Thursday, December 24, 2015

Come home with me

It’s a new road. The old ones bring pain. Ever since the accident, I haven’t gone on another road trip. I can’t get that image out of my mind. The hands that held me, bloody and broken. The eyes that searched me, closed, and the lips that kissed me, blue. 

He didn’t come back home to me. He died.

Months later, hands on the steering wheel, cruising through the autumn woods, I feel exhilarated accompanied by a lingering sense of peril. 

The wind whips my windshield, creating a swooshing sound along with the low drone of the car. Tires crunch over dry leaves on the road and I reach under my chin to untie the headscarf. He always said my hair looked good flowing in the wind. 

A mile later, the canopy of russet trees open into a vast field of plain land. The grasses are green here, with dots of yellow. Along the road are houses, small and bustling, with people, dogs, chickens, sheep, horses. I drive on ahead until I come to a particularly small cottage whose front yard is swarming with people, mostly kids.

I wonder if it’s a carnival bazaar. I pull over in front of the gate and get out of the car. I look around. No one seems to have noticed my arrival. I gently push open the gate and step inside. 

It’s a junkyard sale. 

There are two kids, a boy and a girl, behind the counter, selling their junk goods to the other children. Slowly, I walk towards the stall, and look around it. There are old soccer balls, balloons, some broken porcelain broaches, cricket bats, baseball caps, T-shirts monogrammed with band names, homemade chocolates, beads, hair pins and other similar stuff.  

I’m about to pick up a booby pin embellished with a single bead of pearl when a child jostles past, making me to nearly stumble sideways. I smile at the vivaciousness of the children and turn around to leave. That’s when I see something that makes me stop in my track. 

All at once, a wave of emotions washes out through me and my heart gives a sharp jolt. 

Without looking, I quickly reach out for the antique looking enamel filigree pin of a silver dragon. The purple rhinestones embedded around it still have a lustrous sheen to them. 

What is this pin doing here? 

I can vividly remember handing it to her, on a perfect rainy afternoon, snugly inside and warm, while raindrops pitter-pattered on the roof…

“No nicking around here, Miss,” the boy tells me from behind the stall. “That would be eighty six but I’ll cut down on one. Give or take.”

With shaking hands, I reach inside my coat pocket. “I seem to have left my purse home.” I tell him.

He snorts, says, “Nice try,” and holds forward a palm. 

I slip off my faux turquoise charms bracelet and hand it to him. “Will this do?”

He takes it from my hand and examines it. Then he shakes his head and hands it back to me. “This looks very posh. Why would you give it up for an old pin?”

“Please I need this pin.” 

“You don’t bother older people like that, Cen,” someone says from behind me. I turn around and see a young girl in her early twenties. She’s tall, beautiful and has a friendly face. “How about I make you and your sister cupcakes tonight and you give Ma’am here the pin?”

The boy thinks for a while, then nods. 

“Thank you.” I tell the girl. 

She smiles. 

“Do you… uh, live around here?”

She nods. “This is my house.” She looks me straight in the face and keeps on smiling. 

“I… have to get going, uh, thanks again.” I turn around to leave. 

“How have you been, Dia?” 

I stop. “How do you know my name?”

She smiles some more, and I can see her eyes sparkle. “I’ve waited my entire life to see you.”

Suddenly she inexplicably looks very familiar to me, like I’ve known her for ages, like I’ve seen her somewhere. “Who are you?”

She takes a deep breath. “My name is Kim,” she says. “Uh, you might wanna come inside.” 

She leads me inside the tiny cottage.

It’s a decent place. Soft golden light, wooden panels, simple polished furniture and a nice fireplace. The kitchen has a stove table, a small circular table with four chairs, a fridge and a microwave oven. 

“You have a beautiful house,” I tell her. “Reminds me of someone who wanted to live in a similar house.”

“Thank you,” she says. “Coffee?”

“Yes, please.” I sit down on a chair. She takes out two china cups from a shelf above. 

As I wait, I run a thumb over the filigree pin. A cold ache crawls up my throat. “Where did they get this pin?”

“Oh that, it was lying in the storeroom,” she says. “I thought the twins might want to have it for their junkyard sale. Why, you seem to like it very much.”

The rhinestones gleam in the mellow light. “How do you know me?” 

She places two cups of tea on the table and sits opposite me. “I’ve known you my entire life,” she says. “Mum used to tell me a lot about you and… dad.” 

“Your mother?” 

“Laki.” She says.

My heart skips a beat. 

For a moment, both of us become silent, and the only thing we hear is the children’s racket from outside.

Finally I say in a quiet voice, “Where is she?”

She doesn’t say anything for a while. “I’m so sorry,” she says. “I know that she was your best friend and she just suddenly disappeared, without any explanation. It must have hurt you a lot and I can only apologize to you for her. But believe me, she was only doing what she thought was –”

“Where is Laki?” I ask again, this time a little sharply.

She swallows. “She’s dead.”

My heart plummets. I feel hazy in the head, and black spots appear in the air. I feel betrayed. How could she just die like that? Why did she even leave in the first place?

Kim clears her throat. “There’s something you need to know.”

I look up at her. She’s biting her lips, as if nervous. 

“You’re going to hate me for doing this but,” she pauses. “mum loved your husband.”

Suddenly my head begins to feel woozier, and a hazy, dazed feeling overwhelms me “What?”

“I’m his daughter, don’t you see?” her voice is shaking, and eyes teary. “They went out in college before you married him,” she says. “Mum did not want to cause trouble so she… left.”

My heart drops.

“Stop!” I stand on my feet, and I’m shaking. “What are you saying?”

“This is the truth,” she cries. “I’m so sorry. Now that dad is dead, I thought you should know –”

“Don’t call him that,” I snap. “Don’t call him dad. He’s not your father.” I walk away. 

As I drive back home, I feel a burning rang inside my chest. How dare the girl accuse my husband? He loved me. He’d never have cheated on me. I grit my teeth and clench my fingers over the steering wheel. 

One mile.

Two miles.

The anger subsides, and a seething pain creeps up my throat. 

He cheated on me. 

I feel so betrayed. She was my best friend, and I loved him with all my heart. How could they do this to me? 

Soon I’m crying, and I let the tears fall. 


A low thunder rumbles from far above. Happy waves splash hard against the rocky crags. The cheerful cries of seagulls, cold wafts of breeze against my face, they do nothing to ease the ache inside me. As the waves crash, they sprinkle me with sprays of salty water. They get mixed with my tears, and I just sit there on the shore, staring far out at the horizon. 

An hour later, when I’m at the door, pressing the doorbell, I’m drenched, cold and shivering. My eyes are bloodshot, my throat feels sore and heart heavy. 

Footsteps approach from inside and the door clicks open. Kim gasps, and almost instantly, tears well up in her eyes. 

I smile. “Come home with me.” 

1 comment:

From "Die Mitte der Welt"

It's one of those hot, sky-blue days that taste of vanilla ice cream and summer and future, when your heart beats faster for no apparent reason, and when you're prepared to swear any oath that friendships never end.

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