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I noticed the omission duly. This has been her way always, pushing me to the sidelines, never acknowledging my existence. I inched backward and out of her line of sight. Within minutes, I was out of the gate without even the watchman being aware of it. I had accomplished that with ease. I must do this more often, I thought. Run away from my own birthday party. I laughed mirthlessly.

I knew where I wanted to go. The place was quite far and yet, my feet moved inexplicably in the direction. They hurt like hell by the time the house was in sight, dark and silent. It was here that my happiness resided before being brutally murdered.

I walked past the gate, up the path and pushed open the door to the house. There was the sound of scurrying feet. Suddenly the lights came on. I stared in amazement.

“Happy Birthday!” they screamed at me.

They were all there, my three best friends from my college days. How had she managed to make this happen? This then had been behind the number of visits last week, to those mysterious friends who seemed to have sprouted out of the blue all of a sudden. I smiled. My heart swelled with joy and pride as I held her close and whispered ‘thank you darling’ into her ears.

“It was a surprise? Wasn’t it?” she asked with child-like delight.

“A wonderful one” I pinched her cheeks, “….and you are going to pay for it later on tonight” I added with a knowing look.

Her cheek colored, and smiling mischievously, she pulled me to the impromptu dance floor she had created by moving the furniture around. My god, she must have been slogging the whole day. My buddies and their partners were already swaying to the music and we joined them.

Booze, good food, friends and my love beside me. I did not want the evening to end. But it ended as unexpectedly as it began. I had a call from the hospital. An unexpected emergency had come up. I had to leave immediately. There was hardly time to look at her in my hurry. The blue dress suited her, I mused as I drove to the hospital. Will she have changed it by the time I returned? Of course, I would be late returning home. I sighed. Another day, I promised myself.

The day never came. By the time I returned, she was gone, forever. Murdered. Her face had multiple slashes. I wished I had looked at her smiling face one last time before leaving.

Who could it be? I had no clue. Who would do that to her? She was gentle, she was sweet. She was an angel with a tender heart. Why would anyone want to harm her?

The police went about their work in their lackadaisical way or may be they had too many cases more important than this to solve. They never got around to finding who the murderer was or why she was murdered. They seemed to ask me a lot of irrelevant questions I felt. Enemies? Hatred? How could the gentle soul have any enemies? But they weren’t that irrelevant after all. Someone had hated her enough to stab her to death and slash her face as well.

It was too late when I found out. By then I was living with the murderer as her lawfully wedded husband. Who would have thought, the pretty nurse who hero-worshipped me was the one? My colleagues used to make fun of the way she managed to be around me always with that adoring look in her eyes. I dismissed it all as nonsense. I heaved a sigh of relief when she befriended my wife. They had become fairly good friends, going to the movies or shopping together. I still am not sure how the evil vixen managed the whole thing. I am pretty sure I saw her in the hospital when I reached for the emergency operation. Had she left? If so when?? I checked discreetly and she was supposed to have been at the hospital when it happened. Then how?

The questions are all unanswered. She was always around for me the days immediately afterwards when I was too distraught. I don’t know how it happened that we became a couple and two years later we were married. At first everything was fine. But then I started noticing the changes, a certain unyielding hardness in her, something evil I could not define. One day while I was looking for something, a small box tumbled out. In it I found the missing wedding ring. What was mysterious about her murder had been that her ring finger had been chopped away and had been missing along with the wedding ring.

She walked in right then. I flew at her, out of control.

“Don’t you dare touch me!” she screeched giving me a venomous look.

“I had my moves all planned when she walks in and snatches you away.”

By then I was already aware why she had her moves planned all those years back. It is a not so well known fact that I am the only son of a diamond merchant. I have hid the fact from everyone. I prefer to be this anonymous doctor. But the woman had somehow found out about the riches in the coffers of my native home.

“I am going to the police…”

“And tell them what??” she sneered. “That you let me go from the operation theatre? They will arrest you as the mastermind behind the murder. I just have to tell them that you sent me to have her killed.”

I looked at her wordlessly. I felt nauseous. Waves of dizziness made me unsteady on my feet. She threw me a contemptuous look and walked out of the room, not before she snatched the box off my lifeless fingers.

The days and months that followed, living under the same roof with her, was torture to me. I became a shadow of my former self. On her part, she treated me with total contempt. But she continued the highflying life she had adopted since her marriage to me. She could afford to. I had transferred property and lot of funds in her name, also made her a partner in my dad’s business. My only solace was going to and spending time in the now empty house where my happiness had lived. Today once again, I have walked over to share the space she once inhabited. My happiness, whom I could not save. And with whose killer I now live. What irony.

The next day they found him in the old dank house where rats scurried.. The evening news talked about the death of a doctor from a hospital in the city, whose lifeless body was found in the derelict house of his former wife. It is believed that the doctor’s death was a suicide. In his right hand was clasped a wedding ring. The news item went on to say that the case of the murder of his former wife might be re-opened in the light of fresh evidence. The police, were reluctant to reveal more.. The pressure to reopen the case, it is said, came from the diamond merchant, the father of the deceased, who if sources are to be believed is in possession of a suicide note. The doctor, they said, is survived by his second wife, a former nurse in the same hospital, who is believed to be pregnant with his child.

Prompt words for 3WW CCLVII

Prompt words: ease, backward, omission