It was just another day for Mira. The same nine to six job, deadlines, meetings, cramped schedule, and messy oily hairs. Although today was a bit eventful, she and Amit discussed their ongoing manga, Lover’s Checkpoint’s climax, which meant she got to spend five freaking hours with him. You see Mira is a cartoonist and Amit is the writer, the boss. Mira is no workaholic, she is an average girl who believes getting married at thirty would be the ultimate solution to all her problems. So she decided to fall in love with a boy who passed all the pros of her marriageable-man list. And guess who the said boy is? Our Amit, obviously. As they were deciding on how Rhea, the protagonist, and D her love interest would reunite, Mira was floating in her fantasy world.

She was hurriedly twisting the lock to her flat as she didn’t want to miss her favourite nine’ o’clock show. When the lock budged open she pushed the door excitedly but froze when her eyes fell upon the mess. For a second her brain refused to register the scene, she thought she has entered the wrong house but that Naruto art she painted once claimed otherwise. The TV cabinet was upturned, sofas were ripped open as if someone slashed them with a knife. All her papers, pen stands and decors were thrown on the ground. A thousand scenarios ran wild. From Agatha Christie’s murder theories, to Connor Doyle’s crime scenes and even her Avenger head, all of them concluded different things but gave a common suggestion, she needs to run and call for help. If someone, the thief, is still inside the house she needs to move quickly and silently. So she took two steps back, very stealthily, closed the gate from outside, and ran to the guard.

The guards, the short police investigation and CCTV footage proved that no one entered her flat. Even Mrs. Sharma, the nosy neighbor, claimed she didn’t see anyone. “Then what the hell happened in here”. She cries frustratingly.

She decided to call her friends and family just to confirm if any one of them were in the mood for a prank. They weren’t.

When the police left, she upturned all her lockers, dug out those hidden savings, and counted all her valuables, to find that nothing was missing. Not even a single penny.

Exasperated, she decided to clean up the mess and scratch that itch a bit later. It looked like a gang war went ablaze inside her living area. Several gears started shifting inside her head upon realizing that whatever went wild here didn’t reach her bedroom or the kitchen. It looked like only a particular corner, occupied by her work table, underwent the storm. “Wait, What if it’s something confidential that has been stolen. A rivalry. Oh no! The notes of Lover’s checkpoint?” She has been entrusted with the drafts, a responsibility she took to get closer to Amit. “No, it can’t happen again.” The horror of losing them consumes her and she starts hunting for it like a madwoman. But to her surprise and much relief, those papers were thrown carelessly among the heap of others. Exhausted and stunned she cleaned up the mess of that incident.

When Mira narrated it to her colleagues, she received some genuine and some exaggerated advice. Sheila, the receptionist, dutifully narrated her dramatic ghost experience. Her mother concluded it must be her irresponsible daily routine that she must have made the mess while leaving the house hurriedly and forgot about it. And this one theory managed to silence the other ones, and for everyone out there Mira became the pitied little girl who needed a long vacation and a psychiatrist.

It’s been a week now since that eventful day. Assumed theories managed to overpower her sense of judgment. It became an oh-you-know for the gossipers and another reason for Mira to justify her need of being a wallpaper. “I will get out of this soon.” She was optimistic about getting away since her little steps towards the future she planned were becoming real day by day. She had her dream job, though a bit trippy sometimes, and her plan of getting close to Amit was working nicely. They were working together after all. He- the writer and she- his muse. What a perfect life it would be. While sketching the last meeting of Roy, the villain of her manga, and Rhea, the protagonist, her fantasy world with Amit was becoming a bit dull. It was a heart-wrenching scene. Roy, who deserved to be with Rhea as much as D did, had to cut ties with her and play the role of antagonist. Why? Because he was the fated bad guy. She has always been in favor of Roy. When Amit drafted his fate, she argued with him, saying he deserves a better ending. After all, Roy was someone she had sculpted, her one and only creation. But Amit artfully dismissed her stand.

As she was slumping over injustice towards Roy, her phone pinged.

~The amulet is safe with me. And you are a good friend.

It was from Rehan, a boy she met at a cafe. The two manga lovers clicked instantly. Rehan has been a fresh addition to her dull life. His larger-than-life approach, cocky jokes, and that oh-i-am-so-royal attitude managed to grab a special place in her mind. Weirdly, she would sometimes find him surfacing in her thoughts. Somehow, Rehan became the earth from which she sculpted Roy. But what amulet is he talking about? And the last line seemed like a goodbye. Frowning, she calls him but the line goes off. The amulet? The only amulet she knows about is the one D is supposed to give to Rhea’s father, so that he, the King, would accept him as his son-in-law. The amulet, which was stolen by King’s rivals, and D, was on the mission to retrieve. It was the pillar of their story, the stopping stone. So they conjured a very authentic piece for hundred dollars, for the sake of realism. For now, it is in her possession, as she has to sketch it. Unconsciously she pulls the drawer and frowns when it thinkers emptily. “I must have misplaced it.” Tiredly she looks around her desk, inside the pouch, between the papers. But no. Nada. It’s nowhere. She jumps up and starts searching everywhere. It must be in the bedroom. She laughs and hops in there. After successfully digging through every corner she comes up empty-handed. Why would Rehan have the amulet? How does he even know about it? She has never really mentioned it to him. Their work is supposed to be confidential until published. It couldn’t have been a slip of tongue. And she has met him like…twice only? She calls him again and again but no response. Oh yeah! He mentioned about working at EdForeseen, the editing platform, she knows an HR manager from there. Hurriedly she calls her. Anita, the kind and helpful girl readily agrees to salvage the employee list. And lo! No Rehan, no Naaz, nothing. How could it be possible? Why would Rehan lie about his workplace? The questions when merged with last week’s incident start to overwhelm her, she drops on the floor heavily, exasperated and bewildered. Her thoughts were artistically getting aligned in two directions.

One, the ever so rational and practical, which splashed hard reality on her face. Rehan must be someone from the rival publishing houses. But what scoundrels would play such dirty and melodramatic tricks? And such things don’t happen in reality. Do they? What if he was a Hollywood executive and came here to observe her skills? This one did lighten her mood but then again the amulet flashed jubiliantly and she had to dismiss it. The other part of her brain, the imaginative, fantasy driven one was professionally collecting all kinds of fantasies and piling them for her. Mira couldn’t decide which way to swing.