Summer of Mystery

Summer Fun Writing Contest User Entry

‘The glaring sun set our souls aflame, the sand beneath our feet sang to us and the glee we held in our hands blinded us from impossibilities.’

That was how I imagined my sixteen-year-old self to explain the events of the summer but in reality, I make deliveries of baked goods for my mother around a town where the heat melts skin.

“This package belongs to Mr. Alloway and hand this to Ms. Fatima,” my mother pointed at the packages she sealed for me to delivery. “Finally go over to granny Gupta’s home and gift her these.”
“Gift?” I questioned while loading my bag up.

The bakery was deserted except for couple of aunties gossiping in hushed whispers over coffee after their morning yoga session and a woman waiting for her order to be taken at the counter.

“Yes, now go on.” She already moved on to greet the woman in waiting.

“Okay, Ammi. Will be back here and make sure you call tech to fix the computer.” I exited while the woman asked for cakes and something else.

I rode around in a beaten-up bicycle on the roads with potholes filled with mud water from the rare summer rain the day before and accomplished to delivery all but one order with a genuine smile to finally end up in the outskirts of the town at granny Gupta’s home. I rang the bell and knocked on the door and even shouted her name only to be greeted with silence and start of the engine somewhere in the alleyway behind the house. I made my way back to bicycle with package still in hand and a car swiftly passing by.

When I complained to my mother about the absence of granny Gupta, she asked me to return the next day to complete my task and just like that my services were finished for the day.

I left to meet Skyler.

“You know I won’t mind Skyler being your girlfriend, right?” was what my mother said as farewell.

*****

The next day granny Gupta led me slowly into her backyard and there was only silence that hung between us when I told her about cakes and coffee beans in my hands being a small gift from mum.

From the back door we entered in to the house. I did not question about not using the main door. I assumed it was locked from the inside.

“I came by yesterday, granny” I refused to take her quietness for an answer. “But seems like you weren’t home.”
We were in the kitchen now and there was this strange smell.

Granny Gupta wasn’t an unobtrusive person, her kind smiles drew strangers to her but this sudden blankness made me uneasy.

“Are you okay, granny? There was a used coffee mug on the dinner table and we made our way into the living room.
The air here was thick and the sickening, rotten smell which was draped around the house was unbearable that I had water forming in my eyes.

I stared only at granny, too afraid to even shift my muscles elsewhere, she had her smile back on her with hope in those ancient eyes and her weak, pale hand decorated with delicate blue veins was pointed at the couch. She was ethereal and I wasn’t even sure if she really existed anymore.

I moved, my body too stiff; everything almost hurt, to the direction I was pointed at. I left the things I brough along on the coffee table before reaching out to the body wrapped in a blanket with a book resting on their chest and came face to face with a woman at peace, in a deep sound sleep and her fierce snow-white hair was disheveled and her skin ice cold and her odor outrageous.

I turned my gaze hastily back at granny but she was not there anymore and I somehow knew she never was fully there in the first place.

I fell to my knees and the realization struck me like lighting.

I found the dead body of granny Gupta.

*****

“Zaira, I am not saying you should rest up and take care of yourself but that’s also exactly what I’m saying” Skyler has her hand on my back, rubbing it in slow circles. We were in my room and home alone.

She was concerned of my wellbeing and I know my mother is too. If I weren’t who I am then I would be scared for myself too, but right now I know what I saw and I believe something more is meant to be seen by me.

After my frantic call, the medical help showed up and then the police. It was ruled out that, she was indeed very dead due to natural causes. It was all over in merely 8 hours.

“Something about this is not right, Sky.”

“You are in shock, Zaira,” She seemed so serious and so unsure, I almost forgot what we were talking about “and I really think you should try not to think about it for at least few minutes.”

“I know you won’t believe me when I speak about this but you got to trust me on this one. I do not think the death was natural” my voice timid, a school girl whispering about her secret crush.

Skyler stared at me silently as if I would sallow her whole if she opened her mouth.

“I have this instinct and you have to help me out here. No ones going to do a shit about it and then suddenly this will be forgotten.”

“Will you be at peace ones you sort out other possibilities?” she asked and I knew she was in to this with me.

*****

“Fucking hell, I shouldn’t have agreed to this.” Skyler complained in harsh whisper even though no one was around, no one we can make out with naked eyes anyway. “This is full-on trespassing.”

“Shut up and follow me.”

“We are on a dead woman’s property and you want me to not be hysteric about it. Literally fuck you.” That strangely made me chuckle.

I led the way ,the same path I had taken the day before.

We entered through the back door, it was left ajar; the lock seems to be broken and no one cared enough to seal it close.

Then began our search. We divided up to find anything that appears even a little out of order. I choose kitchen and Skyler moved onto dinning hall and the living room.

There was a washed coffee mug beside the sink and when I went to inspect it further, I found strange little blue pill in the drain opener of the sink and I did not dare touch it. A container filled to the rim with coffee beans was laying lazily on the counter.

“Sky, I think something is amiss over here.”

She was by my side in a second and followed my gaze to the container.

“What’s wrong?”

“When granny called ammi couple of days ago for coffee beans, she explained she was in crisis and laughed at how she has no coffee left at home.”

Skyler seems to keep up with my train of thoughts just fine when even I was not certain of where I am getting at.
“And there are two coffee mugs out.” She pointed at the one by the sink and the other on the dinner table.

I showed her the blue pill. “Seems like some kind of drug to me.” That’s what you understand when your mother works in pharmacy.

I walked to the dustbin and found the torn wrappers of my mum’s bakery packages.

“The delivery you brought in still sits in the living room.” said Skyler.

“Even though if we assume this all to be a huge coincidence, I can sure as hell tell you that granny never visited me at the bakery in the last couple of months.”

“Well, looks like we have guest here.” Skyler softly whistled.

We stood there in the middle of a murdered woman’s kitchen and the humid breeze through the open back door made us go quite and figure out what the hell we have gotten our hands on.

“Why would someone want to kill granny?” Skyler spoke first.

“I think a human kills their own kind mostly for: love, power, money or maybe just for the fucking thrill of it all.”

“Gosh, this is so infuriating.” My companion barked out.

We made our way out into the backyard.

“Why would someone not hide the second coffee mug after they made sure to wash it?” I quietly questioned. “Why not clear out the trash to leave nothing behind?”

Skyler hummed in response, collecting the possibilities and forming words to say the right thing.

“They were in a rush?” She finally answered. “Or they probably were too out of it by then to even think this through.”

“Why would they be in a hurry? It took almost 24 hours to find the body.”

As soon as those words fell out of my mouth it all fell into pieces. The start of an engine and the speed of the car, my banging on the door and my screaming on the first trip I took to deliver.

I ran to the end of the backyard to find a little gate hidden amongst all the wild bushes and grass. Skyler was quick to follow.

“I was right out at the front when the killer left the scene. I maybe could’ve saved her, you know.”

“Don’t you dare beat yourself up for this. No way in hell you would have thought of this.” Her voice was so stern, there was no room left for me to engulf in self-pity.

“It rained the day before the kill, didn’t it?” It came out more like a comment than a question. “The ground must be damp the next day.”

We pushed around in the grass and bushes. There it rested on the very edge of the backyard. The dried-out footprint of a pair of woman’s heels.

*****

“Whoever that woman was she must have visited the bakery.” Skyler said.

“I think money was involved, Sky.” I comment out my own interpretation. “Someone close to Granny had done it.”

“We will find out soon.” She said as we entered the bakery.

My mother was surprised to see us there. She shows the signs of someone grieving and the sudden guilt hit me. I failed to remember how important granny was to ammi. I went straight to her and clung to her. We stayed still for a moment, sharing the grief and the condolences.

“What are you girls doing here?” she asked as soon as we parted.

“Can we please get the data of customers who visited in the past few days?” Skyler requested.

“But Zaira, did it slip out of your mind that the computer was down for a week.” Her response did not satisfy was a bit.

“Then can you please help us with the CCTV footage?” I pointed at the little camera on the celling overlooking the counter.

“Sure, but I am not sure what this is about”

“I promise you we will tell you all about it once we find out what we are looking for.” My oath ended our conversation. The Two of us sat down and filtered through the footage and finally found the person we were looking for.

She stood, shoulders slump and the scarf doing a good job covering her face, waiting for her order to be taken as ammi instructed me about the packages that needed delivering on the day granny Gupta was murdered. She lifted her face briskly when granny was mentioned and went on to order the same things that I was about to deliver granny. A stranger to the town and the renowned wife of Mr. Gupta, the elder son of granny Gupta.

*****
The tale goes on to change its shape as it makes its way to shift from one’s tongue to another but the facts remain the same.

Granny Gupta was murdered by her own eldest daughter- in- law. When granny refused to fund anymore money for his elder son’s family Mrs. Rina Gupta was enraged and did what was not expected of her to get the money off of the will but what she didn’t know was all of granny Gupta’s assets were to be donated to well fare organizations all around the world after her death.

When two teenage girls stumbled into the police station claiming to have proof that a murder had happened in a town where summers were not exciting, everyone thought that it was an outrageous prank until they did not.
Granny Guptas death left pictures of two silly girls in local newspaper and a son who lost two most important women of his life and the smoke of grief this town could never not breath in.

“Do you think granny would have been okay with seeing her son in despair?” Skyler asked. She held my hand almost as if it were meant to indicate that we weren’t merely friends.

Her question made me think back about the look on granny’s face the last time I saw her. The hope and her fragility and her hand pointing at herself.

“I think she would want her son to see the truth, no matter how harsh it is, rather than living a life of lies.”

Author: Shree Ananya

Just a young writer looking to take the mistakes I've made to aid the next generation.

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