It was 4:30 pm on Valentines day, and the roads were jammed. Lot of people had left work early. He was trying to get home earlier than usual, just like the rest. “I’ll take a short cut”, he said. It wasn’t a proper road, just a deserted stretch of land. Dangerous. “But I’ll be home in no time”.
There was an accident ahead. A car, man trapped inside. “I must help him”. He got out of his car, and looked around. No one in sight. Not a single vehicle on that road. He checked his phone… no network signal. He got out of his car and looked around. Straight ahead he saw something that looked like a campfire. “Hang in there”, he said to the injured man, “I’ll get help” and he started walking towards that light.
The path was dark, and he could sense something scurrying about, probably rats or some small animal like a rabbit. Suddenly he heard someone call out his name. Just a whisper, though. “Could it be ….”, he paused, and looked over his shoulder. No one. “No, they don’t exist. Your mind is playing tricks on you. Walk on, get help”. Determined to help the man trapped in the car, he walked on ahead. This time he heard it loud and clear. His name. Some one was calling out his name. “You are not a child. You can’t be scared of such things. Come on”.
Soon he could see the campfire, and people sitting around it. He moved closer, and suddenly a hush fell over the crowd. Someone complained about the sudden chill in the air, and a foul smell, like something was rotting.
“Guys, there’s been an accident down the road. And I need your help”, he called out. Probably they hadn’t heard him. He moved on ahead.
Then he saw her.. his wife. She was there with a bunch of strangers. He didn’t know a single person from that group. Who are they, and what is she doing here with them?
He moved closer, and was right in front of her. She was talking to someone. Someone he didn’t recognize. “Hey”, he said. No reaction. What’s happening. No one seems to have noticed me. Am I invisible, or are they just ignoring me?
He turned to his wife, and saw that she had tears in her eyes. “It was five years ago today”, she said. “He was on his way home and took a short cut. It was a horrible accident. They said he must have died on impact. The car was smashed completely. It happened not far from here. Since then, Valentines day hasn’t been the same. Until today. It’s been five years now, and I think I’m ready to move on”