A short story…
The last of the suitcases were stuffed in the backseat and the car door was closed. Naisha went over to the front, moved over some of her belongings to make some place and sat down. Her father was already in the driver’s seat, he looked at her eagerly and asked, “So, you ready?” Naisha nodded happily and the engine whirred to life as if encouraged by her enthusiastic response.
Every year Naisha and her father, Rahul went on a camping trip. Naisha’s mother did not enjoy such trips, and would much rather prefer staying at a hotel. This year too, the both of them set off to a campsite atop a scenic hill station. Just as the car started, an uneasy feeling settled over Naisha, her stomach lurched at every turn. Usually Naisha didn’t feel any motion sickness, it was always her father who had to take pills before sitting in a car. But, he was humming rather cheerfully, his eyes on the road, his horn rimmed glasses set crookedly on his nose, his thin wispy goatee waving jovially.
Naisha kept her fingers clasped tightly on the seat, trying to sense every motion of the car. She tried to focus on the song playing on the radio and the trees that were passing by, but nothing worked. It felt as if the world was dissolving all around her, the trees turning into a green blur, and all she could hear from the radio now was static. Her father’s cheerful humming sounded like a dreary and sad murmur. Naisha’s head was spinning, her grasp on the seat of the car was loosening, “Dad, I don’t feel fine.” She managed to croak out. Her own voice seemed so foreign, so far away…”What’s wrong?” He looked at her, Naisha’s pupils tried to focus on his face, but it just made her head spin even more. She wanted to tell him that something bad was going to happen, that she could feel it in her veins, buzzing with electricity. A burning certainty of a dreadful fate.
But she couldn’t, because they were interrupted by a honking noise. Naisha heard it first, her gaze turned toward the road, a huge truck was coming towards them, it couldn’t swerve right or left and it was inching closer and closer. Naisha’s eyes focused on the truck, everything was clear now, maybe too clear. Time slowed down as the truck approached Naisha and her father at full speed. Naisha’s dad turned his head towards the road at the last second, his head whipping violently from her face to the oncoming truck. But, it was too late as the truck crashed into the car, knocking the small vehicle backward. Naisha saw nothing as her eyes were closed shut in panic, she only heard the glass shatter, her father’s directions for her to duck down, all of the sound lost to the breathless air.
Darkness was all Naisha saw and felt as she woke up. A creepy and dark feeling was surrounding her, and she tried to get rid of it, tried to shrug it off. Her forehead was glistening with sweat, and she could feel bile rising up in her mouth. “It was just a dream…just a dream.” She murmured to herself in between deep breaths, she turned to check the time on the watch placed on her bedside, it was twenty to five. The neighbourhood was unusually quite, and the air outside seemed cold just like the sweat on her forehead. They were supposed to leave in half an hour.
Every year Naisha had this nightmare, the night before the camping trip was one she dreaded. Every time it was the same, the same haunting road trip, the same uneasy feeling and the same wave of panic. But, this time it was more vivid, more real… She pushed away all the negative thoughts, the possibilities that this nightmare brought were too frightening too even consider, “You have always had this dream, and nothing has ever happened.” She tried to convince herself in the bathroom mirror where she was brushing her teeth. But, it seemed as if all her efforts were in vain, as her reflection looked back at her, a cloud of suspicion and horror passing her face.
The car door closed and Naisha sat beside her father, “So, you ready?” Her father asked. Naisha nodded, she opened her mouth a little in surprise, this moment was so familiar, but the familiarity did not give her any comfort. Suddenly as the car started, a wave of nausea passed over Naisha. The main road was empty and the clouds above hung darkly, the weather suddenly seemed to change from sunny to oddly cloudy and dangerous. The world slowly seemed to go out to focus and she realised that what she felt and saw was exactly what had happened in the dream she had had in the previous night, and it dawned upon her.
A grimace was set on Naisha’s face, Rahul was worried about her. Everyday he saw his daughter grow up a little, and he felt as if he had already begun to lose her. His daughter’s mouth was clamped shut, her fingers tapping on the seat nervously. Rahul was not a big fan of camping, but Naisha loved the outdoors and enjoyed spending time embraced in nature’s arms. Rahul, didn’t get much time to spend with his daughter as his work did not allow him to take weekends off like other dads. So, both father and daughter eagerly looked forward to their camping trips which would allow them to bond together. Naturally, he wanted his daughter to enjoy every moment but the apprehensive and isolated look on her pale face suggested otherwise.
Meanwhile, Naisha tried to not think of her dream,”It’s not plausible, it’s not true.” She told herself over and over again. But, the alarming vision of the truck crashing into the car did not leave her mind, she looked at her dad and he was looking back at her with hurt and concern written all over his face. They exchanged a smile.
She saw the truck from a distance, coming from the opposite side. She braced herself, but nobody could prepare their self for something like this. Conflicting voices debated in her head, “It’s going to happen.” “No it’s not.”
What’s your death wish?” ”NO, IT’S NOT!”
“Dad!” Naisha cried, and her father’s eye moved towards the road just as the truck neared them. “We’re dying” she whispered. Naisha’s dream started replaying in her head just as the truck swerved a hard right, away from the car, away from Naisha and her dad. “What a donkey! Absolutely, no sense of driving, he turned from our car when we were this close to crashing.” Naisha’s dad indignantly said, indicating the distance between their car and the truck with his index finger and thumb. Naisha rested her head on the car seat with a finality and let out a deep sigh she wasn’t aware she was holding back.
Maybe, that nightmare wasn’t entirely true or maybe another truck is incoming…