Chapter 7 - The Memory
Arnav was not happy, not at all.
Khushi had told him that she was inviting only Garima and Payal. In front of him were half a dozen of people Garima, Payal; accompanied by an older woman and 3 girls.
He was just getting accustomed to the idea of sharing space with 1 human. He was not ready to passively tolerate 6 of them. He so badly wanted to make them go away but he'd promised Khushi that he'd be on his best behavior.
She looked so joyful at the arrival of the guests. She was multi-tasking between cooking in the kitchen and chatting with them. The house, filled with chatter and laughs, had a different ambience today one that Arnav hadn't felt in a long time.
He was surprised that Khushi was able to convince Garima and Payal, especially Payal to come. He did notice Payal getting jumpy sometimes and Garima would whisper to her, "There's no problem, not now. Look at Khushi living so normally." Payal would nod, trying to relax herself.
Khushi had also said that the guests were invited for lunch. It was half past 5 in the evening and none of the humans seemed ready to leave. 3 of them had snuggled comfortably in the sofa and the remaining three on the chairs.
Khushi went to the bedroom to get something when Arnav seized the chance to talk to her.
He remembered Khushi had asked him to take permission before entering her bedroom. A knock would catch the attention of the other humans so, standing at the door, he called out, "May I enter your room?"
His voice startled Khushi who was fishing for something in a drawer. He hadn't made his presence felt since the morning, so as not to get in her way. Did she forget he existed too?
"What is it?" Khushi whispered, lest the humans sitting in the next room hear her. Taking it as an affirmation he entered the room and walked to her.
"You said 2 people only. You said lunch." He stated, trying not to sound grouchy.
Khushi whispered again, "I can't make them leave if they are enjoying. It's not like I have anything else to do?"
"How's entertaining strangers a source of enjoyment?" Arnav asked, perplexed, "They are sitting with their feet up on your couch, and table; making a mess in the kitchen, piling up dirty plates in the sink - which you'll have to clean."
She folded her arms across her chest and huffed, "I am not having this argument with you. You promised me you'd behave."
"I am!" Arnav felt he sounded like a petulant child.
"We'll talk later," Khushi's voice was low, "Just... stay on the balcony maybe?" she offered.
The house was the size of a pigeonhole. It's not like the balcony would provide him any respite.
Suddenly he felt his spine stiffen. There was someone in the room with them. "Khushi," he warned and both of them turned to face the door.
Payal was standing at the door, a bowl of ice cream in her hand and confusion on her face. "Whom are you talking to?" she asked pointedly.
Khushi let out a nervous laugh, "No one! I was just... thinking out loud," she lied.
Payal seemed to accept the answer. Arnav realized the girl had something more to say.
Payal glanced at the drawing room, once ensured that her family had not taken notice of her and Khushi in the bedroom, she spoke in a low whisper, "I heard you had a scene with Shyam yesterday?"
"It's all under control," Khushi assured her.
Payal didn't look satisfied; "I'd advise you against interacting with him. He is not a good person. I have known him since I was a child... we were friends once. Not anymore. He's gone down a bad path. Just avoid him - don't engage with him."
"That's what he takes advantage of!" Khushi expressed her disagreement, "Every time we ignore him; he thinks he has won. It encourages him to harass other people. That day when I stood up to him, a few other people supported me. He and his lackeys ran after that."
Payal huffed, clearly not able to convince Khushi, "Just be careful." She cautioned her and left.
"Is Shyam the guy who troubled you yesterday?" Arnav asked, as soon as Payal was out of earshot.
"Yes. He's also the guy whom I punched yesterday," Khushi replied, her voice a little high as the women outside started talking loudly.
"Your human friend seems to be worried about your actions," Arnav asserted, "shouldn't you be heeding her advice, given that she has lived here her whole life and knows the guy?"
"I have dealt with goons like him my entire life," Khushi responded, closing the door of the wardrobe, "I can take care of myself."
Arnav shook his head at her. She was so adamant. She was about to walk out of the room when Arnav, without thinking, grabbed her arm, "This is serious."
She turned immediately, looking from her arm, which had indentations where his fingers were gripping her, to the empty space, where she assumed he was standing.
He let go instantly. "Sorry," he apologized, with sincerity. He recalled how uncomfortable she was at the cold sensation she had when he had touched her hand for the first time.
She seemed lost in thought, "Your touch..." she trailed off; "It is different... less cold... why?"
Arnav furrowed his brows. This was new information. He had no idea why? Why had things around him started to change? Why was he feeling emotions that he hadn't, in a long time? Why had he started to care for this frail human?
"Khushi!" someone yelled from outside.
Both the girl and the ghost seemed to jolt out from their thoughts. Khushi walked out, leaving a very perplexed Arnav behind.
The guests had left after dinner. It was close to 11 pm. Khushi spent the next hour cleaning the utensils and the rooms. The ghost had offered to help, which took Khushi by surprise. She had declined his offer. Occasionally talking with an invisible man was one thing, she was not ready to see her stuff levitate mid-air, even now.
By the time she was done, every muscle in her body ached. She slumped on the couch, putting her head on the backrest and closed her eyes.
"Awake?" came his inquisitive voice.
"Mmhmm..." she affirmed, her eyes closed.
"What joy did you get from putting yourself through all that work?" he asked, she presumed, crinking his nose.
"Come and sit here," she patted the portion of the couch, next to her.
"I am not tired and unlike you, I can't get tired physically," the ghost informed though Khushi felt the seat-cushion on her right shift, due to him sitting on it, she inferred.
With her eyes closed, Khushi turned her head to the right. She was now facing the ghost. Her fingers accidentally brushed his left hand. She let them linger on his skin. She could swear his skin was getting less and less cold with each contact.
For Arnav, it was a new sensation. He could feel something warm in his chest as Khushi's fingers lightly grazed his hand. Unlike the previous two times, neither of them pulled away.
"Are you..." Khushi mumbled, not opening her eyes, "solid?"
He understood what she was asking. "I can control it. I can take a solid form and whenever I want I can meld in the air. Changing forms require energy so once I take a form I prefer to be that way."
"Don't vanish now," she mumbled, her voice sleepy. She slowly placed her palm on the top of his hand.
Arnav's hand trembled; he looked unsurely at her. Luckily for him, she had not noticed.
"Why can I not see you then?" she asked.
He shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know."
"You never told me your story."
Arnav closed his eyes and put his head against the backrest, "I would, if I remembered. I just know my name. I can't remember anything else about my life other than that."
Before she could ask how he knew what his name was, he added, "I had this glimpse a woman standing over me, as I lay on the ground, repeatedly calling "Arnav, Arnav" like she was trying to wake me up. I figured maybe that was my last living memory, that's why it's clearer as compared to the rest."
"What other glimpses do you get?" Khushi began trailing her fingers up on his forearm, across his wrist.
Arnav gulped, as her fingers made their way up lightly along his hand. He had to focus to answer, "Very brief glimpses," he managed to breathe out, "A white house, some unrecognizable faces, lot of noise, of typing and phones ringing, of traffic, sometimes a whirring like I am flying... nothing that I can understand."
"I have memories too, very vague, ..." she told in a voice that started to break, "Of my parents. They passed away when I was 4, in a car accident. I think they loved me a lot. I think I was very happy... I wish I could hear them, talk to them... Like I do with you..."
A tear formed at the corner of her closed eye-lid, slid down from the top of her nose and dropped on the fabric of the couch.
Arnav had a sudden urge to comfort her - to wrap her in his arms and tell her it'd all be okay. The thought vanished as soon as it appeared.
Khushi stirred again, but her skin didn't break contact with his, "I know you are invisible but now that my eyes are shut, you feel so... real."
He didn't know how long they sat like that - her fingers moving up and down his forearm ever so lightly, till after sometime, her hand became stationary. She had fallen asleep with her right hand still placed on his left.
Arnav turned slowly, so as not to wake her up. She always looked serene when she slept. He raised his right hand toward her face, hovering in the air.
Gently he placed his fingertip on her cheek. She was burning - he'd have been worried only that he knew it wasn't her who was unnaturally hot but him who was icy cold.
Unnaturally because he was not alive; he was a spirit, a ghost! What was he doing by trying to bond with a human girl?
He pulled back his hand and stood up. She was nestled on the couch, her chest rising up and down as she slept.
It was not right, Arnav chided himself. It wasn't right - the thoughts he had allowed to bubble in his mind about the girl, the way he had let her touch him, the way he, so badly, wanted to feel her skin on his hand - none of it was right.
Why not? Another voice in his demanded. There was a reason that only Khushi could hear him, only she could talk to him, acknowledge his presence. There was a reason why he'd started to care for her, why he had started to experience new sensations every time he was around her.
Because, the other voice reminded, she was a living being and he was dead.
Edited by ErisedWitch45 - 2 years ago
Topic started by ErisedWitch45
Last replied by Eccentrica