A stab to the heart was not how she thought it would end.
It was beginning to get dark, the sky splashed with the colours of dusk. Orange, Pink, Purple, all swirled together to the music of chirping crickets as they slowly exited the scene. The branches of the trees were beginning to bow down under the weight of the birds returning home. Yet children played on, their laughter echoing in an attempt to drown out their mothers’ instructions to return home.
On a bench hidden from the rest of the park sat a silent observer. Secure in the knowledge that she could neither be seen nor heard, Ria let the tears flow. A broken heart beats a thousand words; and Ria’s heart was screaming. Broken by the knowledge that she could neither be seen nor heard, she let a few more tears flow.
Ria’s brain felt cluttered. Memories new and old twisted together as she watched the park live on without her. She watched the children play on the same monkey bars she had fallen off, she watched them climb the same tree under which she had shared her first kiss, she watched joggers stop under the same shed under which he had asked to marry her.
Yes, the park lived on, but Ria’s heart had frozen ice-cold. She had not let it beat since the day he had chosen to leave her behind. All because her family had refused to buy his parents a new car? Was that all she was worth? Was that all her love was worth? A car?
Love? Right. What was love? Just a mix of chemicals inside her. She had let it go on for too long anyway. Love was a hoax. True love did not exist. She wrapped her arms around herself and reminded each little teardrop this vital fact.
Ria suddenly shivered and looked up. A cold night had already fallen, the stars twinkling at her obnoxiously. She stood up and dusted herself off. It was time to go home. She trudged down the well-worn path, letting her feet lead her on. Lost in thought, it took her a second to realise that they had traitorously stopped. Looking up, she realised that she had stopped a small distance from an old couple. They were probably also heading home. Not really in the mood for a chat, Ria held back. Strangely, the old couple stopped too. Grandma appeared to have gotten tired and had chosen to sit down on a bench nearby.
Ria scoffed at herself, “I wonder how much grandma’s parents had to pay grandpa to get her married back then.” she thought. She followed grandma’s eyes, watching granda waddle a distance away.
“True love, my ass,” she mummered to herself, “Grandpa cannot even wait while grandma catches her breath.”
Ria was about to turn away, deciding to take another route home when suddenly, grandpa turned around. He began hobbling back towards grandma. When he reached the bench he smiled; a true smile that made his eyes twinkle with devotion. Slowly he reached up towards grandma. When he drew his hand back, Ria saw it clearly, a small red flower was nestled in her grey hair.
Ria stood rooted to the spot, long after the old couple had faded into the distance. The silence around her was heavy. She blinked, her gaze drifting towards the stars that just moments earlier, had offended her. She blinked again, finally letting herself acknowledge the warmth that was washing over her heart.
A warmth that felt both familiar and new, a warmth that drew the stars away from the sky and back into her eyes: Hope.
Life is hard for those who hunger for hope. “Hope” was the word given to me by Rucha and I just decided to write a feel-better piece. I hope all my readers enjoyed reading this as much as I loved writing.
Thank you for sticking around and also for the support and encouragement I’ve been receiving. Please do keep giving me your feedback. 🙂
Niana was seven years old. She was now a big girl. “Big girls don’t cry,” she was constantly told.
Yet, the tears that were gushing down her cheeks seemed impossible to stop. Niana sniffled, rubbing her eyes hard, “S-Stop it,” she told herself, “C-Crying doesn’t h-help.”
“No it doesn’t,” came a voice, “it just makes your nose all red.”
Niana looked up. There she stood, the very person who had made her cry, Cassandra. Niana bolted to her feet.
“L-Leave me alone,” she said, with as much force as she could muster.
Almost instantly, Cassandra hung her head. Niana stared at her in disbelief. Could the Playground-Queen Cassandra be ashamed of herself?
Cassandra cleared her throat, still quite unable lift her eyes, “Niana, I’m sorry I made fun of your stutter. I didn’t mean to make you cry. My mamma explained why you talk like that. I didn’t know before,” she looked up and locked her gaze with Niana, “I’m really sorry,” she repeated.
Niana stared back at Cassandra. She looked like she was about to cry herself. Slowly, Niana’s lips twitched upwards.
“It’s O-Okay,” she said, “I f-forgive you.”
Cassandra squealed happily, hopping a few times, “I know I haven’t always been the nicest person, but I really want to be your friend Niana,” she held out both her hands, “this is for you.”
Niana looked down at what Cassandra was holding out. There, in the palm of her hands sat a tiny cup of chocolate ice cream.
Niana was now eleven years old. She was no longer a child. “This is freedom,” she thought to herself as she zoomed around the neighbourhood, finally free of the training wheels on her bicycle.
She saw Cassy waiting for her at the other end of the street, waving out excitedly. Niana waved back with a grin plastered on her face. She remembered the day Cassy had gotten her training wheels removed. She had watched enviously as Cassy displayed her natural athletic abilities, riding around the footpath. Not anymore; Niana had finally caught her with her best friend.
Niana peddled over to where Cassy was waiting. Nothing could bring her down today!
Of course, no sooner had that thought occured to her, was she on the ground. Her bicycle lay a few inches away and her pride below her.
“Niana! Are you okay?” Cassy squeaked peddling hurriedly over. She stopped expertly next to Niana and hopped off her own bicycle.
Niana huffed, “I’m fine. Looks like I’m not as good as you yet” she complained as Cassy helped her to her feet.
Cassy blinked in disbelief, “Niana you’re so silly. Of course, you wont be an expert the minute you start riding. It’s all about practice.”
Niana pouted as she bent over to pick her bike up, “I just wanted today to be epic! The wheels are finally off. It was supposed to be a big day.”
Cassy giggled, throwing her arm around Niana’s shoulder, “It is a big day. You can now ride wherever you want. We can now go all over the place. We are going to celebrate this. You know how we celebrate don’t you?”
Niana looked up into Cassy’s twinkling eyes. She did know; a big scoop of chocolate ice cream.
Niana was now seventeen years old. She was a strong, independent woman who needed no man. She reminded herself that over and over again as she groaned into her pillow.
“Niana!” Cassy had entered the room, her big beautiful eyes flashing with rage, “Your mamma called me to tell me how you’ve been sulking in your room all evening. She doesnt even know why.”
Niana shot her a look. Slowly, a look of realization crept over Cassy’s face.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, “you told him you like him, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” Niana moaned, “but he doesn’t like me back.”
“Because he’s crushing on you!”
There was a ringing silence in the room.
“Oh.” said Cassy, her face frozen in shock.
“Oh.” said Niana, her face reflecting her utter defeat.
More silence followed, neither quite knowing what to say until-
“You know how we fix this don’t you?” Cassy asked.
Niana looked up at her best friend and smiled.
Yup, a big tub of chocolate icecream.
Niana was now twenty five years old. She was now a wife, and soon to be a mother of two. She rubbed her pregnant belly as she walked down the path in the sweltering heat.
It had been a year since that fateful night but she still missed her terribly. So suddenly, so unexpected, but Niana’s Cassy, her partner-in-crime was now gone.
Niana sighed as she made her way to the little headstone where Cassy lay. She settled herself down next it and smiled.
“Hey Cas! How are you doing?” she began gently, “I know it has been a while since I came to see you. Things have been such a mess lately. I went for another sonogram today. Twins Cas! Twins. And here i thought one would be hard enough.”
Niana laughed to herself, picturing the look of hillarity that would have graced Cassy’s face. The thought of Niana having to refree two children for the rest of her life would have made Cassy’s day.
“I can’t believe you wont be here to help me raise them.” she accused the stone, “they are going to be one aunt short Cas! You better be sorry about that. You aren’t even around to celebrate this big day.”
Niana sniffled, tears now pouring down her cheeks. She touched Cassy’s headstone picturing her smirking back at her. She knew what Cassy would have reminded her.
They already had their special way to apologise, to celebrate big days, to drive away pain and sorrow: Chocolate Ice Cream.
This was my first attempt at a short story. It was mostly supposed to be a collection of drabbles over the years. I wanted the narrative to sound like it was Niana’s at the different stages. I wanted it to sound like her said age. I hope I could deliver.
This was the second day of the one word challenge between Rucha (https://wordcravingssite.wordpress.com/) and me. As the title suggest the word I was given was “Ice Cream.” This was longer than I’m used to writing.
As always, comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome. Thank you for reading. I look forward to the feedback.