When he entered the house it was almost midnight. He knew Nina hated when he rang the doorbell at late hours but then he always forgot to take his keys. He always entered the house through the kitchen window for he knew Nina would be sitting at the dining table waiting for him but pretending to read. It was typical of Nina; she always pretended she did not care but her gestures; like keeping an eye on the kitchen clock or leaving food in the oven for him always gave her away. Rob could never understand why she did that but he sure knew this incomprehensible nature of Nina was the reason he was crazy about her even after a decade of marriage.

Tonight the kitchen window was open but Nina was nowhere to be seen. Even the oven was empty. Rob went to the living room expecting her to be watching the television or putting little Rose to sleep. The living room was a mess. Old photographs that reminded him of happy times were strewn all across the floor amongst innumerable audio CDs of his albums. He sat on the floor amidst all the polaroids of Nina holding little Rose the day she was born, an year old Rose on Santa’s lap, Rose puffing her cheeks to blow out candles on her fifth birthday. He remembered her fifth birthday so vividly.

“Daddy will you sing me a lullaby?” Rose had asked with sleepy eyes as he kissed her goodbye to catch a late night flight. He had a concert to perform, a new album to sign and a press meet. After that he could sing to Rose all night.

“Daddy needs to go sweetums. But I promise that I will sing to you after your birthday party tomorrow.”

“Pinkie promise daddy?”

Rob had nodded, wrapping his burly finger round her teeny tiny pinkie. Rob’s tour had extended by a week. Rose never asked for the lullaby after he returned.

But tonight he crept to her room stealthily, his guitar in hand. Her angelic form glistened in the moonlight as she cuddled Nina in her sleep. He struck the first note and hummed a tune.

“You do know that she cannot hear you, do you?” a figure shimmering in white glow whispered in his ears.

“Yes. But I know she will feel it.”

“You have ten minutes.” The form in white smiled and patted his shoulder. Rob closed his eyes, cleared his throat and began- ‘Hush a bye a baby on the tree top….’ he knew he had to make the most of the ten minutes he had. Ten minutes before grief strikes her little heart, ten minutes before she is brutally brought back from the dreamland, ten minutes before Nina’s wails fill up the house and ten minutes before the phone rings to inform Nina about his fatal car crash an hour back.

Written by Dr Gargilaxmi Elkunchwar

Dr Gargilaxmi Elkunchwar is from Nagpur currently living in Nashik pursuing her masters in orthodontics. She is an avid reader and loves writing short stories.