I guess that defines everything.
Hi, hi, hi! This is Sanjana Sunilkumar, an almost 16 year old from India and I detest math.
A Rainy Day In The Clement Fields Of Glasgow
It was a tent made by the most chary hands. Curtains of blessed teal were spun around, hanging like flower garlands propped up by wooden sticks. Through the cotton mesh, he could see two figures outlined black, looming out from the radiant lights and towards his home. His knees refused to bend. Old age gnawed at his bones and solitude digested them. Thrusting a hand on his chair, he stood up with some struggle and inched towards what he called a doorway, his right foot limping. A dark-haired man clothed in a white-coat with a clip-board resting on one of his hands looked into the old man’s opaque eyes.
“Nicholas Scott?” the dark-haired man asked. A name tag that read “LENNY” rested above his pocket. He wore a bag on his shoulders, a red cross printed on it with fine strands of polyester. Dark eyes peeped through the thick glasses that sat neatly upon his cheekbones. A lanky young boy, probably in his early twenties stood near him, his skin covered in ephelides.
“I guess I am,” Nick said as his voice broke into a violent cough, leaving him breathless. His cough had hardly subsided when he inhaled deeply, collapsing again into a volcanic hack. The city winds did strange things to him.
“Come in, please,” he said, walking back towards his wooden chair. Milo, the young boy, pulled back the curtains as the both sauntered towards the old man. Sitting on a chair next to him, Lenny zipped open his bag, pulling out a surgical box. Two ampoules of thick purple fluid slumbered in it as he yanked open the metal container. He transferred the contents of one vial into a transparent rubber ring, watching the bubbles sink to the surface.
“Mr. Scott, so you’ll be wearing this in your forefinger. As you can see, there’s a tiny needle attached to its inner surface. Once it hits your skin and the chemical enters your body, you can go to that one place you’ve always wanted to for ten minutes. An alarm will warn you if your time’s about to end. By then, you can remove the ring and get back to the real world,” Lenny said, adjusting the rustic golden rim of his glasses.
“What if I didn’t remove it in ten minutes?” the old man asked, crouching on his chair, looking at him straight in the eye.
“You’ll be dead,” he said, placing the ring on Nick’s hand. His fingers curled around it as he pulled a deep breath.
“So where do you want to go Mr. Scott?” Lenny asked, his chin resting on one hand. The old man closed his eyes and smiled. A warm pallor spread on his face as he whispered those words. “A rainy day in the clement fields of Glasgow.”
Lenny smiled, his fingers tracing his jawline.
“Great memories, eh?”
He looked at Milo, gesticulating him with his fingers. Two markers, red and blue, were hiding under his knuckles, their heads waiting to jump away from his grip. Milo extended the blue one, turning its cap open.
“You can’t be sure—”
He pushed the ring into Nick’s gaunt finger as it sat comfortably around it. “Ready?” he asked, rolling his eyes watching him closely through his glasses. “Already.”
Dark clouds of gunmetal grey scudded across the livid skies. Nick watched them mesmerised by their constantly changing shapes. They grew dark and thick, saturated with water in its purest form. His wrinkles distended, opening his pores as the warm summer rain kissed his skin. Untrimmed maize fields grown wild, danced with the natural orchestra, their tips brushing like ghostly fangs. The pitter-patter perpetuated into rhythmic pounding as he tilted his head up, and opened his eyes, allowing his tears to sluice away in the rain.
He ran. His legs swooshing in the flooded fields. This time they didn’t hurt, or at least, he couldn’t feel them. He opened his arms wide as if he could pull the air close and hug it. A loud vehement scream absconded from his vocal cords as he spun himself around, his hands stroking the grass. Those halcyon days were resurrected. He felt like an eighteen year old boy in love again. After a fifty years of what seemed like an eternity, he could see the sun, shining like a golden medallion pinned to a sheet of tar-black. The world was no longer a shadowy groove. It was all alight; it was all alive; it was bewitching. If only, if only she was with him… If only, if only this was real…
The timer beeped, counting his last minute. It called on to him, loud enough for his ears to catch. But his body had sunken deep in the feigned trance. His thirst wasn’t fully quenched. He collapsed to the ground, his head spinning in the trippy haze, but clear as ever. A tenuous smile surfaced on his lips as he stared at the timer. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. What is better—to live a dolorous life or to die a happy death?
“Eleven minutes gone,” Milo said, looking at his watch. “You think he is dead?”
“Obviously,” Lenny said as he crossed out his name from the clip-pad with his red marker. “Seventy applicants, sixty nine gone.”
Milo’s eyes widened in genuine panic. “This is crazy!” he erupted, shaking Lenny by his collar. “Clever,” Lenny said, apparently calm, his body relaxed as usual. “Revenue and jettison. Hold these for me, will you?” he asked, as Milo took the clip-board and marker in his hands. Lenny packed all his things back in his bag, leaving a message for the capital.
“So who’s next?” The question came like something that was normal. As if it was his habit to unleash hungry souls into the gates of death. Milo rummaged through the clipped papers of crossed names.
“Applicant 70, Sylvia Waterman, 52 years, two blocks from here.” He read out as Lenny outstretched his hand, signalling for the pad. Milo gave it back, his eyes looking down, his lips folded into a thin line, remembering that everything he speaks is being recorded. This time, without hesitation he held it out. The red marker.
The Midnight Child
“I’m headed for a land that’s far away
Beside the crystal fountains
So come with me, we’ll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains”
He sang along with the beats of the cold wind that blew towards the direction of the high clockwork towers. Loose and tattered threads made movements of oriental dance as he swung the bag like the giant swaying pendulum that now stood motionless near him. Sharp minute crystals of frost grew on its raised glass coverings, projecting upwards into the air.
“In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There’s a land that’s fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night”
He peeled off his fake beard and slid it inside the old bag. The orange wig that rested on his head with the support of the beard rolled down eventually into the bag as he cocked his head to remove the plastic canines. He really was a different man without those cheek pads and the red ball of a nose.
“It’s Jolly, the joker!” they would run to him. He was never the clown children could be afraid of. He could make the most serious man laugh. He could do the trick no warlock could. Yet behind all those pranks and spoofs were innocent eyes that mirrored the shades of bright laughter and summery smiles. He was the real joker.
Twelve notes sounded from the city gong resonating the circus, each beat ending with a prolonged ritardando. The most beautiful phase of time. The very hour of typical Australian midnight. Jolly spun his bag around, making sharp, flat sounds with his thick boots and danced zigzagging towards the faucet that stood near the giant ferris wheel. Water flowed on his face, as he rubbed his cheeks with the back of his knuckles, washing away the flakes of his commanding make-up. He whistled as he filled his empty bottle, a whistle that went continuous and endless, sounding so unique as if the whole of midnight stopped to listen to him. The moon was magnolious that day, barring the clouds, sending her lustre take the form of a halo around her head. She didn’t shine. She didn’t glow. She was dazzling.
His whistle was cut sharp by the loud cries of a little child. His eyebrows raised, following the call that came from the skies. Surely, it can’t be the stars. He shadowed the cries closely, scanning through the graphite clouds. An eerie feeling creeped down his spine as he heard minor sounds of clinking metal. He read the skies, his eyes widening, letting out a knee-jerk gasp. The sound came from the ferris wheel.
The top carriage shook from left to right, going mad like a deranged elephant. He ran to pull the lever that spun the wheel but it was forced and tied with thick iron chains, all connected with a single intricate lockwork. He spread his fingers around a thick block of heavy granite that slept on a wooden pedestal near him, trying to break open the lock. But the moment it hit the metal surface, it crumbled to powder.
The cries grew louder pounding his eardrums, as he stopped for a moment to check if he was hallucinating. He rolled his shoulders, pushed the sleeves up, put his gloves back on, and climbed into a carriage. He stretched his arms outward and upward and with his supple fingers and climbed into the next carriage. His acrobatic skills gave him a hand as he mounted up and up and up until he reached the top carriage. His palms burned red underneath his gloves as he cracked his knuckles, all ten of them in rapid succession. He searched inside the carriage to find the source of the cries, till his boots bumped onto something.
He bent down and sat on his knees as he came in contact with two teary eyes that shone like freshly polished pebbles, washed from the sea. Jolly smiled, his usual joker smile and stretched his right hand into the blackness as a little hand reached out and touched his dirty blue gloves. A little boy, barely a year old, crept from the dark, struggling to stand on his knees. Jolly took him into his arms and with one giant leap, he vaulted towards the ground, rolling himself like a ball, making sure the boy was safe. The boy screamed, a loud ear-piercing scream which collapsed into a cough as Jolly put a finger to his lips.
He fumbled to find his water bottle and slowly glugged little sips of water into his throat. The boy ran his tongue over his chapped lips, gesturing for more. His face was red and pale with dry tears that rolled behind his ears, wetting his sideburns. Jolly loved watching his neck move in and out with every swig. He turned the bottle-cap and slipped it back in his bag. He let the boy rest on his back, carrying him, his arms looped around his neck.
“Ready for home, boy?” Jolly asked, closely watching his grey eyes spread wide open. “Aye? Okie then.”
He looked at the boy who sat there, deadpan, his eyelids fluttering from time to time. He wore a wide-collar, perfectly tailored pea coat with buckled leather shoes and tight socks that stretched up to his knees.
“A vest, a shirt, a coat, ain’t that a lot, boy?” Jolly chuckled. “Was yer name?” His mouth stretched wide, trying to weave words he knew but couldn’t produce. Finally he said something, hardly louder than a breath, but Jolly heard it.
“Yova,” the boy had said. Certainly, that can’t be a name. Jolly wrinkled his brows, replaying the movement of the boy’s lips.
“Did yer say, Noah?” he asked, with the newly found curiosity. But the boy shook his head and repeated his utterance.
“Guess yer got the sound wrong, boy,” Jolly said, scratching his jawline. “Les start from scratch.” It all began with Arthur and Elijah and trailed on to Luca, Joshua, Ezra, Tyler and all those circus boy names Jolly could think of.
“Edward?” he asked, one hand clenching his forehead in vexation, the other resting on his hip. The boy let out a slow whistling breath and his face lit up with a tint of rouge as if a chemical fluid had been injected into his cheeks. He smiled, revealing his baby teeth, and nodded his head in affirmation.
“Edward! Yer Edward!” Jolly shouted in delight, throwing his arm in the air. He joined his hands together, his fingers interlocking each other, holding the back of his head like a pillow.
“Yova!” the boy repeated, joining with Jolly who floated in the realm of happiness of cracking the cryptic name. He advanced towards the boy, taking him by his armpits and swung him around like on a flying carousel. The boy chuckled, enjoying the free ride, his face scintillating with eternal jubilation. “Glad yer din scream this time.”
“Grab yer papers, people!” he shouted at the top of his voice, pedalling down the placid roads of the sleeping city. Edward slept inside the bicycle-basket, letting out bonny little snores as a fine line of saliva dribbled down his coffee-coloured coat. Jolly picked up a newspaper balancing the cycle with one hand, rolled it like a barrel and threw it inside a house’s open window. His eyes were screwed on the little boy, never bothering to take a look at the headlines.
The sun wasn’t up. The azaleas hadn’t opened. The wrens were asleep. But Jolly was wide awake, his legs busy propelling the bicycle. “Prince Edward goes missing! Windsor castle in a frenzy!” The words were printed in bold letters in the darkest of inks, only to blind Jolly’s eyes.
“Grab yer papers, people!” he shouted, not knowing who he is carrying, not knowing he is being watched, not knowing that this is all planned.
The Summer of Love
He crawled beneath his bed sheet, pulling his shirt by the hem, trying in vain to wake him up.
“Oh, come on, Charlie, it’s just eight! Let me sleep, will you?” Abel yawned, pushing him to the floor as he struggled to jump back in.
“But it’s summer! Why would anyone be staying indoors today?” Charlie murmured softly, his words barely perceptible, almost like the susurration of a river. A busy golden bumblebee made its way out through the window, humming a song she just composed. A little grin curved on his jowls as he vaulted out through the open window, following her, trying to catch her with his hands. His legs raced on the turf, running in big circles, going round and round the house. He rolled down the steep side of the greensward, his creamy hair that glowed golden with every brush of the wind, clogging with dirt, covering it with a shade of tortilla brown. His body finally came to a halt, his sandpaper tongue almost dripping, gasping for breath. He lolled on the ground, winking his big brown eyes, wider than a baby’s, glowing like amethysts, at the lambent sun, stretching his hands forward and shaking his body altogether. His ears were busy listening to the young bees that buzzed in circles, darting through the summer air. His hands caressed the sharp ends of the newly trimmed grass that shimmered in the sunlight and slid inside to touch their velvety softness. Oh, how long had he been waiting for this season to come! New flowers, new birds, long walks, no snow. His favourite part of the year.
A flock of new birds flew past the clouds, moving as a group, leaderless, drawing jaunty hues in the growing white canvas, tinting the skies with a shade of cerulean blue, leaving tracks like a child’s oblique curve joined by dots in a coordinate paper. A jocund bullfinch, capped with dreamy black feathers and brilliant orange plume that sang of the hues of newborn petals of beautiful mid-spring garden pansies, alighted upon one of Abel’s trees. He held his head high, his basalt eyes, only the size of mustard seeds, fixed upon the tree next. Charlie’s eyebrows twitched from one side to the other, his eyes blinking through the tousled strands of caramel hair, trying to focus on the little bird.
“That’s not his favourite tree…” Charlie said silently, in a language only he could understand. He tried to cup his hands like Abel would and stared into the other tree which held a continuous layer of thick foliage. Nestled in it was a tiny white-cheeked bullfinch, probably migrated, brooming her feathers with her little grey beak.
“I see, new girl!” laughed Charlie, his lips parting with an impish smile, revealing his incredibly white teeth, punctuated with abnormally pointed canines. He licked his lips, making visible the threads of saliva that fell in spurts on the turf. The little man gave a sharp subtle call, just two syllables, enough to catch her attention “Pyo!” She turned her head instantly, yearning to find the whistle’s source until her shiny black eyes locked with his basalt grey ones. He paused a minute to scan her from head to toe, sending a tingle traveling up her spine. He then improvised a deep song, his voice as sweet as a new blossom, quiet and soothing with a descending series of notes, repeated at intervals; a song which no magical flute can ever produce.
The bird spread her little wings, beating them gently like a tender sea wave and reached the tree to listen to her Peter oh-so-mysterious Pan. She hopped over the summer foliage, drawing herself closer to him. With that tight smile plastered on his face, Charlie knew what would happen next, but he gave no purchase for withdrawing his gaze.
“Charlie!” A cross voice came out of the swaying trees. He raised his eyebrows in pure surprise to hear the bird address him.
“Alright, alright,” he said, turning his back to the tree. But his ears stood straight, ready to wiretap their conversation. Rolling his eyes, the bullfinch let out a little sigh. He smirked a little with his beak, for a lopsided grin to take shape.
“Is that Talia going there?” he asked, his voice booming. Charlie’s ears pricked straight up at the mention of her name. His tail, rather than doing the usual side-by-side wag stood straight for a second, all his hair standing on the ends. Then he cocked his head and let out his signature chirping-bark. In one swift jump he leaped over the five-foot fence, his tongue and tail moving in uniform choreography. His tail, oh you should have seen his squishy tail, going crazy, moving in all directions man ever found. Scattered layers of golden strands lay on the grass as he left. How much his eyes craved to see the young spaniel whose brindled coat curled around her pink collar every time she walked! Ha, there it goes! Strolling over the stoic meadow, nuzzling inside the verdant verdure, soaked in the summer air, whistling all the way it goes—love. Something I’ll never be able to figure out.
Out of Harm’s Way
Floating in the ocean of love,
Not knowing what darkness lurks outside.
A tiny world, all for me.
A little reminder that humans can actually do magic.
A place I’ve been once and wish to go back.
The Devil of the Damned
Amber’s knees buckled and sank to the ground as she tried to take a step forward. She leaned ahead, in an attempt to get up, but her body felt heavy and she fell back on her knees.
“How long, Mama?” she asked, her voice weak, barely audible. Carrie pulled her arm, picking her up and steadying her back onto her legs without an answer. The world is never on a pause for the poor. A world devoid of love. But how could she explain it to the four year old? Little Betty lay on her shoulder, her tiny arms wrapped around her neck. Her baby eyes had a shade of beige, matching her little dress smeared with grime, made from a burlap sack. Amber wore the same, just a bit bigger. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes drained. Hungry and homeless. Starvation, the cruelest curse to be bestowed on mortal souls. The devil of the damned.
“Mama, where are we going?” Amber asked, her hands cupped on her calves, as if it could help lessen the pain. The ruffling winds waved the tree branches, as if welcoming the nocturnal ghosts that roamed in the darkest of nights. The sky was cloudy, pitch black, not a petty star on sight. Carrie shifted Betty to her other shoulder, brushing aside her tangled hair that battled with the furious wind. Her head was constantly turning left and right, trying to catch the sight of something. Just something.
The gale gave out a savage roar, as if it held the reins of a thousand monsters. Her fast feet came to a halt as the sound of a banging wooden plank caught her ears. Faded words of “For Sale” were marked on it as it hung, tied onto a doorknob, mutedly begging for new owners. For once, Carrie stood there, her eyes fixed on the jilted room built of grey-weathered logs. A saviour from the eerie night. Her face showed no emotion as she said without meeting their eyes, “Welcome home, kids.”
The old latch, probably rusted in time, crumbled to fine orange-brown dust as she worked on the knob. Her jaw tightened as she pushed the door gently inwards. It made a peculiar creaking noise, revealing a small room with ivory walls. Hairy crab-like spiders spun around the walls in circles, while some rested comfortably on their perfectly knitted beds of spidroin. There was a brown upholstered couch torn in pieces as if a clowder of cats scratched it from one end to another in a moment of utter rage. A pink curtain, worn out by age, loosely fluttered towards the direction of the wind. Behind the room was a three faced attachment of what seemed like a cubicle. A little room under a flat roof, with a cabin attached. A luxury.
Amber and Betty lay on the couch, running their hands on it's soft brown covers. Carrie used her right arm to brush off the spiderwebs, while the left rested under her nose, guarding her from the choking dust. Her bronze hair was messy and unkempt, but they didn't seem to bother her. Putting it up in a tight bun, she massaged her wrinkled brow with her fingers, hoping they would suppress the headache. Her eyes wandered curiously to study the little cubicle that stretched behind. The walls were decrepit with cracks running down to the grounds. Carrie traced the lines with her finger and rubbed off the dust with her thumb. In a flash, within the bat of an eye, loud screams from Amber and Betty echoed, forcing her to run back to the room instantly.
She dashed to the other side, stopping abruptly to find a gigantic rat sitting on the couch between the two girls. It stared at her for a moment, locking it's basalt eyes with her dark golden ones, then scurried tout de suite between her legs and out the room.
“Oh Mama!” cried Amber jumping out of the couch eventually, putting her arms around Carrie. Little Betty, though her legs failed to support her, crawled on her shapeless knees, trying in vain to get hold of her mother's dirt smudged hem.
“Mama’s here, Mama’s here,” she said, her arms girdled around their waists, holding them close, wrapping them in a tight hug. She patted Amber, drawing circles on her back. Should I really do this? She asked herself twice and the thought of it made her stomach churn. Her chapped lips pressed into a thin line as she slackened her clasp. Hunger began to gnaw her bones and her stomach rumbled like an angry wild dog.
“Where are you going, Mama?” Amber cried, clutching her mother's hand, their fragile fingers entwined. Carrie rubbed her tears with the back of her fist and kneeled down to her height.
“Mama will be right back,” she said, cupping her hands over Amber’s shoulders, “Promise.” She rubbed her little nose with her own forcing a smile on her face. A babbling Betty made sounds of demurral as Carrie made her way out of the room. Amber crouched and stared silently at the damp ivory walls. It looked as if the walls held a mysterious malady within. The air had a scent of decay. The place, a sick innuendo. She just didn't like it.
Carrie didn’t make the slightest of noises as she sidled cautiously near the corner of the cubicle. It sat scooched, fat and fubsy, it’s broad silken spine turned to her, nibbling onto some chunk of food. A short glance of it made it seem like a giant cotton ball of shining black. Oh, even Betty seemed dwarfed!
Carrie rolled up her sleeves and stuck out her tongue. Taking a step back, she ran forward on a wee sprint and vaulted straight on the rat. Her fingers slid through it's heaven-spun coat of fur, one hand struggling to shut it’s muzzle. The rat tried to free itself from her grasp, letting involuntary yelps, shuddering the girls next door.
“Nice to meet you Mr. Rat,” she muttered under her breath, “How about being our ratatouille?” Her hands worked on it’s neck, pressing it’s nose button against the ground, choking it to death. The rat squeaked, turning it’s body over and cocked it’s head, biting Carrie’s first three fingers. Her hands rose up to her face impulsively as she covered her mouth to stifle a shriek. Instantly, the rodent sprang to it’s feet and scampered adeptly into the hole that led to it’s mysterious world underneath. Sucking her bleeding fingers, she turned to catch it’s long pink stippled tail with her other hand, but the rat had escaped already. Her brow burned as she pulled a long deep breath, sending oxygen to her muscles. She rolled into a ball, her bony shoulders heaving as she sobbed silently, striking her forehead and cursing under her clenched teeth.
“Do you have any mercy at all?” she asked, her fingers twisted, staring at the tiled roof. Through the cracked glass skylight, she saw a tiny star rise up in the dreamy curls of the graphite black skies. Just a dainty dot, yet so lucent. The petty light it produced, unveiled the darkness near the hole where the rat had convulsed into. Carrie tilted her head, running her tongue on the cracks of her lips when something caught her eye.
A partly nibbled nugget of fresh cheese lay near it’s edge, shaking doubtfully, whether or not to fall into the hole. A small tear trickled down her sick purple socket and a leaden smile spread on her face as she inched forward to pick it up.
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Rat,” she said, scratching her head, her eyes fixed upon the cheese nugget. Another star rose up near it. Another little dot. Another little glimmer. A glimmer of hope.
Lights. Camera. Action.
1. The Matrix Reloaded
2. Knight and Day
3. LOTR : The Two Towers
4. Django : Unchained
8. Men in Black : International
9. Train to Busan
10. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
1. Jumanji : Welcome to the Jungle
2. Jumanji : The Next Level
3. LOTR : The Fellowship of the Ring
4. The Extrodinary Journey of the Fakir
5. Life of Pi
6. Enola Holmes
7. Sherlock Holmes : A Game of Shadows
8. The Croods
9. Nim’s Island
10. The Peanut Butter Falcon
3. Boss Baby
4. Inside Out
8. Hotel Transylvania
1. The Personal History of David Copperfield
2. The Truman Show
3. Bedtime Stories
4. Murder Mystery
5. What happens in Vegas
7. Grownups 2
8. 50 First Days
9. Meet the Spartans
1. The Shawshank Redemption
2. The Pursuit of Happyness
3. Forrest Gump
4. A Time To Kill
5. The Imitation Game
6. Little Women
7. Downtown Abbey
8. My Week With Marilyn
10. Catch Me If You Can
2. LOTR : Return of the King
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
8. Beauty and The Beast
9. The BFG
10. Jack the Giant Slayer
3. Jojo Rabbit
5. The Pianist
6. Hawksaw Ridge
7. Saving Private Ryan
9. Mary Queen of Scots
10. The King
1. Mary Poppins
2. The Sound of Music
3. August Rush
4. The Lion King
5. Bohemian Rhapsody
6. La La Land
7. The Greatest Showman
10. Saving Mr. Banks
2. The Shape of Water
3. Pride & Prejudice
4. The Theory of Everything
5. Marriage Story
6. Kate & Leopold
8. Falling Inn Love
9. Jerry Maguire
10. She’s the Man
1. The Matrix
6. The Vast of Night
8. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
9. The Host
1. The Godfather
2. The Prestige
4. The Courier
5. The Departed
6. Gone Girl
7. Fight Club
9. Uncut Gems
10. The Devil All The Time
A few movies (very few) in the list are actually recommended by my brother. So yes, I’ll get back here once I’m done watching them :)
The sound of a hundred birds wafted slowly in the air as the sun rose gently from far behind the distant mountains. They flapped their wings, singing a sweet lullaby and moving in choreographed melody, their feathery plume shimmering in the arching rays. The benign breeze swept over the somnolent springy turf and skimmed through the waves of the river. Darkness surrendered to the verdant hues of gold and a brilliant blue loomed in the skies like a bizarre sorcery. The birds disappeared into the clouds, their calls fading away adagio.
Tranquil waves kissed his feet as he sat on the pier, mesmerised by the mellow crack of the dawn.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he said to his daughter who sat next to him on the dock. “You know what, Grace?” he said, his eyes averting from the ether, “this reminds me of the day when you were born.” His cheeks welcomed a warm smile as his grey cataract eyes filled slowly. Wrinkles adorned his face like layers of clean muslin. His hair wasn’t combed, his face wasn’t shaved and his clothes were all puckered. He had a visage that had seen more of youth than age.
“It happened at this hour,” he said drawing his breath “in the dulcet December, when the indolent sun rose late, and dawn lined the horizon in faint yellow. You never troubled your mother even then.” He let out a chuckle and turned towards Grace. He wished she would say something but she remained silent, like a sundial in the shade.
“Have you noticed the sparks of sienna fires that burst and flew up when blown?” he smiled “That’s how your eyes were when you first opened them. Your hair was a shade of taupe brown, just like your mother. Oh, Grace, I have never seen her happier.” He rubbed the side of his cheek with the back of his fingers.
“It is odd, is it not?” he sighed “how fast time flies, how swift things happen.” He paused to draw a breath, trying in vain to control his tears that rolled down his cheeks effortlessly.
“I know it’s going to be a beautiful place,” he wrapped his arms around her and held her tight for one last time. “You’ll get to see your mother,” he bit his lip and shut his eyes tight as they waded towards the shadows of the willows. Tears squelched on his lashes when he opened them. It wasn’t dawn anymore; perhaps it will never be, he thought.
Sitting on his knees, he opened the urn, scattering her ashes into the river. They seeped through the water and vanished in seconds. He longed for someone to cradle him into their arms as he broke into hysterical tears.
“I’ll meet you there, Grace” he gave out a sigh, almost a whisper, barely emotionless. He brought his legs close to his chest as a warm pallor spread on his face. A vacant expression fathomed to be a smile took shape on his face as the word escaped from his mouth—“Sayonara.”
It is odd, is it not? How fast time flies, how swift things happen.
The Power of Greed
I wonder how people, though foolish or wise,
Can easily succumb to evil and vice
Cherished, praised and admired, they may be,
But greed has surpassed every man, you see.
A sleepless malice sweeps through their minds,
Dreams of avarice in their forehead lines
Money, power, pleasure and lechery
What more can a mind think, that is full of treachery?
But someday they will be trapped in the web of deceit,
When their wealth won’t help to pay a forfeit
But still they’ll stand, looking back at the door,
Always, always, wanting more
Such is the power, the power of greed,
No matter what you say, they will never give heed
It has killed not dozens, but a billion lives,
Of course, you can try, but it always thrives.
So listen, my kin, come what may,
To the evil eye of greed, don’t you fall prey!
For greed is nothing, but a dismal den,
Once got in, you’ll never find you back again.
“Greg?” called Odette, knocking on the half bathroom door. Taking his wife into his arms he slowly walked her out of the hotel’s lavatory. There was a broken window and glass splinters beside the doorway that caught both their eyes.
“It’s the gale,” said the cleaning woman who sat crouched, picking up the shards of glass, “it’s heading towards Stratford.” Odette slowly touched her belly and smiled subconsciously. Every time her baby kicked, she felt a resurgent joy flowing through her veins. Placing his arm around her shoulder, Greg slowly escorted her back to their room.
“It’s time we leave,” said Odette, kissing her belly. Greg stood staring at all those windows that were broken. For some reason, he didn’t want to leave.
“You heard that the storm is heading towards Stratford,” he knelt down to feel his child, “should we leave? Why can’t we stay here for a few more days? After all, you need some rest.”
It was Odette’s eighth month. Greg had promised to take her around the world to celebrate their sacred gift from heaven. Their journey would come to an end once they reach home at Stratford. But he had observed that Odette’s health was getting progressively worse with every passing day. At nights he had seen her sobbing in pain. Terror was haunting him everyday and he didn’t have the caliber to combat it. He loved Odette and he didn’t want to lose her.
“We have survived a dozen storms. We endured the famines in India and the volcano eruption in Africa. We have seen floods, landslides, tornadoes and toxic algal blooms in this long journey. We did them all, ’cause we had faith; we did them all with God. This is nothing but a little storm. And why should I be afraid when this little man is creating storms and cyclones inside me! Have faith, darling. We have started it and I won’t stop without ending it,” Odette gently touched his chiseled face. He had the kind of phiz that stopped you in your tracks. Of course, he was handsome to every eye and heart, but deep inside he was much more beautiful.
“Have you ever answered my questions with a yes?” he asked, to which both of them laughed. It was time to pack things up. Their train was to come in half an hour. And their journey would end there; their first long journey together as a trio.
The Greater Anglia train arrived right in time and they waved goodbye to the beautiful city of Northumberland.
“The Met Office has predicted that cities like Stratford, Kitchener, Hamilton and Brampton will witness heavy rains with a wind speed of 60-70 kilometres per hour. Meteorologists have warned that a similar thunderstorm-like condition that ensued in Toronto the previous day, can be expected in parts of Stratford...,” the newscaster on the television announced. Every time she spoke, Greg’s mind translated, Don’t go to Stratford! Don’t go to Stratford! He dug his fingernails in his arms and bit his lower lip. Odette knew that his mind was in a turmoil. She slowly reached his hands and held onto his fingers. She wasn’t merely holding his hands but their fingers were intertwined.
“Have faith,” she whispered those words of comfort, though she herself was going through a hurricane inside.
Gusty winds welcomed them when they reached Stratford. In fact, they seemed to be the only people to have taken the train. They were finally home after the two hundred and forty three day vacation. Greg tried to call for a cab to take them home, but Odette stopped him. Her bony face looked pale and her eyes had sunken deep into their sockets. Some cry out in pain, some throb in hurt, but this was the problem with Odette; she did nothing at all. Her body shriveled as though she was ready to return to the soil.
“I-I think, we should go to the hospital first,” she said, as her soma went numb. The skies grew darker and a rolling lightning flashed through the carpet above. It was followed by an ear piercing thunder that reverberated throughout the station walls. Carrying his dying wife in his arms, he ran over the damp earth where the worms had surfaced to breathe. The rains had already started pouring and he ran as fast as his legs could take. Even after living in Stratford for twenty years, he couldn’t think of the nearest hospital.
“Jesus!” he cried and turned his head to find a building with a red cross. He laid down his immobile wife in a stretcher and a few nurses came running towards him. They wheeled her into the casualty ward, asking him to stay back in the waiting room.
“We have to do the surgery, else both their lives will be in great peril,” Greg heard the doctor’s words as he put his ear against the door. Running out of the hospital, he made a loud wild scream. He felt like tumbling into a dark seemingly endless chasm called agony, going down, down, down and dwindling to an atom. He felt like falling into the dark abyss for hours when suddenly the rains paused. Loud cries of a newborn baby filled the air.
Greg found himself standing on his knees on the crumbling road of tarmac. The sky that was dark and cloudy seconds ago was now fully clear and a scorching sun appeared as if it had come all the way to dry his soggy clothes.
“Gregory Miller?” a woman from the front desk came calling his name. He ran into the doctor’s room, water dribbling from his wet clothes.
“Dr. Diane Jones,” read the wooden name plate. The look in her eyes was more than enough for him to perceive that his treasures were in right hands. Her silver hair was in a tight bun, not a strand out of place. Kind words were all that came out from her mouth. He felt quite odd to be treated so much like a child, yet he listened to every word she spoke.
“Odette is perfectly fine and has gained consciousness. It surprises me how she made no sound at all,” said the doctor, with a gentle smile plastered on her face.
“Can-can I meet them?” Greg asked at last.
“Oh, yes—” the doctor began, but before she could complete, Greg rushed out of the room and went to find his wife and child. In a flash, he entered room 28 and led himself inside the doorway.
There was whiteness all over the place; white walls, white sheets, fluorescent tubes and lace drapes. Odette lay on the little bed, tucked inside a blanket. Her arms were covered in tubes and the paleness had disappeared. She glowed like a new primrose, so ethereal, so delicate, so new.
“She has your eyes!” Odette chuckled as she slowly traced her fingers over his brows. Greg remained silent for a minute and all at once his face buckled and tears streamed down his cheeks. He kissed her fingers and whispered words of love. He knew how excruciating it must have been for her.
“The struggle was really hard, Greg,” she said, “seconds stretched into infinity; I don’t know how long the process really took. I prayed, prayed for the agony to subside. But it only grew more intense. I don’t think anything could be more brutal. Yet, I had faith. And all of a sudden, I felt like the world was put on a pause. Muted scenes flashed through my mind. And in a quick moment, like flowers opened for spring, I saw the most beautiful thing before my eyes in the whole wide world, Greg! It felt like a glimmer of light passing through a soul that had seen nothing but dark shadows. Go! Go take a look at the angel you have brought to the world!” sweet tears of joy rolled down her cheeks like an endless stream of emotions. Greg rose from his bed, making himself ready to let happiness soak through his bones.
A silver cradle was attached to Odette’s mattress where a cute, distinct form of an angel laid pampered in the finest linen. Her nascent eyes glowed with the warmth of an everlasting hearth. Greg slid his little finger into her palm and watched her slowly curl around it. He held in his hands, the greatest gift God can bestow; a parcel, packed and delivered freshly from heaven.
One of the little girl’s fingers got hold of his sleeve. For an instant he felt like a new sunshine was passing through his veins. But as he turned back, he found a little spark in his blouse that grew into flames. Placing the child back in the cradle, he rapidly used his hands to put out the fire. Odette was taken aback. The two slowly turned towards their baby. A new layer of ice started growing in the metal bars of the cradle where she held her hands. Greg and Odette stood awestruck at those unnatural things that happened right before their eyes. She was no ordinary child. She played with the water and wind like snakes and ladders. Odette was appalled that something bad might befall her daughter, but Greg was enjoying the little sprog’s tricks.
“So Millers, have you decided your baby’s name?” a familiar voice came out of the blue. It was Dr. Jones. They wondered how long she had been standing there.
Long before their baby was born, Odette had talked about George and Georgia while Greg went on with Oliver and Olivia. But relishing in this moment of felicity, they didn’t give a second thought about deciding their child’s moniker.
The young couple looked at each other. It was as if they could read their minds by simply looking into their eyes. After a long pause of complete silence, they put forth, together, the most beautiful name anyone could give their child — Faith.