The sound of the wind on a full moon night has a totally different effect than any horror flick ever. I was reading sitting at my desk sipping warm chamomile tea. The room was flooded with the scent of lavender. I won’t deny, that I did wonder, how one small candle could have such a strong aroma. Anyway, growing up studying in hostels, I had certain rigid habits of my own. I always had to light candles and sip tea while reading. So this lifestyle was nothing new; living in yet another hostel so far away from home. At least this time I got to choose where I wanted to study. Now, coming back to that night.

I was sipping tea engrossed in my book when there was a loud knock on the door. I almost dropped the tea when I heard that heavy and hurried knock. Something inside me tried to compel me to check who it was. But, it was not my door. The knocking was quite annoying. Trying my best to ignore it, I continued reading. But then something truly strange stopped me cold. Instead of the calming lavender, my room was now engulfed by the stink of wet mulch. Yes, the window was open, but there was no garden near my room nor was it raining. So where was this stink coming from, I wondered. Second to react to the stink were my eyes. The sudden gush of the smell made my eyes water and itch. The ugly knocking. No. My apologies, ugly and intrusive banging, on someone else’s door had to be stopped.

I decided to investigate leaving my book behind but still holding the empty cup. The banging came to a sudden stop as I opened the door. Putting the cup down on the small table next to the door, I rubbed my eyes. They could not handle the stink of the mulch in addition to the piercing cold winds. But more than all that what bothered me more was that there was no one outside. Or whoever it was ran away fast. I stood outside the door doing my best to keep my eyes open. But it was almost impossible to see anything through the burning sensation.  

I started to walk towards the common washrooms to splash cold water on my eyes. The dreadful walk felt endless. I could hear people talking around me but no one offered to help even when I walked into the pillar. For some reason I wanted to remember this feeling to describe to my therapist at the next session. You know, that helplessness that never leaves you even when you are surrounded with people. Mostly because you know no one is worth asking for help. Well, I felt that way. My eyelids began to feel heavy. And it felt like someone with immensely large fingers was squeezing my temples hard. I am sure I screamed a couple of times, yet no one came for my rescue. I have no idea how I reached the washrooms.

The splash of cool water felt useless because my eyes still felt like were on fire. Whatever I could see in that blurry mirror, it looked deep, dark and red. I felt broken inside, bleeding through my eyes. Like my eyes were narrating a very disturbing and sad story, to me, about me. I could not understand what was happening. I had only opened the door to check who was knocking. Again, it was not even my door.

It was a friend from the adjacent room who found me on the floor of the bathroom. I finally got the help I needed. He walked with me to my room asking all sorts of questions. I tried to explain the confusing night, as clearly as possible. The unrelenting banging, the lavender smell, my tea and the book. I wondered just for a second if I left a bookmark in my book before the night became a series of haphazard events. It was his strange question that brought me back to reality. “Did you burn a lavender candle last night?” When I pointed my hand towards the candle, he turned and said, “Well, now there is no turning back.” “She will keep coming back to knock on doors around you until someone else lights a lavender fragrant candle.”

I stood there dumbstruck at loss of senses. He then asked, “Why lavender, man?”  Unable to tell him that I found the candle outside my door that morning. It was a gift from some secret admirer. At least that is what the card said.

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