by Rohan Parekh

Typical dinner with family friends. The men talk about politics and the women prepare dinner.

But this time there is somebody my age to talk to, a 17-year-old girl named Maya who wants to become a doctor, something that worries her parents.

“My parents don’t want me to catch a virus. So many doctors are dying from the pandemic.” She says.

“By the time you become a doctor the pandemic will be over.”

“What if there’s another one? Every two years there’s a new one.”

“Let’s go outside. It’s getting noisy in here.” I suggest.

We go to my backyard and sit near the bushes.

Just then I see my neighbours through their bedroom window. They’re arguing again.

“I wonder what they’re fighting about.” Maya asks.

“The wife wants a divorce and wants her jewelry back.” I reply. “She had given it to him because he said it would be safe at the bank. But now he’s claiming that she never gave her jewelry to him.”

“How do you know?”

“My mom told me.”

“Look! He hit her.” Maya says.

I quickly look up at the bedroom window but only see the man, not the woman.

“She fell.” She says. “First he hit her and then he pushed her.”

Maya immediately pulls out her phone and calls 911.

“The cops will be here any minute.” She says. “But that might be too late.”

“What else can we do?” I ask.

“We have to get in there. She could be dead by the time the cops reach.” She says. “Help me over the fence.”

The fence separating my backyard from my neighbour’s is not too tall, and I can help her over, but what if she doesn’t land properly? She could get hurt. I keep these thoughts to myself though, Maya seems determined.

I crouch near the fence and she steps on my back and pulls herself over the fence. I take several steps back, and run towards the fence and manage to hop over. But I end up hurting my elbow. Damn it, I can hardly move it now.

Meanwhile Maya finds a rock in the neighbour’s backyard and throws it at the neighbour’s window, shattering the glass. The home alarm system starts blaring, and moments later a deranged man rushes out.

“What the fuck?” The man growls — The same man who pounced on his wife upstairs.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” He demands.

I’m closer to him so he immediately comes to me and smacks me in the face. I lose my balance and hit the ground hard.

Next he chases after Maya. She tries to run away but he jumps on her and pins her to the ground. He starts choking her.

She’s struggling to remove his hands. He’s too strong.

He’s choking her and I know I need to get up and help but I can’t… I’m in too much pain.

Pretty soon we hear police sirens along with the home alarm system that is still blaring.

Maya loosens the man’s hands for a second and screams, “HELP!”

But then he starts choking her again. Maya stops moving.

The police quickly reach the backyard and they yank the man of Maya and subdue him.

Maya saved the neighbour lady’s life. The abusive husband was in the middle of beating her to death but got distracted by the home alarm. He broke her leg and she will have to be in a wheelchair for a while, but she’ll live.

Unfortunately, he ended up choking Maya to death

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