© Huma M. Hussain (Zaarah)

It's dark in here. The room is only illuminated by the lone bulb hanging in the far right corner. I lean out of my grimy dwelling's window observing the traffic below: rows of vehicles, intolerant people wanting to get somewhere, always in a hurry, never content with their lives, drunk teenagers riding backs, cussing at each other trying to prove who is faster than the other.

The sky is covered with clouds and it looks like a pleasant day. I lick my lips harshly and place the filter between them drawing my lighter to the other end. I blow out a cloud of grey smoke. The cigarette now burns slowly through my fingers, its smoke swallowing me up, slipping in my veins and coursing through my body.

This past month had progressed leisurely; I spent it mostly with you. We'd spend the days wandering the busy city streets: you'd tell me about your day and I'd listen intently, absorbing every word you said, savoring every moment spent in your company.

At the end of it when the sun vanished behind the horizon we'd sit on the roof of my apartment gazing at the starlit sky, and every so often at each other. I'd briefly lose myself in your eyes and in that moment nothing and no one else mattered. I can still hear your voice and feel the brush of your long brown hair against my skin; the twinkle in your eyes whenever you sang to me.

I'm pulled out of my reverie by the overpowering stench in the room. I can hear the sound of the jangling of chains but my attention is on my cigarette which is now slowly burning to a stub. I discard it, withdrawing another one from my pocket. If there was one thing I couldn't resist it was temptation. I loved the smell of tobacco and as I inhaled the smoke, I let it consume me again as I got lost in thought…

I saw you for the first time at Joe's. You were a friend of a friend; you immediately recognized me from that weekend's revelry and beckoned me to come and sit with you.

"Hi Dean," you said breezily.

I figured you were a little drunk. I smiled at you, reciprocating the warmness with which you said my name.

"How are you? You look great," you exclaimed and before I could reply you went on to inquire…

"Actually, what are your plans for the weekend?"

I cocked my head, thinking about my chores for the weekend: Meet dad for lunch, pick up laundry, return DVD's to the video library, pay bills, and attend another party. I shrugged, mentally canceling all my plans.

"Saturday, 8pm, I'll pick you up. It's a date" you announced.

"That's supposed to be my line!" I retorted, stifling a laugh at your candor, finally adding something to the conversation since it began. You smiled and pushed your hair out of your eyes.

"Well it's supposed to be...but I wasn't counting on you to make the first move!"

You winked, and picked up your bags and walked out the door, turning back just once more to flash me that perfect smile.

It was in that instant that I was certain I was falling madly and irrevocably in love with you.

I beam as I think about our first meeting, throwing aside my burned out cigarette. The sun has set over the city which is now illuminated by streetlights and the lights coming from several vehicles lining the streets. People are thronging the walkway, some jogging, others walking back home after a hard day's work. I observe that my room tends to look smaller and dingier in the evenings.

The bulb in the corner dies out,

I should replace it, I hear myself say.

I still hear the jangling of chains, muffled screams and cries of agony. The stench is still prevalent in the room, and the blood on the floor is turning from rust to gray. I run my fingers through my hair as I catch my reflection in the mirror.

I'm a fucking mess, I think to myself as I notice the filth deposited in my fingernails, and the dust in my hair. I examine the huge cut across my left check; blood's oozing out of it and several other wounds on my body which are caked in muck and blood.

My clothes are stained and discolored – my jeans are frayed and my shirt is buttoned the wrong way; the soles of my shoes are wearing out. I grin like a madman staring at my own reflection; it frightens and amuses me at the same time how my reflection was in fact nothing like me at all. I walk over to the counter to pick up my keys and wallet, still smiling to myself, humming a familiar tune. I leave the dirty apartment, shutting the door behind me as my guest's shrieks and wails fade into infinite darkness.

Saturday, 8 pm: It was my first date with you. You arrived at my doorstep at 8.15, running a little late. I opened the door and the image of you in that black dress with the shawl casually draped around your shoulders was breathtaking. You made yourself comfortable on my couch as I checked my reflection one last time in the mirror. I wasn't half as good looking as you were but I had cleaned up well that night. I'd put on my best suit and had a fairly good idea for a perfect evening with you.

"Are you ready, then?" you asked me, half smiling.

I nodded and lead you to the terrace of my apartment building.

"Where are we going?" you asked inquisitively but on reaching there you gasped with amazement and I can still remember the look on your face.

"Anna Doyle, will you dance with me?" I asked.

The terrace top was strewn with flowers, the garden was in full bloom and I'd set up a table in the corner where we'd drink and have dinner. There was music wafting through the air surrounding us. My hands were loose around your waist, you rested your head on my shoulder and we swayed to the music till the end of the night.

"You look wonderful tonight." I whispered in your ear while the same melody played from the stereo. And that's when I sunk my lips into yours.

That was my first kiss with you and it was so brilliant, so deep that I didn't want to come up for air. I felt that kiss everywhere. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying the meal I cooked for us, kissing and falling in love.

I'm walking through a long, seemingly endless corridor. I should have changed into something cleaner, people might notice the bloodstains, but I knew this apartment was inhabited by just three other people apart from me. It was still under the process of being constructed. I tap my foot impatiently as I wait for the elevator to arrive. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. It must have stopped working again.

Motherfuckers. I take the stairs eventually, and walk towards my old truck and pull it out of the parking lot. I'm running out of cigarettes. I'm driving along a deserted pathway on the fringes of the city to a cluster of old buildings. The twilight's turning to grey and the night and the stars illuminate the path, the streetlights have burned out. I park my vehicle and get out of it walking towards the massive structure before me.

Though old and broken, the structure is intimidating, but all I can think of now is Room 302. I knock on the door and slam it open. People are lying splayed across the floor, trance music is playing, and some others are shooting heroine. There are a few kids fucking at the other end of the room. I walk over to a short, pudgy middle aged man and ask him for some cigarettes.

"I'm running out, Tim. I really need some." I hear myself say.

"This is the last fucking pack, Smith!" he spat.

I pulled a few tablets out of the pocket of my jeans.

"I've got all this fucking X on me. You can have it in exchange." I said.

"Now you're talking. I've always liked ya kid!"


I take the white pack from his hands and tear it open. Ah, the sweet smell of the tobacco. I take out a cigarette and roll it around my hands for a while, savoring every moment spent with it, just like I did with you. I couldn't resist temptation, but you already know that.

A smile plays on my lips as I place it in my mouth, light the other end; and inhale the smoke and let it fill my lungs before I let it out again. I walk out of Room 302, fulfilled and amused at how everyone was so fucking high that they didn't notice a man walking around with a blood stained shirt. I drive along the same desolate road again; it was a good change not to be stuck in traffic.

I turn on my radio and the music from it fills my truck…

"And I said yeah, you look wonderful tonight." I drive on, humming to myself, a grin plastered on my face, wondering what my guest was up to while I was away.

We'd been on several dates since that Saturday. We'd go to ballroom dances, plays, walk through gardens and eat sumptuous meals. We'd spend the night at your house, stargazing or making love to each other. It was wonderful but transitory. On the 23rd of June you arrived at my doorstep, drenched because of the pouring rain. Your hair was dripping with water, your t-shirt clung to you like a body suit and your ripped jeans did little to keep you warm.

I let you in and covered you with a wrap while I made you some coffee.

"What's wrong, baby?" I inquired.

You took the wrap off your shoulders and tossed it aside, and got up from the couch.

"It's you, Dean," You said curtly pacing up and down my room.

"I know all about you," I was surprised to hear the words pouring out of your mouth,

"You're a fucking liar, I know all about you Dean Smith,"


"You turned out the complete opposite of what I imagined you to be."

"Baby, please."

"Don't call me that," you snapped.

I had no idea what you were talking about, tears were streaming down your face but you somehow looked angrier than before.

" When were you going to tell me about the drugs, Dean? When were you going to tell me about the women?" you yelled.

"There were no women, the drugs…however…it's…Tim…I just needed…"

"I can't be with a drug dealer, I can't trust you anymore."

And with those last words you stormed out of my door and out of my life.

You'd fallen out of love with me. I'd seen you several times since then hanging out with your friends, or snuggling up to a new guy you met somewhere. It was too much for me to take. I couldn't see you with someone else. I had a deep sense of anger and hatred for you welling inside of me.

How could you just leave me and not give me a chance to justify myself? I knew the truth, I knew that you were in fact never in love with me, and you needed an excuse to get away from me. I hated you so much, Anna Doyle. And I wanted to ruin you in every way possible and the breaking point was hearing about your wedding to another man.

I reach my apartment and unlock the door.

"You think you're so fucking special, don't you, baby?"

I scream out to the person in front of me. You're shackled and lying in the corner of my room, weak and vulnerable. You try to shout and retaliate but your screams are muffled by the cloth tied around your mouth. Your form is thick with perspiration, your hair's a mess and your clothes are ripped and stained.

"Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight", I sing to you.

Your anger is now replaced by fear as you quiver and begin to cry. I can hear your sniffles from behind the cloth and tears run down your face. I smile at you and untie the cloth.

"Please…Dean…let me go. I'll give you anything you want." you plead, but I'm not one to make compromises, not tonight.

I grab your hair and bang your head against the wall, more blood oozes out of your forehead and I enjoy it.

"I'm not your kind of guy, Anna. Maybe fucking Rick is! How is your husband, by the way? Is he better than me?" I yell.

You whimper and I take pleasure in you begging me to stop and let you go in between sobs and stifled cries. I remember how helpless I felt the night you left me. I tried so much to call you but you never took my calls, I tried talking to you but you'd push me away.

I followed you around, trying to find out if you were okay but you turned me in.

"Fuckin' bitch!" I spit.

Now you were as helpless as I was that night, I got you where I wanted. I withdraw my gun from my pocket. I laugh like a maniac while I wave it in front of you, reloading it.

"This will teach you to mess with me. I'm fucking Dean Smith. You don't mess with me, baby"

You cry even louder, begging me for life.

"What's that? Shouldn't I call you baby, that's right. Only Rick can."

I place the head against your forehead and you close your eyes, you give up fighting for your life, you've given in…to me. In a flash, I pull the trigger, the bullet goes through your head and your blood is splattered on the wall.

"Revenge is a bitch." I chortle as you collapse on the floor, bloody and lifeless.

You looked beautiful even as a corpse.