Khalil never drank, until he did…
If there was something everyone knew about Khalil, it was that he never drank. And if there was something one could say with even more surety, it was that he especially never drank before his night shift. But tonight he had found some refuge in a bottle; a shelter from the illness of his wife, the mounting hospital bills, and the regularly decreasing amount of money he brought home.
However, the newly-wed couple who had hailed his cab for the night were ignorant to the gloss in his eyes and the slur in his speech, as they put their bags in the trunk of the car and told Khalil their destination.
Khalil wanted to stop himself from embarking on an adventure that could prove fatal to both, his passengers and himself. After all, how would his cancer patient wife survive if he was not there to support her anymore?
Instead, he stepped on the accelerator, having been convinced by his subconscious that the drive alone would pay him enough to buy food for the night, which meant he wouldn’t have to go to bed hungry, the way he did last night. He struggled to keep his eyes open and his thoughts from straying, when all of a sudden his phone began to ring in the pocket of his pants. He parked the car by the side of the road and received the call.
“Is this Khalil Rehman speaking?” The voice at the other end spoke in a polished accent.
“Yes. Yes, it is,” he answered hesitantly, wondering what was going on.
“Sir, we are sorry to inform you that your patient, Mrs Khalil Rehman, passed away just a few minutes ago.”
A while later, as Khalil drove on, he tried to make sense of the road he was driving on; he tried to keep his vision from getting blurry, but the wind seemed to hit him stronger than ever before. All he could envision now was his wife.
The first time he saw her – it was surprising to him how he could remember it so clearly after so many years – wearing a white T-shirt knotted just below her chest, and those faded blue jeans; her hair pulled up in a messy bun as she laughed at whatever her friend was saying, her black rimmed glasses covering almost all of her face. It looked like the stars themselves had descended from heaven to rest in the soft corners of her eyes. And then the first time he had looked at her closely – how he had noticed the tiny specks of gold in her beautiful, innocent eyes.
Images flashed through his mind – images of them saying their vows on the day they were married, images of their time together, images of his wife telling him she had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and images of him promising her he would get her treated and she’d be as good as healthy in no time. But now it hit him.
She could never be okay. She could never go back to living as she used to.
As these cruel memories engulfed his senses whole, he lost control of the wheel. The sounds of his passengers screaming and crying out for him to grip the wheel and the impact of his car hitting another drowned out, as pain shot up his head, travelling through his entire body in mere seconds.
He knew this had to be his end. A soft cry left his lips, and before he could let the tears leave the corners of his eyes, he was falling into a darkness he knew he’d never come out of again.
He didn’t have time to wonder if the headlines would talk about him the next morning, or if his blood samples would lay the blame on his name. All he knew was that finally, finally, he would be with his wife in a healthy and happy place – rid of all that made him want to drink in the first place.
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