“Clouds”

“What’re you doing?” Symar asked.

I didn’t answer. Up in the sky, wisps of clouds were moving towards the west. Some formed strange shapes I couldn’t figure out.

“What do you suppose that is?” I wondered aloud.

“What? The cloud? It’s a cloud.” Symar deadpanned.

I looked at her.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

Symar made a face and said, “The village fête. They want you there.”

“Tell them I’m fine here.”

Symar pulled me off the ground and began to lead me towards the field where the festivities were going on.

“I hate the village fête. Noise, crowds, people staring at you…not my idea of pleasant.” I grumbled.

“They were staring at you because you happen to be the world’s worst dancer. And you had one foot in a bucket of…of…something.”

I decided the best reaction would be to keep quiet.

As evening approached, I left the festival to go back to my cloud watching.

Symar joined me.

“How can you even see them now? Besides, why do you love watching clouds so much?” she asked dully, picking blades of grass.

“I…they’re like people. There’s just something about them…”

“Maybe you’re a cloud maiden. Maybe you’re one of them clouds up there, but you fell down and your parents found you. Like in the legends. Clouds being real people who’ve passed on or something.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Nah, you’re just a crazy freak. And a lazy one at that!” she said and began laughing.

I made my ‘Oh-God-can’t-believe-how-lame-you-are’ face, but it didn’t work.

I couldn’t sleep that night. Something Symar said had struck a chord. I got up and went to the window. The clouds were blocking out the moon.

My heart began pounding. Could it be? I thought. I decided to test it. I climbed down the trellis and ran over to a field. There was a ridge-like projection in that field, about eight feet high.

I climbed it and stood at the edge.

This is stupid, what kind of an idiot jumps off a ledge because of something an equally idiotic friend said as a joke? I thought.

And yet, there was more to this. As if I’d known all along…

 

I ran through the grass. I had an awful feeling that Billie was going to do something stupid.

I was right; she was standing on a ledge.

“Get down, you idiot!” I yelled.

“Oh, hi Symar. Just checking my cloud maiden-ness. Like you said.” Billie called out.

“I can not believe you bought the cloud maiden story! Come down before you fall and break a bone!”

“No, Symar. You were right. Tonight, the clouds…watch what happens!” Billie said and jumped.

She plummeted straight downwards and lay at the bottom in a heap.

“Ow.”

I laughed, a little nervously perhaps.

“See?” I said.

“Symar, my neck…” Billie whispered, and then lay still.

“Billie?”

Silence.

Then Billie turned into smoke.

Her entire body became a cloud that billowed away in the night air.

They had come for what belonged to them.

And they had taken it.

“Love is Blind”

He was in a bad mood, and he made sure the entire world knew it. Sitting there all alone in his study, he spent the time grumbling and wallowing in his misery.

Outside the door, people whispered together.

“Why? What’s happened to him?”

“Well y’know what’s happened to him, Marmie.”

“No…really?”

Inside, he could hear them whispering.

“Shut up out there, the lot of you! Loud enough to wake the dead, you are!”

The whispers stopped.

He returned to his morose thoughts once more. There was a small mirror across the room. He studied his reflection, a task made more difficult by the dim light. Beautiful black hair, grown to a stylish length. Eyes you could lose yourself in. Tawny complexion most young men his age worked so hard to get. And he was brainy, as well as suave!

He smiled.

Amazing; who wouldn’t love me? he thought.

He scowled, and in his great rage, knocked an inkwell off the desk.

“Don’t be a breakin’ anything, lad. Still your father’s house and I don’t care what you’ve been through, I ain’t plannin’ on payin’ a fortune for it.”

He swore loudly. From outside came the yell:

“How’d I get such a wussy lad for a son? You’ve got something to say, come out and say it!”

He glared at the door, but did not move.

Instead, he began thinking.

How could anyone reject him? How? Why?

He got angrier and angrier, till finally, he began to cry. ‘A sign of weakness’, his father would say. But he did not care anymore. Nothing mattered.

He stretched out on the study room floor and stared aimlessly at the ceiling. He was thinking, thinking about all the things he had done wrong. If they’d been done to him, he would have had a proper brawl with that person. He had not been beaten up, but the credit for that went to the other person.

Proud. I’m too proud… he thought.

Who was he fooling by thinking himself to be handsome? Who was he trying to deceive by believing himself to be smart and charming?

He smiled bitterly and closed his eyes.

The door opened.

“Get out! I told you, I want to be alone! Too thick to understand that?” he said loudly in a hollow voice.

“Adam Zachary Ivans! I do not care how mad you are, or how sorry you feel for yourself, I have come to say something and you will listen!”

His eyes popped open.

“I have been going over things carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that you are nothing but a vain, cocky little popinjay and I wish to have nothing to do with you.” she continued.

“Good. Leave me alone then, like I keep telling you.” he said sarcastically.

A pause.

“Yes, Adam, as soon as I finish. As I was saying, you are annoying and you bring out the worst in me. I am better off without you.”

“And I am, without you.” he said. He knew she was getting frustrated.

“Well, Adam Zachary, as much as I hate saying this, there is no doubt in  my mind…or heart…that I love you. You seem perfect to me, even with all your imperfections. Love is blind, I suppose. And stupid, too. I can’t seem to fix this feeling—and I’ve tried—so I’m just going to admit it.

Without doubt, Adam Zachary Ivans, I love you. That does not have any implications on the fact that I hate you.”

He was smiling now.

She waited a few seconds and then began to leave.

“Wait.”

She stopped and looked back at him still sprawled on the floor.

“Close the door on your way out.”

She looked at him for a moment and then went out.

As the door closed behind her, he said dully,

“And wait…I love you too.”

She did not hear, of course.

He smiled and got up.

Then he went out to see what his mother was cooking.

“Freak”

She entered the school. She paused. Better put on my face, she thought. Then she walked to her class, trying to imitate the way ‘cool’ girls walked. That didn’t go very well. She entered her classroom. She knew he wouldn’t be coming for at least another ten minutes or so. “Hi!” she greeted the girl she sat with. “Oh…hi.” was the cold reply. Her heart sank and, for a moment, she thought she was going to cry. I will not cry……not here anyway, she decided. She put her bag down and sat on her chair. Then she took out a book and pretended to read. She was actually thinking…thinking about her self and her life. She was a plump, awkward looking girl. She had brown hair that stuck out in all directions, no matter what she did to keep it sleek. She was buck-toothed, pimple-faced and tanned. And yet, her eyes were those of a dreamer; a sage with wisdom greater than any other. Too bad they were hidden behind thick, black-framed glasses. She was certainly no beauty and not particularly good at studies, either. And yet, she thought thoughts befitting the greatest of scholars, but nobody those thoughts of hers.    Freak…that’s what I am, she thought. Suddenly, she glimpsed him in the corridor. She secretly watched him out of the corner of her eye as he came inside and went over to his desk. She really liked him. Alarmed at the thought of being caught peeking at him, she quickly started reading. The bell rang. Roll call was done with quickly, and the lesson began. It was the same as it had been for all the fourteen miserable years of her life. The hateful stares, the stony looks, cold voices. It was all routine now. Like breathing. And yet, it was not routine. It still hurt so bad. It was as if someone kept stabbing her heart again and again. She had lived every minute of her life knowing she was not wanted. And it hurt so much. Why does the heart hurt? , she wondered. She went out for recess.

She went to her corner and sat there, hidden away from the world. Wish I could stay hidden forever, she thought. After recess, she went back to class and waited for the teacher to come. After four grueling lessons, it was finally time to go home. She watched him leave while she packed up her bag. He didn’t notice her. And why should he? , she asked herself, I’m not something special. Her bag packed, she went out.

She was finally home. She tried to sneak up to her room unnoticed, but wasn’t quick enough. Her parents heard her. After two whole hours of emotional torture, they let her go. Their harsh words still echoed through her head. She quickly walked into her room and shut the door. She wept silently, thoroughly soaking her pillow.

The next morning, she wasn’t feeling so well. She didn’t go to school that day. Her parents didn’t notice. The next day, she felt even sicker. Her parents still didn’t notice.

Two weeks had gone by. She was now lying in a hospital bed. She looked around. Figure’s, she thought. Every other patient had visitors. Her parents had been too busy. At least that’s what they’d said to her. She knew otherwise. She’d seen their airline tickets and packed suitcases. She looked around and saw the doctors hurrying around in the ward, around her. She couldn’t understand what they were saying; all those technical words didn’t mean a thing to her. But she knew what was going to happen to her. She wasn’t afraid, or even sad. That was why she felt guilty. She had learnt during Religious Education class that God didn’t like people who killed themselves. Wanting to die was like that, wasn’t it? She thought. Then another thought struck her. Does God love freaks and losers? Does God love those whom no one else loves? She started feeling nervous. Well, that couldn’t be helped now. And, wondering about all the things that could have been, she went to sleep, the long, everlasting sleep we are all destined to, never to awaken again.

Rest In Peace