15 May, 2020

#SpecialFeature :: A Study in Jealousy, #ShortStory by Naimish Srivastava

*** Special Feature May 2020 ***

About the Book:
Find the Book on Amazon

He is not crazy for her.

He is just crazy.

It is impossible not to like Grace Malhotra—she loves her family, her friends, and she does everything right. All she wants is a normal life. But she makes one mistake: She thinks everyone is as nice as her. And Amir Malik makes her pay for it. He starts tormenting her again.

Thus begins a game of cat and mouse that leaves Grace questioning everything she knows, including her sanity. The cracks in her relationship with her husband begin to show. Will they be able to get through this together? Will she be able to get away from Amir alive?

A Study in Jealousy

As the cuckoo clock inside calls seven times and the streetlights come to life, the faint knocking at the door of the Walker residence quickens and the doorknob turns violently once, twice, and almost gives way. ‘Open up, Diane,’ says James Walker, leather briefcase in one hand, and loosens his shirt collar, gasping for clean air.

He detests the fact that the very pattern he hated has now been broken. The sound of his footsteps has not been met at the door by Diane rolling her eyes. If she would’ve given him the cold shoulder once again, everything would’ve been fine. But standing at the threshold, he can almost taste the roses that lead the way inside, that are waiting to be crumpled by him. A red petal peeks out from under the door to greet him. A drop of sweat breaks out on his forehead, traces his jawline, moves down his chin and onto the floor, turning the petal blood-red.

He looks back and watches the night take control. A red dot appears on the black background; it gets bigger and bigger and finally bursts, giving the sky a crimson hue. The moon peeks out from the red blanket, a stinging reminder of how far the human race has reached, while he stands, a ball of jealousy, betrayed by the woman he loved.

The door finally clicks open, and James jerks his head around to find Diane smiling, the first time in weeks that he sees the diamond smile he fell in love with.

‘Had a long day at work, hon?’ she says, and then looks beyond him. ‘Red really brings out your eyes.’

She hands him a glass of champagne. Hoping against all odds, he waits for her to end the act. But she simply turns around and walks back inside. His worst fears are realized. He follows her, the roses cracking under his feet.

The lights inside the rooms still haven’t been turned on. Instead, candles make themselves useful for once. The dining table has been laid out. The white tablecloth his mother had gifted Diane finds itself spread for the first time. She is dressed in the skirt he had bought for her birthday, a nice green flared skirt, which she hated on account of him liking it.

‘I was saving this for a special occasion,’ she says, holding the skirt out from her body, doing a pivot turn and exploiting her delicious curves. ‘Don’t you like it, hon?’

She moves closer to him and plants a kiss on his cheek. She puts her head on his chest and caresses his hair with the end of her fingers. He knows what the entire show is being put up for.

‘Oh darling, you have no idea how I’ve missed you. I am sorry for screwing things up between us lately,’ she says and then adds (as a caveat), ‘but when you sit around all day, waiting for someone, it drives you crazy sometimes. It happens to people in love.’

Killers, it also happens to killers, he thinks, and then adds before he can stop himself, ‘You look just fine, Diane.’

‘But you look worn out. My poor baby. You need a little time off. Maybe a vacation? We could go anywhere you want.’

‘Cabo?’ It had all started here. She had mentioned the idea of a vacation to Cabo once in passing, but when he had ridiculed it, she started to distance herself from him and created a rift in their relationship.

‘That’s wonderful. I still might have the reservations from last time.’

He has connected all the dots now: Diane’s strange behavior, the searches he had found on her laptop on how to drown somebody, the late-night calls from her ex-boyfriend. He knows she is luring him into a trap. He frees himself and holds her at a distance, staring at her with his bloodshot eyes. He scans her face for any sign of hesitation; there is none. She just keeps on smiling and kissing his hand. The candles in front of him flicker as he lets out a sigh of disgust.

‘Worked out perfectly well for you, hasn’t it?’ he says. He pushes her away, and she goes back to preparing a feast for him; one needs to feed a lamb well for slaughter. He picks up the carving knife from the table and walks towards her. This time his footsteps don’t go unreciprocated. Diane turns around to face him.

‘Now look what you made me do, love.’ He brings the knife up to her eyes and allows enough time for her smile to turn into a frown. He tilts her head to the right and stabs the soft flesh of her neck, severing the carotid artery. Blood sprays out from her body, and he watches her fall down to the ground from behind the red curtain.

About the Author:
Author's Amazon Page

Naimish Srivastava is a twenty-two-year-old writer and spoken-word poet based in Delhi. He reached the Top 15 of AIB First Draft in its first season, and is the author of two novels - Thinking Out Loud and Until the Music Stops. He writes in a professional capacity as a Copywriter during the day, and in a personal capacity (with a cup of tea) through the night.

Naimish Srivastava on Instagram

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