Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Last Crime

Vaibhav plucked out a piece of meat from his tooth and belched. Everyone around him shuffled uncomfortably. Vaibhav looked around and smiled slightly. He knew that the uneasiness wasn’t because of his demeanour but because of his past. Or rather, what they will find out about his past. Vaibhav didn’t blame them but rather hoped that they would leave him alone once in a while. He liked the fame, especially initially but now, it was becoming tedious.

The clock ticked and the alarm rang. It was 1 pm and the official time for the government to pardon the year 1991. This was a good year, Vaibhav thought pleasantly. He had some good material to share this time, the 25th anniversary of the law, and he was hoping that this would be talked about for longer than the Kennedy case that actually went over 5 years. In fact, that was the case that gave him the fame that he was enjoying right now.

25 years ago, government passed a law that seemed utter foolishness to everyone. According to the law:

“Any crime committed 25 years ago from the date of closing will be considered null and no punishment shall be granted for it if the person guilty comes out and confesses the crime.”

The argument given for this was that due to this we might find out the reality of many unsolved crimes and this might help in the future. Also, if someone was wrongly punished for a crime, that person could be freed due to this law.

Initially, it was considered a joke. For almost two months after the law was passed, no one came forward. One of the reasons for this was claimed by the supporters of the law said that 25 years is a long time and some people might have committed the crime might have died or forgotten. Most people however knew that the reason was primarily expected backlash from the people against whom the crime was committed.

The first crime was claimed two months after the law was passed, give or take a few days. It was a car parking ticket fraud. Soon, similar petty crimes were being reported and being pardoned. It was no surprise the initial crimes were mostly against the government. Soon, however, bigger crimes also started surfacing. Thefts, accidents, murders all were reported at least once by the end of the year.

Rape and child molestation were two crimes that took the most time surfacing and not without backlash. The first person who claimed child molestation was found dead within 24 hours of the claiming. It was then that the law was modified to give the choice to the person to reveal the information publicly or in private to the officials. This was a monumental event and the number of crimes claimed shot up like anything.

However, this wasn’t the case for all criminals. A lot of people held pride in the crimes they did. A 65 years old man claimed over 100 robberies between 1965 and 1985. He was proud and almost celebrated for the crimes he committed. Soon enough, he became a consultant for police as well for the current robberies.

Vaibhav surfaced around 5 years after the law was created. He remained hidden for the first couple of years and only claiming the crimes to the officials. This changed once his daughter, Simi, wrote a book about those crimes and he gained fame. He had never expected that he would be celebrated instead of being crucified.

“Mr. Vaibhav, should we start?” The reporter asked breaking Vaibhav’s chain thoughts.

“Ah yes… yes… Let’s proceed.” Vaibhav said and put down the glass of wine he was holding. He took a sip before doing that. He knew that he wouldn’t get a chance once he began.

Everyone held there breath while Vaibhav sipped his wine.

“There was a triple murder in 1991 if you remember, around January I think.” Vaibhav began. Furious typing sounds started coming from around as people tried to find the triple murder of 1991.

“There were two such instances, 1991. One was a couple who was killed along with their son. Another was three teenagers were killed in an accident, but it can’t be called a murder.” A reporter with the fastest fingers and internet spoke.

“Really. My memory must really be getting fuzzy then.” Vaibhav said looking around imperiously. “I was talking about the triple murders in the Memory Love hospital.”

“There was no such murder.” Another reported said.

“Of course. It is possible. However, on 7th January, three newborns had died around the same time.”

“Yes.” A reporter with thick glasses said. He pushed his glasses on his nose and continued. “But those were death by natural causes.”

Vaibhav’s mouth twitched into a slight smile.

The mood in the room changed. Everyone had come to hear about murders, that was Vaibhav’s specialty but no one was prepared to hear about the death of babies.

“You… killed… babies.” A man whispered breaking the silence bringing out people from their trance.

“Should I start my story?” Vaibhav asked innocently.

No one said anything. Everyone looked at each other shying away from Vaibhav’s piercing eyes.

“I think I shall.” Vaibhav said and began.

“In the year 1990, a child was diagnosed with Krimm’s disease. As you might know, the cure for it was developed only in the past five years. Nothing could be done in 1990, except for a very vague and rare experiment. This technology was developed by a doctor and never found the light of day. In fact, it was used only once. It was successful in its attempt and saved the kid.” Vaibhav said looking around. Everyone was listening in rapt attention, all prior uneasiness forgotten.

“The only minor issue was that the cure required some certain organs from newborn babies and those organs were kinda necessary to live, you know, like liver, heart etc.” Vaibhav said his hand waving non-chalantly. “That obviously meant that these had to be procured. The good thing was that only three babies were sufficient for the process.”

Before Vaibhav could continue, he started coughing. His daughter immediately came to his rescue. She picked up a few medicines and helped him gulping them down.

“I am sorry but he is not well.” Simi said as Vaibhav tried to gain his voice back. The break seemed to act as a deterrent for the people who realised what they had been hearing till now.

“How could he be well after what he has done!” A woman said with tears in her eyes. Simi looked at the woman, her eyes flashing with anger. However, before she could say something, Vaibhav put his hand on her shoulder and whispered. “She doesn’t know.”

Simi looked at her strained but nodded.

“So, where was I?” Vaibhav said, his voice soft.

“You had killed babies to save some kid.” A man said disgusted.

“Ah yes. So, the process needed three babies. Thus, the doctor and his wife, also a doctor decided that their child was more important than three babies who were born on 28th December, 1990. You will be glad to know that the child was saved.” Vaibhav said.

“You are talking in third person.” A person with a rasp voice spoke.

“Ah yes. You noticed. Someone had mentioned a triple murder of a father, mother and a child. Incidentally, the couple were a couple of doctors as well.”

“They killed those babies.” The man with the rasp voice said in horror.

“Catching up, you guys.” Vaibhav said smiling.

“Then, you… you killed that family. But how do you know about all this?” Another woman asked.

“It is difficult to not know or forget when you see it happening.” Vaibhav said, sombre.

“But why didn’t you tell anyone?” A voice asked.

Vaibhav smiled and whispered something in Simi’s ears. She opened a laptop and showed on the screen a photo of an old piece of newspaper heading.

‘Father blames doctor for his new-born son’s death.’

Vaibhav looked around at the gaping faces and smiled sadly.

“Thank you for your time.” Vaibhav said and stood up to leave. “Also, there will be no more such meetings. That was my last crime.”

Saying that Vaibhav left.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Kill the Healthy One

The Dark Dawn — This is what it is called.

And no, the sun did not die that day; nor was it a solar eclipse. I wish it was either of the two. It was the day I found out that I am a mass murderer.

“And for the murder of 7 billion, 65 million, 432 thousand and 100 people, the court pron… cough cough.. pronounce.. cough cough.. Mr. Shantesh guilty.” The judge said and wiped his mouth with a white handkerchief. Spots of blood filled the white canvas and infuriated the judge even more.

“You dog. You merciless scoundrel.” The judge roared and had to be controlled by the attendant.

“You will be hanged to death, publicly. Tomorrow at 7 am, exactly 3 days after the events of the dark dawn.” The judge said.

Shantesh stood in front of the whole courtroom with his head down. Tears started to form in his eyes and he could barely see his feet. A few droplets found there way to his cheek and then to the ground too. However, he accepted the punishment without any argument. He was too stunned to retaliate.

I want to say that I knew about it all. At least, the death would not seem so… meek.

Shantesh had never felt this energetic in his life. The first day at office, he felt like he could conquer the world. He met everyone with a huge smile on his face, shaking hands with every person on the street and jumping up and down on every other step. He was receiving the same response in return as well. The people loved him, cheered for his success and helped him if he faltered. He felt he could do no wrong!

“Shantesh! I know its your first day but relax.” His boss said sharply although her face showed that she was simply amused.

“Sorry Neha! I just can’t control it. I have wanted to be a lawyer forever and now that I am here, the biggest law firm in the world, I just can’t keep it in.” Shantesh said and pumped his fist.

“Hahaha..” Laughing hard, Neha sneezed.

“Bless you!” Shantesh said smiling.

“It is getting worse you know. My cold is increasing by the day.”

“Don’t worry. You know what they say about cold. At best, it takes seven days; at worst, a week.” Shantesh said.

“True.”

‘Violent epidemic has hit Japan, with over a million people getting ill. No one knows how that happened but most suddenly woke up with feeling shivers and fevers. This day had the maximum leaves in Tokyo ever.’

“Hello mom! How are you?” Shantesh asked with concern.

“I am fine. Don’t you worry about me. Its just a little cold.” Shantesh’s mother said and asked about Shantesh. The whole conversation after that was about Shantesh’s life with the topic of his mother’s illness never came. With his father passing when he was 12, his mother was all his life.

“Please take care.” Shantesh said with concern.

“I will. Love you.”

“Love you too ma.”

“Wait! Did you hear about the aliens?” His mom suddenly said.

“What aliens?”

“The news is showing that scientists have found some sort of portal from which aliens can come through.

“It must be a fake mom. Don’t take it seriously.” Shantesh said.

“Ok son! Take care.”

“You too. Bbye.”

Shantesh cut the phone and immediately opened the news. He was curious!

The news that day was the beginning of our… my troubles.

‘The portal is a very small one — 4 feet by 3 feet — and it has no visible markings except for an occasional spark. Scientists are unable to see what lies beyond the portal but the preliminary tests show that the place beyond the portal is inhabitable to a certain extent. The quantity of CO2 is higher than our earth but the oxygen to nitrogen ratio is optimal with traces of water vapors also present. Further tests are awaited. In the meantime, the location has been secured by the government and is not being disclosed.’

The news was by one of Shantesh’s favorite news channels. It was his most credible source of information on television so he decided to dig a bit deeper. Internet opened immediately and he found plethora of faff moving around but for all practical purposes it was authentic information. The government had declined to comment further except that they had found a portal and were testing if it was safe.

“Wow! This actually might be true. Another world. Wonder what it would have.”

For every action there is a repercussion somewhere!

“Major Charm. What is the report?” Xi asked his close friend formally.

“Sir, the situation is under control but the subject is panicking. She has lost a lot of blood and while we are recording her every word, most have stopped making sense.”

“Thank you Major Charm.” Xi said as they both entered his office. He closed the door.

“Heck Xi! What have you thrown at me this time? I am out of my depth here.”

“I know Charm but you know I don’t trust anyone more than you. Please explain to me what the hell is happening.”

“As far as scientists say, she is not an alien. She has human physiology with subtle changes that can be attributed to the different kind of environment. She is dying Xi and we can’t do anything to save her. She says gibberish most of the time now. The only thing constant is the name Shantesh. She says that name and cries. If someone else says that name, she becomes delirious. This Shantesh guy is either her boyfriend or someone who killed her boyfriend. We don’t know! We don’t know so much!” Charm said angrily banging the table. His anger always stopped him from getting promotions but Xi knew that in crisis he was the best person to turn to. He was Xi’s oldest friend, mentor, and best man in Xi’s wedding.

“How much time does she have?” Xi said focusing on what he understood best — a person in peril.

“We can’t say, perhaps a few hours, a couple of days but not more than that. We are trying to make it comfortable for her now.”

“Ok. Let’s focus on the portal then and we can…” Xi was interrupted in the middle by a knock on the door.

“Come in.” Xi said.

“Sir! There has been a new development and Ms. Yasmin wants to talk to you immediately. She has something to show.”

“Alright, lets go!” Xi said thinking what new hell has come.

In a few minutes, Xi and Charm were standing in front of a bobbing Yasmin. She was a ball of energy and got excited easily. However, she was one of the best programmers in his team and was an expert in facial recognitions and mass surveillance.

“So, I had a crazy idea and decided to test it.” Yasmin said.

“Of course.” Charm said under his breath to Xi. Xi looked at him scandalously.

“I ran a facial recognition of this girl across the planet. It was just a hunch but it matched.”

“What!” Both Charm and Xi said in unison.

“Yes. She has a doppelganger on our planet. I have taken the liberty to get her to our facility. I hope you do not mind that but I think we can find something here.”

“Its alright Yasmin. You have that authority.” Xi said. Being young, Yasmin always tended to ask people before doing something. It was good that she was taking initiatives, Xi thought.

Could I have changed anything, if I knew earlier? No, probably not.

Kifi looked at her doppelganger and felt a sudden spark of energy.

“Hi Kifi. I am Commander Xi. I am sure Yasmin must have briefed you about the situation. To be honest, even we don’t know what we are expecting but please let us know if you find something.”

“Can I meet her?” Kifi asked.

Xi looked at Charm and after his nod, approved Kifi’s entry. Kifi entered the room and looked at the sleeping girl. She looked tired, wrinkled and frail but it was her. The girl opened her eyes and looked at Kifi. Kifi took her hand in her own.

“He will kill everyone. Shantesh… Shantesh will kill everyone. Please stop him. Punish him.”

The girl said crying.

“We will stop him. We will stop Shantesh. Please tell me where are you from?” Kifi said to her softly.

“Earth.” The girl said and started to seize. Kifi was taken out as doctors entered.

Xi stood patiently and Charm walked worried till the doctors came out with the bad news.

“We could not save her.”

Xi grimly nodded.

“Cough.. cough..”

Everyone turned to see Kifi coughing. She was getting ill. Yasmin immediately moved towards Kifi and let Kifi fall on her shoulder. The doctors took a look at her but no visible reasons were found for the sudden cough and weakness. In a span of 2 hours, she also got cold and the fainted.

The whole ordeal lasted around 5 hours. After that, she was completely fine.

“It was weird.” Major Charm said.

Although, no one said anything, Xi was too mature to consider this a coincidence that Kifi became sick suddenly after her doppelganger died. He could understand the fainting but the coughing, sneezing and the blood were not a result of that. He knew that Charm also was thinking on the same lines.

“Yasmin, please keep our guest for a few more days. She needs care after the trauma she has been through. Kifi, I insist.” Xi said in a tone he rarely used. It was an order but with all the politeness he could muster. Both of the girls felt that their father had just ordered them to stay in their room. They simply nodded.

After the two girls went, Xi immediately ordered one member of Yasmin’s team to find all people with the name Shantesh and also send a bot with camera to the other side.

“Charm, come with me.” Xi said and moved towards his room.

“We need to send some one in there.” Charm said as soon as they entered the room.

“And fast. I want to know what is happening on the other side. If these two things are coincidental, it is alright.”

“But coincidences do not happen.” Charm said completing Xi’s thoughts.

“I want to find out about Shantesh.”

Am I a victim or a culprit? Maybe, it is my fault.

“The report says that the war is still on.” Charm informed Xi.

“And our soldier?”

“He has planted the cameras in a few places and they are transmitting information but he is lost to us.” Charm said in his rare somber tone.

There was a silence in the room that they both understood was for their fallen comrade. After a minute or so Charm spoke again.

“We have the face. Yasmin is searching for that person here.”

“You think we can do something to protect the other world?”

“I don’t know. But I think the bigger problem is the Kalpe papers that got leaked.” Charm said looking at the muted news running on a screen.

The whole world knew about their mission!

Xi didn’t know what to do or who to turn to in the situation. He wanted to vanish and go to summer beach with his family. Instead, he was answering questions of the media, the president and the whole world about a new world they knew nothing about. Suddenly, there were groups that wanted revenge for the crimes done on that planet. For once, Xi didn’t have any idea what to do and for the first time, even Charm was silent.

“Sir! We have found him. His name is Shantesh on this world as well.” Yasmin came into the room and blurted out.

Xi looked at her and immediately nodded her to guide him. Protocols are for a time of peace. This was a war, even if on a different world.

Finally, I don’t think it matters.

“But sir, its not right.” Xi pleaded.

“It doesn’t matter anymore. The pressure of the people is very high. The whole world… cough.. cough.. You see. A whole world is destroyed. Someone has to take the blame.” President said while wheezing and coughing.

Even Xi was feeling the effects. He knew something terrible has happened on the other side. All communication was destroyed and everyone on the planet was sick, except for one — Shantesh.

Shantesh was the only one who wasn’t ill. They had monitored him carefully since they had found him. He was one of the most ordinary people Xi had ever seen. Xi couldn’t believe that the person who was the definition of average on this world is the cause of a catastrophe on another. However, the proofs were clear enough.

People were rallying against Shantesh and Xi had to get him in custody for his protection. He thought he could keep Shantesh safe from this madness. How wrong he was!

“The order is passed. Please do the needful.” The president said dismissively and the line got cut.

“I can’t be a part of it Xi.” Charm said immediately.

Xi nodded and Charm left the room. Xi knew that Charm would try to free Shantesh but both he and Charm knew that he would fail.

This war will end with the death of the only non-sick person on the planet.

Shantesh stood in front of the whole crowd looking at him with loathing. He knew what was happening but understood none of it. He had panicked initially but made peace with it eventually.

The noose was put on his neck and tightened.

“Cough.. cough..” Shantesh’s last.

Random Tales

kpwrites #4

I don’t understand why you want to kill him. Isn’t it easier to just let him live and experience the joy of his torture?

Yes. But I don’t want to torture him. I just want him to stop existing.

Why?

Let’s just say that as long as he’s alive, I won’t be able to move on. For me to get a normal life, it’s important that he stops living. I know it is convoluted, perverted and perhaps, evil but I have to do it. I have to get rid of him.

Okay.

Just like that, okay?

Yes. I won’t argue with you if you have decided. How can I help you?

Hold his head a little higher so that I can slice his neck better.

Here you go!

Random Tales

kpwrites #2

Sunaina decided to kill everyone involved in her murder. It was the right thing to do. The only thing stopping her was her kid – Rohan. Rohan had unwittingly helped plan her murder and Sunaina couldn’t bring herself to kill her little boy. She had hardened herself several times but Rohan’s face would melt anything resembling anger, hate or resentment she could muster against her baby boy.

Sunaina decided that once she went on her killing spree, it would be easier for her to kill Rohan. Rohan thus found a place at the end of Sunaina’s kill list. She went through her list quite swiftly. The advantage of being a spirit was that while one person on her list was in Mumbai while another was in Delhi, she could still reach them in the same night and finish them off. Moreover, she wasn’t worried about the walls and other things as well. Sunaina had killed her husband, his parents, her parents and her doctor. Now, the only person left was Rohan.

Sunaina looked at Rohan and closed her eyes. She had to kill him. He was the last alive person responsible for her death.

“Mumma,” Rohan said and waved her hand at Sunaina. The hand passed through her but Rohan kept trying. At 1 year of age, his understanding of ghosts was limited. Despite his failed attempts at grabbing his mother, Sunaina felt that she had lost any resolve.

She couldn’t kill Rohan. Even though it was him who had killed her. Her husband, parents, in-laws and doctor had simply made the decision – “Save the child over the mother.” However, it was Rohan who had actually lead to that choice.

But she couldn’t kill him.

“Dead, ghost, and yet, a mother.” She sighed and left the room. Rohan had dozed off after his trying attempts to grab her mother. He will be found sleeping next to his dead family tomorrow with no information about the murderer.

Over the years, he would forget his only encounter with his mother. All he would know is that anyone close to him died before he had a chance to be loved.

Non-Tech

Anatomy of a Breakup

A breakup is never easy. A breakup shouldn’t be easy. If it is, then it wasn’t a good relationship to begin with. At its core, a breakup is a death. In his book Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari talks about the two realities – Objective Reality (Trees, Lions, Rivers) and Imagined Reality (Corporations, Countries, Religions). A relationship is part of the second reality. It is imagined in the mind of two people and then those two individuals share their reality with other people through stories. Stories about how these two individuals met, how they realized their feelings for each other and how they are conceiving a future together. When this myth breaks down, the relationship ends.

Thus, a relationship involves three individuals – two objectively real people and one imagined relation. It is the death of the third individual – the imagined one – that is called a breakup. The two real people exist. No physical harm has happened to them and yet, the pain is often immeasurable.

If you are unable to grasp why the death of a myth causes so much trouble, remember that most recent wars have been for myths like countries or religions. The 2008 economic crisis was based on the meltdown of a myth. Heck! The whole concept of society in any form is based on shared myths. In a nutshell, just because it’s imagined doesn’t mean it’s not real, even if the definitions collide on the matter. And like everyone deals with death in different ways, all of us handle a breakup differently. Mainly, people can be put in three buckets –

Workers

Some of us become workaholic and put every ounce of our energy in our goals. There are two advantages of this technique. One, continuously doing something doesn’t give the mind to dwell over the matter. Second, one is productive and is able to achieve something even in a bad situation. It may be a silver lining, but something is always better than nothing. The disadvantage is that the feelings that were pushed during this period may come back like the sleep that hits you after a alcohol and caffeine fueled night-out. Worse, it may emotionally char you forever with no healing ever taking place.

Criers

Other people just let out the pain by crying and drinking. They would talk to their friends and share the pain. They would seek support and break down at every other turn. However, this has its advantages. A person like this is able to heal faster as sharing of pain helps in reducing it. This person is also inadvertently connecting to their other relationships and strengthening them. The disadvantage is that the productivity is zero and if the person doesn’t heal quickly, this person might become a burden in the other relationships.

Shutters

Finally, there are people who just become stunned, and eventually, they shut down. They end up being completely useless. Binge-watching television is one of the most prominent features in such a situation. Listening to songs while overthinking every moment of that relationship to identify the situations where things could have been improved. Looking at ways in which things can be put back together or torn apart further. Frankly, I don’t know any advantage of this situation. You aren’t productive, you aren’t healing, and you aren’t going forward. You are just stuck in a moment in time, frozen and looping. Unfortunately, this is also the place where most of us find ourselves. My advice – either pick a project to do or cry your heart out. Get out of this place ASAP!

But I’m not interested in giving an advice on a breakup. My interest is in the mechanism of the breakdown of the myth. How does a breakup happen? I believe that often, the seeds of a breakup can be found in the beginning of the relationship. It all starts with the construction of the combined myth. This combined lore consists of two stories – my story and your story.

My Story

– I saw you when you were talking to your friend.

– I fell in love with you when it was raining, and you were wearing that black dress.

– I realized it won’t work out when we fought that day.

– I told you about it when I couldn’t take it anymore.

Your Story

– I saw you when you were being a buffoon.

– I fell in love when we went out for the show under the clear sky.

– I realized that it wasn’t working when you didn’t talk to me that day.

– I believed we can work out our troubles.

When two people come together, there are many forces that are against the relationship. For some, it’s the society; for others, distance. Some must fight the financial barriers while others have to fight their own past issues. The higher the strength and the number of these forces, the higher efforts the relationship requires. The relationship is more draining and the chances of success of the relationship are also reduced. These challenges are thwarted by the strength of the relationship which comes from the shared narrative, the combined myth – the love story.

The shared lore is bound to have two different narratives – my story and your story. In an ideal world, these two stories would be identical. This would make it strong and able to handle any external force. In the real world, the two stories deviate from each other and the farther they are, the weaker the relationships become.

The worst case is when one person thinks they are in a relationship while the other thinks they are not (friend-zone anyone?). However, even in a relationship which is clear on its status, there can be small deviations which would lead to butterfly effect in the future. If the two stories start deviating and are not reconciled, eventually, the relationship will become weak and external forces will overpower the relationship. It is also important to acknowledge that the small deviations in the story would come. For one, memory is not set in stone. Second, we are not hive mind and can’t know everything about the other individual’s life and thus would take assumptions which will add those deviations.

That is why, communication is considered one of the most important pillars in a relationship. It helps in identifying the small deviations before they become too big to be handled. Constant communication helps in keeping the deviations small and manageable. No wonder that most researches on relationships conclude that almost all healthy relationships (not just romantic ones) have good communication at its core. In fact, a good relationship can falter even after years if the communication breaks down due to some reason.

Another important component in maintaining the combined narrative is conflict resolution. If the two stories are different, which one is the correct version? What is the TRUTH? Well, the truth is what both participants can agree on. Trust is the key here. It helps in conflict resolution. That is why a breakdown of trust often is the quickest path to a breakup, even faster than lack of communication. Because identifying the conflicts is of no use if they can’t be resolved.

However, it’s possible that some deviations are missed even after regular communication and deep trust. These deviations become larger and might come out in the open too late for a quick resolution. Resolving them requires both communication and trust with a lot of patience. Patience, unfortunately, is a commodity in dearth. Often, the modern life doesn’t stop, and allow people to take a breath, to contemplate, consider and resolve conflicts. This is where the relationship is at its weakest and this is where it often breaks down. The deviations continue to increase until one day, one person says – I’m done.

The shared narrative breaks and the combined myth ends. The suspension of disbelief is over and the third entity in a relationship, the imagined one, dies. It doesn’t matter if the two people were good or bad, it doesn’t matter if the two people were near or far, it doesn’t matter if the two people were rich or poor. The relationship continues as long as the two stories in the combined myth reconcile and it breaks when they deviate from each other.

To conclude, talk. Share your stories and ensure that both people have the same narrative. They are on the same page.

And for those who have already crossed the breakup bridge – mourn. It was a death.