Below is the story I wrote for a short story writing competition. I was given a passage which I have to use anywhere in my story and the rule is that the story should be a life lesson. The passage given to me was:
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf
Now read on my story
She stares into the mirror, watching her reflection. “Honey colored eyes”, that is what he used to tell her and his gaze would melt her. She sighs, recovers and splashes water on her face. Focus is important now and her work has to be carried out without wasting any further time. She takes a knife out of her bag, hesitates for a moment before slashing it on her hand. Warm blood comes out and stains the knife. The cut is not very deep, not deep enough to kill her. One more time and her spirit will be free. Just as she lifts her knife held hand again, somebody knocks on the door.
“Hello!! Is anybody in there? You have been there for a rather long time. Please come out”, a woman shout restlessly knocking the door. She is in the cafe’s restroom trying to take her life but is disturbed by this continuous knocking. Her concentration is disturbed. The time is not yet right. She will come back later and attempt again. Lucky that the wound is not very deep, she just cleans it with a tissue and comes out giving way for the angry woman. She comes back to her seat in the cafe.
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. Evening dusk rays falls on her face and elevates her features. This is his favorite place to hang out. It is situated near the famous shopping district and always filled with people creating a lively atmosphere. He always insisted they come here. This is where they had hung out many times. Today, she is alone here and he would be married by this time. Today is his wedding.
Every inch of this place holds their memories. The promises they made to each other. Today those promises do not mean anything to him. “I will show him what true love is”, she thought. ”I will give away my life for the sake of our love”, she pacified herself. She looked around the cafe. There are about 4 other tables apart from her table and a sofa towards the other corner of the cafe. In the center of the cafe, towards the wall is the billing counter. Her table is in the rear end of the cafe near the window. From her table, she can see all the other tables clearly. Being a public holiday, the cafe is filled with people. There is a young couple with their small daughter on the table to her right. The father is showing off his muscles to his daughter and she is giggling uncontrollably. The mother is looking lovingly at both of them. In the table to her left, an aged mother and her son are sipping their coffee. In the sofa, friends have gathered for a birthday celebration. The Center table is occupied by a middle aged person working on his laptop, whilst his coffee turns cold having been ignored. The table towards the wall, near the billing counter is empty. Beside this table is the door to the restroom. The cafe staff, a cheerful boy and a young girl are busy serving the orders. That is what he used to like about this place. This place is known for its excellent customer service and amazing coffee.
The cafe door opens and three people with heavy bags enter. First one is wearing a green color T- shirt. He looks young, perhaps in his early twenties. The second one wearing a grey T-shirt and the third one wearing a black T-shirt both appear middle-aged. They go towards the empty table and occupy. She can see them from her table. They seem to be tourists. They seem to be talking in a different language.
She has wasted enough time already. Time has come to attempt again. She moves towards the restroom with her bag, with the knife wrapped in blue scarf lying safely in the bag. When she reaches the rest room door, the guy in the green T-shirt gets up suddenly, punches her in the face and takes his gun out. She hits the wall and falls down shocked with the unexpected blow.
The other two guys also take their guns out. The cafe and its occupants are all trying to get in terms with the happenings even as chaos sets in. The middle aged man in the center table tries to run towards the door. Before he can reach, the black T-shirt man pulls him and punches him in the face. He moves towards the door and stands guard there. “Until the government releases our leader you all will remain our guests!” shouts the grey T-shirt man. “If anybody tries to move and cause trouble, we will not think a second before shooting that person”. Her nose is bleeding due to the punch. She sits on the floor near the rest room door watching them helplessly.
The young couple’s daughter starts crying and the parents are unable to control her. “Keep her quiet”, the black T-shirt guy shouts. He picks a satellite phone from his bag, speaks in low voice into it. “Your government is aware of the attack” he announces loudly to no one in particular. Everybody is gazing at them in silence. The green T-shirt guy indiscreetly presses the remote to get on to the hourly news bulletin which has just started to report this incident as its breaking news. .
A number of police vans are parked outside the cafe. Press vehicles have also surrounded the cafe. Negotiators are talking to these men asking for their demands. There seems to be a lot going on outside the cafe. It seems as though hours have passed and she is still sitting on the floor watching the happenings. The child has stopped crying now but is clearly unsettled. “My child is running temperature and appears disturbed”, the child’s father shouts at them “She needs medical assistance urgently”. “Just shut up and sit there without moving”, the black T-shirt man shouts. “I need a doctor to see my daughter right now”, the angry dad says, “You take my life, I don’t care but I want my child to be saved. She looks at him from her place. His face is full of anger and love, a rare combination. All that matters to him at this moment is his daughter. His words trigger a distant memory for her, she can hear her dad‘s voice in her head. She is taken back to that day when she met with a terrible accident.
“I need a doctor to see my child right now. If she is not attended I am going to drag you people to road”, her dad shouts in the hospital. He was carrying her in his arms and he ran from pillar to post to ensure she was treated on time. His timely actions gave her a new life that day. Her dad has been her big support always. She had lost her mother when she was a one year old child and from then on, her dad took care of her every need. He did not re-marry even though he was young as he wanted to ensure that her future is secure. In her every joy he found his joy and he would do anything to wipe that tear of her face. Her dad, her hero will be devastated if he comes to know what she was up to today.
“Thud!! “, the sound gets her back to the present. She sees that the aged mother in the left side table has fainted and fallen down. The son is hovering over her and shaking her. Outside sirens are ringing and lots of vehicles are moving into the area. The son tries to wake his mom. The little girl’s father hands over the girl to his wife and tries to go near that table, but the green T-shirt guy catches hold of him and hits him hard on his shoulder. He falls down whimpering in pain. The son is crying loudly and shaking his mom. “Ma, please wake up. It is my mistake that I forced you to come here today. I thought we will celebrate my first salary with a cup of coffee, but didn’t know I will put you in trouble!” he cries uncontrollably. She knows how it feels to buy something special for a loved one with one’s first earning. She had treated her father too, when she had her first salary. When she thinks about it even today, her heart fills with joy.
“Pa, please don’t keep calculating the costs”, she whispered to her father and snatched the menu card from his hand. “Please order whatever you want, today is my treat” she said. After that day, for at least one week her father proudly spoke about her to everybody. “I am sure she will reach such heights one day that I will be recognized as her dad”, her father kept on saying. “When I retire I will happily relax and you will be there by my side. What else can I ask for in this life”, he said to her with tears in his eyes. If her attempt was successful today, sure he would have been known by her name but that will not make him proud rather it will make him bend his head in shame. The thought of this makes her shudder.
The boy has stopped crying now and he is looking at his mother helplessly. The grey T-shirt guy keeps talking into his satellite phone in low voice. The negotiations are going on. She looks at the news channel which is capturing the live actions of the police vans, media crews, ambulances that are waiting outside. A crowd has gathered and police are trying to control the crowd. The black T-shirt man moves away from the door for a brief moment to discuss further action with his fellow mates, just then one of the guys from the birthday celebration group gets up and runs towards the door to escape. The black T-shirt man moves back immediately and hits the guy on his head with his gun. All the friends shout loudly and run towards him. The black T-shirt man pushes the guy towards his gang and his friends catch him. “The next time someone tries this, the bullets will speak”, the black T-shirt man barks. She looks at the friends, as all of them huddle for a group hug, in an attempt to protect each other. She thinks of her friends.
Her lovely friends, who always watched her back, pampered her and encouraged her in every aspect. In college she was their star, leader and support. She excelled in everything she did. What would her friends say when they come to know that she who always spoke ideals have attempted to take her own life.
She has not valued any of these people in her life when she decided to take her life. She would have killed her dad’s dreams; she would have let her friends down and most of all she would have fallen down in her own eyes. Is this called love, to take life for a person who has never cared to look back and carried on with his life? Suddenly she felt as though there was no difference between her and these armed-men. They were killing innocent families and with that their dreams. Even she was about to do the same, kill herself and with that her father’s dreams. How did she even allow another person to push her to take her own life? “My life will be worth if I were to lose it while fighting these fanatics, rather than die for some idiot who didn’t even value me”, she thought.
She quickly recovers and looks around to assess the situation. By now, the police are surrounding almost the entire cafe and the black T-shirt man although standing guard has moved away to the center. The grey T-shirt man is also guarding another part of the cafe, while the green T-shirt lad is standing close by. She realizes that she is just an arm’s length from his legs. She cautiously removes the knife which is still wrapped under her blue silk scarf and with great force manages to slash it through his legs. He loses his balance and falls on her while letting out a wild shriek, obviously in severe pain. He is just unable to comprehend whatever happened. Seeing this act, even as the other two men run towards her, the now-motivated father of the little girl also runs behind them and hits them from back. Before they can recover from this situation, the group of friends run towards the door and opens it for the police and the para-military force.
A few minutes later, the scene is completely different. She is now wrapped in a blanket with a cup of hot tea in her hand. Police has taken control of the situation and arrested the armed-men. As the now relieved hostages are treated with first-aid, everybody around including the men in uniform have a word of honor for her. It was as if she was living a dream in fast-forward mode. The doctor finishes treating her. ”Please wait here, an officer wants to talk to you”, he says before leaving her alone. She is left alone to her thoughts while waiting for the officer.
Today she has thought of taking her life and also of saving lives. What a contradiction on a single day. Within a span of a few hours she learnt a big lesson and got to look at life differently. Suicide is not the solution for everything and self-love is more important than anything. Anybody before taking their life one should think about the people who love them, trust them and build their dreams around them. Hope and trust on oneself is a must.
“Madam, thank you so much for your courage today, but I would like to ask why were you carrying a knife along? Anyways, we have taken its custody”, the officer tells her. She looks blankly at him, wondering what to answer. “OK madam, we can discuss later, you please take care”.
She walks towards the road, into the shining rays of dawn with a new glow on her face. She has learnt a lesson today, a lesson so precious that she will never forget in life.