Kabir casts a sly look at me. His lips curl, as if he’s about to tell some joke. “This is the single most prescribed psychiatric medication in the U.S. I ought to know, not only because I am a medical professional and not only because I married into a family that owns a pharmaceutical company but also because of my wife. She passed away because of it. Overdose, you know.”
Kabir takes a pause, perhaps to see if I would ask anything about her death. I don’t. Why upset him? What’s at risk at this point is my own life!
A moment later, he pivots to an entirely different subject. In his professional tone, he asks, “Are you pregnant, or plan to become pregnant?”
“Not anytime soon!” I gasp, somewhat in shock. “Why?”
“Because.” He shakes the bottle to a loud rattle. “Your pills are about to run out.”
“Pills? What pills?”
He steps closer to me and raises the bottle to my unbelieving eyes. The name, printed on the label in bold letters, is mine.
“What? That can’t be!” I cry. “I’m not on any medication, let alone this—”
“You’ve been taking it for months, to treat your anxiety.”
“Oh no, I haven’t—”
“Why try to deny it?” Kabir laughs in my face. “You seem to be in panic, even now!”
About that, he’s right. But the only cure for my dread is for him to let me go, which is doubtful, or for me to find a way around him, which is far-fetched.
Kabir crushes a bunch of pills into a small heap of powder, transfers it to a glass, and pours some wine into it, all in plain view, as if wanting to show me the method of my own demise.
I can’t afford to give him what he seems to want: the pleasure of seeing how scared I am.
He swirls the wine about, then raises it to my nose, so I may smell its aroma. “I’m happy to hear you’re not expecting a baby.” His tone is loaded with sarcasm. “I wouldn’t want it to suffer any ill-effects, once you have your little drink.”
I brace myself into being stubborn. “You can’t force me.”
“You know I can.” He coughs up a sharp laugh. “And then, there would be no more need to have this prescription renewed.”
What I want—even more than a chance to save myself—is to give the doctor a taste of his own medicine.
In a heartbeat, my hands turn clammy. “I don’t know what I did to deserve this.”
He growls, “Sure you do! You’ve been asking too many questions about me, about my trip to India years ago, and about the woman I married there. No one gets to do all that and live to tell the tale.”
I hesitate to ask, “Not even your wife?”
“Especially not her.”
“What about me?” I ask, already knowing the answer. “Am I going to survive the night?”
“Trust me, it is with a heavy heart that I must kill you.” Kabir comes closer, strokes my chin. “Such a beauty.” For a second, his eyes seem sad, almost. “Such a waste.”