Soumya Bhatnagar

I have a secret. It is a big secret, something that I have kept hidden for 10 years now. But now, it is time for me to reveal it. 10 years back, we came to this apartment building, a time when my parents were having trouble, and I, a teenager could not understand what was going on with my life. On one such day, tired of all the screaming and shouting in the house, I got out of the house and into the elevator. and I pressed the button to the 13th floor.

Now, you would think that what is so weird about this, right. Well, the buildings in our area do not have a 13th floor. It was only after few years did I came to know, neither does mine…
The door of the elevator opened to a hallway, similar to the rest of the floors. At the end of the hallway was a window, Just that, a window. With Linkin Park blaring through my headphones, I stood there and looked through the window.

There was a park, a smattering of swings here and there, and various benches surrounded the park. As I stood there, a couple came and sat on one of the benches. They seemed to be fighting about something. The man was waving his hands, gesturing, trying to explain, but the woman was having none of it. Suddenly, the woman slapped him. The guy seemed shocked, his body rigid, his hand frozen on his left cheek. The woman got up and left. Not soon after the man removed something from his finger, a ring perhaps, and threw it away. Then he too left.
A month later, my father filed for divorce from my mother, her right hand was imprinted on his cheek. It was from a fight they had a few days ago. Somehow at that time, he reminded me of that guy.

The day the divorce was finalized, I went to the 13th floor, and it felt like a haven. Nobody came up there. Through the window, I saw two girls playing in the park. They were running around, playing ‘Catch’ probably; until one of them ran through the park and onto the road. Giggling and teasing her friend to catch her, she didn’t see the car that was just turning in. Neither did the driver saw her.

Two months later, I stood in the hospital room of my best friend, saying my final goodbye. She was hit by a car when we were playing near her house. It wasn’t the driver’s fault, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was just bad timing….

It was only after a few such incidents did I ask the guard about the window on the 13th floor. It was then that I was told that there is no 13th floor. The penthouse is on the 12th floor.
I don’t know how I came across it, but only I could reach the floor. Nobody I knew had seen the 13th floor of the building, and through the window, I could see the future, my future. From my parents’ divorce, to my friend’s death, to my breakup, to my father’s accident, I had seen the future beforehand…

I went to the 13th floor yesterday evening after I had gotten a call from my oncologist. Through the window, I didn’t see the park. There was nothing, just a grey-blue space. That is why it is time for me to tell you my secret. I don’t want it to die with me.


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