Highly Commended Story - Senior Category
“Hate at First Sight” by Mehrin Shehryar, The City School Darakhshan Campus Senior Girls Section, Pakistan, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Mehrin likes to spend her alone time with books, movies, TV shows and other imaginary worlds. When she is with her thoughts, she likes creating imaginary worlds of her own. She captures those worlds through her writing. She also enjoys puzzles, puppies, food and cloud watching.
Hate at First Sight
I remember hating you from the moment I saw you.
You were the new receptionist at work, yet you did not seem to fall victim to the ‘new kid syndrome’ (granted this was not high school but that syndrome is universal, it follows you around for the rest of your life). During lunch break you went around the office introducing yourself, and as you spoke there was not an ounce of anxiety in your voice or any hint that you were intimidated at all by your superiors and people with more zeros in their paycheck than you have in your phone number. I know that last part for a fact because by the end of the day everyone had your phone number, because you gave it to them.
“Call me on my personal if you need anything,” you said smoothly to whomever you met, trying to make a good first impression, which worked swell for the most part. And then there was me.
You also gave it to me, which surprised me, given our first interaction. You repeated your introduction for the fiftieth time and for the first forty-nine times I was within earshot so I think you can excuse me for being annoyed when I heard the next eighteen words for, what felt at the moment, the billionth time.
“Hi there! Didn’t mean to bother you, I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Bellus, the new receptionist.” Even with that ridiculous name you didn’t lose your cool. And then you smiled, showing your, not pearl but cloud, white and slightly crooked teeth. Most people would have swooned at the sight of you, the way your eyes shone brighter the wider your smile got, or the way you had to push back your curls because they kept getting in your eyes no matter how much gel you used. Needless to say, I was not most people.
The way your eyes shone brightly stung mine.
You stretched your hand towards me expecting me to shake it. I did not. Instead I brushed you off by saying I needed to get back to work, rather coldly I might add. If you thought this was rude you did not show it, instead you gave me your phone number and ended the conversation with a casual “See you around,” followed by a sheepish wink.
I don’t know why I hated you, perhaps it was the same reason I hated most people. Because I thought they were better than me. Because for no logical reason I decided to compare myself to them. And then created an unspoken competition between me and them and fueling my hatred each time I lost. In the end they hated me as much I did them.
Still it makes no sense why I would compare myself to you. You were a receptionist, I was an accountant. Why was I jealous of you? Because you had a better first day than me? Because people liked you better than they liked me? If that were the case, then it would be like an aeronautics engineer being envious of an opera singer because she’s clearly a better singer.
But reason and logic are for the rational and sane.
Every time I saw you I hated you more.
Perhaps I simply loathed you because I was bitter and allergic to happiness.
I never talked to you politely. I was always harsh. I always dropped any files I needed to give you rather than simply handing them over to you, never apologized if I bumped into you even when it was clearly my fault, which was always.
I remember one day, when workload was particularly heavy for everyone, even you, you were carrying a tall pile of files, clearly struggling. We made eye contact as you were walking through the corridors. I should’ve helped you, that’s what nice normal and decent people do, instead my knee jerk reaction was stick my leg out slightly, causing you to stumble and fall, causing the files to clutter the entire pathway. I could’ve made up for my mistake by helping you up and collecting the scattered files. Instead like the monster I am, I went back to my desk and giggled at my misdemeanor.
Later that day I looked down at my wrist as per routine to check the time, only to find my wrist bare. Before I could get up to look for it or even question myself where my watch was, there you were leaning on my desk with a grin, once again exposing your slightly crooked cloud white teeth, holding in your hand my silver watch. My cheeks flared up, I expected you to make a remark, any remark, but you just fixed your long curly hair like you always do and went back to work.
If I had something which belonged to someone who treated me like I treated you, I would’ve lit it on fire or flushed it down the toilet, or maybe both though that would be a bit excessive.
But obviously, you were not me. And that was the problem. You weren’t mean and bitter; you were sweet and kind-hearted. Who gave you the right to be so nice? Specifically, who gave you the right to be nice to me? Hadn’t you heard? Heroes, no matter how noble, killed witches and not with kindness.
Maybe you thought now I would be nicer too, or at least, less rude. Boy were you wrong!
I remember thinking that day those crooked cloud white teeth would be the death of me. They weren’t obviously, but they were yours.
Which in hindsight, as I look at the handcuffs on my wrists instead of my silver watch, I regret. Too much evidence left, with the hammer and blood not to mention my DNA on the teeth they found in your stomach. I should’ve choked you with your long curly hair instead, much less messier. The two officers by my side are looking increasingly uneasy as I read this to you at your grave.
“She lived a happy life trying to make others happy.”
Your headstone reads. Even when you’re dead you make me hate you.