Reward

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Taking my daughter to the dentist on a cold, rainy winter morning, I considered the chore a reality of life. Till we reached The Mall Road, pivot of the local population’s life and the most visited place by the tourists in the hill station of Shimla (summer capital of British India and now capital of Himachal Pradesh in India).

I was struck by the rarity of having very few people about and was able to capture the bare tree on the Ridge, right next to the famous Christ Church (not in the frame) and the State Library (to the right).

My Reward for being up and about early!

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Memories

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She shut her eyes against the sunlight filtering in from the closed curtains. The sound of the ball being bounced about in the tennis court brought on a pounding headache-the kind she was quite prone to now.

She looked at her son’s peaceful face as he snored gently, the carefree sleep of an eight year old. They had been at this for the past five days; having a party all night, walking the lawns, sighting the moon, listening to the waves crash on the boulders. And then sleeping away for the most part of the day.

Trying to shut out the memories of her husband, his father. Hearing his baritone above the sound of the ball. Of his scream as he jumped from the balcony. They had been asleep but she heard the final cry as he plunged seven stories to the concrete floor below.

“Mom”, he cried in his sleep, sobbing imperceptibly. “No, don’t push, Mom”.

Word Count: 158

Posted in response to the flash fiction challenge hosted by Priceless Joy- Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers . The photo prompt is used to write a short story of 100-150 words.

Rule of Thirds

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Rather than this being a wonderful photo post in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge on the WordPress, it is a rumination on how we take the things we love for granted.

I tried to click a great picture with the subject off center and a beautiful bokeh but I failed miserably. Instead I clicked away with what I thought looked captivating. So, after an entire day of taking unaesthetic pictures, I tried to relax in my favourite spot in the house. Or rather outside. In the balcony.

It overlooks some hills and a verdant valley. I usually enjoy the morning sun shining on the tops of trees in the distance. I look at the skies to gauge the day. Brilliant blue on good days and gray on the rainy days. Yet, I keep waiting for the first glint on a tin roof for proof of a sunny day. All day, when I am home, I periodically look out of my window to see the sun advancing, illuminating its path, then overhead in its full glory, making the cedar forest off to the left inviting and later in the afternoon the dance of the shadows.

Everyday objects, the houses, the cottages, the tree stumps, the bushes are brought to life and I admire it all.

Does the beauty lose its charm after a while? It does. It is human nature to take beauty for granted. And good fortune. And our blessings. I am aware of this and periodically I remind myself to stop, shut down the internal chatter and ‘just be’ in nature’s lap. And at the same time, renew my thoughts, emotions so that I can enjoy the bounty of God with a renewed feeling of peace and gratitude.

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers-Bits of paper

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Bits of Paper

Sam slowed down whenever he cycled past the big bookstore. He usually cycled around the block a couple of times before he got up the courage to stop, lean the cycle against the lamp post and walk right in. Mr. Roy, the burly bookshop owner would not even look up from the cash register to acknowledge Sam.

Sam would get down to work right away. Sweeping, dusting, rearranging, always fearful, looking over his shoulder furtively, tingling with the anticipation of the routine beating that he seemed to invite. Still, he had courage enough to gather the bits of brown wrapping paper and stick them in his waistband, underneath the jacket, for his baby sister to play with. Life under the flyover was cold, bare, hungry but the paper bits made her happy.

Word count : 132

Posted in response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge.

The Wedding Bells- Part 13

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Once again, a group of writers from different geographical regions gather together to create a wonderful story. The photograph above serves as the inspirational theme for the 6th Flash Fiction Chain hosted by Jithin of Photrablogger. Give his beautiful site a visit and feast your eyes on the inspirational photos or read about his adventures.

A comprehensive list of characters in the story: (Main)

Anna Brighton- 32 year old CEO who owns and runs a publishing company

Alex Burns – well established author, Anna’s ex, Toby Blackwell’s cousin

Melissa Doyle –the bride, Anna’s dear friend

Toby Blackwell – co-owns the Blackwell estate, Alex’s cousin

(Supporting characters)

Jenny- Anna’s secretary

Adam – Owner of Adam and Eve’s

Harrison – Melissa’s fiance.

Percy Tuppence – Owner of the ring shop

Part 1 : Written by Sona

Part 2 : Written by Yinglan

Part 3 : Written by Priceless Joy

Part 4 : Written by Frenesthetist

Part 5 : Written by Dr. KO

Part 6 : Written by Sweety

Part 7 : Written by Tobias

Part 8 : Written by Ruth

Part 9 : Written by Austin

Part 10: Written by Rashmi

Part 11: Written by Phaena

Part 12: Written by Manvi

Do read these parts before mine to get a clear picture of the story!

The Wedding Bells-Part 13

Anna waved furiously to the newly wedded couple in the gleaming red limousine, about to leave. She held one hand up to her temple, pressing it with her perfumed handkerchief. Perfumes always made her ill; it was no doubt she had a headache. Why on earth had she worn a perfume instead of her usual deo she could not fathom herself. She looked down at her now crumpled dress held together at the back rather cleverly by pins that Alex helped her with.

“God! What a mess”, she thought. “One dress, two wardrobe malfunctions in a single wedding ceremony! Wonder what my luck would be at my own wedding”, she half muttered as the smiling flower girl, Sara skipped towards her. “Hey, Anna! You have crumpled the bouquet too much! It is good luck! You are the next to get married!”, chirped little Sara.

Anna squinted against the afternoon sun to see who had overheard them. She was in a group of people all excitedly chattering about the just married Melissa and Harrison, now off to their honeymoon destination. Anna felt a strange emptiness. The anticipation of the wedding was now over, and so was the adrenaline pumping through her body all morning because of her journey to fetch the bride’s ring and her subsequent encounter with Ms. Beaumount which turned ummm.. rather violent. Anna was amazed at herself. She, the sensible businesswoman, away from all matters of the heart and frivolous behaviour was at that very day been acting like a… giddy teenager!

She coloured a bright crimson at the thought of her stolen kisses with Toby and the memory of their physical closeness and the possibilities made her go weak in her knees all over again. At the same time, guilt stabbed at her, for she could not get Alex’s speculative look out of her mind. His tenderness as he helped her with her dress zipper the second time it came apart was too sweet to be dismissed. No sparks flew; his fingers did not linger on her body; his breath was not hot and urgent but his face screwed up in concentration with pins in his mouth reminded her sweetly of their high school dating years. She could hear their shared laughter and innocent jokes as they walked hand in hand beside the lake near her parent’s house.

Anna came out of her reverie with a start. There was raucous laughter behind her as the group of Alex’s friends and cousins came closer. She heard Toby before she saw him. He was obviously drunk with a wild look in his eyes. They were making jokes about the married couple and Toby’s smirk left her shaken.

” Miss Brighton, there is a call for you on the telephone in the house”, managed the breathless housemaid. Anna stared at the flowers in the maid’s hair as she followed her back into the rambling Blackwell Estate. It was difficult for Anna to locate the library where the telephone was situated on her own. The entire staff was dressed in their finery on account of the wedding reception, the remnants of which were being cleared from the mansion’s grounds.

“Dad!”, Anna shouted into the telephone receiver. “It has been the best wedding ever and Melissa looked such a stunning beauty!”

“Yes, Dad, they received your congratulatory telegram and I miss you and Mom so much.”

“Yes, I can visit you now that I am here, nearer home but I need to get back to office to work out things. My business is suffering.”

“Umm, OK, I suppose so, if this means just another day… but I can make it some other time. There are deals that need to be signed”, intoned Anna weakly as it brought to her mind the contract that had been signed with the eminent author Alex.

“Uh, Dad, just book my flight for the next day from home. I sure must come and see you both”, said Anna twisting the telephone wire around her fingers.

” Damn”, said Anna angrily as she ended the call and tried to reason her own elation at seeing Alex again at work. She badly needed her parent’s comfortable and sensible presence to pull her out of this vortex of emotions.

Anna raced up the stairs to her own room to get her cell phone. She had to inform Jenny, her personal secretary of her absence of another day and to find out if there were any other pressing issues at work.

As she pushed open the door to her room, Anna staggered back in shock. There was Toby, unmistakably charming with ruffled hair, kissing the housemaid. She stared at the now crumpled flowers in her hair, her head spinning.

“Ah, Anna! I was looking for you”, smiled Toby, slurring his words. Anna felt her cheeks flush from the anger in her.
“You are drunk. You are kissing the maid in my room”, said Anna coldly.

” Just looking for you, darling!”.
“And as you said, I am a little drunk, so the confusion”, winked Toby at the housemaid, patting her bottom. The maid rushed past Anna to go out of the room.

“Out”, said Anna to Toby gesturing at the still open door, her voice cracking a little. She was losing her composure again, she realised.

Toby lurched towards Anna and held her waist in a vice like grip, almost leering. That was when she heard someone walk in. She turned with a desperate look in her eyes and saw Alex.

To be continued by Yinglan

Colours

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Colours transport me back to my childhood. As I finger my children’s crayons, I am tempted to rub my fingers along them, digging in my nails to see bits of colour under my fingernails.

I remember running in the driveway after my dad’s car, shouting to remind him of his promise to get me colours. That evening, I was given a box of crayons, that I took to my room. I sat on the floor next to the bed, hidden from view. I opened my box and there were so many of those glorious colours. I slipped off the paper covering of a few; some were difficult to remove and needed force. So, I broke a couple of them at least.

To this day, I forgive my children for wanting to use them on all surfaces, including tables and walls. I am tolerant when the colours are broken. I collect all the stubs and put them in a transparent plastic pouch, which already have tens of other stubs that my nephew has outgrown.

Every morning, I walk slowly up steep hill sides and mountain steps, holding my little one’s hand, keeping an eye on my older child’s step and take them to their loving teacher who hands down to them her love for vivid, thick colour. She draws, sketches, fills in with the oil pastels my children carry.

When I come to fetch my children, they excitedly show me what they have been drawing and colouring and I am transported back to my own magical adolescent years when canvas, brushes and colours were my medium of self expression.

I see the same joy taking over my children.

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