THE GIFT11 mins 179 11 mins 179
Diana’s car broke in the middle of nowhere. She looked out of the window, it was raining and she was already freezing in the winter of Manali. Her eyes moved to the driver who was trying hard to kick start the car. She wanted to pee so bad that she started to look for a secluded place outside. But all her eyes met were mountains, trees, and an empty road.
“Madam,” Amar, the driver, spoke, “If you want you can ask for help in that house.”
She looked up and saw a big house in the midst of all the fog and rain. How come she had not noticed the house? Perhaps because of all the fog. Only one light was lit in the whole gigantic house.
“I will be back,” Diana stepped out of the car and ran towards the house.
In a minute, she was drenched from head to toe. Shivering, she knocked on the door and waited. But no one opened the door. Again, she knocked on the door and heard some commotion inside.
A beautiful woman with salt and pepper hair opened the door, “Yes?”
Diana smiled and told her about the car and how she wanted to use the washroom for a minute.
“Sure, my name is Donna,” the lady said and welcomed Diana inside.
The house was dimly lit with a wooden floor and huge windows which were closed. She passed by a large dining table and to the straight was the washroom.
When Diana came out Donna handed her some dry clothes to wear. Diana could not believe the kindness of the strange woman. She even offered her a cup of tea. They both sat at the dining table and started talking.
“We just moved here a week back,” Donna said with a smile on her face.
Diana sipped the tea and told Donna all about her month-long staycation in Manali.
“So, you are all alone here in Manali?” Donna asked baffled.
Diana nodded her head finishing the tea and feeling warm.
“That’s brave of you,” applauded Donna, “Where do you stay?”
“Next to Mall Road. With 2 other girls,” Diana informed and decided to leave.
Before leaving Diana gave Donna the full address and invited her to her home so she could return the clothes.
Donna opened the door and even offered Diana a red umbrella.
Diana’s eyes fell on the photo frames hanging on the wall near the door. She instantly recognized two faces. Then she remembered the gift.
“Are you okay?” Donna asked her and she faked a smile.
“Yeah,” Diana looked down avoiding eye contact, “Um, thank you, and see you soon.”
When she reached home, she called her friend, Shanaya.
“What’s up? How’s your staycation babe?” Shanaya asked cheerfully.
Diana sighed and bit her lip.
“Hello? D? Are you there?” Shanaya asked, worried.
Diana was feeling bad that she had to tell Shanaya about their stupid past. They both had forgotten all about that incident.
“Shanaya,” Diana said morosely, “Today I was stranded on a deserted road and visited a house. It was Deb’s house. Remember Deb? His brother –”
“Joy,” Donna completed her sentence, “Of course, I remember.”
“I was so scared. But thankfully none of them were home. Only Joy’s wife, Donna was home.”
Shanaya warned Diana to stay away from their house. To stay away from Joy and Deb.
“Everything came flashing back when I saw the pictures. The day. The gift. The whole fuck-up,” Diana whispered to her friend.
“Stay away from those brothers. I have told this to you ten years ago too, please listen to me this time. Please,” begged Shanaya.
But Diana didn’t listen or she wasn’t given a chance to listen. Donna dropped at her place the next day and took Diana out for lunch. Then a few days later, they went for shopping and this time she met Joy. He had changed so much. He wasn’t the man she desired 10 years ago. His tall legs were sure still sexy but he had put on a lot of weight.
Joy didn’t recognize Diana obviously. He had never seen her. He had no idea she was the one who delivered ‘that’ package to his brother thinking it was him. To Diana’s surprise, he treated her like a baby. He loved her a lot and they all again decided to go out for dinner at his friends’ place.
Shanaya called that night and Diana lied to her that she was going out with her roommates.
They all went to old Manali for dinner and this time Deb joined them. Diana couldn’t move seeing him. She was frozen for full five minutes. But he didn’t recognize her. In fact, he didn’t even notice her for at least 20 minutes. It was only when Donna asked Diana what she would like to drink that Deb saw her. But that was a mere glance. Like how you glance at a waiter or a dog on the street.
Diana was never so happy to be ignored by a man. But she couldn’t stop staring at him. Deb looked like the younger version of Joy. He was still that tall and had grown handsome with his dusky skin and perfectly gelled hair. When she had mistakenly dropped the package to him instead of Joy, he was merely 20 years old. A skinny teenager. Now after 10 years he looked like a man.
A few days later, Donna called Diana and invited her to dinner at their place. It was their anniversary of their first date and they were celebrating. Diana was reluctant but agreed eventually.
It was raining heavily that evening and her driver dropped Diana in the wrong place. Diana couldn’t get through their front door as it was flooded. So, she went to the back door and saw the door open. Slowly, she walked in and heard them talking. She felt awkward. How would she just barge in when they all were talking. So, she stood there for a while.
After a while, Joy heard some noise in the kitchen and saw Diana had fallen down along with a chair.
“Diana?” Joy was shocked and came running, “When did you get here?”
“Just now,” Diana lied and stood up with his help, “Front door is flooded.”
Donna joined in and worriedly took Diana inside and offered her some clean clothes. It was a white sleeveless dress that reached Diana’s knees.
“It's my nightdress,” commented Donna and smiled.
They all sat at the dining table for dinner. Most of the dishes were new to her but looked delicious. There were a lot of wine bottles on the table that impressed her the most.
Donna served her some French fries and cottage cheese. Most of the wine consumed by Deb. Suddenly, he started staring Diana a lot. That made her nervous and she avoided the wine after two glasses.
“Deb and Diana,” Donna called them after finishing her food, “Why don’t you go down in the storeroom and get us some more wine bottles?”
She couldn’t move after hearing that. She glanced at Deb who was already on his feet.
Smiling, falsely she stood up and followed him in the storeroom. She waited outside the storeroom and was reluctant to enter. For a long time, Deb didn’t get out. But she was sure that no matter what she wouldn’t get inside with him.
She heard laughter coming from the table and decided to join them. But someone grabbed her inside the storeroom. It was pitch black and the only light came from outside.
“Hey,” Deb whispered in her ears, he had pinned her against the wall and his face was pressed against her neck.
“What you doing?” she cried, trying to fight him.
“This is what you wanted, right?” asked Deb his breath on her neck.
She could not understand what was happening and why was he asking her such a bizarre question.
“10 years ago,” he whispered and nuzzled her nose, “Remember?”
“I don’t- I don’t know – what you are saying,” she murmured suddenly sweating a lot.
“No. Wait. It was my brother you wanted but mistakenly delivered the package to me, right?” he chuckled and began kissing her neck, “But well, now, 10 years later I look just like my brother and I can give you what you wanted from him.”
“Please, no,” she cried and pushed him hard but he hardly moved.
He wasn’t listening to her and was trying to rip off her dress. His fingers were circling her nipples and all she could smell the wine off his breath. And then suddenly when she thought he would cross all the limits. He pushed her on the floor and went outside locking her in the room.
Diana was confused and scared. What were they up to? She stood up and looked everywhere. But she was greeted by darkness. Was she scared of the dark? Only she knew that. Suddenly, the roof began creaking on top of her head and she heard the painful screams of a woman. Her heart was beating faster than usual. What the hell was happening? She moved back and spotted moonlight coming in. There was a tiny window. When she moved towards the window, she saw a woman in white clothes standing staring at her. Diana fell back and began crying. Someone was knocking furiously on the door. Again, she was confused. Who was on the other side?
But the door opened and she ran for it. Once outside the room, she saw that the lights were off.
“Donnaaa?” she cried and moved slowly.
Again, she called for Donna and even Joy but no one answered.
She decided to run away and moved towards the door. But near the staircase, she heard whispers. When Diana looked up, she saw Donna hanging upside down. Dead.
“AAAHHHHHHH!” Diana screamed and fainted right there.
She must have woken up after 15 minutes in someone’s bed. But she refused to open her eyes. Instead, she heard murmurs.
“I told you this was too much,” Donna was saying.
“No. It's not,” Joy said, “She’ll wake up. Right?”
“I think we crossed the line,” Donna touched Diana’s hand gently, “I know you two hate her because of what she did. But this was too much. Seriously, she could have had a heart attack.”
“Enough now,” chided Joy and they all saw Diana slowly opening her eyes.
“Diana?” Donna called her with a smile on her face, “You okay?”
She began blabbering about the ‘package’ and how the brothers wanted revenge. So Joy had purposely messed with her car that day during the storm. They didn’t mean any harm. Just wanted to mess up with her.
Diana didn’t say a word but kept staring down at her black, dirty, dusty feet.
“Get her some water,” Donna said to someone, “Wait! I’ll only get it.”
She went off and Joy followed her. It was only Diana and Deb in the room.
Deb started moving towards the window and began talking to her.
“I would appreciate if you don’t discuss this with anyone,” he was blabbering about the earlier incident, “I didn’t intend to cross my line but the wine I suppose got to my head.”
Diana’s eyes moved to Deb who was leaning against the window.
“But if you are interested in me in any way,” he sounded cheeky, “Then that door of the storeroom is always open for you. Understood?”
Before he could turn around, Diana pushed him from the window.
When Donna heard Deb’s yell she ran upstairs and saw Diana had fainted and Deb was screaming in pain.
“What the hell happened?” screamed Joy running down to save his brother.
Donna was suddenly scared of Diana. She stared at her fearful. How could a petite woman like Diana push Deb from the window she wondered? What happened in the storeroom?
“Donna?” Diana was up and quivering with fear, “What happened?”
Donna told her about Deb’s fall and Diana began crying that she felt someone was inside her. Someone made her do it.
“What happened?” Joy was upstairs calling an ambulance, “How did she throw him out?”
Donna sighed and shook her head, “I think she was possessed.”
2 days later
“Shanaya?” Diana yelled and started waving her hand.
All the people in the café began staring at her but she didn’t mind.
“Here,” she screamed again and waited for her friend who ran and hugged her.
Once they settled down, the waiter brought some food and drinks.
“They knew who you were from the beginning? How sneaky! I told you to stay away from those losers. But how did you know about their plan to scare you?” Shanaya asked putting chips in Coke and eating it.
Diana smiled sipping Coke, “It was raining heavily that day so I had to enter from the backdoor which was open. When I entered through the backdoor, I heard everything they were saying. I obviously was gonna run off but then my leg got stuck in the chair and I fell. Joy saw me and I had to go along with their ‘plan’. When Donna told me and Deb to go to the storeroom, I knew this is where they had hatched the plan. So, I refused to go to the storeroom but Deb grabbed me inside. I don’t think what he did inside was a part of their plan. He just took advantage of the situation.”
The waiter brought some pasta and pizza as the sky began turning grey.
“So, you didn’t get possessed, right?” Shanaya asked playfully.
Diana smirked, “When a guy forcefully starts touching you everywhere you do get possessed with rage, Shanaya.”
Both the girls laughed and enjoyed the food. Diana was quite satisfied with herself. Donna had told her that Deb had really hurt his legs and might not be able to walk for at least six months.