He woke up. And he realized he had fallen.
He had fallen in love with her hard. And he didn’t even realize when it happened. Maybe it was the dream. He had dreamt of something silver slashing through the air and seen her blood gushing out. He had lost her, and the mere thought of it had jolted him awake. He looked at her face, peacefully sleeping, eyes slightly opened, mouth slightly parted, and took a breath of relief. Even in her sleep, she looked divine.
It had been two months since they had started dating, and she often managed to make excuses to come spend the nights with him. She would often curl up into a ball, just like she was now, and he would hold her. That was comfort for him… and her. Suddenly, she moved and instinctively he held open his arm where she found her perfect spot and was at ease at once. He held her tighter and went back to sleep again.
The final alarm was the wake-up call for both of them.
He stared at her face, kissed her forehead and both jumped out of bed. They were late. Him for his work, and she for hers. He quickly set to making green tea for the both of them. Green tea and smoke by the window, while she put up her feet on his was a daily ritual for them now. The day was incomplete without it, and he felt incomplete without it, on the days, she wasn’t there. They shared the smoke, and when it was done, he stubbed it out, gave her another peck on the cheeks before they could set for work. As always, she hadn’t touched her green tea, but he’d still make it for every day.
What had started out as something in between an infatuation and lust had slowly turned to love. He couldn’t believe it. While he was getting dressed, he was still thinking about her, and how she went crazy with the smell of his perfume. Breakfast was a quick affair and while her cab waited, he too got dressed to leave in his car. Their favorite song was playing in the car, and as he turned around the corner, he waved a last goodbye for the day through the rear view mirror. He couldn’t wait for the day to end so she could be in his arms again.
What he felt for her, it was love, for sure. But he was still alien to the whole feeling.
He still couldn’t believe she was tangible. She was there in front of him. She was his.
Jehangir Hospital was already rushing in with patients. There were so many kids that day. And all crying in unison. Or so it seemed to her. Dr. Isha Mishra already had a headache and all she needed was the crying and bawling of some children. How was she supposed to concentrate on her work when there was so much noise all around. It was impossible. She decided to take a walk, probably have a smoke and a coffee. The rotting smell was already getting to her. Dead bodies were okay for her, but not early morning. And with children crying all around.
They had brought in a body early in the morning; it had been bloated and the water had eaten away most of the flesh and the face, but it was her job to conduct the autopsy. She could tell it was the body of a girl. Probably months old. Amateur. She thought in her head. Only an amateur killer would throw the body in a river without puncturing it. No wonder it floated to the surface. She was just cursing the already dead body. Why couldn’t it have floated earlier if it had to. Would have made the autopsy so much easier. And the police work so much more convenient. Her coffee was over and her smoke was shedding the last of its embers. Time to go back to the welcoming rotting smell.
He reached work, parked at his spot and proceeded to his desk.
She should have reached her work by now as well. Any minute now he would get her call. She had started working only a few months back. And her family had relocated to another city all of a sudden. She used to tell him it was because they wanted to be closer to her elder sister in Mumbai, but he wasn’t quite convinced. Whatever be the reason. At least, he got to spend time with her. He watched the TV in the office as he waited for her message.
Half an hour later, when he still didn’t get any text from her, he called. She was panting on the other end of the line. He got to know that there had been a huge traffic jam. The police had cordoned off a major road because they had found a dead body. It had floated up the river. Somebody who had gone down towards the Mula river had found it. For a minute, he couldn’t utter a word. He couldn’t think of anything except her. What if that had been her? But then he realized she was safe. She was talking to him on the phone and his love was alright.
They hung up and he finally got back to work, without giving much thought to the issue. 9 more hours of the same old at office and he would be back with her. Probably they would head out for ‘A Danish Girl’. They had been planning to watch that for quite a while now.
Dr. Isha was back in the lab. The body still lay in front of her, and the smell wasn’t helping. But putting the surgical mask and gloves on, she proceeded to prod and poke the body. It was a girl. There would have been a hole in her torso, but the silver knife was still intact. Again she thought about how much of a novice the killer had to be to leave the murder weapon behind. She couldn’t help but wonder what could the motive have been for the murder. She must have known her killer. The laceration on the wound looked like the killer had just stabbed her once and with good pressure. No more twisting of the knife had been required. The element of surprise must have done the rest of the job. She giggled over the thought for a bit, shook her head at her weird thinking and started to absent-mindedly stare at the body.
Whatever beautiful hair she had had was all in a mess and all over her face.
Her face pale and drained of all color. The water had taken away all her features but yet there was something peaceful about her face. Like she was still sleeping. The clothes were ripped due to the currents of the river and the jagged rocks the body might have evaded but one thing caught her eye were the shoes that were intact. Must have been expensive and a perfect fit for her foot. There could be no other reason why they didn’t come off even after the river torrents. The shoes looked like they were made from good quality but genuine leather and were blotchy in places but not completely damaged.
They looked like they were probably brown boots.
To be continued…