Secrets Underneath Darkness
By Yashi Jalan
The clock struck 10 minutes past 12 now and I stood by the small glass window with wooden frames, staring through the stillness of the dark forest. A dim yellow light was all the light source in the cottage in the middle of the dense woods, not letting moonlight to pass through. Startled by a couple of rushed knocks, I hurriedly opened the door to find a man with a neatly trimmed beard, in a white shirt paired with black trousers, behind whom was a lady, probably a forest officer, as that could be made out from her attire. “Are you Mrs. Aditi Sharma?”. He held up an identity card, with his name mentioned in bold: Dev, confirming him as a crime investigator. “We found an olive-green coloured jeep, about one mile from here, crashed into a tree and the person driving, which we have found to be your husband, is….” he paused for a moment “....is dead”.
My eyes were now red and seemed to be swollen as I couldn’t help but cry. “He went to grab enough wood to get through the night” I sobbed but continued as was asked to detail the happenings since we got there and told them how after getting to our cottage, we didn’t do much other than to wander about and then stayed inside for the rest of the evening but soon after sunset, upon realisation that the woods already available with us would be short, we ended up with the decision to get it by ourselves.
We sat on small stools made up of wood alongside a small round table of the same material and finishing as that of the stools. “I have read about this in the newspaper” I said when Dev informed me how a gang of thugs was charged with the homicide of visitors in the forest, still on the search, and a sign of their involvement was a missing valuable belonging of the victim. After a pause he asked what valuables my husband had with him when he left the cottage. “Nothing much other than a metal flask in which I poured some coffee for him, a mobile phone, an old silver watch, and……and a gold ring which had alphabets A and S engraved on it”. I still remember that day when he showed me our engagement rings. It had each other's initials engraved on it and he used to say “this way we will always stay together”.
I monitored Dev talking over a couple of calls, asking about the ring, the answer to which did not surprise him and over the end, sounding serious with a tone of accomplishment. “It’s the ring that’s missing” he started while turning around to face me after getting off the phone. Soon after, I joined them in their black four-wheeler as I was supposed to stay in a safe house for a few days. “I should have listened to him”, I thought to myself as we moved through the darkness of the forest. He told me many times how it was currently unsafe to visit the area at that time, but I never listened to him, and now I was all alone to suffer this guilt.
It has been five days since I last talked to Dev. I grabbed my cell phone on an unexpected sound of a notification, to see a text from Dev. It said “I cannot put your loss to rights, but if it helps, we have been successful in seizing the gang. The court trial is next week, but you need to stay here for that. You can leave for your house soon”. The next day I headed for the airport early in the morning to catch the earliest flight. To my surprise, Dev was there to see me off, maybe to show his concerns towards the recent happenings and to make sure I was doing fine. We didn’t talk much other than wishing the best for each other.
I started my way towards the inside of the airport, however stopped on hearing my name called out from the back. I turned around, and on knowing that it was Dev, I reached and asked him if there was any problem. “You dropped this, here it is”, handing me the ring. But as soon as I tried to take hold of it, I noticed Dev glaring at the ring, because it was the same ring I described to him as my husband’s, the one with letters A and S engraved on it, not letting go off. “Dev if you could please hand it over, I am getting late for my flight”. I know that by now he must have figured out that how it was the plan from the start, that how I added poison in that flask containing coffee and gave it to him. I felt bad for Dev, that even after getting so close, the only thing he could do was to let go of me.
By Yashi Jalan