I think I sat on my bed, or was it the floor? I don't remember. I was stumbling through my room maybe. All the three options seemed real. Like I was stuck on a movie tape, being rewinded to the point of my entry into my room, like a director exploring three options. Flash, cut, rewind repeat. Or maybe I did all the three. I don't remember how long I was in my room. After a while, all I could see was the ceiling. The fan, dust on its brown lacquered edges, hanging, collecting. I blinked and what was stationery was now rotating at an alarming speed, wobbling dangerously and creaking in its fixture. All the dust was raining into my mouth which wasn't closing no matter how much I tried. I was drooling and was choking on the dust clogging my throat. I wanted to scream, and then I blinked again. It was all gone and the fan was still. I didn't even bother sitting up. The burn was lingering in the back of my throat, but I was used to it by now. I was only looking at the ridges of the ceiling wall now. Cobwebs in corners. A lizard, an insect with a half-torn wing. Then I was seeing with the reptile's eyes, my pinkish grey tongue, slimy, sticky, darting out in a flash, or in slow motion and slamming the fly with a wet, ten ton force, and back into the safety of my throat. Then I was the insect, hobbling along the wall, all seeing eyes noting the arc of the lizard's tongue and struggling to hobble faster. Then, a feather light touch and I was in a black cave. I heard that voice. Her voice. Talking in octaves. Saying the same thing over and over. I'm waiting. Faint, in the beginning, then rising, rising, rising. Now I was on the terrace of my house, four years ago, with Nisha. On the pillars beside the overgrown branches of the mango tree. I knew what was going to happen before it happened. Even this was a scene I had seen too many times. Me, running in the rain to the other end of the terrace, Nisha smiling, me turning around to call her over, then the horrible bright light that burnt into my eyes the silhouette of her, then that horrific sound, maybe that's how gods sound in anger, I remember thinking in the hospital later. The lightning stole her, while the sound of the thunder was in my ears for months after and in my head forever. The thunder sounded like her now. The thunder laughed like glass breaking in my ears, I'm waiting, the black black cave sky split into a horrible lightning smile, the one she wore as she fell from the bullet in her head. But she didn't fall. No, she's here, we're in that room, the basement, and suddenly there was no air in my world, my hands were wet, why were they wet? I looked down and they were a colour no hands are supposed to be. Red and bits of skin. Not my blood, not my skin. And she was standing in the corner, absolute mad delight. No. No. She made me. I didn't… it wasn't, I couldn't form that word, in my head, on my mouth, but she was by my ears now, caressing my hair, her touch felt like I was drenched in sewage and I could taste bile in my mouth, and then she was saying those words Congratulations, on your first kill. Soon, you will be with me. I'm waiting. Air, I was begging for air, my lungs were bleeding for air, I wanted to tear my mouth into a bigger hole and no amount of opening it was enough. No air was going in. I'm dead, I think, but now there's a voice floating somewhere. I recognize the sound it was making. A familiar sound. The more I listen the more I know it. "Atreyi". My name. I had a name. It was my name and it was Shivanna's voice. Shivanna.

I blink again, and I am on the black and white tiles of my room's floor, there's vomit all around me, on my clothes, and I was gulping down water from the bottle Shivanna held to my mouth, sloppily. He looked at me returning and I looked at my brother's watery eyes for a silent moment. Everything stopped, thoughts, pain, the world. Then I was clutching him with a death grip and he, huge in his stature, he hugged me away from the world and I broke, in whatever bits that were still intact.