Funny but memorable

Conversation

You must be Clara,” a woman says when she approaches the main desk in the middle of the library. She has wispy salt and pepper bangs and a lined face, very thin.

Clara nods her head in response.

“ Welcome to our library,” She shakes her hands. “ I’m Jennifer, director of this library. I am glad that now you will be an important part of our library. “ Come, I will show you everything. Clara follows ms. Jennifer.

“You will be in charge of the circulation desk, but usually you also collect late fees, take care of the frisky printer, check in the books. Remember, always assist our patrons with a big smile.”

“Thank You, I will.” Clara steps in behind the desk and grabs the edge of the mental cart for support. Today is her first day in this job. At the end of the day, the director says, “Don’t forget to wear a Halloween costume tomorrow. It is storytime for the children.”

Next day, Clara finds a long white gown in her mom’s closet and decides to wear that. Instead of a tight bun, she keeps her hair loose. She glances herself in the mirror one last time. It is perfect, she resembles Emily Dickinson.

When she walks into the library, Jennifer looks at her. “Oh dear, did you wake up late?”

“ No, Clara says. “ Usually, I wake up very early.”

Jennifer frowns. “Why are you wearing a nightgown? Did you forget to wear a costume?”

“ This is my costume.” Clara replies and glances at her own white dress to check if anything wrong with that.

“Are you the pop singer Lady Gaga?”

“ No, no, she smiles. “I’m Emily Dickinson.”

“The poet!” Jennifer adjusts her eye-glass on her small nose and tries to check the costume again.

“Yeah.” She still tries to figure it out.

“Towards the end of her life, Dickinson was kind of hermit and only wore white.”

“Huh.” Jennifer turns her attention to the paperwork.

Around one fifteen, Jennifer comes running to Clara’s desk.

“Ian isn’t coming in today.” She gasps for air. “You’ll have to do the storytime for the kids.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“But, I’ve never done this before, Clara says,her head spinning.

Jennifer frowns. “ It is easy, just pick up a few Halloween story books for the children, read the stories, sing one or two songs and at the end give them the candies. It will be over is thirty minutes.”

“Sing songs?” This is getting worse by the second.

Clara grabs the story books from the book rack, a special Halloween display, picks up the big  ceramic candy bowl and runs to the kid’s section.

Clara steps in to the overly decorated children’s room and smiles at the kids. Her heart stops to gallop.

One small girl in a Medieval princess costume stares at her.

“Did you forget to comb your hair this morning?”

“She is the girl from a TV serial.” Her mother says to her daughter.

“She’s not, her daughter says, rolling her eyes. “She’s lady Gaga.”

Clara shakes her head. “No..I..” Her cheeks flares up.

“Lady Gaga doesn’t wears pajamas,” a tiny voice says, cutting her off. “ I think it is the pirate.” A boy in Star War Yoda costume comes forward.

Another boy in a Spiderman costume walks towards Clara. “She is the ghost of  Christmas past?”

All the sixteen kids turn back to stare at Clara. Clara shifts herself in a small chair. This is much worse than she anticipated. She takes a deep breath and claps her hands together.

“ Let me sing a beautiful song before I proceed to a wonderful ghost story.” She offers them her friendliest smile. The kids lean forward on their seats. Parents take a deep breath.

“Hope- Hope is the thing with feathers.

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without words..” The poem hangs in the air and the kids just stare, silent.

“Are you a ..bird?”

“Hush,one of the parent asks the boy to be silent.

Clara glances around at the tiny faces. She guesses they’re a little young for this type of poem. “Okay let’s get started. I will read you the story of White dog.” She holds up the book.

The air erupts in cheers and shouts.

A Dark Fear

1984      (You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear.)

An autumn leaf, very crisp, falls  somewhere in the dark. It is the last saturday in one October. Just after midnight I return home. Framed through the hall door, I see the familiar stage where my father is sitting on  the sofa  holding a newspaper but reading the empty spaces, close to him is my mother flips through a magazine and hums like a tea-kettle. Mostly it happens if I come late. There is a strict rule for the house is that you have to return home before midnight. And tonight I have broken that rule and anxious for the consequences. As I tiptoe into the room and cross it, my father hears either my footsteps or the clinking sounds of my glass bangles, he turns his head. He lifts a gray, slightly worried gazt through his eyeglass. “ You are home! Do you know the time? It is after midnight. You are supposed to return before twelve.”

My eyes float uncomfortably not knowing where to look and I reply in a nervous tone. “ I went to the haunted house with my friends and forgot to check the time. Sorry dad.”

My voice fades away towards the end of the sentence. Immediately my mother opens a knowing smile like a lightening. “Today is Halloween and all the children are having fun.”

My father’s voice deep like a Congo drum booms. “ No it is not right, go to your room and stay there until morning.”

My mom’s tries to convince my dad with the voice like water-bright Soprano in a choir. “Do not be so harsh, she is just a teenager!”  My mother walks with me to the hall. She looks at me with sympathy and says warmly. “Go eat something before you go to your room. We will talk in the morning. Good night.”

I am not hungry so I drag my feet to my room and go straight to bed.

The night around is chill. It is vibrant with tension and fear.

In the middle of the night, I hear a rustle, like a Japanese paper lantern drops in the dust. I open my eyes to see but it is pitch dark. I sit up on the bed, switch on the small lamp that sits right to my bed. I look around. There on the floor It is crawling with its long spiny hairy legs. It is coming towards me. Its wings are licorice black with small bright eyes.My eyes flexed wide as from blasts of photographhic powder, sits staring at itwith mouth half-open. It comes a little closer to the bedpost. My heart beat is super fast, then slow, incredibly fast like I am in a roller coaster, then again slow as the moon going down the sky on a winter night.I close my eyes and suck my breath like iron popsicle. The room is cold as a caveron the one I visited with my parents, on our way to New Mexico. I sink back towards the wall biting my lips. After a few second I open my eyes slowly and look down. It is rustling with its long antennas and slowly opening its wings. Fear overtakes me. I turn and bury my face in the pillow. My eyes are mummified shut, long nose is collapsed, mouth is like thin wax.

Inside my brain flashes the brave stories of princess that I heard from my grandmother when I was a small child. Do not let fear take over you, always be brave and fight back. Yes, sure I can do it. I am brave. I opens my eyes slowly and look down. It is now on the bed post. I take a big gulp of air and held it to push back at the fear. Then  I scream.

The bedroom door opens. My dad walks in. “Are you Ok?’’

I jump from the bed, leap forward and  run towards him as fast as I can. “ ….Yes…” I answer in a whisper.

My father hits switch, looks around and sighs. “ It is cockroach! You should not be afraid to this little cockroaches. Be brave.”

“But dad, it is almost 15mm long! I will try my best to be brave, but not today.” I leave quickly to my parent’s bedroom.

Transformation

Masks Off
Writing Prompt: We’re less than a week away from Halloween! If you had to design a costume that channeled your true, innermost self, what would that costume look like?

This is a magical time when everybody is poised between excitement and anticipation.  Annabel closes her book, stretches her arms above her head. She adjusts her glass and looks outside through the window of her living room. The overcast morning has settled into a beautiful evening. The front yards of the houses are decorated with pumpkins, silly witches, skeletons, goblins.  Then she turns her head to look at the excited parents and their children discussing on costumes. The word ‘Costume’ is always mysterious. It brings a sudden transformation on a person.

Annabel looks at the Halloween party invitations lying on the coffee table. Then she leans her elbow on the table and thinks that if it is really worth spending money on a costume which is not to her taste. Annabel works in the oil industry, involves herself in lots of charity organizations, donates money and always attends different charity functions.  Her drawback is her quiet and shy nature, and her voice is not strong enough to bring a distinct change. But now in this Halloween she wants something different, something unique. She wants to bring out her own self.

She wants to be just like Florence Kelly, be strong, brave, out spoken and a social reformer- will bring justice to the underage poor children around the world. She wants to stop the child labor. Now there are 215 million children are at work today, more than half of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labor such as work in hazardous environment, slavery, forced labor as well as prostitution, involvement in armed conflict. Even under age children works in sweat shops, textile industries, in cotton plants. Annabel wants to give the children a chance to live, to breath , to enjoy the beautiful earth, by  providing  the children proper education, clothes, food and shelter.

On this Halloween, she will be her own self. She will be a real fighter, and will fight for justice. She walks into her closet and looks around for a dress or a cloth to make her own costume.  Then she smiles and pulls out an Orange stripe cloth to make a long dress and a small blue jacket to go on the top. Annabel stands in front of the mirror on the closet door, and stares at her own reflection. She blinks her eye and notices a strong, a brave super woman. Her eyes start to sparkle and a beautiful glow shows on her face. Annabel can feel the real excitement in the air, the thrill and the power.