Orange Candy: A Short Story 

Image courtesy : kingofwallpapers.com

I look out through the bars, clutching the orange candy in my palm. Every Iittle while, it slips out and I drop it nearly, for my hand is wet. The bars are hot to touch and the sun is in my eyes. I look back at the squeaking swings where the children crowd about. I look for Dana’s yellow frock. She is behind the snotty kid in the red shirt. Dana always pushes the children in the queue. 
I shift the candy to my other hand and wipe it on my brown shorts. I have pockets but I hold it still. 

There is the lady with the brown curls. The curls hang over her forehead. She looks through the bars too, from the other side and smile at me. She looks at the crowd of kids near the swings. Her head to one side and her hand on her cheek, she looks down. Her curls cover her face and her ring with the crystal, shines strong in the sun. 

I hear a shout from behind and someone pulls me by my shirt. Abe is pulling at me roughly. “Don’t you look at her! Don’t talk to her! She is a witch.” 

I lick my dry lips and turn away from the bars. I am sure she has heard him. I know that. I look back and she is still sitting on the bench across the flower beds, looking down, looking down. 

I touch the bars of the park gate one last time and then pull them back again. The bars are hot. 

I run behind Abe to where Dana is and hold her frock tight. She looks down at me in anger and then sees the candy in my hand. Dana pulls my cheeks and I hand it over to her. The candy with the wet cover. As if I had dropped it in a puddle and then fished it out. The way Dana and I do, sometimes, when there is rain and we put our coins in the paper boats to ride in. 

I get on the swing and she pushes, hard, so that I grab the chains with my hands, glad that the candy is gone and my hand is not wet and I can hold on tight. I go up and up and then I look across the big green park and I see her, the pretty lady once again, not looking down but at us, at me, her eyes small against the sun and her smile little and hard. 

Dana screams and a boy with long hair pushes her down in the dirt. No one pushes my swing any more and I want to hit that boy but the swing is still high and I cannot jump off. It slows down in a while and Dana is sitting in the dirt, her face has a dark brown blotch and tears down her cheeks . Dana has short black hair. 

———————————-

I look through the bars at the boy in the brown shorts, his hair wet with sweat and limp. He has eyes that glitter and he looks at me. 

Whenever I come and sit on this bench next to my little Arnie, now deep in the earth and the daisies and the grasses growing over him, I see the boy playing in the park next to the cemetery. There are a bunch of kids there, yelling and shoving and fighting. 

The children come on the weekends, towards the evening, when the sun is less fierce. I am always here, wanting to talk to Arnie, looking for him in that bunch of kids and my Arnie would have been taller than all of them. He never liked the swings but ran along all the paths. 

The forest beyond the park looks dark and inviting. I often walk there, listening to the sounds of the jungle. There are birds that sing and there are birds that bring a message. From the long gone. I listen. But Arnie never talks. 

Would he have liked to come here and play with them? With these children? Would he have liked my handing over the candies to little ones? Arnie would have shouted and snatched them from my hands first of all. That little boy always takes it from me so shyly. And then he holds it in his fist like treasure. Opens his hand every little while to look at it and sometimes giving it to another kid. 

I like his hair. Like a wet mop. Not like Arnie’s brown mane. Shy and quiet with eyes full of understanding. Would he come to me if I called? 

I see the children now, in a cluster around the swings. They yell so much that it makes me wince. But they could have been Arnie’s friends and perhaps Arnie could listen to them now, the noisy bunch. They are running and screaming and alive and Arnie was running in the street one last time as the blue car careened forward slow, slow and hit Arnie so slow. But he fell and bled and moaned. Is he moaning still, beneath the flowers and the warm, rather hot sun? 

I get up from the bench. My long white dress gets stuck in the bushes. I pull at it impatiently. The children are fighting and someone is down on the ground, crying and the little child is up in the swing, looking down at the girl with anxious eyes. 

I walk to the gate of the park and push it open. The bars are hot to touch in the fierce sun. It creaks on its hinges and the children look my way. Their faces form a perfect O, as they look in with rounded eyes and a frozen countenance. I mumble the spell under my breath as I walk towards them but I stumble and trip. The boy rushes forward to help me up, his eyes limpid pools of pity. But the spell breaks and the bunch runs back screaming in horror. I smile at the boy who hesitates and I hold out the candy. 

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Rain

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The little boy scampered through the puddles left by the rain that came on him suddenly. The tin roof of his shack by the dirt track had holes that let in the rain water. The coarse orange blanket he shared with his brother was soaking wet. He would get curses and kicks when Buddy got home from working the shift. He pulled the blanket out to spread and dry in the sun, dragging it and making it muddy.

The sky looked grey and the little boy sat outside on the edge of a large jagged stone, half buried in the dirt track. Momma had once cut her face on that, when Pa had pushed her out in a drunken rage. She was gone before long and the boys took to looking for food in the bins.

The sun was out now and it got warm. The little boy scraped the mud stains out of the blanket and flicked away the water droplets.

Word Count : 162. This is my submission for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge, where we are given a photo prompt and approximately 100-175 words with which to build our stories. The challenge is open to everyone who would like to participate.

Cross posted for Day 4 task of Writing 101.

Clickety Clack

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Clickety clack went the sound in all hours of the night. Granny’s house was near the rail tracks and the trains could be heard whooshing by, the tracks rattling, the screech of the wheels and the shrill whistle. The branches of the nearby trees rustled in the wind, disturbed by the passing train.

The children always hated the noise and put their fingers in their ears to block out the sound. Granny smiled because she had lived half her life there. The trains did not let her feel lonely, she said.

And now she gathered the children’s clothes and tied them in a dirty sheet to make a bundle that their father could carry. He was coming later that day to take his little ones across the tracks to the settlement where he had a small farm.

“Please come with us, Granny,” they tugged at her skirts. “I have someone to take care of,” she said placidly, as she plucked button daisies and held them in her sweating fists, hobbling slowly towards her husband’s grave.

Word Count : 175

Thank you to Louise Bunting with The Storyteller’s Abode for the prompt photo this week.

This is my submission for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge, where we are given a photo prompt and approximately 100-175 words with which to build our stories. The challenge is open to everyone who would like to participate.

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 Shadows on the Wall- Part 5

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The following work of Flash Fiction is in collaboration with my fellow blogger friend, Jithin of Photrablogger. The picture above is his creative photography which inspired this series of flash fiction writing. Do check out his blog to read about his adventures while travelling and many lovely pictures.

Character List:

Margaret or Maggy- a 19 year old girl, out to search some truths

Steve- the caretaker of the mansion, a man in his fifties

Robert- the house cook

Grandpa- Maggy’s grandfather

Part 1 by Sweety

Part 2 by Traveling Hat

Part 3 by Saya

Part 4 by Moses

You are now reading Part 5 of the story. Please read the parts that came before so that you can enjoy the story and understand the flow.

Maggy sat up in her bed abruptly, shaken from the vivid dream she just had and saw Robert, sitting in a chair opposite, looking at her speculatively. Dawn was breaking outside. She saw the trees of the woods take form in the growing light. The cold light of the day did nothing to dispel her fears or to allay her apprehensions. She pressed her fingers to her temples. She felt overwhelmed by the turn of events.

She had arrived in her Grandpa’s mansion the previous night in the hope of uncovering his mysterious disappearance a year back. But, the bloodcurdling scream in the middle of the night and the encounter with a shadowy form had left her nerves frayed.

Maggy swung her legs out of the bed but moaned as she tried to stand. Robert jumped up to help her. Maggy felt a vague discomfort as he steered her with his hand at her elbow. The touch of his soft shirt sleeve evoked memories of a childhood when she and Rob played in the kitchen, in the house and in the woods near the enormous mansion. The look in his eyes as he appraised her were cool but she could not forget the warmth of his gaze just the night before.

Maggy freshened up in the bathroom hurriedly and changed her clothes. “I would like to go for a walk”, she announced weakly. Robert excused himself, saying he needed to be in the kitchen to plan the day’s meals. With trepidation, Maggy walked out of the side door of the living room to the large and now unkept garden. The fringes of the once magnificent garden were slowly being encroached by the surrounding woods. Her grandfather had regaled her with fascinating stories of the woods when she was little. With a start, she remembered her dream, where she was in the dungeon of the mansion. “Is there really a dungeon here? “, she wondered aloud. Her sound sounded hollow even to herself.

Maggy walked on. In her misery, she hardly looked at the tiny wild flowers growing in the bushes. The birds chirped, but her ears echoed with the sound of her Grandpa’s voice, calling for help. She felt as if she were walking in a dream. As the bushes grew denser and the trees blocked out light, Maggy realised she had walked farther than she had realized. She turned to go back. Trying to distangle her clothes from the thorns of a plant, she noticed strange marking on one of the tree trunks.

Surprised, she came to herself with an alertness she had not felt before. She reminded herself of the reason of her visit to the mansion. She had to find out what had happened to her beloved Grandpa. Brushing the leaves off her clothes, she looked around keenly. There was another tree trunk with a similar mark on it. And another… if it was a trail, it seemed to be leading deeper into the woods. She would lose her way, Maggy realised. “I must come back with someone, maybe Rob”.

Her heart quickened at the thought of Rob. With brisk steps, she walked back to the edge of the garden. Some of the beautiful wild flowers were trampled! Was she careless while entering the woods? Or had someone else been here, after her? Following her?

Maggy quickly entered the house through the small kitchen door. Robert was drying the dishes with a towel. Last night’s mess had all been cleared away. The door of the cabinet they had hidden in last night was ajar. Following Maggy’s gaze. Robert walked over to close the door. All of a sudden, Maggy heard a deep, rumbling sound coming from the cabinet? Or was it from beneath the wooden floor of the kitchen? No, she was not mistaken because the vibrations traveled through her body.

Shocked, Maggy looked at Rob but his expression was masked. “Rob”, she blurted out, “Is there a dungeon underneath the mansion”?

“Dungeon? No!”, he said almost harshly. Maggy felt lightheaded. As she swayed on her feet Rob shot out a hand to help her and she saw the crushed petals of the wild flowers on his shirt sleeve…

Can Maggy trust Robert? Where does the trail in the woods lead to? Is there really a dungeon under the house?

To be continued by Manvi

The Enchanting Light -Flash Fiction- Part 8

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The following work of Flash Fiction is in collaboration with my fellow blogger friend Jithin of Photrablogger. The picture above is his creative photography which inspired this series of fiction writing. Do check out his blog to read about his adventures while travelling and some lovely photographs.

Character List

Rebecca: Protagonist (Main Character)

Samantha: Rebecca’s mother

David Lyngdoh: Samantha’s husband and Rebecca’s father

Joe: Samantha’s childhood friend

Eda: Joe’s daughter and Rebecca’s friend

Kavin: An elderly widower who works as a supervisor in the monastery

Liam A. Viratre: Rebecca’s husband

Luna: Liam’s evil lover

Dalai Lama: The Spiritual ruler and highest priest of the Tibetan Buddhists

Anna: Chief matron at the mental asylum

Dr. Hannock: Junior doctor at the mental asylum (new character)

Part 1 by Soul and Spirit

Part 2 by Ruth

Part 3 by Saya D

Part 4 by Sweety

Part 5 by James

Part 6 by Fiction Limbo

Part 7 by Wandering Story Teller

You are now reading Part 8 of The Enchanting Light. To enjoy my story better, you need to read the parts that came before..

The rain started with huge droplets that soon turned into a torrent. The evening deepened and it was dark near the bushes Dr. Hannock usually parked his car. The trees swayed in the wind as every other sound drowned out. The mental asylum was soon a shrieking, quivering mass of dark shadows.

“Typical weather”, muttered Dr. Hannock as he pulled the hood of his raincoat lower and walked briskly around to the driver’s side of the car. He just pulled open the door and got in, making puddles on his seat. There was no need to lock cars or for that matter anything else in this god forsaken place. The engine sprang to life and the headlights could barely illuminate the road ahead but Dr. Hannock knew every curve, every bend, every bush and tree on the road to the asylum dormitory. He had to make the rounds twice daily- from his living quarters in the asylum premises to the dormitory.

As the car braked to a stop, Dr. Hannock pulled out a polaroid camera from the back seat and placed it deep in the recesses of his raincoat. It was a good day to be photographing the ghosts. Slamming the door of the car, he bounded up the steps of the dormitory. Anna, the matron at the mental asylum looked up anxiously. Her wrinkled face showed a nervousness she felt on days like this-when everything turned spooky and unreal. The rain battered down relentlessly on the arches and spires of the Victorian era building turned into an institution for the mentally ill.

Anna had been with the asylum for nearly eight years now. Much longer than Dr. Hannock, who had come in only 8 months earlier. 8 months! she repeated bitterly to herself as she reluctantly got up to escort him to his patient, Rebecca, the petite, pretty woman diagnosed with schizophrenia. When Rebecca was brought in nearly three years ago, she was fragile, ready to go to pieces at the slightest mental trauma. Although as per policy, Anna was supposed to keep her distance and treat the case professionally, yet she developed a maternal attitude towards Rebecca.

Anna worried for Rebecca constantly because of her frequent and vivid hallucinations which grew in intensity over a period of time. Anna began to feel emotionally drained because of her helplessness. Then Dr. Hannock was assigned to Rebecca’s case. A junior doctor, he nevertheless made astonishing progress and Rebecca improved. Her hallucinations subsided. Her health improved and she seemed much stable over a period of just a few months. Anna was thankful and envious…

Both Anna and Dr. Hannock walked in smiling in Rebecca’s high-ceilinged room. The spaciousness lengthened the shadows for the room was seldom well-lit. “Budget cuts”, rued Anna. Rebecca was staring out of the window, looking at… nothing but the rain. Dr. Hannock took out his polaroid and placed it on the table. He whispered a few soothing words to Rebecca to bring her out of her reverie. In spite of that, Rebecca started and turned her reddened eyes towards Anna.

“Anna, tonight is the time I must talk to them, confront them”, said Rebecca in a heavy voice.

“Who do you mean, Rebecca?”, asked a startled Anna. “Them, out there”, said Rebecca wearily. “Liam, my beloved. Luna, my hateful enemy who seduced Liam away from me. My friends, Joe and Eda, who tried to murder me, to take me away from my journey where I wanted to make the golden locket whole again. To free Liam from the curse…to save my mother from the evil travellers from the planet of Pandora.” Rebecca convulsively placed her fingers around her wrist and twisted them, as if holding a bracelet.

Anna darted anxious glances from Rebecca to Dr.Hannock and back again. Why was the doctor not doing anything to calm down Rebecca? Instead, he was fiddling with his Polaroid, taking pictures of the darkened window!! No, it was not just the window but what was beyond it. As the photos developed in front of her eyes, Anna discerned irregular shapes. Shadowy forms! She could not see anything with her naked eyes!

Rebecca traced one shape fondly with her fingers. “Liam”, she moaned. Dr. Hannock put his hand on Anna’s shoulder.”We need your help”, he said hoarsely.

” Are you feeding her hallucinations?”, Anna almost shrieked. “Have you been telling her that all that is in her head, all her visions are true?”

“Yes, because it is a truth beyond the timelines we know and the boundaries of life and spirits as we understand.” Ignoring the look of horror on Anna’s face, he continued. “When I first came here, I treated Rebecca as any other schizophrenia patient. Then I realised that what she remembered may not make sense to you or me trained in modern medicine but to somebody who believed in past lives. As it is, I trained in past life regression before I came to this mental asylum. My mother remembered a lot from her past life and was branded mentally ill. I vowed to become a doctor to cure her. But what I found was that there were many things that could only be explained through delving into the patient’s mind and believing her version. Anyway, I have tried past life regression with Rebecca and it works. What she talks about is not a figment of her imagination or the ramblings of a diseased mind. She has lived through all these life incidences.”

“She remembers the people whom she encountered in her previous life and on an unfinished mission. And more so, because they are a part of her present life as well. She is an extraordinarily sensitive soul and she was thwarted in her mission. So she would live the cycle of those events till they are resolved.”

As Dr. Hannock spoke, Anna looked at Rebecca to see her get out of her bed and towards the window. The sky was lightening. Incredibly, it was still night. Yet the light glowed brightly and Rebecca walked towards it as if in a trace.

Would Rebecca be able to reconcile her past and present lives? Would she succeed in her mission of saving Liam and defeating the evil travellers from the planet of Pandora?

Read the next part by Stardust Elephant