“Are we actually timing this thing?”, I look at the couple. They may not have been as interested in the game but wow they are keen on gatekeeping.
They literally have a 7-minute timer on. I can see 5 minutes remaining, seconds passing by. Seems like forever. If your leave to the washroom has changed anything it is that I am at a bit more at ease now. No one to keep my guards up around. From what it looks like even Sweaty and apparently our friend have gotten their wish and have spent the past two minutes blissfully in that closet.
I think my evil eye sprung into action unintentionally. There is someone at the door. No one is freaking out. Why isn’t anyone freaking out? It’s not like it’s normal for a bunch of teenagers to be drinking and playing horny games with their parents out of time. And there it is. A very freaked-out Sweaty runs out of the closet.
It rubs onto all of us and now we all are freaking out. I know the protocol. I have heard enough stories of relatives or neighbors dropping by to check on Sweaty when he was left home alone. The last time it happened, Sweaty was in a performance of I don’t remember which iconic song. It took him a full minute to get out of his mother’s clothes. No one knew that but me..now I suspect maybe no one but our friend and me. That time it was the neighbor curious about the wailing sounds he heard from across the street.
This time it is Sweaty’s masi. It blinks on his phone that rings with the doorbell. She is standing outside, calling because Sweaty hasn’t opened yet. Little does she know Sweaty here is sweating balls over the 60ml vodka we all have had. If she were to walk in here, right at this moment, Sweaty is fucked. Who am I kidding? So are all of us. And thus, you can tell from all of our faces we are minutes away from crying.
The first thing she’ll do is call Sweaty’s parents and they will call all of ours in turn. In a matter of minutes, our parents would be leaving our respective houses to pick us up. I wonder sometimes, especially anticipating what their reaction would be in times like this, do they somewhere know that there is a possibility we could be doing what teenagers do?
Maybe it is an assumption we have that all teenagers do bend the rules and get a bit drunk and make out in closets. For our parents, some teenagers might do all of it but their kids could never. It was a mistake to follow this train of thought because I can feel guilt settling in my stomach. If I don’t distract myself now, it’ll make a solid foundation in my stomach and spread like cold fog in all directions. I am not ready for that. I’ll save it for when our parents actually find out. For now, I must help Sweaty in making sure that they never do. This has happened before. We have had instances where we had to conjure up harmless lies to save our asses…like every human has had to at some point in our lives. Sweaty and I have a system.
It’s my job to do the thinking and all Sweaty has to do is remain calm. This one time, I think last year, right after out 10 boards we went to watch a movie. It was R-rated. We shouldn’t have been in the theatre. So naturally, when we saw the theatre guy walking toward us in intermission we got a bit scared.
The plan was to act defensive and if it didn’t work, blame it on their staff for letting us in. My plan. Sweaty’s idea was to just get up and run towards the exit. This situation needs a plan too. I ask Sweaty to pick up the phone and pretend he was sleeping. This will buy us some time. Sweaty is having none of it and just frantically urging people to hide before he lets his masi in. There is a very slim chance she’ll walk into his bedroom but Sweaty doesn’t want to take it. I chase him around trying to calm him. All he needs to do is attend his masi for a bit and make her believe all is good. She’ll be on her way. Or maybe not. I can’t speak for his masi, What if she is the Indian relative who surveys the whole house before they leave? Maybe she is that aunty given by how freaked Sweaty is. It’s better to let him lead.
He knows his circus better. So far he’s pushed the couple inside the closet, the cousin, classmate, and colony friend in the balcony, and me in the washroom with you right when you begin to walk out.
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Prakhar Patidar is a 22-year-old post-grad from Christ University trying to make it into the professional world of stories and wrap her head around that with each passing day, the world seems more like something right out of the dystopian novels she loves to read.
Her tantrums as a kid were more often than not met with stories her mom cooked up to deal with them. That’s where she feels it all began. When she asked for a candy every night before bed, she got jaggery instead with a story of this mouse that bought it every night.
One could only have a small piece, or else the mouse would run away. When she demanded to be told five stories every night before bed, her mom complied and made up stories, at least, till she hit writer’s-block.
Then a tantrum for five new stories meant widened eyes and “You listen to one story and go to bed, or you sleep outside the house.”This fascination with and love for stories has shaped all her major academic and professional choices.
She is currently exploring different genres and forms with her creative writing by using “call for submissions” on various platforms as a prompt. Her most recent publications include: Rubatosis, a short story selected for WriteFluence’s anthology; Out Of My Box (2021) and Shahar (2021); an anthology she compiled for Verses Kindler Publications.
You can find more of her work at- I Did This With Words. [https://lookwhatididwithwords.wordpress.com/]