Just a Step from Heaven

(Author’s Note – This story was my official entry for an International Short Story Competition. I wrote this when I was 16 or 17 years old. Ignore the the filmy and cheesy elements in the story (wink, wink). A young heart had written this remember? I have no idea what made me choose Honor Killings as the theme and though, I did not make it to the top list in the contest, this piece of writing is precious.  This story made me realize my true calling. Writing is my strength)

There, she stood, in the dark and cold night, with her soul mate, blood smeared hands interlocked, yet unfazed and unafraid. There were beautiful smiles adorning their faces, though a gun was pointed at them. And with a gunshot, the couple lay dead in each others arms. The couple had finally won.

Her anklets chimed as she ran towards her room, enveloping the house with her peals of laughter. As she stood before the mirror, she could feel her cheeks burning crimson red.  She was in a trance, her cheeks flushed and pupils dilated.

Simran! Stop blushing”, she smacked her forehead and chided herself at her helpless state.

“Such things happen accidentally. Stop being a child. That was just an accident, that’s it”, she re-assured herself, yet could not stop from pondering about the incident that happened today in the university. The more she thought, the more it made her blush.

He splashed water on his face to relieve himself from the thoughts that has been plaguing his mind for a while now.

“What has happened to me? Why did I stare at Simran shamelessly at the university? Well I do that every day. But today was different. She caught me red-handed while I was busy gazing at her beautiful face. I thought Simran would pick a new fight with me like she always does. But she blushed when she caught me staring at her. Wait did I just say she blushed! Has she noticed before that I always stare at her?”

Vivek debated with his inner self for hours yet could not reach a conclusion. He was more perplexed and wanted immediate answers for his questions.

“Was he staring at me? Oh god! Why did I blush when he looked at me? What would he think of me? But the bigger question is why was he staring at me?” Why do I feel connected to him, whenever I look at him? Why my heart starts beating fast whenever I catch even a tiny glimpse of him? Is there something special between us?”

“What have you done to me Mr. Vivek?” she smiled at herself.  Simran could not stop her ramblings; her heart and mind were at loggerheads.

“Why do I always feel like drowning into those brown orbs of hers, whenever I look at her? Why do I feel there is a strange connection between us? Is there something special between us?”

“It is the first time that I am this confused in my life. What have you turned me into, Ms. Simran?” Vivek chuckled and mumbled to himself.

“Am I in love with Vivek?” She questioned herself.

“Am I in love with Simran?” He questioned himself.

Destiny affectionately looked as the two confused souls contemplated with their heart and mind, but she knew that the inevitable was bound to happen.

Days passed, yet Simran and Vivek were not out of their confused state. They tried ignoring each other, but destiny had other plans. The more they tried ignoring each other, the more close they were brought through group studies, projects and activities at the university. Working together made both Simran and Vivek understand each other better; they started appreciating each other’s presence. They were smitten with each other’s aura so much, that they both finally knew the answer to the question that had been disturbing them for a long time now.

That night as he showered, he smiled to himself, “I finally know my answer Simran. I am in love with you. You complete me in every way.”

She stood in the terrace and gazed at the moonlit sky lovingly. She smiled looking at the sky “I am in love with you Vivek. You complete me as a woman.”

Next day when they met, the smiles on their faces conveyed each other the message they wanted to convey. Their eyes spoke volumes, yet the words they wanted to share died in their throat.

After an hour-long of uncomfortable silence, Vivek, finally cleared his throat to initiate the conversation.

“Simran, I want to share something with you”

Simran sensed what he wanted to share. She could feel her heart leap out of her rib cage and thought “finally I get to hear what I wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth.”

Vivek took a long breath and held her hands, “Simran, I have always found a good friend in you. You are an amazing girl who could brighten everyone’s day with just your smile. I have always admired you for what you are. To be frank I keep gazing at you every day and I also know that you know I keep looking at you” saying so he winked at her. She could feel her cheeks getting red; he just chuckled at her state and before she could open her mouth and protest, he silenced her’ “I am not yet done”.

Vivek continued, “I always felt a strange connection with you. But, I was confused and could not come to a conclusion. But, now I am very clear that I want to share my life with you. You are just perfect for me. You complete me in every possible way.”

Simran could feel hot tears stinging her eyes, threatening to overflow anytime. She had not expected such a confession from Vivek. She was shocked and stumped, when Vivek went down one knee and held her hand.

Vivek, who had never felt the need to share his feelings with others, was happy that he was speaking his heart out with Simran. His eyes welled up when he spoke about his feelings with her.

Vivek sat on one knee, held her hand and said, “I love you with all my heart Simran. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. So Miss, are you ready to become my soul mate and bring brightness into my life everyday with your beautiful smile?”

Simran, who could not control herself anymore, let her tears flow freely. She felt out of the world and thought she has finally found her Prince Charming, who already swept her off her feet. She knew Vivek was waiting expectantly for her answer, but she was choked with emotions and she could not find her voice. With tears in her eyes, she shyly nodded her head in a yes.

Vivek felt relieved when he spoke out his heart with Simran. As he waited impatiently for her answer, he saw her crying. He was perplexed and thought he had made a mistake. But when Simran nodded her head in a yes, he felt his heart would burst out with joy.

Destiny adored the couple, as they confessed their feelings for each other. But she knew that their life was not going to be bed of roses. She sadly smiled at the lovely couple.

Simran nodded her head in a yes and replied softly “I love you”. She could feel her cheeks burning. Vivek felt out of the world and hugged her as tightly as he could, Simran could feel the warmth of Vivek in the hug. They silently promised each other to be together for eternity.

As they held hands and walked together silently, they knew that they were walking on egg shells. They belonged to two families who are strongly against love. They have witnessed their family killing couples ruthlessly and mercilessly in the name of saving the grace of family.

With these thoughts in the mind, Simran looked at Vivek with questioning eyes. Understanding her look, he assured that they will be together no matter whatever happens. Vivek and Simran were graduating in a week’s time and hence, they planned to leave the city and settle in some other place, out of their families’ sight.

On the day of graduation, on the pretext of attending a party, the couple left their respective houses and boarded the bus to start a fresh life together. But, as destiny had predicted their life was not a bed of roses. They were tracked down by their families.

The couple was unfazed by the families’ warnings and torture. They stood like a rock for each other; boldly taking the hurt and pain they were being given. Throughout the ordeal, he never left her hand. They gave a bitter laugh when a gun was pointed at them. They stood in the dark and cold night, unafraid, interlocking their blood smeared hands tightly, with a beautiful smile on their faces.

Both, did neither he nor she budge and with a gunshot; they lay down in pool of blood. Their hands were still interlocked tightly and the smiles did not vanish from their faces even after death. Finally they won in the war for their love. They were still together and their souls had united.

Destiny cried her heart out seeing the couple lay lifeless, her heart bled.  She admired the smiles on their faces and smiled through her tears to see the most beautiful souls head towards heaven. Yet she gave a bitter laugh at the irony of their lives.

“You both had promised to be each other’s soul mate for eternity, to cherish and celebrate your love forever. Here you are together for eternity. But you will cherish and celebrate your love in heaven, amidst the angels, forever and ever”.

“This love was meant to be,

We can rise above this pain in our hearts,

Don’t let go ‘coz it’s just a step from heaven,

And the strength of love is on our side,

Soon you’ll find, and our faith will take us higher,

‘Coz we’re just a step, baby just a step from heaven”.

                                     – Wayne Cohen

                                   (Album: Always and forever)

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