The Homecoming – 2/2

The train that had dropped him at his hometown was long gone, but Lou was still standing in the station. His emotions were a medley of guilt, regret, longing, and enthusiasm. His fantasy of his return tricked him into believing that it would be a treat. Never once did his restiveness allow him to question the sanctity of it. Had he been more apprehensive, he would’ve been more prepared.

But he mustered the courage to go on. He stepped out of the station and decided to walk home. He wanted to look for familiar faces on the way and surprise them. As he walked more into the city, he noticed that many changes had taken place since he had left, but the town still seemed to carry a dreary, rustic spirit.

He was now keenly looking for anyone familiar, when his watchful gaze fell upon a damp alley towards his right. He only looked for a second, but that was enough to notice 3 hipsters lunging a knife at a terrified, puny man who probably refused to “co-operate”. He was petrified, but he quickly walked along, hoping that they didn’t notice him. Lou was now rambling. Nothing had changed. Mentally, he was taken back 20 years, to that horrible night in the market.

He was desperately trying to shake it off but it had caught him like a leech. He had assumed that he was inured to such atrocities, but how foolish of him to think that fleeing from them was the solution. Although, he was at least handling it better than the last time, given that now he was still in town. He continued on his aimless stroll, and a while later saw the vast corn fields. They only reminded him of how naive he had been. The carelessness, the insouciance, the countless hours spent being chased by the poor old farmer left him feeling ashamed.

He hoped his naivety could be forgiven and moved on. Heavy-hearted, he continued. Pensive and sad. A few lazy strides later, he was standing before Aunt Maira’s store. He entered hesitantly, like he did years ago when he knew he was going to be reprimanded. He walked inside, and greeted the wizened woman behind the counter. Aunt Maira recognized him instantly and was elated to see him return, but sadly, Lou couldn’t reciprocate. The apparent indifference confounded him but he could quickly discern why.

After seeing her, he was pricked by a sense of guilt. The woman had always tried to correct him, but all he ever did was wait for the candy. It gave him a niggling feeling now and he was desperate for some respite. He consoled his teary aunt and promised he would come to visit her again. He stepped outside and took a deep breath. He tried to collect his thoughts and calm his nerves. There was one final stop before he would go home to his mother and that spot was his “Happy Place”. He turned to the alley which was between her aunt’s store and the local grocery store. And once again he was inundated with memories of his past.

He playing with the toys, alone; Role-Playing games in which he was always the brave warrior whom everyone loved; Hiding from all the other boys; Making it his safe haven. He pitied himself. He hated himself for being a coward. For having a “happy” time by living in pretense. For never standing up to anyone. For running away.

It was all too much for him. It was not the welcome he had hoped for. Every dear memory of his had started to turn bitter, and by now he was starting to wonder if trying to relive them was a bad idea. Maybe sealing them away in the depths of his mind, unexplored and pristine, would’ve at least kept him happy. But unfortunately, he didn’t realize that he would then only be using a new pretense to shroud the old one.

He headed back to his home, shaking his head and cursing along the way. He was frustrated that the city hadn’t at all changed. And he was right. Everything was the same, only, he wasn’t.

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An Unletterd’s Letter

She woke up way before the alarm. At this age, she was getting used to it. The sole purpose of the alarm was to provide her respite from aimless wallowing in the bed on nights she’s afflicted with insomnia.

Things had gotten really tough for her after her husband had passed away about a month ago. Ever since the house seemed too empty, the front-yard looked unkempt, the television set turned rusty and the backyard grass had overgrown. She was a lonely inhabitant of a decrepit house whose existence seemed next to insignificant in the well-to-do neighborhood.

Yet still, she isn’t on her own in this world. She has a beautiful daughter and a 5-year-old grand-daughter. But she hasn’t heard from them in over a year, specifically from when her husband had a spat with her son-in-law. Her husband had turned callous after the feud and had built an invisible barrier for her too. She didn’t have the courage to transgress it by herself, even after he’d passed away. She submitted to that sickly feeling long ago and now vainly hopes for the ice to break from the other side.

It’s just another day in Brookside Avenue, and she withdraws from her bed to do her usual chores. Her feeble limbs barely support her senescent frame. Her once vivacious spirit lately seems to have no impetus to be so. The pedestrian tasks of the day drain her both physically and mentally, yet she wills herself to live on.

She steps out the door, looks at the unkempt front-yard and sighs. The front-yard, like herself, either had no one to take care of or had no one who had cared enough. She walks to the mailbox, as she does every day, with a tiny flicker of hope. She opens the rusty lid and half expects to find it empty. But it isn’t.

She finds some junk advertising mails about a world tour that she’s least bothered about. She almost throws them away in the garbage can when a lavender envelope catches her eye. She halts, holds it cautiously making sure she doesn’t crumble it and walks inside as fast as she can.

She forgets about the chores and even forgets about her morning coffee. She hasn’t missed one in the last five years. She sits on the sofa down the hall and carefully opens the envelope. It has small lavender hearts embossed on it and smells like sweet perfume and baby powder. She pulls out the letter inside and starts to read it.

Dear Grandma,

Its me!! I am dieing to see you. Mom says we’ll all come and tell sorry to grandpa next week. Then we will go have fluffy candy you promised me in the exhibition last time. Can you pleese get me the pony too?

And guess what grandma?? I can right write! I don’t need mum to call you now…we can talk ourselves. We can share…umm…what did you call it? Seacrets? Yeah! Seacrets!

I can tell you about school, my new english teecher. But she’s always scollding me for no reeson. I don’t like her.

You can tell me your seacret recipeas recipies and I won’t tell anyone, not even my Barbie. She told me she likes boys now…..ewwww! So I want a new Barbie too!

I miss your pickles grandma. I miss grandpa. I miss you.

Do you miss me????

Okay mum’s calling me….Sea you soon!!!

Love,

Your Marshmallow.

She pushes the paper away from her face to keep it from getting wet. Tears stream down her face uncontrollably. She doesn’t contain herself anymore, she doesn’t feel the need to. She knows a crisis is about to befall, but that seems the least bit troublesome. She thinks of an innocent 6-year-old who looks up to her, and she would face the storm for her.

It may be tumultuous. But like any other storm, this will pass too. She kisses the letter in her hand and thinks of her marshmallow. Her tiny glinting eyes and her slyly playful smile. She curses herself for being so craven. She never stood up for herself. It wasn’t fair what happened to her, but she felt like she had no choice. No one to help her.

But she was wrong.

She’s had a month to ponder over it by herself. Only now, she is sure. She has a newfound meaning for life. She hopes to present her life as a lesson to her grandchild. She knows she may have nothing to inspire the little kid. But she does have a lot to teach her. She may not be able to tell her what to do, but she can tell her what not to.

She’ll keep her strong. She’ll make her brave. She’ll teach her to be independent. And when she says, “When I grow up I want to be like you grandma!”. She’ll say, “You will child. You will be as wise as I am today, but without having to face the troubles I went through yesterday.

And I will be here to hold your hand and guide you for as long as I can.”

Hell-Bent 2/2

His thoughts were interrupted by the rattling sound of the jailer’s truncheon run across the cell bars.

‘Whom are you planning to kill now John? You lousy freakin’ bastard’

The prickly comment made him feel nothing.

His heart was stone now. And his world, cold.

It was funny to hear his own words being used to accuse him.

And they took him back to where he left off. The persistent pounding.

It went on for an hour, which, he swore, still wasn’t satisfying.

Eventually, the victim had succumbed to his injuries.

‘The Victim’, they’d called him.

But John would beg to differ.

He would never in a million years forget, the night that his daughter came home crying.

Neither would he forget the week after, when he saw her hanging from the ceiling.

He felt the world pause. And then start to crumble.

An ominous silence loomed over his life, which had now lost its meaning.

But not a tear was let out. He chose not to.

For all his anger would vent out only through the fight.

He lived to see his end. He was hell-bent.

Hope 1/3

Luggage is strewn across a little corner in the bus stop. Her clothes are all raggedy and her hair’s rubbish. People feel irritated by their presence and give them despicable looks occasionally. A little child wails in her arms, in want of milk. But she doesn’t have any. The child’s elder sister isn’t much of a help to her mother. In fact, she’s a burden. She’s busy staring at a stranger’s smartphone, gaping at it in fascination. She was once close to dreaming about having it, and that’s about the closest she ever got to owning it.

 

Long before she could fully marvel at it, her eyes fell upon yet another luxury. This one, she could never have dreamt of. She saw a girl, only a few years older than her, who had her arms wrapped around a guy’s arm…..her boyfriend. She had always despised men, more correctly, she was taught to. What her dad had done to their family was unforgivable, and her mom was quick to generalize her dad’s malevolence to all men. All men are the same she had said. Her mom had warned her to keep away from them, and so she did.

 

It was easy until she began to develop feelings for them. “Ehh! They’re not that bad”. But her mom’s vexed remarks still echoed in her head. “Men!”, she’d say with a sigh…..eyes rolled upward. She struggled to suppress the infatuation. She begged to differ from her mom, but couldn’t dare talk back to her. She felt crushed between her mother’s ideals and hers. But she decided to give up hers, cause her mom was always right.

 

Her thought train derails when a dog starts barking loudly at her mom. She tries to shoo it away, but the dog seems adamant. What a pity? Not even the dog was afraid of them. Earning respect in the society was becoming costlier than earning money. Those who didn’t know them despised them, and those who did know, just pitied them. Every passing day was a bitter reminder that they were on their own.

 

Amidst the shouting and noise, a bus comes to a screeching halt. It was what they had been waiting for. The bus was getting cramped and crowded as more people tried to get in. They quickly grab their belongings and board the bus as fast as they can. But not surprisingly, they were the last to get in.

 

They didn’t seem to mind. They had gotten used to it. But now was not the time to worry….cause things were about to change for good. The bus would take them to their village. They were going home.

One Last Time – Part 3/3

“Stella” “Stella” “Stella”

 

She woke up in a trance. Breath heavy. Her chest heaved with fear. Her shirt, wet in perspiration, clung to her supple body. She looked around, panting for breath. It was her bedroom. Then she saw him. He was right there. His face inches away from hers. He could hear her gasps. A concerned look on his face slowly faded away into a cordial smile.

 

“Good morning sunshine”, he said, and took her into his arms. She felt a wave of relief and shyly let him take her. Finally catching hold of breath, she managed an utterance. Those three words were enough. They said it all. The nightmare reminded her of how much she loved him. Made her realize how much she wanted him. How much she missed him.

 

She never should’ve doubted him. He was pure. The beacon of hope in their relationship. She was the black sheep, a remorseful black sheep. But it’s all over now. No more “last times”. She found true love, yet again. And this time, she won’t spoil it.

 

She tries to fight her conscience. She decides not to tell him about the dream or the “me-time”. Honesty can only makes things worse she concludes. She’s off on a fresh start. A resurrection of love. She struggles to put all these thoughts away.

 

All the surge was too much for her. Too much to contemplate. Too much to give her time to notice the red lipstick on his white shirt’s collar.

One Last Time – Part 2/3

The room was just as empty as the bar, except for a teak wood table in the center. The small room was filled with cigarette smoke which made everything hazy. It took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the dim lighting and then she saw the silhouette of a woman. The woman was sitting with her back to the door. The woman turned around to see who came in and then Stella saw her features.

 

The woman had a vibrant red lipstick that seemed to glow like radium in the dark. With shiny black hair and a graceful figure, she could easily qualify for a supermodel. Her perfect silhouette was a sight enough to conclude that. But the woman wasn’t alone. There was someone else, a man. He was standing near the table with the woman sitting right in front of him. He looked like a pale white ghost in the fuzzy background. He had his arms wrapped around her and was holding her close. Too close. The woman had a terrified look on her face, suggesting that there was guilt attached to the intimacy.

 

The woman struggles to escape and while doing so, reveals a glimpse of the man. A glimpse of the intruder’s husband. Stella’s husband. She stands there dumbfounded. Never in her dreams had she imagined that it would come down to this. He was ever so loyal, never once he glared at other girls. His purity in their relationship was what intensified her guilt. But now she began to question everything. Momentarily, it made her feel better, a little less remorseful.

 

But she couldn’t believe the breach of trust. A perfect irony to top the icing. She felt tremendous anger followed by a dizzying pain. The small room got smaller. The smoke began to thicken. Her vision slowly began to blur and she started to lose ground. Her husband was moving towards her with arms outstretched.

 

“Let me explain, sit down”

 

“No” “no” she wanted to scream. But her voice wouldn’t come out. She felt a knot in her throat that seemed to tighten when she talked. She started to sweat profusely as the room started to spin around her. She felt her vitals crumbling from inside, churning the life out of them. She could see people talk but couldn’t hear them. All noise was muted to her. The last thing she heard was…..

 

“Stella” “Stella” “Stella”