THE CHRONICLE

PART – 2

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The curtains add an orange glow to the morning light, every morning a perfect sunrise. It reminds Kaitlyn of of the times she slept in a beach hut, watching the ocean emerge under the golden shimmer. For a moment her mind conjures the rhythmic waves, soft on the sandy shore and feels her heart beat to the same slow pace. She breaths in deeply. A new day has begun. She reached her had out to the fabric, noticing how up close the light pours through every open space between fibres, no different from how it once came through the beach-hut walls, illuminating like brilliant fire-flies each dawn. The material is warm beneath her fingers, and when the sun floods the room, painting the colours anew, she feels a little of those golden rays soak into her skin.

She slowly divorced herself from her bed, and entered the kitchen. The kitchen tiles are sombre browns with cream and the palest of turquoise glass, each of them stacked as a pile of books might be by some happily distracted reader. The rocks are so grounding and the glass brings memories of clear water on sunny days. As she flicked the pages of Elle magazine, making mental plans for how to be more skinny, her eyes rested on the coffee mug. It wasn’t beautiful or elegant, it wasn’t expensive, it had no sentimental value. For a moment she reached out to touch the perfect machine made form – coated in the same colour as the lipstick of the model on the page. She had intended to drink but instead snapped her hand back to the glossy pages and returned to flicking them back and forth too rapidly to read much.

Her bath time was a heady combination of bliss, the memories of childhood glee combined with the mature joys relaxation brings. She went back to her room and took the file and threw it on the table. Her eyes shifted to the newspaper lying on the floor. The daily paper was shrill as always – ranting titles to stir the middle classes into a more mobile type of apathy. The letters to the editor deserved to be printed in green ink and the photographs were framed just badly enough to be annoying. she scanned to the back, sports and jobs were all she wanted to know about. Somehow she always got waylaid on the obituaries and the pet section before she ever found what she was looking for. For a moment she angled her neck up and took a glance outside.

She had always loved the flowers and the birds, loved the sunlight and the clouds that drift by. She had always loved the way the leaves moved in a breeze and that soft whispering sound they made, like nature loves to chatter too. Yet the tiredness that begun a while ago remains like a veil over her skin, grey and cold. And as she watched the petals and the twigs that swayed outside the window, there was only a creeping sorrow where there should have been joy. It sat like November rain on her skin, enough to chill what was once warm inside. At any other time she would have called a friend, asked for the warmth she needed to ward it off, just a little was enough. No longer. Now she just let it come, drop by drop and she felt like it is an ocean falling upon her instead of rain – that the grief of years she carefully suspended had all condensed right above her head into a cloud large enough to block the sun. They say it can’t rain forever, that there will come a time when it must cease, that the last drop will have fallen. Thing is, she just doesn’t care. She would still be true to myself, still help others, but she planned to just stay here in the cold, comfortably numb.

She could feel her mom’s voice echoing – darling, the newspapers are nothing more than an old man on your back, whispering in your ear, telling you what to think and feel. If you ever want to do more than swim downstream, you’ll have to shake him off. Many a times, her ears would keep vibrating about the most painful lines people had thrust upon her. Words are powerful. Sometimes she would even get reminded of her friends’ hurting dialogues. You aren’t normal. You are troublesome. You need to work on your character, Kat. It’s over. Don’t trouble me anymore. Her lips stuck with each other as she let out air. She let her thoughts get back to the headline.

The unsolved mystery behind No.24, Oakfield Street.

Who’s behind the murders?

It has been more than 30 years since the first chain-killing occurred in there. Initially, it was considered to be just another case. The victims’ bodies were disposed, new family came in, in 1992, two of the members were declared dead, the case was looked into, but they gained nothing. The spirit of the house had rescued itself by sleeping in the walls, by retreating into the welcoming wood away from the dust. It stayed there with the memories of its birth, of the hugs and laughter that once were its colours and music, for that is the way of spirits. So though the floors were bare and the paint was in need of loving care, though the furniture lay still without the warmth of its family, it stood all the same, strong beneath the flakes and dirt of years. Half of the family had been gone, a few offsprings settled elsewhere, the living received death threats, were asked for a handsome ransom demand and were interrogated by the media and the cops often. This had been a routine, till Kaitlyn joined a member of the Youth Journalists Club of her university. Very soon, she tried to clue up the details and started doing a scrupulous study. One could see her visiting the library more often than ever, and her way of approaching things changed.

Her only bedroom had books spread over the floor, pens of all colours sticking out of the hundred pen stands, newspaper articles pinned all over the wall like polaroids. She began flipping the pages of the old, yellow, “Blake file”, she called it, and started to research. She took out her diary and started to jot down points again.

  • 16 July 1986 – Oakfield murders
  • Victims : Jon,17 , Julie, 26 & Lisa, 38.
  • 21 October 1992 – strikes again
  • Victims : Elsa, 44 & Devine, 13.
  • 7 November 1993 – strike 3.

HUH.

  • Victims : Bryan, 54 & Joanne, 52.

OH. A couple.

  • 4 Febraury 1997 – strike 4.
  • Victims : Alicia, 12 & Kristine, 45.
  • 6 May 2000 – Melinda, 3 & Adam, 13.

Wait, what?! She put her pen down and began to swallow her own saliva. Blackness came with such completeness it obliterated the memory of the day that had just been. With the thick cloud above no relief came from either the moon or stars. This was not the city with store and streetlights to stop anything ever becoming darker than twilight. It was the kind of blackness that could throw a mind into free-fall if only one more sense were to be removed.

The buzzer of the phone went off like an annoyed rattlesnake.A phone holds a thousand memories. Not just in the hundreds of pictures that could tell her story, but in her music, in the text messages and the ones she never sent, in her voice memos, in the games she played to pass the time away secretly waiting to hear from others, in the way her ear presses against the glass just to hear their voices… but most of all, in all the silence of their slightly opened lips desperately begging it to just say how they really felt for each other. A phone remembers the silence it had to endure between people.
She rubbed her temples and slid the green icon to her right and placed the phone on her left ear.

“Hey. How is it going?”
“Ah yeah, yeah, I am on it.” The nervousness in her voice could be felt.
“Hey. You don’t sound good. What happened? All okay?”
“Well, hopefully, yes. But-“, she paused for a moment to take in a deep breath. “-the thing is -but the thing is, I- , I- have been lied to.” She was shaking.
“As in?”
“Well, I’m- I’m not really not sure if this is it but then-“, a moment of deafening silence as Blake could hear the pen scratching. “-I will have confirm a few things you know. I will talk to you later, bye.” She disconnected before Blake could even say anything.

She closed the file and tried to take in stuff. 2000. She was hardly four years old back then. An innocent, pure and a beautiful soul. Her mind ran back in time. She could imagine things. Kaitlyn stands so still, eyes following the bird in flight. She watches as children do, with that look of love and awe. Her eyes stay with the bird, the beating wings capturing her mind in the most calming of ways, the same way soft waves on the beach do. It’s as if she’s in love with nature, with life itself, and I pray this life nurtures that sense in her, keeps her as whole as she was born. She recollected the days when Melinda would come over to her place and played carrom.

On the day Melinda opened her eyes for the first time, her parents were hazy blurs, but she had taken in their aromas, bathed in their soft words and felt the warm touch of gentle hands. Each time she had cried they came at once and so an idea of safety in her world developed, a foundation on which her future personality would rest. In the years that followed life wasn’t so simple. Her father struggled to provide enough for the family and her mother had returned to work. Life was now daycare and tired parents who fitted every house chore into the weekend. Though they adored her with every atom of their bodies their tempers frayed, with each other and with her. She was praised when they felt guilty and chastised when they were frustrated. Inside, little Melinda grew a seed of worry, powerless as she was to mend the parents she loved or articulate her feelings. At school she became the teachers pet, at least by hard work she could avoid more angry voices coming her way.

Kaitlyn’s lips started to wrinkle. She was cheated.




To be continued.


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SUDARSHAN PALIWAL

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