Stand Tall

Blossom

One bright Saturday morning, just after breakfast Isaac drives to a nearby mall in a rundown car with his father. He sits in the front seat, behind the rustiest door. It is fun to drive with his dad. He loves how the tires float sideways in the wet road or when his dad honks the horn. It sounds like the Sesame street blue monster bopping its nose. The mall is full of people and on each door of the store it says “Don’t miss the Father’s day sale”. He takes a sip from the  grape juice bottle as his dad takes him to the glass elevator. “ So dad, I wonder if all these people are buying gifts for their dad. If you say yes, then I should buy something for you. Right?”

Isaac’s father pulls him to one safe corner inside the elevator and adjusts the small front pocket on his son’s faded blue t-shirt. “ May be they are shopping for father’s day or they may be going to watch movie. Remember the school is out for summer. But you do not have to worry on that. We are here to enjoy our day together and that is the best gift.”

“ I agree dad.”  He concentrates on his ride in the elevator with glass walls. He feels as if he sails into the enormous blue sky like Superman. Below him, all the people has turned into moving dots.He feels tall and brave.The elevator stops and as he pushes himself out his father stops him from behind. “ Isaac! Wait for your turn. I always remind you to follow the Rules. Rules are extremely important and more exact the better.”
“ Sorry dad.”

After the mall, they visit a friend’s house who lives in a few blocks from the mall. Their house resembles a stack of beige rectangles. The rectangles are brick and they glistened after it rains. Though they look delicious, he is not supposed to taste them.That is the rule. Sometimes when he gets crazy, he licks the wall. His friend calls him retarded and his dad abruptly pulls the chair back. “ He is tired from the long hours in the mall that is all. I better take him home.”  They return home quietly; his father concentrates on the wheel and Isaac looks at the puffy white clouds and the tiny birds up in the sky.

Around six in the evening Isaac plays with his bright yellow toy train on the front porch, while his father reads a newspaper sitting on the stair. The battery of the train stops working and his toy train stops in the middle of the first round.Issac kicks the train and it hits the wall and flips. He tries hard to fix it but could not. His father closes the newspaper and looks at him.
“ Don’t be so harsh on others.”

“ Sorry dad, it will not happen again, but at the same time I do not like the way the train behaves!”

“ Have a little patience!” He sits with Isaac and helps him putting the pieces together with lots of patience. 

After dinner Isaac brings out all his rocks from a big plastic box, and spreads them on the floor. This his collection from all the national parks that he has visited with his father.Once a week, he washes and dries his rocks. Sometimes he colors them to make them brighter and happier. He feels himself as the Superman of the lifeless objects.

At the second week of August, Issac starts the middle school. His Psychiatrist has guaranteed that he is normal now.In last visit, the psychiatrist, a tall, skinny, gray-haired man Dr.Robertson asked him. “ Do you want to draw a road runner looking at the picture, while I do the tests? Or you can color it. Whichever one you like. Go ahead.”

Isaac did, he is good with eyes but with bodies! Not that much. His road runner looks like feather duster attached to a gardening rake. And now he goes to school. In the school playground he meets his old school friend Ron. He always boss him around or clearly bullies him; he kicks his desk, snaps his pencil in two, sometimes eats his lunch, bumps him from behind in the recess line. But Isaac does not how to respond so he stays quiet, does not say a word.

That afternoon it rains. The parking lot reflects the sky from a thousand puddles. His father comes to pick him after school. As Isaac walks into the house, he notices that the brick of his house is dyed dark with water. They are stacked together like crispy double vanilla sugar wafers. But he does not want to lick the brick anymore. He follows dad’s rule; no tasting the bricks. That night before, bed Issac draws a spectacular rainbow with his father, sitting on the wooden floor of the living room. And the rainbow has only his favorite colors; Blue, orange and yellow.He dreams he is riding the glass elevator into the space. The earth disappears beneath  the clouds and a billion stars. His dad says, “ You are a superhero, do you know that? “ A big  delightful smile beams on Isaac’s face.

It is a cloudless day in early summer. A few cardinals are chasing each other in the back yard through the magnolia branches. A gray squirrel is busy eating nuts. Isaac sits close to the big glass window in the dining room and eats his lucky charms in a bowl of milk.He could see the planes drawing white chalk lines in the sky. After the school, his father looks at his tired face and bruises on his hand. “ Is it Ron?”

Isaac does not reply.

“ It is time I would like to teach you how to defend yourself, son!”

The wind is moving across the yard, swirling. The leaves on the grass are all glossy and speckled. They keep lifting onto their edges then slowly toppling over. That is when his father starts to teach him to punch,how to do back kick and front kick.

Next day the a substitute teacher comes to the class; a tall, skinny young man. He allows the class to vote on everything instead of taking his own decision: “ What would you like to study next: science or history? All in favor of eating in class, raise your arms.” It is a mess. No One listens to him. As the substitute teacher leaves the classroom for lunch, the students end up eating in the class except Isaac. As Isaac opens his lunch box, Ron comes, snatches his sandwich. It falls on the floor. The whole class turn and watch but no one says a thing. During recess in the late afternoon, Isaac spots Ron on a tower. He approaches the tower and climbs the ladder. It seems as if he is riding the glass elevator. He feels tall and powerful, he rises into the clear blue sky like a superhero.Ron stands at the platform’s open edge. Isaac runs towards him and shoves him. His body hits the ground, nothing happens except a few bruises. But the principal punishes him with weeks of suspension. During the car ride from school,his father drives quietly. Isaac turns his face towards him. “It may be very wrong dad, but I had to do this. He bullies me all the time and it hurts me. I am trying to stand for myself.”

 

unique

Lukewarm

There are large blank patches in her memory that shift locale daily, unpredictably. Every morning when Hope wakes, she remembers something that the day before she has been unable to recall her house number, phone number or the name of the book. Then an hour or two later she notices a batch of new blanks she can not remember her social security number, the name of a few mysterious vegetables in her refrigerator.She has been told by her doctor so many times to let her family know that but she does not care much.A nurse visits her every morning.Although she does not expect the day to play out like this.Around nine in the morning, nurse Jena enters to her room without knocking. She draws back the white curtains and the sunlight floods the room. From her bed Hope glances the sloping meadow, the pretty pond, the waterside houses and her irritation passes.

“Let’s check the vitals,” Jena says. “ Get ready to take a walk in the garden.” She is an abrupt, oval-faced woman with graying wavy hair. She treats her like a small girl who Hope does not like at all. But sometimes she likes Jena’s crisp personality and her bark of laugh when she resists her attempts to get her up or make her follow a strict diet or to drink eight glasses of water in a day.

Hope has been told by her surgeon not to live alone after the heart transplant.The residue of  painkillers and anesthesia lives for six to seven months. Her insurance covers some, but not much. Now that the new president in office, he wants to repel the one health care that she has  but not sure what will happen in future. Hope is stubborn to depend on others.

The doctor has called dozens of times since the surgery about her heart. But Hope is tired to talk to anyone.

Awake. The pulsing cry of doves. Hope cranks the shutters open. She takes the coffee mug from the drain basket, sets the water boiling.She lapses into thought, as she stretches her legs, pushing the chair back against the wall.Today she should return the call.

“ Hello doctor! You tried to reach me?” Hope asks running her hand through her hair very lightly, just once.

“ How are you feeling Hope? Yes, I tried to reach you several times because the mother who donated her deceased daughter’s heart wants to meet you.”

They are both silent for a moment.

“ She wants to meet me! But I am not sure if I can handle that doctor.” Hope places her right hand onto her heart and feels its sturdy beat.It belongs to the young girl who died in the car accident.“I guess I owe her a lot, right? I mean she is the one who made the decision to donate her daughter’s organ. Well, sure doctor I will go for a short visit.” A pause fills her chest.

“ Thank you Hope.This will be better for both of you.”

It is lovely day, the sky is bleached turquoise color. The meeting is set on the top of a hill,close to a small white church. Hope stands steadily for a few seconds, then squares her shoulders and slowly walks up to the top of a hill breathing hard, leaning heavily on her cane, her heart pounding. There the woman stands in a white dress.Young enough to be her daughter, Hope thinks. Short wisps of brown hair crosses her forehead, no makeup or any jewelry. She extends her right arm. “ I am Alexis,thank you for agreeing to meet me. I am so sorry that you have to walk all the way up.”

“ It is fine,I need some exercise too.” Hope says with a small smile. “ It is so thoughtful of you to make this decision.”

“ My daughter was very close to my heart. It was very difficult for me to leave without her.” She looks up to meet Hope’s eyes. “ I want to listen to her and feel her. That is the reason I want to meet you.”Alexis walks closer. She leans her face forward towards Hope’s chest and closes her eyes. She listens to her daughter’s heart.Tears run down on her cheek.They stand there for a long time holding each other.

Twists of Fate

Unseen

It is the weekend after the Spring break. Emmylou and her father are having breakfast. She probably should sit facing her father and not the window so he would not have to compete with the diversions outside a few kids riding their bikes, an older woman is playing with her tiny Affenpinscher dog in her front yard, the construction that is going on at the end of the cul-de-sac, two squirrels scampering through the trees. They would have to wait  for her father to finish talking about miracles.

Her father believes in those things and in grand schemes God, religion and her.A few years ago, in November, Emmylou had a car accident. There had been intermittent  freezing rain, her car slipped and hit a truck.

Her father asks taking a sip from his hot coffee. “It is unbelievable! And I am thankful to God for protecting you.” He continues, “ There is one woman runs a wildlife charity, would you like to volunteer there? Try, you may like it.” He hands her a newspaper classified.

Emmylou has made it through high school and one year of college before the car accident. She is that kid, who moves sideways, lags behind, forgets her buddy in the partner system and loses the group. She has read a report from neuropsychologist that her executive function is severely impaired due to frontal-lobe injury.

“ So,” her father says. “ Are you ready for the interview?”

Emmylou takes a long deep breath and takes a sip from her herbal tea. Art and crafts she could do well or if she could find a job that allows her to play all day, that could have been perfect. The job search has been an integral piece of their morning routine for last two years. It is a complex exchange full of limited expectations, consistent disappointment.

Her father kisses the crown of her forehead on his way out and she watches his car fades beyond the driveway.

Emmylou walks into the kitchen.On the stainless steel refrigerator door there are a few faded magnets of wonder woman, ‘ I can do it’ and ‘Believe in yourself’ that her mother made infused with her strong believes. She passed away in cancer leaving Emmylou. Emmylou misses her mother her love and the time that they spent together.She wiped her tears and  looks to the other side of the refrigerator door.There is a long note from her father.

1.Take pills.  Pills to stabilize her mood, even if each one has a side effect that thins her hair and slows her metabolism.

  1. Feed Angel.  Angel is her cat. She is eleven years old tabby, has a shiny coat,mild arrogance, lots of stubbornness and a huge appetite.
  2. Shower and dress.  Clearly later. May be she could go back to sleep again or after one more cup of herbal tea.
  3. Find clothes for the interview.  Emmylou walks into her room. Clothes are everywhere spilling from the closet, exploding out of the chest of drawers, on the floor mingled with cat hair and dust.Folding requires fine motor skills and she does not have them. Her hands are weak and she can not fold them properly. She finds one black skirt in the back of the closet and one blue silk blouse which need ironing. She has to wait on that.
  4. Think about cleaning your room.Really!!

Emmylou looks around. Reams of papers are scattered everywhere, used art supplies on the desks. By the end of week her room is a colossal accumulation of socks, broken pencils, books and magazines.Every cleaning crew that her father has ever sent over, refused to work unless she could first get her room into “ manageable” shape, a concept which she does not know. “Sure I will try cleaning the room but in my way.” Emmylou mumbles.

The rest of the day goes fine. After shower,she watches a documentary on elephants,on polar bears, on climate change. Then she sits by the window sill and watches outside A spotted squirrel focuses on an acorn. Emmylou grabs her sketch pad.The squirrel is holding the nut in his tiny hands, gnawing on it pieces by pieces. She imagines his determination which pulses through her pencil creatively. She is almost done with her picture when her dad returns home.

Today her father has brought Chinese food for dinner so that they do not have to cook. He hands her a fortune cookie from the bag. “Open it.”

Emmylou opens it. “ Door will be opening for you.” it says.

“You see?” her dad says with a big grin. “ You never know what life will bring.”

Emmylou rolls her eyes. “You are taking a fortune cookie to heart?”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he says. “ The cookie knows.Tomorrow we will go together to the nature center, you will feed the ducks and approach the owner for the interview. And the door will open for you. You love to take care of the animals and this will be a perfect opportunity for you.” There is confidence in his voice and Emmylou is excited.

New Year

Year

It is almost midnight. Daphne pulls out her journal, not the old one but a brand new one in shiny cover. A precious Christmas gift from her daughter. In that journal every page starts with a unique quotes. Yes, this is perfect! She opens the first page to write her New Year’s resolutions. The whole situation plays like a movie. Imagine that you are the main character either in a movie or in a book and you wish to do some things. Suddenly towards the end of the story boom!All your wishes are granted. Just like that Daphne smiles as she starts to write the resolutions one after another and feels as if they are almost in her fingertips. It is no doubt that she is very determined and she may be successful. She pauses, her fingers caress her pointed chin,and then opens the old journal. There is a heavy sigh. She checks all her last year’s goals – she has achieved some of her resolutions in writing posts on refugee crisis, on women’s issues and on poverty.Then she wanted to do more volunteer work which she has not done in this year. The other important aspect is her health.Well, she goes to the gym regularly which is perfect although she ends up in the classes like kickboxing, RIPP instead of yoga or spinning. Daphne is head strong but her weakness is the sweet. This Christmas she went to the store to buy gifts. She had the list but strange thing happens as she steps into the store, mostly in the aisle with chocolates and cookies. So that day she returned with gifts and two big boxes of chocolates. She nodded her head in disbelief and the chocolate lasted only for a week At the end of the week the boxes were neat and clean like brand new boxes and ready to be recycled.The exercise will help you thirty percent but diet is the other seventy percent to be healthy that is her  doctor’s prescription. 

Daphne stops writing and leans against the cushion. There is silence in the room and it is so quiet that you can hear the hum of the refrigerator. A sudden brightness flashes on her face.  “Not to worry.”She adjusts herself on the chair more comfortably and opens the new journal again. “ I will start all over again.This year I will not get any sweets, sign up for more volunteer program and practice mindful meditation.” A big challenging smile plays on her lips. 

Daphne stretches her legs, then crosses her legs and opens the new journal.As she bends down to write the inner window in her mind pops open. “ Are you sure that your goals are realistic? You do not want to write them and forget as the days pass by. Are you??”

A deep sigh again. She sits with both elbows on the desk, rubs her forehead and sits with both hands on each side of her face.

Making resolutions at the start of the New Year is like the season for orange or blue berry. Everyday would be filled with false starts and high ambitions. She might even make a lots of progress towards the goal but ultimately she would always give up before reaching the goal. Daphne has a high hope that everything will turn around perfect in this year. She has to do something different. The entire New year resolution phenomenon essentially boils down to habit-making and habits are built over time. Her job is to contribute a bit each and every day until the habits are built. Daphne sits straight. Now her face is brightly illuminated with a strong hope and determination.

resolutio1

Wishing on a star

Hopeful

A little girl is shouldering through the crowds.She walks in the middle of all the legs, luggage’s and lots and lots of children. Her heart beats like a tambourine under her ribs, tight and loud.The crowd follow their paths pushing and pulling around her,paying no attention at all. Her breath comes in short breaths like Carter’s horse and she feels tired. She is in the crowd but alone. The air smells of sweaty fear.Just at the corner of a pile of rocks, her memory bag slips and falls into the ground from her shoulder. A lots of happy memories are there; lots of from her home, her friends, her parents. But also the sad and scary memories of running around with her mother, hiding in cramped spaces,  squeezing the bodies and holding each other.The memory of hunger; it grew insatiably; her mouth began to expand, its roof rose to the top of her skull then the whole head was racked with pain. Some people ate grass and garbage and she just drew her tongue and chewed on nothing. She fights the urge to reach down and touch them. But she stops.

“ Sara! Sara!, wake up!”

Sara opens her eyes., startled and gasping for air. It is middle of the night. She notices a woman approximately the age of her mother stands close to her bed and observes her closely. “ Tell me dear,are you having bad dreams?” She says with a warm smile. The woman picks up the blanket from the floor and asks, “ Would you like to come outside to the celebration? There are lots of kids of your age to welcome the new year. There will be lots of fireworks too!”

Sara looks outside and then back at the woman’s face. The smile on the lady’s face is wide open, sunny without a doubt that everything will be wonderful again but six years old Sara is doubtful. The rebel army killed her parents, her friends and took away everything that they had. Faith is a distant and a vague word now. She hesitates a little but changes her mind. As Sara climbs down from the bed, the lady takes a quick step and holds her hand.She has lost her right leg in a gunshot during the rebel attack.

Outside of the ten, in the vast open space the fireworks have started. Happiness, excitement and new hopes float in the air.Tonight Sara wants to dream again. She closes her eyes, leaning on a tree. Her prayer for the New Year is something different. “ I want people to be nice, to be respectful and to love each other. I hope for peace, just peace nothing else.”

peace

 

 

 

Image

Solving a dilemma

Conundrum

Olivia and Paul try their best but the house itself start to takes part.

The lamps dismount from their stands at the slightest touch, the glass from the frames start to shatter when anyone walk past them, the air inside the house  has acquired a poisonous residue from the negative things they have said to each other. Now the house is haunted with pain. One could feel it  the minute  one walks in the door.

They sit there on the white sofa unsmiling, neither of them say anything. A little colorless sunlight has forced its way around the neighboring buildings and lay exhausted across the floor.It is so oddly quiet, as if  the house is holding its breath. Both husband and wife are like two becalmed sailing ships carrying sailors from different countries who shout and curse at each other as they drift farther and farther apart. Sometimes they forget the nicest things that they do for each other.

Olivia sails past Paul, then makes a half turn and looks over at him in the gathering dusk with a genuine expression of surprise. An acute observer would detect the presence of rich nature, warm heart, thoughtful intelligent eyes. Olivia twists her wedding ring. This is the man for whom she fought with everyone to marry. Now she should try her best to fix the problem. She would rather find happiness in the quiet of ordinary things; a book, a petal falling from a flower or an extraordinary shape of a rock.

Miracle happens everyday they are rarely tallied. No one keeps the score.

A late afternoon in November. Olivia sits up startled, gasping. Her husband Paul appears at the door. “Is everything okay?” He asks irritably flipping the pages of a book.

Olivia smiles. “ I had a strange dream!”

Paul turns around. “During the afternoon?It is really awkward.’’ Paul glances at the clock. “ It is almost one thirty. You should spend time in your sketch or writing.” He evidently wish to return to his reading.

Olivia murmurs. “ Well, my dream was strange but sweet.She smiles mischievously. “ There is a handsome man in my dream and I would rather enjoy his company.” She hums a few lines of an old romantic Bollywood song and lays back on the bed.

Paul closes the book that he is reading and stares at his wife. “ How absurd and nonsense!. Keep your silly dream to yourself.” He walks out from the bedroom.

Next morning is very delightful.

As Olivia tries to cover the rose bushes from freezing rain Paul walks into the deck. “ Are not you going to work?”

Paul gives Olivia a helping hand and says, “ I have taken off from work to spend some time here.”

Olivia raises her eyebrows and laughs a charming little laugh.

Daring

Daring

Darlene moves back and forth between kitchen island and refrigerator, between stove and the sink with an insatiable energy. Her husband sits at the breakfast table with a I pad, trying to remember which section of the news he has not finished. He hears his wife’s monologue on an instrument.

“ I am trying to read the news,” he points out. But he lifts his eyes from the I pad.

“What is bothering you?”

Darlene wipes her hand on the corner of her tie-dyed blue dress and pulls another chair close to her husband. She looks out of her brown eyes from beneath her long bangs and asks,“ I have agreed to take part in a group performance  in a chapel in this weekend, but not sure if I can really play.” She toys with the music piece on her hand and says, ” I get so nervous in front of people and even I am not musical enough.”

“ Of course you are. Remember how you did not know how to play piano and then after practices you have started to play so nicely.” Her husband says taking one spoonful of oatmeal. “ Just like we used to say to our children Be confident, and you will do fine.”

Darlene is a little shy but stubborn. Her creative mind is always dares to try new things and to achieve the best.She has a clarinet, which responds much more readily to her breath. Sometimes she tends to be panic if any note gets too high. She blushes. Her cheeks suddenly matches the tint of her eyelids and the rose color sinks into her throat. The other day, her friend Andrea, eagerly smiling woman in long bangs, a tangle of gold and turquoise pendants speaks up in her music class. “ I like when you play with so much attention and you are really good at it! Why don’t you join our team?”

Darlene smiles. “ What team? I am a new learner, but I am not sure about a performance.”

Andrea arranges the flute on a wooden box and says. “ You should try. We will perform in front of a small group and we have one long month to practice.”

There is a little concern in Darlene’s eyes. She hesitates and then replies. ” I will let you know and thanks a lot for the suggestion.”

Darlene has made up her mind to play in the music group.

A cold Friday evening in November, the  day of the performance. Scarves, mittens, down coats pile up on the corner in the back room; boots accumulate under it. Cold fingers unfold the steel music stands, chilled mouth pieces are tenderly held in arms. Darlene adjusts her plaid pleated long black skirt and sits on one of the wooden chair. Her slightly protruding brown eyes intent on the sheet music, her nicely shaped thick eyebrows arched in concentration.When all are in place, a fidgety cough and a narrow giggle. Finally they hear “ one, two,three, start.” There is a unified intake of breath and the astounding manifestation. Darlene tries her best to make it perfect.  The concert is a success. There are happy tears on her face. She is proud of her bravery to perform in front of the audience. Infected by the warmth of the audience, the musical group join their sweaty hands and bow.

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Promise to stay

Ghost | The Daily Post

Around midnight Miles wakes up with a start. ‘Either a bad dream or I am thirsty. A glass of water will be good.’ He walks into the kitchen but he stops. A figure is leaning over the dining table and reading a book in dim light. The figure at the table does not move. He never agrees on ghosts. But he used to, yes all the time. His after-world is quite a different affair, a heaven where usually people do not return but he would say with a half-mischievous smile.. “ Only if the person wants to stay and protect the family like an invisible body-guard, then only the person comes back to earth.” He would say switching off the night lamp to scare his wife.

The figure is now bending over the table in a light blue night-shirt or white shirt with flowers. It is hard to tell in a dim light.Her pale face profile outlined against the moonlight.

“Fiona”, he calls , thrilling from head to toe and reaching out with his long arm. “ I am so glad to see you back. I missed you a lot. You should understand that I am not young any more. I need you here with me.”

The figure does not stir. Miles walks uncertainly towards the figure. As he draws near, he finds his shirt over the high-backed chair and his half-opened journal. “ Oh, she is not here.” He runs his hand vaguely through his hair leaning against the wall. “ Where is Fiona? Where can I find her?”

Miles is eighty-two years old and still deeply in love with his wife Fiona.He does not belief that his wife is no longer with him.

On Sunday morning, Miles wakes up with a determination in his eyes. He needs to find Fiona.His worn shirt stirs busily as he walks and his old shoes clumps soundly on the road. He walks to most of the houses in that village and asks for Fiona. But there is no answer.He is an odd figure in the sun and rain, in strange , unexpected places looking for his beloved wife. His dark brown eyes , underscored by purple half circles of exhaustion’ stands out starkly against the yellowish cast of his skin. That night he falls asleep on a wooden park bench. At midnight , the silver moon shines through the dense leaves of the trees and makes a silver pattern at his feet. Miles sees a feeble light dancing lightly before him. He leans forward. “Fiona! Is that you?” No one is there, just the branch of the elm tree that swings faintly in the breeze.

One early evening in November.The first flakes of snow clumped together as they twirl and flutter to the ground. “Fiona loves snow. She will be so delightful!” Miles murmurs picking up a beautiful lilac dress with white laces from Fiona’s room. He hangs the dress on one of the dining chair, and bakes a pie for his wife.  Fiona has a sweet tooth the size of a rhino tusk, blossoms like the desert after rain. Miles smiles as he takes out the pie from the oven.Miles is confident that today his wife will come back to him. He sits on the sofa and waits.Around eleven thirty in the night Miles slowly opens his eyes.He is still on the sofa waiting for Fiona. It is a moon lit night. A bright fierce little moon is shining, dimming the stars, pouring metallic brilliance on the  thin sugary snow that lay on the small lawn. He leans on the glass window to see the moon. There in the back yard, a figure sits on the empty bench. She has a long black skirt, a white v neck shirt and a plaid scarf around her neck. One leg crosses over the other and her foot swings rhythmically. Miles squares his shoulders, twists the doorknob and walks out. There sits Fiona. Her hair parted on the right, has a few silver hairs,while her heart-shaped face tends to be thin. A simple chain dangles around her neck and her finger toys on it. “ Fiona, you are here. I have waited for you.” Fiona raises her simple face and their eyes meet. A delightful smile flashes on Miles face as he slides to the bench and wraps his arms around his wife. “ You should not wait for me Miles.I can not come everyday. You need to let me go.” Fiona says with a quaver smile, touching her husband’s shoulder.

“ I can not live without you and you know that perfectly well.” Miles lays back with his eyes closed. A few soft tears escape from beneath his eyelids. “ I am too old to live by myself. Just stay with me Fiona”

Fiona’s thin lips give a slight twitch, but she makes no reply and merely touches her bracelet.

Now they are both silent, each looked unmindful of the other and yet full of an inward joy at being so close to each other.

ghost

Laminate Surface

Surface

Isa gives her heart-shaped face the briefest of glance in the compact mirror as she steps out from the car. Her face looks normal, just a small hint of anxiety, nothing big.A small smile flashes on her lips as she goes through the security screening and boards the flight. All the happy faces of her family and friends from the other side of the world envelop her mind.

After the long screeching take off ‘It is all right, it will be fine’, Isa has mouthed to herself, hunching against the tug of gravity. But the sensation of imprisonment only tightens as hours drag by. She sits with her hands clasped in front of her, her two forefingers leaning against each other and against her thin pink lips. arches the seat to stretch her stressed back.The plane is not that spacious. She is only 5’2 but there is barely room for her knees. To her right sits a woman whose body spills over the armrest, engrossed in a book. To her left, a young man his head tilts back, pale eyelids down. Isa tries to cross her legs, but there is not much room, so she just crosses her ankles instead. She should have booked the ticket in a new aircraft who boasts to give a luxurious experience.

Isa is on her way to India to attend her youngest cousin brother’s wedding. She tried lots of excuses not to travel. It is almost eleven in the night, before she closes her eyelids a gust of uneasiness blows through her mind. She turns her head towards her husband. “ I do not think it is necessary to visit India now. Instead we can plan to visit Alaska or any other winter hiking place. ”

Her husband replies, “We will plan some hiking trips but this year you should go to India. This is the last wedding in your family and also you can spend some time with my mother.”

Isa sighs. She nods her head.She should. She closes her eyes.

After five hours Isa wrench  the in flight magazine out of its plastic sheath: she scans the articles and briefly distracted by the advertisements. Fatigue swims into her legs. She closes the magazine, takes some slow, deep breath. She peeps through the small egg shape window. Out side is the vast blue sky and the white puffy clouds. When the plane tilts to one side the vast ocean winks at her. ‘ Really there is nothing to worry about’, she tells herself toying with the pearl necklace. ‘people fly all the time’. She heaves a long breath. It is almost seven hours. Her head is hammering. She needs strong Darjeeling tea. Stiff-necked, she stares around  in the dim cabin. Some of the passengers glue to the small TV monitors in front of them and some sleep with a thin grey blankets tucked under their chins.But they look relaxed. Isa pushes her seat back but then jerks upright again.She remembers the ‘ bed’ in Edgar Poe’s story where it says that the bed closes up like a mouth. Isa turns on the tiny TV monitor.

The plane heaves slightly, then it shakes for a while as it bumps into clouds. O’my! It feels like one of its engine has fallen out, now it may spin and smash into the ocean. I even do not know how to swim. And what about my children? Who is going to recommend them as a Hallmark card whether they like it or not. The other day her son told her, ‘ Mom, I am almost thirty. Will you please not worry so much about me”. We have to let the adult children lead their own lives but it is the mother’s heart.

The plane bumps again. Isa closes her eyes and chants all the prayers. Her grandmother used to say, “ Pray in your mind and all the fears will disappear in thin air. Just like a magic.” After a few minutes Isa opens her eyes slowly. Across the aisle, a nun gets up stretching and gives her a little smile. Isa feels absurdly embarrassed. Isa remembers watching the discovery channel on ‘Bird migration’, they spend most of their lives on the wings back and forth, they are not scared at all. She should not.

Next day as the plane starts to descend, Isa feels the pressure builds up in her ears, it is like being underwater that time when she was almost drowned during the swimming lesson. It was really scary. Isa does not surface much of her emotions.The landing is smooth’ the engines roars, the wheels clawed, she jerks forward a little.

At the airport she adjusts her hair, applies a lip gloss and checks her face on the compact mirror..Her face looks calm, the way she wants to project herself. Outside the early evening sky is a tight-fitting grey cap,the street is thick with bodies and at the exit gate the excited faces of her family.

surface

Strange things in a modern society.

Crisis

At 3 Am on Saturday morning Serenity wakes up in a start. A strange sensation that something is not right. A swirl of anxiety spins in her mind. She sits on the bed . Last night she did not hear anyone coming in or the barking of the dog. That is not possible because she is very light sleeper. Serenity slips from the bed. She pushes her daughter’s bedroom door and stands in the doorway staring. The bed is undisturbed. Celeste is supposed to be back before midnight. Serenity tries her cell phone number which rings but goes straight to the answering message. Something is very wrong here. Serenity breaths quickly now  though her heart beat is calm.

She walks outside to the wooden deck.Only a smoldering dull light seems to descend from the sky as if a bright moon is trapped behind the clouds. Her daughter’s sagging hammock between the two sturdy trees is there but no Celeste of course. Serenity goes to the garage, entering through a side door no one inside there.  May be she stayed with her friend but did not call. May be her phone battery is down. Serenity enters again to her daughter’s room and turns on the light. She sees how neatly tightly books are arranged into the small Red oak bookcase. Celeste always love books and mostly classics. Her favorite pencil drawings on stiff white construction paper decorates one side of the white wall. Serenity moves closer to the wall the drawings are so elaborate, fine and meaningful. She looks at the small vintage clock on the table. It is almost 5 Am. Where on earth could she be!  Serenity speaks sharply. No she is angry and at the same time despair. She  fumbles for a chair, a kitchen chair and sits down heavily as if the air has slammed out of her. She starts to call all of Celeste’s friends one after another. Nobody knows. They all reply that she was with them in the school dance until it was over and they did not see her after that. Serenity feels so weak and so frightened. Her daughter is only thirteen years old. She contacts the sheriff department, her last hope. It feels as if a nightmare movie runs at high-speed for a cruel-comic effect. And she does not like scary movies not at all. She has watched and read so many news on missing children and she has cried many a times for the mothers, for those children.

We have found your daughter-alive and well. This call, so desperately wished for  does not come.

The search team has looked for Celeste everywhere, morning to dusk. Volunteers a flex flyers to telephone poles, trees, public walls, in post office, in walking trails. But no answer yet. Serenity’s eyes pouched in tiredness and damp. She sits in her prayer room eyes closed, hands folded. ‘God if I could trade my life for my little girl, then let that be, please keep her safe and spare her, take mine instead.’

There is a reward to find Celeste. Many calls come in but not the right one. Someday Serenity fantasizes to here ‘ We have found your daughter and she wants to talk to you.’ But there is nothing, nothing at all. The sheriff finds Celeste’s navy blue scarf and one pair of her black high heels in a parking lot but not her. Serenity has accepted the fate, the cruelty of life.

Six years have passed.

One summer evening in July. Serenity has just returned from her volunteer work from the women’s shelter. The doorbell rings. In front of  the door stands the local sheriff, who has helped Serenity a lot in her daughter’s missing case.In his eyes a strange elation. “ I have a good news for you. We have your daughter.” He says with a tight small smile.

“What? Serenity begins to feel very faint. The news is dazzling as a sudden bright,blindness scalding her brain. “ What did you say? You found Celeste?” Serenity tries her best to stand straight holding to the side of the door.

She runs towards the police car in bare foot.Her dog runs behind her. There on the back seat, someone is lying wrapped in a grey blanket and her face hidden, unmoving and she has known at once who it is. “ Celeste!” she lifts her daughter’s body and wraps her arms around her in a rib-crushing embrace. “ I love you so much.” She says kissing her daughter’s forehead.

The daughter’s pale skin, her shadowed eyes, dark curly hair that has thinned a lot from malnutrition and the scars on her abused body tells a very long sad,and heart breaking story to her mother. Serenity glances closely. Mother understands very well the emotion,the feelings, the sadness in her child’s eyes. “ I am so grateful that you are with me.” Serenity wipes her own tears. “ Do not you worry, I will take care of you. I will bring justice to you.” She carries her daughter to inside the house as she whispers choking in her own tears. “ Together we will fight and we will win.”

 

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Lekhamisra

Lekhamisra

Hello and Namaste to my wonderful bloggers and readers. I am Lekha, grew up in one of the beautiful city of Odisha in the mystical land India. My paternal grandmother was a perfect story teller- stories of brave kings and queens to stories of freedom fighters, to stories on kindness,honesty, compassion, truthfulness. As soon as I learned to read, my marvelous adventures started through the fairy tales, the mysteries, the classics and the autobiographies. O’ Yes, it was lots of fun! At middle school my imagination started to take wings into short stories and sometimes in sketching. In 1987 I came to USA to continue my education in Psychology. Life got busy with my son and daughter in their school,library, music class, dance class, tennis, soccer, scout, debate...Staying active is very important for me.So after work, I enjoy going to different classes - kickboxing, RIPP, PiYo and Yoga. I have a deep affection and respect to Nature. For me winter is the champion. During winter vacation it is always delightful to hike on the gorgeous,stunning and beautiful snowy mountains in different national parks. After the children started their own lives, enormous time has poured into my weekends. I decide to do devout my time in volunteering. But still I could not satisfy my hunger and craving to do something more. One evening, I was reading some article on international issues on children, women,and on animal cruelty, which were very disturbing, traumatic and sad.I could not stop my tear or could not sleep. It is very hard to see others in suffering. Life is more fulfilling and rich when you help others, when you bring smile on others. “ Be a rainbow in someone else’s clouds.”- Maya Angelou. So I start to write again. I want my writing to be a strong voice for others in distress; for the innocent animals,for children, for women, on global warming and for all other social causes. Sometimes the truth is hard to digest but I am determined to reflect on those topics to make my readers aware on social issues. And I am thankful to WordPress for providing this wonderful platform to express my observation, views and dreams. I hope you explore the stories,enjoy and leave appropriate comments.

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