Marriage Vows

You wake up in a hospital. Everything around you is white, just like the movies taught you they’d be. The nurses are pretty and they wear short, white dresses that clench tightly around their chests. You look up to find a ceiling fan spinning ever so slowly. Almost as if it’s been switched on just for the sake of it. You don’t feel hot though.

You try to step out of bed, only you can’t. Because you can’t seem to move your legs. You can’t even feel your legs.

What the hell happened?

The nearest nurse hears you groan and runs over to you, leaning over to see if your eyes are open. She scrambles away, almost in shock as she sees you glaring back at her. “He’s awake!” she screams. And suddenly the whole white room is dotted with the colours of the nurses’ faces.

As if you’re a rare item that needs to be studied, you hear them murmuring around you, clipboards and writing equipment in hand. You manage to croak out a “Where am I?” before one of the nurses takes charge of the crowd and everyone disperses. She seems older than the rest, mid-thirties at least. She has a neat little cap on that makes you think she’s probably the supreme commander of the nurse army.

Her voice is calm. “How are you feeling today?” she asks.

You groan again, too fazed from forming your last three words to say anything further. She nods. She seems understanding. “It’s going to be alright. You’ve been under for quite a while now. We were all pretty worried about you.”

She can tell from your confused expression that you have no idea what’s going on. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

You close your eyes and in a flash it all comes back to you. You can still hear your wife’s voice screeching in synchrony with the brakes, the blaring horn of the truck and the deafening noise of the rear windshield shattering.

“Stop, goddammit. You’re running a red light! What the hell are you thinking? Stop!”

She grabbed the wheel from your firm hands and yanked it just enough to miss the front of the vehicle advancing across you. But the truck doesn’t stop.

“Why isn’t he stopping?” she cries.

You hit the brakes a little too late… or was it too early? The car spun out of control. You kept pushing down at your feet while frantically turning the wheel, hoping something would work.


You stay quiet for a while. The nurse notices your expression morph from confusion to grief. “It’s going to be alright,” she reassures you with a smile.

“Wife?” you manage.

“Let’s get you out of bed first,” she says. You maintain your composure. “Can you sit up for me?”

Thankfully, it seems you can still move your arms and torso pretty fine. You sit up to look down at the quilt covering the lower half of your body. You hear the nurse’s words resounding in your head. The image of two white balls of light accompanies her words. It’s going to be alright. You pull off the sheets to find everything looking pretty normal. Your legs are, to your surprise, still intact.

After nurse explains what’s wrong with your legs, and that you’ll be able to walk in no time, she brings over a wheelchair. Two nurses appear out of nowhere to help you get into it. They wheel you over to the window where the supreme commander pulls up a chair and sits next to you.

“Wife?” you ask again.

“She’s fine,” the nurse responds, “she’s been coming in to see you every day since the accident. We’ve paged her about your awakening, but she usually comes in around now anyway.”

You sigh.

“She’s been working two jobs to pay for your medical bills these last couple of years. The company stopped sending in the money once they realized you weren’t waking up any time soon.”

Two years? Has it really been that long? What sort of mess have you gotten yourself into? You begin to hyperventilate. The nurse says the words that calm you down. You repeat them in your head, picturing the two white balls. It’s going to be alright.

You hear footsteps behind you. A familiar touch on your shoulders. The smell of raspberries as a curtain of hair surrounds your periphery and you feel her soft, warm lips kiss the back of your head.

“Finally up, are we sleepyhead?” your wife says. She begins to turn your wheelchair around. You wonder if she still looks the same. Bracing yourself, you find yourself in full view of a woman, quite very much like your wife. A little older, yes. The circles under her eyes darker than you remember. She smiles.

“Oh, I’ve missed you sweetheart,” she says in her cute little voice, holding your face in her hands. She kisses your forehead, pulling back only to gaze into your eyes. You stare back. Her eyes are still the same – those never age. You see them shine, overflowing with glee. She’s genuinely happy that you’re back. The only thing your eyes are displaying is guilt.

How could I have done this to her?

“So how long until I can finally take him home, nurse?”

The commander laughs. It had been a long and hard battle, but they’d finally won it. You were awake, after all. “In a few days,” she replies. “We need to run a few tests and work on his motor skills. He isn’t talking much either.”

Your wife sighs. “I understand,” she says. “I’ve waited this long. I can wait a little longer.”

The commander leaves you alone with your wife.

“I can’t believe you took care of me all these years,” you say, forcing the words along your throat.

“Of course I did, stupid. ‘In sickness and in health, until death do us part’, remember?”


After some more light conversation, where she does most of the talking, your wife decides to leave. “I’ll come visit again this evening,” she says, pinching your cheek and ruffling your hair like she used to. As she leaves, she blows a flying kiss in your direction.

“I love you,” she says, wearing a sly grin on her face.

You’ve never seen that smile before. It disturbs you a little.

You don’t realize how tense you are until she leaves. Your shoulders fall and you let out a heavy sigh. She looked so happy. She still looked so beautiful. She didn’t give up on you even when the money stopped coming. Why hadn’t you noticed these things before? What possessed you to cheat on her with your co-worker from the office? And how in the world did you let that crazy bitch convince you to set up that whole scene with the truck to kill your wife? And oh, how terribly wrong it had gone.

You look around for the commander, but she’s nowhere in sight. You groan out to one of the nurses nearby.

“Phone call,” you say.

She takes you to a phone and asks you who you’d like to dial. With some difficulty, you recite the co-worker’s name and phone number. You’d never saved her number on your phone, so you had it by heart. The nurse hands you the receiver.

“Hello?” says a voice on the other end.

It was a man. You struggle, but somehow manage to ask if he could hand her the phone.

“She doesn’t live here anymore. May I know who’s speaking?”

“Old friend,” you croak.

“Oh. Jeez. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your friend seems to have passed away.”

You pause. You process. “What?

“I’m a bit sketchy about the details. I didn’t know her personally, you see? I just bought this house at an auction. They say she died in an accident. Something about being hit by a truck? I’m not really sure. I heard the driver was craz–”

The phone slips from your hands and clatters to the ground. Two nurses are at your side instantly. You begin hyperventilating again.

“It’s going to be alright,” they chant.

The hair on your neck stands on end, eyes – wide open.

“It’s going to be alright,” they recite.

You try to get up out of your chair, but they hold you down.

“It’s going to be alright,” they sing.

The area surrounding the two white balls clears and you see it’s just the headlights of an oncoming truck. The nurses’ chorus transforms into the sound of a blaring horn. And in the driver’s seat, you see your wife blowing you a kiss with a sly grin on her face as the truck crashes into you.

“I love you.”


Road Safety / Toy Truck

A boy is reluctantly eating his breakfast. He wears his school uniform and a look of annoyance. He will cycle to school today, as usual.

A truck driver is drinking his morning tea. Usually he wouldn’t have to drive down during the day, but today was an exception.

The boy has finished his breakfast. He is ready for school. His bag and his lunch box flail around him as he runs to kiss his mother goodbye.

The driver is finished with his tea. He pays what he owes, breathes in some fresh morning air and makes his way to the truck.

It is the 21st of April. In his school, they allow kids to wear casuals on their birthdays. This kid didn’t believe in all that. He wears the uniform. His bag is heavier than usual with the toffees stacked above his books. He mounts his bicycle.

It is his son’s birthday today. He has to start early if he is to make it for the party this evening. He sits in the driver’s seat, adjusts his mirror and makes himself comfortable. He places the toy truck on the passenger seat. A gift for his son. It’s a long drive ahead. He starts the engine.

The boy cycles down the road to school. He lives on top of a hill so it’s a delightful ride down. He rolls down fast. It is a narrow road.

The truck driver is on an uphill climb. When you’re climbing a hill, you can’t see what’s coming at you. His palm pushes against the steering wheel and the sound of the horn resonates.

The boy sees the truck before he hears the sound from the horn. He leans in to the left and stops his bike to the side of the road.

The truck driver sighs. Smart boy.

The boy is home. He runs to his mother and kisses her cheek. She hands him his gift and a mug of hot chocolate. He opens it to find a toy truck.

The tired man reaches home. The entire family has arrived for the party. He walks inside the house with the gift for his son in hand to find his wife crying in a corner. The rest of them are huddled around his son’s shrouded corpse.
“He saw a truck coming, thought it was you and ran onto the road,” they tell him.

The Walk Home

My mother is a good person. She never hurt anyone and she always taught me to do the right thing. She loved my father a lot, so she was broken when he died. Our family had nothing to our name. Father had been the sole source of income. My mother remarried for our sake: my brother’s and mine. No one deserves what happened to her.

The Man was rich. He owned the local bar and also every bar in a twenty kilometer radius. And with his money came power. Power to control our family. For if the money stopped, we wouldn’t survive. He sent my brother to college and enabled me to continue my education. Mother was miserable, but she put up with it for us. At times she would walk into my room and embrace me, the tears from her eyes rolling down my neck. I felt helpless.

I don’t need to tell you what kind of a man he was. I don’t need to tell you how he came home drunk every night. I don’t need to tell you about the women he’d bring into our house, or the things he’d do to my mother when I was at school. Mother never said anything, but I knew.

I like to think I would have done something if mother hadn’t forbidden me from doing so, but God knows I’m not a hero. He would withdraw my brother from college if I tried anything funny and then there would be no hope of us breaking free from his imperialism.

Sometimes at night, when the sounds from my mother’s bedroom were too loud, I would sneak out the window and head to the hills. I would sit on the edge of a cliff where my father would bring me when I was younger. He would buy me a lollipop and I’d sit there licking on it like the happy child that I was, and we would talk about life, school, women, his job, family, anything really. I’d finish eating, he’d pat me on the head and tell me not to tell mom about the lollipop. We’d head back home to a warm, mom-cooked dinner. She’d give me a hug, kiss me goodnight and I’d sleep like a child should. Those were the days. I believed things wouldn’t change. I never thought I could wake up and find myself in another world entirely. I was wrong.

When my father died, I cried for four days straight. It was difficult to sleep and when I did manage to, it did not last long. I woke up crying and I wept myself to sleep. My mother took care of things despite having lost her husband. She did not mourn as I did, though her sadness was much deeper. She is the strongest woman in the world. After those four days I vowed to never cry.

I slept on the cliff that night.

I woke to the sound of birds. Tuesday. I had school. I rushed back home, tumbling down the hill. I snuck back into my room through the window before anyone could notice my absence. I peeked through my open bedroom door to see the Man walk out of the house. My mother was still in her bedroom. I knew because I could hear her sobbing. What he did during the day was not known to me because I was always at school. I decided to find out that day.

His car whirled out of the driveway. I ran out and picked up my bicycle. It hadn’t been used in years, but it seemed to be working alright. I followed him as fast as I could and I was out of breath in five minutes, but I kept going. My curiosity wouldn’t let me back out from this now. He stopped at one of his private bars. I expected him to go in, have a few drinks and come back out, but he stayed inside for an awfully long time. It was time to investigate. I parked my bike outside and walked in.

It was cool and dark inside. A TV was blaring, the only illumination inside the bar. I could see the Man and his friends by a sofa, glaring at the light. They were visibly drunk. I couldn’t see what was on the television, but I could see them laughing. For some reason, the Man looked a little more innocent in his drunk state. He looked like someone who would be gentle and caring and not like the merciless beast that he was. I walked forward but I still could not see what was on the TV. The dark atmosphere of the bar prevented the Man and his friends from noticing me. Bottles lay scattered on the ground and the smell of alcohol seared through my nose. These people took their drinking quite seriously. I continued my steady and measured pace into the room until I caught a glimpse of what was on the screen.


A tear rolled down my cheek.

“You bastard!” I screamed, my voice tearing through the sudden eerie silence of the bar.

The Man turned his gaze to the direction of my voice and found me standing there, breathing heavy with ferocity. He was still plastered, but the look on his face was back to the man I knew he was. He set his drink down, picked up a knife from the bar and rushed at me. The fight didn’t last long. I stabbed him with his own knife in the eyes, twice. The other men did not react. The knife fell from my hands to the floor, next to where the Man lay.

My mother is a good person. She never did anything to hurt anyone and she always taught me to do the right thing. I knew what I had done was wrong, so I walked home. I walked past my house and I took to the hills. To the cliff. And I walked. And I walked. And I walked.

And then I flew.


// I’d written this particular story for the creative writing category at Revels 2015 here in MIT, Manipal. I wasn’t able to get my hands on the original piece, so I rewrote it. Hope you liked it!