    “How do you do?”

    Or just leave me a message okay
    Through the white doves

    Sailing out on paper boats
    On the white mist,on the ocean of black soot

    But don’t ask me on nights please
    I live in perpetual fear of reptiles

    Life linear cyclic or a
    Double ended barrel of a pistol

    Never care never care
    Never cared never cared enough

    All this ramble that I talk you through
    Is nothing but shittity shit goo

    The whirring of the fan
    Is the only motion I know

    The only shape,the only sound
    Gravity kinetics relativity vector

    My mind is the brightest flower
    In the garden of your nightmares

    I am sorry I did’nt visit your mother
    When they buried you

    Three times to the right
    Three times to the left

    End for all days now
    All your fishing fantasies

    Never dream never dream
    Never dreamed never dreamed enough

    Like

    • Hi Zainab. I enjoyed some parts of this poem, though at other points I was confused as to what it meant. I didn’t know what to make of ‘I see saw said sum’ and ‘Love lord liked laid’. Maybe I’m missing something. There are some places where I felt the images were good, like ‘messages through the white doves’. I think if you wish to write poetry, you should also consider writing in rhythm and meter. It will take your poetry to the next level. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  16. Me: Are you all right? Could I help you somehow?

    ( The man turned his face towards me–quite attractive, although smudged
    by tears now– while his eyes seemed to be looking somewhere distant and
    the eyebrows frowning with irritation. We were seated on a bus. Clearly I have disturbed him and his deep impenetrable introspections. )

    Man: No thanks.

    Me: Are you sure?

    Man: Why do you bother anyway? Do you know me?

    ( The words ‘I have never seen a man crying and hence the curious cat’ danced on
    my lips. But gulping them down I finally said),

    Not really.

    *silence*

    (Well, silence did what my words didn’t. He loosened up..and asked me a surprising question)
    : why do you girls offer help when all you can do is dump people at the first opportunity?

    *silence*

    (The question reminded me of someone; of him. His last words before he banged the
    door of my house and left forever. )

    Me: You seem to be generalising us on something personal. Is that correct?

    (Clenching his jaws a bit the unknown hurt warrior unfolded his recent history.
    Working as a professor of mathematics at an esteemed university in the country
    and also as a tutor at home, fate left him little time to devote his attention to his
    beautiful but demanding (as he now finds) girlfriend.
    Quarrels. Frustration. Suspicions.
    And finally the girl leaves oneday with a parting email in his inbox! Three days have passed with the girl refusing to acknowledge anyone of his name.(which is Prakash)
    Hence, the tears. Less of remorse, more of anger.)

    Man: Now you know. So tell me. Are you all like this?
    Me: You dont really need to know about ‘all’ of us. You need her. So do the needful to fulfill this need. A busy schedule has no place for love.. And love has no substitute in life. Just be there for her.. Your presence is all what she needs and wants.

    (He smiled. And said) :
    What you said is cliched enough.. But habituated to solving complicated equations, the simple answers of life always elude me.

    Me: It happens. Move now, or you might be too late.

    Man: How do you know?

    Me: Because long back I was in your position. But unlike you, I was quick enough in planning out an apology for him. But he proved to be quicker…

    Man: How?

    Me: 26 November. Terrorist attack on mumbai. His body lay in a pool of blood at the railway station. He was returning home…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Soumini. My first thought of this piece is that there is a lot going on. There are two strangers meeting, therefore there are two other people (their lovers) who are in the background. That’s probably why we feel as though we have not known any of them. Maybe you needed a longer space to flesh this story out. I found myself quite curious about what must have happened between the professor and the demanding girlfriend, and how the ‘Me’ character could figure out that it was the professor’s busy schedule that was the ‘problem’. But I guess I should stay tuned for the longer version of the story. I will 🙂

      Like

  17. Rohit Bhasy says:

    Unrequited love

    He hadn’t lost hope…
    She had….

    He waited for her still…
    She didn’t….

    He hadn’t moved on…
    She had…

    Had they been together….
    It’d have been their third anniversary of togetherness….

    He wanted to dial her number once again today…

    He wished she hadn’t blocked him on the chat application…

    He remembered her today…

    But…

    Just one question clouded his eagerness to call her…

    Was she thinking of him too?

    He wasn’t sure…

    Closing his eyes, wincing in pain of the memories…

    He pushed his phone away….

    Thats’ another anniversary….

    Without her….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rohit. This reminded me of my college days. I was a very bad ‘signal-reader’ back then (still am now), so I would never know if a girl replied to my text messages because she was ‘interested’ or because she was being ‘nice’. Many nights were spent mulling over how many messages to send, when to stop, and whether to call or not. Those were hard times! 🙂

      Like

  18. Rohit Bhasy says:

    He was meeting her after two years…

    He loved her still…

    She didn’t know that…

    He was determined to confess today…he had been afraid for too long…not any longer.

    He hoped she was still single…

    She looked beautiful in white…

    Her eyes sparkled the same way as they used to…they talked…

    He pulled the chair for her…

    She sat on it gently, with grace…

    He moved to the chair in front of her across the small table…

    She smiled…and talked about how long it had been since they had met…

    She put a hand in her handbag

    And pulled out an envelope…

    Placed it softly, on the table…

    ‘I am getting married’, she said, eyes sparkling with happiness, a wide smile on her face…

    Emotions fought inside him for a place on his face…

    Smile won…

    Those which lost…broke his heart….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, this just reminded me of Devdas 🙂 Just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend about this business of ‘closure’. She was telling me about her old college flame and how they never really ‘got closure’. The truth was that the guy got closure, my friend didn’t. That is how it is always, I think, with romantic relationships. One person ALWAYS moves on faster and more easily than the other. And what do they do when they move on? They get married, of course.

      Like

  19. Everyone believed I was engaged to my mirror since birth. They often cracked jokes saying that my devoted attention to my mirror may become proverbial in marriages.

    Yes. I’ve always adored my reflection on the mirror. No philosophy. No deep thoughts.
    No soul searching. I simply loved to look at the beautiful me!

    Spending hours before the mirror I used to get ready for college. College for me meant Raja. Raja, true to his name was extremely handsome and stately in appearance. Hence my love for my looks–narcissism if you like–increased many folds after meeting him and loving him! Confidence played hide n seek with me while I continued to ponder which look, which dress, which hairstyle would win the best compliments from him today. Those were the times when I would wish for a talking mirror like the queen had in Snow White. That would have resolved things quicker.

    That evening, Raja was supposed to pick me up for Shalini’s homecoming dinner , after her return from London . I was dressed up in my best blue velvet one-piece, which made my fair skin to stand out. Sitting before my dressing table, i was just wondering about Raja’s possible reaction, when the door bell rang. It was him!

    ‘My princess!’ ‘Gorgeous!’ ‘Beautiful!’
    No. While my ears longed to hear these, Raja entering my room gushed forth the following words: ‘Just look at Shalini! Oh my god. That hairstyle has altered her completely. She looks a true Londoner!’

    Shalini and Sanjay, her boyfriend, followed into my room. Cries of ‘SURPRIIIIIISE’ filled the air. With a meek smile and a great effort, I removed myself from the chair and stood somewhere away from the babble of their loose talk. Within seconds, I was breathing fire and couldn’t keep my self to myself. Grabbing a paperweight, I hurled it straight at Raja. He fell down.. uconscious.

    Thenceforward, a mirror for me came to represent deep soul searching only. Do I even have one ?

    The paperweight that day missed my target..and hit my mirror. Raja standing next to it got struck and his head was jabbed at the back by a large piece of the broken glass. He died on his way to the hospital.

    Years have passed. I have now shifted to another city and my spacious apartment has everything…except a mirror.

    Like

    • Ooh, this is quite poignant, Soumini. I am just trying to imagine a person’s life in a house without mirrors or reflective surfaces. In order to conquer the deadly sin of vanity, ancient priestesses are said to spend one whole year of their adolescent lives in a house without any reflective surfaces. They’re forbidden from visiting the lake and to fetch water, even, to prevent the chance of them catching their reflection. If you don’t look at yourself for a whole year, they believed, you will be cured of vanity, and you will become more empathetic. I don’t know if I can agree with them, but the ending to your piece reminded me of that. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  20. Roshan was woken up by the jolt of the train which came to a grinding halt at some hill station on the way to Pune from Bangluru. . He had had a very disturbed sleep in the night. He looked at the watch, it was 5.05 in the morning .Tired of being holed up in a compartment ,he decided to get up. The stale Ac air in the compartment made him feel sick and he got down from the train on an impulse just to inhale some fresh air.
    Since they connected another engine on the rear side of the train here, to negotiate the serpentine uphill track laid ahead ,he knew he had time to take a stroll on the platform . This early the small station had very little hustle bustle for a railway station though it looked too much for the early morning. Some vendors ,specially the tea coffewallas ,were hollering their signature calls . A seller of miscellaneous items was ferrying in the hope of making a sell . he looked at the seller’s trolley with amazement .It had a wide range of things from paper soaps to screw driver set . He smiled and wondered who would buy a screw driver set while on a train journey. He started walking towards the end of the platform so that he could get to see some greenery and hills .
    Once he reached the last bogie of his train ,he could look at the other side of the platform which was almost empty . He saw a hazy silhouette of a woman in red salwar kameez with 2 little girls in tow who looked like twins .She seemed to be waiting for some train in opposite direction. The woman was wearing a floral scarf which looked familiar to him , or may be it was her tallish frame or her posture or the red dress. May be ,it was she . May be she lived in this town with her husband ,he thought. Of late, he had been thinking about her very often. Her memories came floating into his mind from out of nowhere. Just a few days back ,he had a phone call from an unknown landline number and, before picking up the phone he had wondered if it could be her call? He also wondered if after 11 years would he be able to recognize her voice over the phone? He thought ,he would atleast recognize her laughter at once. It was an unmistakably uninhibited laughter which sounded like a melodious waterfall. It’s a pity he did not feel so when she was around him. He never gave much thought to her dress, her looks, her laugh or for that matter to her as a person. Or probably he did , a thought of condescension.
    May be it was somebody else ,he told himself . It was still some time to dawn completely and wintery foggy morning made a blurry curtain of uncertainty. In his heart he desperately wanted to call out her name to make sure that it was her , but stopped himself so as not to alert people or look stupid.
    In last few months ,nay years ,he had decided that he would hug her whenever they met next and he would tell her that he missed her more than he would have cared for. He was marveling if she would still look the same? would she be married and happy ?would she have found someone by now? would she be missing him too just like he misses her every so often? He kept thinking of her and his heart and mind debating if he should take a chance , cross over to the other platform and make sure if it was really her. Of course the weak heart stood no chance before the reasoning mind and he just kept staring at the woman in red and kept missing her.
    The signal turned green, he ran all four fingers in his thick mop with frustration , breathed in a strong gust of wind one last time before running towards his bogie . His tall legs galloped and reached his bogie in no time. Pune was only a few hours from here and falling asleep was out of question, he decided to stay awake knowing only fully well that now his mind will slip into reminiscent mode.
    She was junior most in his team. Naïve, enthusiastic and a little irreverent. The other day she brought jalebis in a small box and insisted that everyone ate that. Nothing obnoxious than cold Jalebis . He broke one into a small piece and ate. “Have some more ,sir” she insisted. “ Thanks” he responded dryly. Everyone in the team enjoyed the jalebis and indulged her, he noticed . Ramya and she were found giggling and doing the “girl talk” which meant everyone in the team was out of it without they owing any explanation to anyone. With project deadline nearing, this jalebi and licentious laugh was a hideous combination. seething in anger he fired her for something petty , his eyes lingering on the clutter of her table while she was stuttering some excuse. Indignation written all over her face.

    When she first came to report, his team was well, almost in place . He sized her up , as a fresh graduate from some insignificant institute. Although she did her job well , he always felt that she lacked the sharpness. He never could find a reason to substantiate this feeling ,yet it was a feeling strong enough to play every time they talked .
    On his birthday , she brought him a gift neatly packed.“ A bridge across forever” she told him.
    ”huh?”
    “The book sir by Richard Bach”
    “ yeah , thanks”
    “ do you read fiction ?” ….
    “Not much”
    “please read this ,Sir. You might like it” she said a bit uncertainly.
    “Yeah, sure”, He said without looking at it.
    Once the project got over , he felt the pang of despondency more than the sense of achievement. The team had dismantled and the thought of letting her go was very unsettling . He was surprised with his own feelings. Her caring eyes and attention to him was always very conspicuous but since he was pretty well used to the attention owing to his good looks from people ,he had dismissed the idea that attention from her was of any different genre. Now he did not want to let her go .He took the receiver of the Intercom and called her in.
    “Yes Sir”
    “please sit down”.
    She noticed the subtle earnest tone of his please. He fidgeted with the mouse ,looked at the screen for sometime. His army school background did not help him to muster courage and choose right words.
    He ruffled his wavy mop with his fingers and blurted out “I Love you”.
    She did not show surprise and said
    “sir?”
    “I think I love you…I mean I love you”.
    “Really?”
    “Are you surprised?”
    “Of Course , because I was never there in the love ”
    “ what do you mean”
    “I mean sir , you do not love me . You only love the idea of you loving me standing on that tall pedestal”
    Sitting on that stupid Ac coach ,he remembered wistfully how she walked out with an air of entitlement. She was soon posted on another project in another country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kirti! This is nice. They say that in order to know the true value of something, you have to lose it. Your piece brings that out well. What I found a little confusing is that there wasn’t much information on how he fell in love with her. Maybe a few short scenes on how he warmed to her, how he went from condescension to tenderness to love could improve this story a bit. It seems almost abrupt that he tell her on her last day that he loves her. Perhaps some of the earlier bits about the railway platform can be reduced to make way for more scenes of how their love developed, and how it was lost. But this is a good first draft. Do work on it 🙂

      Like

      • Thank you Sharath. I was awaiting your feedback on this. I really appreciate the effort you make to write about what you feel for each and every entry. I feel I must rework on this ‘first draft’ so that there is a segue between railways platform scene and rest of the story line.

        Like

  21. Siddhant Shekhar says:

    Have you ever looked into the cold, deceptive surface of a mirror, completely aware of the fact that the stranger looking back into your eyes is the only person you can and will ever be and be thoroughly sickened by that thought? Welcome to my life then.

    I am told it wasn’t my fault. I am told I did what anyone would have. Water was filling in. My survival instinct, my deep-seated claustrophobia and that one moment of infinite adrenaline fueled strength had all kicked in in unison. I threw myself against the window, squeezed myself through the broken glass and swam to the shore with everything I ever had. Then I sat, hugged my knees and cried on the shore till the police came to get my car and my wife out of the watery grave I had sentenced them to.

    What followed were years of counselling, support groups and concerned loved ones. What followed was an unequivocal advice to forgive myself, to leave everything that had happened behind, to love again. They don’t get it.

    Love comes with trust. I killed the woman I had promised to always protect and cherish. The woman who had chosen to believe the lie I never knew that I was telling. How do you trust a person if he doesn’t know himself whether he speaks the truth? How do I love myself again if I know I can’t be trusted?

    Of course, life would be much easier if I could love myself again. I could stop living in the past, maybe turn my head and look onward, maybe even upwards, unencumbered by shame. Maybe meet someone else to…betray.

    NO. Never again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, Mister in the mirror. You are not to trusted, not to be loved, not even by the person looking into your eyes right now. Love, trust, these are all privileges for men, not monsters. It is your curse, my penance and our destiny to live in hatred. I live to never love what’s on the other side of the mirror, you exist longing to be loved again. Till darkness do us part.

    Like

    • Hi Siddhant. I think this would have made an apt entry for our previous contest as well, which had to do with mirrors and what you find in them. As it is, I can’t find much of narcissism or unrequited love in this piece. The character seems a bit too self-aware to be a narcissist, and if anything, it seems like the love between him and his wife had been reciprocal. But the general thrust of your story – that we routinely make promises that we can’t keep – is a good one. We often don’t think of whether we would stay true to our word if push came to shove. Words are easily given and easily broken, I suppose. We always tend to overestimate the power of our love and underestimate the power of our instincts. That’s just the way it is. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  22. The boy I dated in college was good looking, but he was still never in my league. He was smart, talented , and made me laugh, but it was never going anywhere. I refused to give myself to him. He kept trying, though, and after a while it became annoying.

    I was no pushover. When I was just eight, I was the cutest kid anybody had laid eyes on. When I was fifteen, I was the beauty queen of our state. In college, I won every fashion contest in every festival in the country, and doors opened up everywhere for me. I got offers from modelling agencies. I signed advertisement contracts. I was only a moderate student, but I landed the most coveted marketing job the industry had to offer.

    People will say that looks do not matter. Do not believe them. They tell themselves these things in quiet desperation, to make their own pitiful existence easier.

    I have never loved anyone, but I have been adored by hundreds. Every boy in my college has wanted to ask me out: many have, a few entertained me for a while, but none for long.

    I have unwittingly ripped apart countless love stories. I have caused agonizing heartbreaks, and long, sleepless, nights. I have caused tears and I have caused death.

    And yet, I feel nothing but pride.

    The boy I dated in college disappeared a couple of days after I left him. The police found his clothes and his wallet, and in it a picture of me.

    I told them I did not know where he was.

    I slept with a boy I met on our trip to another college festival. He said he loved me, and he would leave his girlfriend to be with me.

    I smiled and told him he did not deserve me.

    The next day, he was gone. I found out that nobody knew who he was, and he did not exist on the college database.

    By then I knew what was pursuing me. I had inadvertently attracted something sinister, something more than human. It was fitting: I was the ultimate prize, the final frontier. It was hunting me, and it would keep coming at me till I fell in love with it.

    It would not happen.

    When I decided to move to another city, I did not have to look for a job. Offers kept lining up for me, and I rejected each until they could not hire me without bankrupting themselves. One company did offer to match my demands, and I met with them. He was around forty years old, but he attracted me like nobody else had for years. He was strongly built, and had dark hair peppered with white, and the charm and grace of a billionaire.

    I knew he was the devil himself.

    After dinner, we went back to his place. I came as close to the fire as was possible, without burning myself. In his bed, I told him I knew who he was, and I told him he would never have my soul. He laughed, and admitted his identity. Then he asked me I could never love anyone.

    “Only myself,” I answered.

    The next morning I was back at my own place, and I did not know how I got there. The company never existed, of course, and neither did the man.

    I was ecstatic. I had seduced death itself. I had conquered what nobody had ever conquered before. I was safe, I thought.

    I was wrong.

    I saw her in a coffee shop. She did not notice me, but I could not look away. Impossible, I thought. But there she was. She caught me staring at her, and she put down her book, smiling. She beckoned to me. I walked up to her table, legs shaking, and sat down next to her.

    I could not speak. I could not move. My mouth was dry, and my mind refused to understand. She touched my hand and said, “Shall we?” I nodded numbly.

    On the way back I could not help but be mystified by the perfect curve of her smile, her deep, dark, eyes, and her gentle, soft, skin.

    As I shut the door behind me I could sense the coming of something terrible, something dark. I knew if I went on, there would be no return. I did not care. A madness seized me, and I took her face in my hands and I kissed her, with love.

    I do not know who I am, and I do not know where I am. I do know that the morning papers announced a tragic double suicide of a pair of identical twins, cause unknown. I know that when they bury us, they will bury us together.

    And that is all I want to know.

    Like

    • I know this is way more than 300 words but I saw the entry that won last time had 750 words. I really hope this is considered 😛

      Like

      • Hi Sdeep. Yes, the word limit rule is rather soft. It is there only as a guideline. I liked the story that you entered. It was probably the first piece in this contest that wrote of a proper narcissist who is proud of who (s)he is. I liked the idea of the character seducing death, too, and the ending was cryptic but also fitting, I thought. Almost as if she got transported to a parallel universe where she meets her doppelganger. Very nice. I liked it a lot 🙂

        Like

  23. JackMaverick says:

    Unrequited Love
    ———————
    I tried to make her understand that I loved her more than anything and I was ready to sacrifice my life for her. I proposed to her six times in various ways that I could think and yet there she stood firmly on her belief. She knew what I was capable of, she knew my family, and how she would be treated once she stepped into our house a daughter-in-law. She knew she would be respected a lot and she also that we wouldn’t expect anything from her or her family in terms of monitory benefits, but yet she somehow wouldn’t step down from here firm thoughts, and wouldn’t consider to agree to my proposal. She was right in her thought, I was right in my thought, but I was the that suffered the most in this tag-of-war to make her understand, rather failed to make her understand that I loved her. I suffered emotionally, I went in to deep depression.
    I am still trying to over come the shock that she married someone who doesn’t deserve her. Earlier I thought she was happy by the choice she made and was coming to terms with life, but, unfortunately I came to know from a very reliable source, that she is not. On one hand I feel happy that she is suffering by making a wrong choice that is because of the pain I went through. It is a sweet revenge for not giving my feelings a due consideration she rejected me. It is like a wrong judgment passed though the judge knows that the decision is wrong. On the other hand I feel bad for her want to kick that guy out of her life and make her mine so that I can give her the life she deserves ,be it money, be it family members that treat her like a daughter and not outsider, and especially not a money minting machine. In a marriage ultimately what matters is how the family treats the girl who is coming in from another family and how they treat the girl’s family.
    On an unrelated topic, I want to mention, that there are some girls, that don’t give respect to the guy’s parents or the guy’s family because of their stupid ego and they think they are too big because of the money they are earning,false prestige, but they are useless, like I said its unrelated.
    If she had married me we wouldn’t have taken a single penny from her or her parents for any purpose. I am sure that my family would have treated her and her family members as human beings and would not make stupid and insulting jokes in front of others, squeeze her and make her work like a horse. No matter what the feeling that she made a wrong choice by marrying that guy, no matter how successful their relationship is or how happy they are together to the outside world, deep down I feel she would be unhappy by her choice. She may have lots of money, but she would not have peace, not because she didn’t marry me, because she married him. I still don’t know for what reason she rejected me and choose to marry that guy, that guy who doesn’t deserve her.
    Recently I got married to a different girl and I am not going to cheat on her and treat her badly because of this particular episode in my life. But at times I feel that the girl from my past and me still have some connection somewhere, but I am not leaving the girl I married.

    Like

    • Hi JackMaverick. Stories like these are becoming common in modern India. It all boils down to the ‘what if’ question, doesn’t it? We love to play this game, which is why stories of parallel universes capture our imagination so well. What if I had turned right instead of left? What if I had taken engineering instead of medicine? What if I had married Aishwarya instead of Sushmita? Etc. etc. Our minds don’t rest until we’ve exhausted all these possibilities, but the truth is that there is only one past. And that past is dead. All we can do is step into one of the infinite futures with knowledge that whatever happens, we have the choice to be happy. Don’t you agree? 🙂

      Like

  24. SUJANTA PAL says:

    “The Buck stops with you, Akash” ,said the Manager. Ahh yet another great achievement for me indeed,he said to himself as he walked past his Manager’s cabin. Akash was young, promising and conscientious. He was amazingly committed to deadlines at work and an achiever of many awards for the same. He preferred to be workaholic throughout his career nevertheless he was extremely conscious about his looks.
    He was tall and appealing, the colour of his hair was rich chocolate with tousled griminess. His strong arched brows and thick eyelashes highlighted his deep and catastrophic green eyes, his chiselled face and fair skin accompanied with the magic of his smile made him look devilishly handsome. He choose his attire sensibly that suits the mood of every occasion.
    He was driving his way back home after the applauds and celebrations at work when a reminder flashed across the screen of his mobile. It read, “Call Tanvi”. Rightaway he stopped his car by the side of a busy lane and dialled her number . “Hey Aakash , where have you been for so long?”,said Tanvi heaving a sigh of relief.”Stuck with work again,sorry darling”,he said and exchanged words of great love.
    The other day, camouflaged by his girlfriend’s emotional corner ,he has promised to take her outside the city which he finds himself bound to but at heart the idea of an outing with his girlfriend was discomforting. Oblivious of the consequences he set his way out to meet Tanvi. He parked his car and spotted Tanvi at a distance dressed in pretty black tank top and a pleated skirt. She smiled at him to which he hardly reciprocated and they silently walked together towards the station. They boarded a metro and minutes later they made themselves comfortable .
    “I missed you badly”, said Tanvi. “Me too”, was the vague reply.”I was wondering if you can come to see my parents and talk about our relationship”.”Well,yes”,he said. She turned towards him only to find him scrolling across his phone, replying his bosses and occasionally looking at himself in the window mirror.
    “This is my fate, she said to herself and I have to accept it and live my entire life waiting to get loved by him”,and she took out her ear piece and played her favourite music of love as if they were travelling apart

    Like

    • Hi Sujanta. Nice to see you here 🙂 Thanks for entering the contest. What I noticed straight off the bat in your first paragraph was that you ‘told’ me a lot about Akash instead of showing me his attributes. Instead of telling me that Akash was ‘young, promising, amazingly committed to work’ etc, you need to show me some of his attributes through his actions, his thoughts, his speech etc. Generally when we begin writing, we tend to start off by ‘telling’ in this way. A little bit of practice will get you showing in no time. You should try to rewrite this scene with a missive to yourself that you will show everything. And then share it with me and we’ll talk about it.

      Like

  25. So, this is probably super last minute and might not be counted, but here goes:

    She had eyes like the ocean,
    And she’d drown everything into it,
    Lovers, cities, planets- it didn’t matter.
    And him, he plunged right in,
    Looking for staggering depths,
    But ending up in an almond shaped box of emptiness.
    Her head,
    It was a mystical orchard,
    She planted oak trees and the sweetest fruits,
    Always making sure there were no thorns in her roses,
    No weed in her gardens.
    And him,
    He just wanted her to know,
    Flowers would never be as beautiful as her,
    No garden could ever be as full.
    Her tongue,
    It could turn the universe upside down I swear,
    Whispering promises into the silence of the night,
    Telling him it would be alright.
    And him,
    Oh he was but her lover,
    He thought to himself-
    If she says so,
    Maybe, it just might.
    She had arms like bandages,
    And a chest that almost looked like home,
    She felt like the midnight rescue,
    But she was only a horcrux wrapped in light.
    And him,
    He’d follow her blindly to the end of the tunnel,
    Even if it was endless,
    Even if it wasn’t a tunnel.
    She talked of comets and stars,
    Telling him how small they made her feel,
    And how she always wished to be infinite.
    And him,
    He’d tell her how even her breakdowns were
    more magnificent than meteor showers,
    How touching her caused more explosions in his anatomy
    than the Big Bang itself.
    She’d smile at him,
    Knowing he was hers to keep.
    And him,
    He’d close his eyes,
    Hoping maybe things were different in a dream.

    Unrequited love, some narcissism.
    Okay then. Don’t really know what else to say.

    Like

    • Hi Dhwani. Yes, super last minute, as you said. 11:59 PM, so you just managed to get it in on time. But then my deadlines are always ‘soft’, and I’ve never turned away a comment just because it was late. So you didn’t have to hurry, or to worry that it won’t be counted 🙂

      I liked parts of the poem. Especially where you describe the girl’s arms (like bandages) and her chest (like home), and also where you speak of how he would follow her to the end of the tunnel, even if it was endless and even if it was not a tunnel. The trick about writing good poems – in my opinion – is to be ruthless in cutting out the bad stuff. Typically in the poems that we write, we find maybe two or three good lines, sometimes four or five. Much of the rest is not very good. The trick is to discard it, and then write another twenty lines or so in the hope that two of them will be good. Repeat that process often enough and you have a poem with all the ‘good lines’.

      Welcome to the blog, too. Hope to see you more often.

      Like

      • Yes, yes and yes. A 20 times yes.

        I think it’s wonderful what you’re doing, by the way. A brilliant place you’ve created. I am in awe, and glad you exist.

        Thank you. Humbled by the mention.

        Like

  26. Atika Srivastava says:

    I’m collecting the flowers and not looking at him. I’m trying not. to look at him. Okay, lying. I’m actually stealing his glances in the name of collecting flowers. He’s looking at his reflection in the water. He was a common soldier. His bravery shook me. He battled alone with some fifty soldiers and saved my father. Now he’s promoted to be the Army Chief. The King trusts him a lot and he too, is loyal on his side. Wherever I go, he used to come along with me. For safety purposes (Obviously!). I don’t know how and when I fell for him. May be when he was brought up to the palace, injured; blood oozing from his body. Or may be when he was being fecilitated. Or may be when we were celebrating winning over the enemies. I’m completely foreign to the reason and time but the bottom line is- I’m in love. With him. He’s busy searching for my anklet, that got lost into the pond.

    The pretty daffodils dance with the air, as if they too can hear the love-song. I’m head over heels in love with him. I uncover one of my breast. Oh yes, I’m trying to seduce him. Slutty it may seem to be, but it’s actually not. I try to peek inside the water, so that he casts a glance at my bare body. Through the corner of my eyes, I see his eyes falling over my water image. I’m excited and nervous, simultaneously. I picture him kissing me on my mind. I mean, c’mon he’s a man and that’s what a man wants from a woman. And if that’s the only way out, I’m already on it. Surprisingly, he doesn’t look up at me. He doesn’t love me, I know. But I’m happy that he doesn’t fake love with the sole motive of achieving my body. I fall in love with him all over again. I hear the troops approaching near us, and so I pull my cloth up my shoulder.

    I shall wait a few more years. Isn’t that what I’m doing from past three years? Waiting for him to come up, hold my hand and whisper “I love you, Elora.”

    He comes up and says, “Your anklet, madam.” I smile.

    “We shall leave. The Queen must be waiting for you, Princess.” He bows. I turn my back towards him. I feel tears rolling off my eyes, and landing on the pond. I’m reminded that I can’t be his. I’m a princess and he, a commonplace soldier. In this birth, we can’t unite. I shall wait for another birth. The pond dissloves the little drop of tear into it, and my smile conceals the perpetual gloom that I’m in.

    Like

    • Hi Atika! Welcome to the blog, and to the contests too. I liked much of this piece, and I think the drama is good. It moves well, and ends on a wistful note – though I think if a princess wanted a soldier, she would be able to get him by talking to the king about it. Wouldn’t she? 🙂 Anyway, that’s not the point. You brought out the longing of love rather well in a small scene.

      There was some overwriting in the first and second paragraphs, but not much. Also, the language is not consistent. In some places you were ‘flowery’ – in line with the age of kings and queens – and in other places you were ‘colloquial’ – like when you used words such as ‘slutty’ and ‘Obviously!’ which are both modern expressions. So I think if you cut down the overwriting and strive to keep the language consistent throughout your piece, it will be much better than it is now. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Like

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