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The Night at Marrington Drive

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Paul pulled over to the side and switched off the engine. The neighborhood looked almost
deserted, as if No 8. Marrington Drive had never existed. It was perfect for him, the fewer the
number of nosy neighbors he will have to deal with, the less pain he will have to endure. He
took his bags from the trunk, crossed the street and opened the small creaking door that led to
a garden. The house must have been abandoned a long time ago, he thought, looking at the
pity condition the lawn was in. He placed his bags on the couch and looked at his watch. He
was hungry, but there was no time and energy in him to cook. Pondering whether he should
just go to sleep on an empty stomach, he noticed only now that the inside of the house was
well maintained and clean. Maybe the greedy landlord was useful after all, he thought. But it
just didn’t seem right. There were fresh cuts of Orchids and Lilies in a flower vase placed
beside the couch and the curtains matched beautifully with the carpet giving an aura of
tranquility and comfort. Just when he was about to dismiss his reservations about his sanity,
he heard a voice. He turned around and saw a woman, probably in her thirties, her skin pale
and white as though she had never been in the sun. Her clothes were shabby and her eyes
looked tired as if they had seen enough. Yet there was something about her that gave him the
impression that she was the one. The one from whom he could get the answers he has been
searching for so long. “Hello, I am Martha. I live in the room upstairs. You must be the new
tenant.” This was odd, thought Paul. Mrs. Disen had not mentioned that he will be sharing
this house. “I am Paul. I will be taking the room over there. I have just moved in.” He
hesitated for a second, but then said that he was not expecting anyone else in this house to
which Martha just waved her hand saying that the old hag would have had simply forgotten
to tell him about it.
Now with a housemate to keep him company whom he was not expecting, Paul and Martha
sat down to have dinner in the small dining room adjacent to the kitchen. Martha tried to
make small talk; she asked him where he was from, about his work and what he was doing in
Wyoming. But all she got in response were terse answers like “work”, “engineer.” For the
next thirty minutes or so they ate their food in an uneasy silence broken occasionally by the
clinking sounds from forks and glass. She did not want to push him further, although she was
curious about him. They washed the dishes, cleaned everything up in the same silence as
before, the constant dripping of rain on the wooden roof above them could now be clearly
heard. Paul went to his room, changed and got into bed, tired from the constant road trips he
had been taking. But moreover, he was tried because he could not let go of his guilt that gave
him daily nightmares and frequent bouts of uncontrollable anger. Meanwhile Martha outside
was about to go to her room upstairs, when she heard a noise. She made sure that the main
door and the one in the backyard were properly bolted. Perhaps it was the wind picking
speed. Just then she noticed a small diary on the flower vase table. She opened it and she saw
numerous pictures of Paul and another woman who Martha did not recognize. It looked like
they had the time of their life! Some pictures were of them skiing, some holding their hands
and looking at the sunset on a beach, one was of them enjoying a barbeque in their backyard

and some pictures of them enjoying a bonfire in what looked like a forest. Then she heard a
door open and she immediately kept the book down where it had been. But it was too late by
then. Paul came thundering down the hallway and he snatched the book from Martha and
then exploded “You have no reason to snoop into other people’s business! You leave me on
my own or you will be very sorry if you didn’t.” Martha was visibly shaken, but she found
some courage and said, “I was just looking at pictures in the diary and you looked so happy
in them with that woman. I am sure she is so lucky to have you in her life. And I don’t think
you can hurt anyone.”
Martha knew she had said something terribly wrong, because she could see Paul’s face going
white and then purple with anger and frustration. Paul was about to go back to his room, but
her words acted like salt rubbed against a wound. A deep wound. Paul couldn’t hold back any
longer and he yelled “Oh yeah! What if I told you that I am a murderer? And that I KILLED
my wife!” And then he cried and he cried his heart out. Martha was trembling thinking that
she is alone at night in a house with a potential murderer. Nevertheless, she tried to calm him,
but her efforts were futile. After what seemed like an hour, Paul stopped crying and was
handed a cup of whiskey to help him calm down. Martha being an expert in Psychology knew
that this was the best time to find out the truth. She said, “Paul, talk to me. I know you are a
good man. Please tell me what happened.” And just as she expected, Paul was not resistant
this time. “It all had started three years back. I had come to the US to pursue my masters in
aerospace engineering. I had always been a little picky when it came to choosing friends, so it
wasn’t surprising that during my first year at the university my friend circle was small. It was
just my housemates and a few people from class. But then in my second year, I met her”, he
said pointing at an open page of the diary. “It was an instant connection because we had so
much in common. We both liked reading books, loved travelling and hiking. But on one hand
where I was a reserved and shy guy, she was an open woman full of energy and enthusiasm.
Small things which we all take for granted like the sunset, a beautiful flower, she marveled
and enjoyed at these things. But she changed me completely. I was beginning to become
more and more like her. We went on trips together, used to spend our weekend on a beach
and had barbeque dates in forests. It was perfect until that happened.” He clenched his fists
and gnashed his teeth in anger. The rain was now pounding on the roof above.
“It should have been me”, he said, his voice barely audible. Martha knew that something
terrible had happened. “She had gone to Ralph’s supermarket to get some groceries and stuff.
It was my turn to go, but I was tired after a long day at work and she said “You rest, I will be
back soon.” She was gone for quite a long time, but I didn’t worry too much about it until I
switched on the news and saw that there had been a gas explosion near Ralph’s. I frantically
tried to call Susan, but in vain. I immediately drove to the place and I couldn’t even recognize
the place. It was completely incinerated. They said they could not find her body because
nothing was left of her…” Paul couldn’t say any more. It took a lot of courage to speak about
her death, and he did not have any more courage left in him. There was a long silence where
Martha was thinking not what to say, but how best can she say it. She took a deep breath and

said, “I feel your loss. But I want to say that do not look at death as a blank wall. The path of
life is not a long and boring journey that eventually leads to a dead-end. We continue our path
onwards by discarding our body and enter the door to another life. In this process we leave
only our bodies behind, and it is our soul that continues the journey by taking up another
body. It is just like we discard old clothes to wear new ones and so we don’t cease to exist,
but just take another form.” Paul was nodding his head, now and then, but Martha was not
sure if he was clear, so she continued, “She is free now Paul. Free from the sufferings that
trouble us daily. We must live our life by accepting the reality, however harsh they may be.
And we should live in a way that we would choose it to reoccur in the same way with all its
joys, sorrows and challenges, because only then it would all have been worth it. She is always
with you Paul, only in a different form.” Paul looked at Martha and gave a slight nod as if to
say that he understood but needed time to accept it.
The next morning, Paul woke up and was hazy about last night as if it had been a dream. But
he remembered every word Martha had said to him and what she meant to convey. Just then
he heard the doorbell ring and saw Mrs. Disen at the door. “You haven’t paid the deposit
amount yet”, she said in her croaky voice. Paul gave her the money and she was about to
leave when Paul said, “You ought to have informed me about the other tenant.” Mrs. Disen
looked confused and said, “Who are you talking about? You are the first to live here in years.
There is no other tenant.” Saying thus she left, but Paul just stood bewildered. He ran to
Martha’s room and knocked. No reply. He tried again and got no reply. He pushed the handle
and to his astonishment saw that no one was there. The room was empty. He thought was it
all a dream? But it felt so real. Or was it Susan, proving Martha’s point that she will always
be with him? He didn’t care about it, all he knew was that he felt lighter and that death is not
a dead-end, but a bridge to somewhere beyond our world.

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