Memories

The chamber had been her father’s study of old. It had a general air of neglect, cobwebs littered the tables and chairs, and the gentle pitter-patter of scurrying mice echoed in the silent corridor. Hers had been the first human feet to enter it in the last twenty years or so. Every one else who had known of its existence had perished long ago. She closed her eyes and drew a deep breath, not quite knowing how to feel about being back here. Her memories of her father were interlaced with a confused mixture of emotions. The man who played with her and the man who sang her to sleep was also the man who had abandoned her mother and herself. He was the man who caused the deaths of countless people, her mother and brother among them. He was the man who came to her in strange dreams and begged for her forgiveness while professing his unconditional love for her. She no longer knew how she felt about him.

On the shelf in one corner of the room stood the harp he used to play to her, the silver harp of the Silver Harper. It was a wonder it hadn’t fallen to pieces in all this time. She hesitantly plucked a string. Its plangent note almost startled her. She hadn’t expected it to still be in tune. She gently picked it up and held it to her breast. It was the first time she had ever held it. She had been too young and too small to do so without dropping it the last time she was here. She walked back to the door, still hugging the harp close to her heart. As the door shut close behind her, disappearing once more into obscurity, it symbolised more than anything, her feelings for her father. Perhaps unconsciously, she had decided to keep the good memories and discard the bad ones. She might never actually forgive him for the transgressions that had hurt her mother and given her severe abandonment issues, but she may have made peace with the fact that he did, in fact, love her.

  • I’ve been binge (re)reading and binge (re)watching Game of Thrones for the past week, so maybe this counts as some sort of obscure fan fiction. Any guesses as to which character I’m talking about ? Hint: She’s already dead in canon.

Presence

When the musty smells of Winter move over for the freshness of early Spring, I always think of you. When the dewy snow drops melt into nothingness, and trees stand proud wearing their crowns of new leaves and tiny yellow flowers, I feel your presence. I don’t know why this particular change of seasons reminds me of you, there are others during the year that do not. When I walk the empty roads, thinking about anything and everything in the light, refreshing rain, I often feel like you are watching me. Are you really, or is it just an echo of a wishful thought? As every new spring day dawns, I tell myself that I’m being silly, conjuring up these thoughts and moments and feelings, while I should be living out in the world rather than inside my head. And yet, and yet, I just can’t help thinking them and feeling you, all day, all around.

In the dark

Sophie’s life had been one filled with rash decisions. Being a life long advocate of ‘living in the moment’ had certain drawbacks. Being alone and scared in the darkness of her own home was just the most recent one. Ever since she had seen Dan on the street a few days ago, she had been seized by a nameless fear. It was irrational, she told herself, he hadn’t even seen her. Moreover, whatever had happened between them happened over a decade ago. It was way beyond water under the bridge. 

Try as she might, her fear refused to dissipate. She just couldn’t get his last words to her as he was being led away in handcuffs, out of her mind. He had said, “You’ll regret this, bitch. I’m coming back for you”. A shiver ran up her spine at the memory. It wasn’t so much the words that had unsettled her. It was the naked hatred in his eyes, the expression of a tethered wild animal, that set her teeth on edge. She heaved a sigh and closed her eyes. It was just a coincidence, she told herself. There was no way he could’ve found her. She had moved across the country and changed pretty much everything about her in an attempt to put that part of her life behind her. It was highly unlikely that his being in this city had anything to do with her at all. She was almost halfway through convincing herself that all was fine when she heard the sound of leaves crunching in her driveway. 

Moment

There was nothing dazzling about him. That was the first thing that she had noticed. He seemed rather normal. The tall erect form, the dark curly hair, the laugh that scrunched his nose up, they were all pleasant, but not extraordinary. That helped her relax a little bit, prone to severe social anxiety as she was. She always hid it very well, so that no one really knew about it. She breathed deeply and listened to him talk. He was so passionate about everything, and he actually knew quite a lot of things. Since he had arrived, he had had an opinion about everything. They weren’t the half-cooked opinions born of arrogance, but rather, well thought out reasonings that made one think. She slowly raised her eyes to his face. To her utter shock, his eyes locked on to hers. They were kind, so kind, and so far removed from his blustering manner.They were the warmest brown possible, sheltered by long dark lashes. She forgot to breathe. She felt as if this was the moment, the only moment that had ever occurred, the only moment worth living for.

He stood still for eons,

Watching the needles of time move

Helpless to do naught but watch

As the seasons passed him by.

His stars came and went,

Unfamiliar ones took their place

As he stood still and strong,

Unable to stop their passing.

His soul longed to flow

As unshed lava festered too long,

To rain upon the world,

The poetry of his heart.

He longs to reach out and touch

Those yellow petals he loved,

He longs to sprout a smile

That doesn’t end in fire.

He watches change come over again,

Unable to change anything himself,

As yet another Winter

Passes into spring,

He stands still, and stoic

As he has, for millennia unchanged.

Loss

A flash of pain

Cuts through my heart

As your memory

Flares up inside,

Taking me back

To those days and times

When you were here,

Mine and alive.

Has it been years, months, weeks,

Or mere days since you were taken,

I can’t seem to remember

Nor gather my thoughts,

My mind is awash

With loneliness and tears.

I’ve never been one

To believe in ghosts,

Nor in a world

Beyond this trite one.

Sometimes I wish

That I were so inclined,

Then I could live

In renewed hope,

In expectant joy

Of being with you

Someday, somewhere …

In the midst of sadness and despair

Joy was nowhere to be found. Everywhere she looked, she saw only people in rags, crying, complaining about everything. It wasn’t their fault, really, she thought to herself, there wasn’t enough food or water to go around. She had lost count of how many days it has been since they have been stranded here. Death had been the only constant companion, arriving to claim someone every other day. She had lost count of the ones taken as well. She wondered if they might actually be at peace like all the religious books said. She hoped that they were, at least their misery has ended.

She walked to the edge of the clearing. Most of them were huddled in the centre, around the hastily concocted fireplace, relying on the dying embers and each other for warmth. She sat down by herself under one of the trees that lined the path to nowhere. She rested her back against its dense roots and looked back to where the others were. She wondered how many of them would survive this place. She wondered if she would. She wondered if any efforts were being made to find them. She leaned back and closed her eyes. She was hungry, cold and exhausted. She thought back to the day she left home, to the simple luxuries that she had taken for granted, like a soft bed and a hot shower, to the man she had met the night before who had seemed nice, to her parents who must surely be crazy with worry … It all seemed rather remote to her, almost as if they were images from another person’s life, which she seemed to be observing with mildly interested detachment. She sighed and turned her head to her side, as if the mild shake would dislodge these thoughts from her mind. All they would do was depress her further.

Her stomach growled, signalling the healthy appetite of a young woman. There was nothing to do about it. What food remained had been rationed and she had already had her share for the day. She decided to ignore her stomach. That had been her motto for the past few days, to blatantly ignore the things she can do nothing about, those phantoms that lurked above her head, above all of their heads, hunger, fear and death. She concentrated on her breathing, mimicking the breathing exercises she had seen in passing while switching channels on the television. She was drifting on that semi conscious bliss between sleep and wake when she was rudely interrupted by a light object falling on her face and then picking its way down her clothes. She startled awake and sat up, annoyed. She looked down to her lap and saw a tiny flower, yellow with a smattering of red freckles on its petals, still carrying the green vestige of its bud, delicate filaments poking through proudly almost like it was baring its teeth in a smile. A slow smile appeared on her face as she stared at the offending object. It widened and grew. She felt a relief that she hadn’t felt in days. It felt almost like a pleasant memory, of bright, warm, normal things. Amongst all this horror and death and ruin, in the midst of sadness and despair, here it was, one simple bloom, a tiny ray of light, a glimmer of hope, a testament to the fact that there is still life to be lived and beauty to be enjoyed. She felt as if a weight had lifted off of her shoulders.

The edge of forever

He started walking from the tree of knowledge. He didn’t want to see or think anymore. He hoped that the activity of walking and the associated fatigue will keep stray thoughts from invading his mind. It wasn’t until the needs of his body outweighed his need for no coherent thought that he stopped awhile. He looked around. He had reached the pond they called the sea. He sat down in the sand by its bank and tentatively reached out a hand to touch the water. But he couldn’t. As he reached his hand forward, the water seemed to recede. The further he extended his hand, the further the water receded. He sighed and gave up. He sat, staring at his reflection for a moment. His hair was matted, his eyes bloodshot and sunken, his face grimy and lined. He wondered, how long had it been that he had started walking, has it been days, months, years … He found that he didn’t mind having lost track of time at all. He raised his eyes to the horizon, the road lay spread out, far and wide. There was nothing of note to see around. He wondered, if it indeed was the way to go. He took a deep breath, braced his hands on the bank of the pond they called the sea, and thought to himself, perhaps this is it, the path to where he had set out for, the path to the edge of forever… He closed his eyes and dove in.

Circle in the sky

The circle in the sky was becoming bigger by the day. It seemed as if it was getting brighter as well. Minna wondered if she was the only one who noticed it. In all the old pictures and paintings, it had looked yellow. Her mother told her that it used to look like that back then. She didn’t know why it looked different now. So many things were different nowadays, her mother said that it is useless to worry about things that they couldn’t change.

The circle that appeared when it was dark hadn’t changed, though. The elders said that it was because the creatures who lived in it kept it safe. But the one in the light didn’t have that option, nobody lived there, although some people said that the creators used to. According to them, they had abandoned it right about the time everything started changing. Her grandfather said that even the climes were different now. When his grandfather was younger, the hot climes were shorter than it is now. Water from the sky was harder and whiter and lined the paths. He showed her a picture of his grandfather as a boy, holding a ball of the white stuff. The boy in the picture looked happy. It was difficult to think of him as her grandfather’s grandfather.

Minna had only ever known the hot climes, and the occasional water season. She had always loved the water season. Everything looked and smelled so fresh, and the heat abated, at least for a little while. Her mother always warned her not to get her head wet, so she would sit at the top of the entry channel of her home, with her feet dangling out and draw on the wet, cool, soil. But they didn’t have that many water seasons anymore. The past hot clime had lasted for more than one light turn. Now they had to go farther than before to collect water. Minna didn’t mind it that much, she liked the walk, but even after getting there, there was no guarantee that they’d find enough water for even a day. That made things a little difficult.

Every night as she lay in bed, Minna looked up at the little blinking lights in the sky. Her greatest wish was to see one of them up close one day. As she looked up at them today, her thoughts were much closer to home. She could tell that the elders were worried about these changes. She had come upon them whispering about something or the other. They would hastily switch topics and paste a smile on their faces when they saw children. But she had caught a few words in between, enough for her to realise that perhaps these changes weren’t entirely for the good. She had never thought about them so much before. This was just how everything was, and she had accepted them as they were. Although she did think it would’ve been fun to have the little chittering, flying creatures around, of whom her grandfather spoke at length about, or the white water. No one knew why they were gone, or if they will ever come back. All they knew was that it was getting hotter and that there wasn’t enough water anymore, and that it was because of the circle in the sky.

  • In response to prompt 1 of February writing prompts, circle in the sky.

Memories

When in tumult, her mind always wandered back to Andrew, to his sun kissed hair, to those bottomless blues that never seemed to age. Everything she was, everything she had, she owed it all to him. Even years after he was gone, it was always him that she missed when anything wonderful happened. It was always him she wanted to turn to, when she was frightened out of her wits.

Running into his father was completely unexpected. She was meeting Daniel for lunch at the diner around the corner from her office. It was a rare afternoon when both of them could make it. The diner was a no-frills place, but they both liked it there. It was unusually empty this afternoon, the only other patrons, two young men in army camouflage, silently eating their meal. Looking back, perhaps she should have taken it as a sign, but she had never put much stock in such things.

After lunch, Daniel was walking her back to her office when they ran into Mr. Halford. As always, his face relaxed into a sunny smile when he saw her. He walked towards her with renewed vigour and gathered her into a hug. Her first reaction was utter shock at the comprehension that this is what Andrew would have looked like when he were older. They had the same shape to their faces, the same eyes, the same smile. Of course, one of them would never age, never wrinkle, never develop a slight stoop to the shoulders…

Mr. Halford had become much thinner than she remembered, he joked that his age was catching up with him. She could see the haunted look in his eyes, even as he smiled. He greeted Daniel genially, gripping his hand firmly. They had met at the wedding, of course, she remembered now. Mr. Halford had made it a point to attend, he said he wanted to tell her on the most important day of her life how proud Andrew would have been of her, for all that she had accomplished. She had almost cried then, and he patted her on the head awkwardly, as he used to, when she was a child.

Daniel was a good man, he made her very happy, and she did love him, a lot. But there was always a part of her that felt that perhaps, he loved her more than she could ever love him. There were moments, when she looked into his dark green eyes and saw a flash of blue, when she ran her hand through his black hair and missed a sandy hue. There were days when she looked back in time and saw a young man in army camouflage at her door, his hair shining in the sun, with a lone red rose in hand, and a shy smile on his lips.