“18000 steps”

The early morning sky with sun rising from behind the tall trees and sound of birds chirping, was always a view to die for. And today was no different. It was the perfect start to an awesome day, Seher thought to herself. She was now only short of 300 steps to complete the target of 18000. Today was the day she was going to beat her younger sister Kaavya. Since they were little girls, they had competed for everything. Be it who topped in studies to who finished the milk first during breakfast. They had grown up feeding on each other’s need to beat the other one. And today was going to be yet another win for her. Kaavya was still asleep this morning when Seher picked up her sneakers to go for a run. The one who completed 18000 steps first was going to win. And of course, Seher had to start early today because she was scheduled to present the new and revised plans of the building to her colleagues sharp at 9. It was like she was intoxicated with too much excitement. She could feel her lungs working harder to take each breath, but she just did not want to stop. Not at least now when she was so close to winning. It was a matter of just a few more steps and then, “Kaavya buys lunch for her for the next 1 week” Seher had decided the prize this time.  But just then, something not so exciting happened, she stumbled and fell face down.

The sudden fall forced her to listen to her lungs and try to breathe normally and pick herself up. But before she could see what she stumbled on; her sense of taste took over. The cold, bitter and metal like taste sent shivers down her spine. It was mud and leaves mixed with blood.

She stood right up dead quiet and traced her fallen steps to a body lying face down with the head smashed. All the insides of the head were outside. Suddenly everything around her became silent, she could hear nothing. The sound of chilly fall winds or the cars driving by, all was quiet. It was like everything stood still around her. She was sure that the fall had left her deaf and dumb because she felt like every sense had abandoned her body, other than of course taste. She wanted to touch her ears to see if the fall had hurt her, but the bloody hands just did not move as required. “Maybe I hit my head”, she thought to herself.

And then out of nowhere, the silence was broken with screams, loud and shrill screams, of herself. Everything was moving at its regular pace now. Birds were flying on their regular route; cars were moving as much as they could in the heavy traffic. But Seher was still and screaming.

After her screams died down, she began the frantic search for her phone with the bloody hands. It was lying right next to the face-down body. She had no idea whether it was a man or woman’s body, she was too scared to go any nearer than she needed to. As she dialed 911, her regular voice came back to life. “Town park, closer to the east entrance, dead body. I tripped. The head is..is gone.” “I mean smashed.” “I don’t know. For God sake, please send someone, I don’t know what to do.” And now tears began falling down her very toned high cheekbones. They did not stop for the longest time. She cried for the smashed head of a person (that she still could not make out was a man or a woman); for having her hands covered in blood; for being the one who discovered the smashed head dead body; for losing the chance to present her new and revised building plans to the big client and for the last 300 steps that she could not complete therefore losing the challenge to Kaavya. She cried for all that happened in those 5 mins of falling.

It has now been 5 months since the incident, but Seher still has to scrub her hands extra to clean off the blood. She has given several interviews to the Police describing that dreadful morning. The case is still open and being investigated. Her boss was kind enough to let her present the revised designs 2 days after the incident.

Her morning routines have not changed much. She still goes for early morning runs but does not keep a track of steps anymore. The competition between her and Kaavya has changed a little. It is now a competition of time. They no longer care about the 18000 steps. Also, she does not run alone anymore. She has a handsome boxer named Tiger, as her running buddy. 

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