We used to think of our future as retirees.
You would be content to tie our boat to the pier at sunset, with or without fish for dinner, while I would dream that you played the harmonica in nostalgic tunes by the sea.
We wanted simple things until we didn’t want them anymore, unintentionally.
There had been this period of vacant time, spinning too fast and too wild.
We lost hold of each other, and we lost our substance as one.
I often imagine, the day I learn to forget the past, and you learn to play the harmonica, we will share coffees together like two perfect strangers who fall in love all over again.
The sound of the wardrobe door closes is the best sound in the whole wide world. The wardrobe is like a hedger keeps the outside noise away. Mum’s endless sighing, sometimes sobbing…Dad’s jokes which only his drunk friends would laugh and his limited praising phases: that’s my girl… you are smarter than me and your mum tally up, or just shouting:” what the fuck is wrong with the internet now….fuck the copper WiFi shit…..”
Before we moved into this house, I had to screen out these noises by playing music in hip hop, house, trap genres with my earphones on. I felt my hearing was declining. My school friends told me I couldn’t hear them most of the time. I had headaches sometimes because so much noise.
This house is great, it is only a rental, but it is heaps better than the house we had before, solely for this full length wardrobe. It smells timber and feels grainy. When I close the door, it muffles a bit, but it is so quiet. I finally remove the earphones and stop playing the music. I read, write, draw and play on my tablet.
Winter vocation is coming. I am so excited because I can spend more time tuck away in the wardrobe. I have prepared a blanket and a cushion so I can even take my nap in this world of mine. Oh I also pulled out the reading lamp from the storage. It’s one of those rechargeable lamps with a clipping end. I envision myself reading under the warm light after diner in a cold winter evening.
The trashy TV sound, the storm created by human beings, the agony caused by unhappy marriage and unemployment, are all shut out by this squeaky timber wardrobe door. That is how my childhood will be preserved. I am determined that as long as I have my sanctuary in this wardrobe, I will grow up to be happy.
A six sentence story Word prompt – Strike
When Lucy grew up, the world was a lot different; kids were allowed to buy cigarettes and alcohol in the local grocery stores, mostly for their parents and relatives.
Lucy used to skip down the street in her red plastic flip flops, tightly held the money in her little hand; when she arrived at the grocery store, she reached her hand to the much taller counter and said “A pack of Lucky Strike please”.
The shopkeeper was curious to find out where was the sound coming from as he could not see any customer in his store; “A pack of Lucky Strike please for my Papa.”, this time the little hand was waving the five-dollar note to attract the shopkeeper’s attention.
“Ah, hello you, little one!”;
“My Papa said five dollars to you and two dollars and seventy five cents change for me.”;
“Your Papa is right little one.”
The shopkeeper took the five dollar note, handed back a pack of red Lucky Strike and two dollars and seventy five cents in change.
“Thank you sir!”;
“Oh wait, here is a sweet for you, for being such a good girl.”
Red has been Lucy’s favourite colour which reminds her of being a good girl in her red plastic flip flop, red Lucky Strike in hand and a raspberry red candy on her tongue, a sweet memory of her childhood.
I am dreading to walk the long sterile corridor leading to your room, which looks extra clinical today.
There is only duty left, instead of any maternal attachment, that I am here every week to see you.
I am a bit envious that you don’t remember my name; you don’t hold me in your arms like you used to; but you stroke the plush cat I brought in like you used to with the family ginger cat.
I don’t understand the world you are living in Mama. You are talking to a toy cat like you always did in front of my teary eyes, and yet you are so far away from me.
There were three persons in that relationship. He probably didn’t realise, but she was acutely aware from day one. She had learned to trust her instincts which was a God given gift.
Love is a complicated thing as much as it is plain and simple. There was no room for three. She didn’t show up in his life and serve as a pick-me-up because he was toyed around by his goddess who he worshipped endlessly. The illusive and may-be-one-day possibility hanged over his mind and their new found relationship.
Love is a beautiful thing. It can make you forget any sadness and insufficiency. But time is a cruel reminder. Any newness and rawness eventually wore off. Old habits and feelings crept back in. After all, she was his second best. She couldn’t work out what happened and what changed.
Love is fragile, and it breaks so easily. A slip off the careless hand, a snuffle by unexplainable silence, or a hesitation that lasted a little too long, all shattered in pieces at once. It was a sad reality really, no one came out undone from that crowded room, even it was only in the head space. Our minds set us free as much as imprison us. She chose to fly far away from their love maze and wanted no part in it for self preservation, and she was right, all along.
When I was little, I loved dragonflies. I lied still by the riverbank and waited for them to land on me, and they did, on the hem of my skirt, on my hair. I was amazed by how trusting they were.
Then there were boys who chased them away, from me. I tried to turn up at the riverbank at different times of the day, so the boys could not find me. But they always did. They brought roasted peanuts and threw shells at me, sometimes cow dung. I wasn’t bothered by their ‘attack’ because I knew that’s the way boys showed interest. I was annoyed by their disturbance of my special time with the dragonflies.
One day I told my uncle that the boys threw peanut shells and cow dung at me by the riverbank. He started to take the buffalo for a wash in the river in mid mornings, and my aunties washed their clothes in the afternoons in the river.
I reunited with the dragonflies in peace and tranquillity. And that was the highlight of my summer holidays at my grandparents’ farm besides slid down the banana tree and ripped my skirt to shreds, but that is another story for another time.
“The Lotus Award goes to Sage Holmes, CEO of the Detour House Women’s foundation.” Her eyes well up in a room full of standing ovation. She is wearing a white dress to receive this life time contribution award among a group of passionate servants who are just like her, spend their lives tirelessly fighting for women’s safety and providing a roof over their heads.
Thirty three years ago, she was one of those women, without a voice, drug addicted and worked in a brothel where she hardly saw any sunlight. There was this Salvation Army woman, chubby and always brought freshly baked cookies to have a cup of tea and a chat with the girls. Her smile was bright and her hugs were warm; she was hope and their only connection to the normality of the outside world.
“I am grateful for this acknowledgement, and I owe it to that Salvation Army woman who baked us cookies and always reminded us by saying ‘ God made you girls like Lotus, living in mud but as pure as snow.’ Thank you!”
I heard that you had been back to visit the old town where we grew up and shared our first secret. It has been years since I counted the seasons the pear blossoms covered the laneway to our sweet youth. You always picked the snow white blossoms out of my hair, and I always searched your soul from your dark eyes. Time was a forever concept back then. We were never hurried to grow up while we glued to each other. The Southern biting cold was our excuse to be skin close and breath mingled. I still remember the sweet green apple taste in your mouth.
I haven’t been back for years, probably since the day of your wedding. All I remember was my world came to an end that day. I can’t remember how I managed to sweep up my broken heart and keep going, how I made it to the city, how I started to be a different version of me who is a stranger to me till this day. People say love hurts. Perhaps I didn’t experience the hurt because love died.
The train is coming in eleven minutes. I need to get on this train to make it to grandma’s funeral. For the first eighteen years of my life, grandma was my rock and my shelter. I failed to visit her all these twenty years, and missed the chance to say goodbye. For that, I hate you. I hate your careless decision and it rob me of the ability to keep loving. This hurts. It really hurts. It hurts so much that I have to step out of my own body to avoid the pain.
The clock on the platform is counting down. I see a grown woman sitting alone sobbing. Her face is contorted by grief or pain which I can’t differentiate. She looks so small and helpless. The door opens. I get on the train and sit by the window, keep watching her. Soon she is fading into only a smudge. I wonder what is stopping her to board this train, and why she is so sad.
It’s a sunny morning! April realised when she stepped out the door for her usual morning walk down the bakery for coffee and cornetto. She dropped her rain jacket by the door and launched herself into the warm glow.
After her routine walk, she decided to venture further to the local nursery, maybe, to get a little plant, or just to inhale the prime of spring. Once she entered the nursery, she hesitated. It was busier than she imagined in such early hour of the day. She suddenly grew self conscious over her unwashed face, messy bed hair, and without underwears beneath the white t-shirt and grey lounge pants. She folded her arms across her breasts to create some safety.
Soon she was distracted by the multi colour tulips and grape hyacinths. She reached out her hand to touch the ferns and manoeuvered the pot to read the label – Northern Lady Fern. Right at that moment, her fingers felt the moist and warmth which drew her to an innocent chocolate face of a puppy. Her heart melted instantly and she lowered herself to the level of this delicious ball of cuteness. “Hey, little one! What’s your name? Awwww…you know you are cute, don’t you?”
“Honey!” A magnetic voice startled her. She followed the voice and looked up, there stood a man in tan cargo pants and a navy polo shirt. He was wearing a grin decorated with scruffy beard, just passed the threshold of the five o’clock shadow. Immediately she was embarrassed imagining how he would see her – squatting down in a mess next to the puppy and could not take her hand away from its affection. “Her name is Honey.” He must have seen the complex expression on her face, so gone on to clarify. “And she has your eyes…honey brown.”
“Oh, ok.” She got up avoiding eye contact with him, walked almost in a fleeting speed to hide herself in the tall palms and citrus trees. She felt so bad that she ‘abandoned’ the cutest puppy, but she felt even worst about keeping that interaction going in her indecent outfit.
It had been ages, she finally felt safe to slowly move out from the tall plants toward the nursery exit. Just when she eased up her nerves and started to breathe more steadily. That nerve wrecking voice came out of nowhere, “April’s gone too soon.” He stood in front of her like a pine tree, with the puppy sitting obediently next to him on a leash. “What?” That’s all she could manage to mutter. ‘How does he know my name?’ She was puzzled. “Ahhh…I said April has gone too soon. It’s first of May today already. See, the citrus trees have grown a lot…” His magnetic voice trailed her all the way through the exit door.
‘Don’t look back April, it’s been a cluster of embarrassment. Mother, you are right again. Never go out without dressing appropriately because you’ll never know who you’ll meet.’
I long to be far away with my thoughts on a long stretched highway between tall pines breaking apart into yellow and ultramarine blue in my mind’s eye. I appreciate beauty in its primary form. I don’t ever feel that I fall short of my own shadow when light is all there is to tell a different story.
I didn’t want to let go of my father’s old Ford Thunderbird, because I still get excited about each time my long scarf flies through the sunroof, the accidental freedom, the sensation of unexpected wonder, and the unbidden joy.
I’d like to hold on to these long drives all the way to the top of the lookout, where your name always echoes deep in the Blue Mountains. The pine needles snow down in yellow and ultramarine blue flakes. When they land on the bottom of the mountain range, sometimes they pool into tranquil green, and sometimes sorrowful hazel.