Short stories online - I am home...
Short story - I am home
I was standing under open heavens, waiting for something... I don’t know what, perhaps... a star in the cloudy skies. There was nothing that night, the ink blue sky was interrupted by a white veils flying all around. The balmy night was filled with the scent of jasmines. I stood alone, wondering why I felt so lost and alone, I have never felt that way before, perhaps that was why I was crying in my sleep. I felt like a stranger to myself.
I remember waking up that morning sobbing in my sleep, the hand that embraced me felt heavy. In a husky voice he asked me, “Sweetheart, why are you crying?”
“Crying?” I asked, not even aware that, that was what woke me... but thank God that he did not wait for the answer, he was fast asleep, his hands drawn tighter in embrace.
I was trying to remember the dream that made me cry, it came in bits and pieces. It did not make sense at first. I just got busy with the chores of the morning, I switched on the kettle on and got busy with cooking the breakfast for my beautiful little family.
Later in the day, free from all my chores I was at the computer, looking through my emails. I saw the mail, the dream came back to me. She was on the ship, my friend of many years, waving goodbye to everyone with tears in her eyes. Dan, short for Daniella looked at everyone and smiled, but she did not turn towards me even once.
“Dan” I called, my voice did not make it out of my throat, it was not audible, the harder I tried, the muter I became.
She knew that I was here, but she did not turn my way. The ship sounded its departure and moved away into the sunny blue horizon.
Dan and I were friends from the time I could remember. In fact she was my only friend. We went to school together, we ate and played together, and wore the same clothes. Now, don't mistake me, we were so close, that as little girls we believed that we were twins and insisted that our parents buy us clothes that were identical. Such was the madness that possessed us in our childhood.
We grew up into our teen years and Daniella changed, she would act like she was possessed. Her whole life’s aim was to date the most popular guy in school. That, she did with ease, she became the flirt that I was afraid to be seen with.
Her pursuits took her further and further away from me. The beautiful vivacious girl, with dark wavy and perfectly set hair, was no more my friend. It was not as if we never spoke to each other, but we never connected like before. Her family moved to another locality in that big town we lived and our meetings were infrequent.
I set my mind on education and became the nerd that scared men off. I hid my pretty face behind the books, that is what Daniella would often tell me. My tall frame seemed to stoop because I was so shy and painfully aware of the stares that went below my neck. I was dressed in clothes that was twice my size to hide my body. I was the worst dressed girl in town.
A few years later Dan came home one day and invited me to her wedding. The wedding was what fairy tales were made of, her husband looked like he had just stepped out of a fashion magazine. That was the last I saw of Daniella, she looked like a princess in a flowing white gown, on the steps of the church, happy and ever so beautiful. I wondered then if being around Daniella ever made me feel like a plain Jane.
My life took a different route, I followed my dreams, did all that I ever wanted to do, acquired academic degree after degree. In the midst of it all I found the man of my dreams (or should I tell you he found me, I never thought this was possible even in my wildest dreams). He was a gentle, loving, perfect human being, but the icing on the cake was he was more handsome than Daniella’s husband. The man was crazy about me and our life was a fairy tale.
Life was picture perfect, before I heard again from my friend Daniella. Her email said, ‘Sylvia, I have tried to contact you for God knows how long. I did not have your mail id.. I hunted for you and found you through our friends on Facebook. Your name is different now, so guess, you are married. From your posts I understand that you have a lovely life and that you are happy. You deserve to be, you were always the good one.
Then, she went on to tell me about her three failed marriages and how she went to Australia with her first husband, then with her second husband to England and ended up in the streets of New york with her third husband, who left her as soon as she heard was diagnosed with a kidney ailment.
Dan had enough money from her marriages, but her soul she said, was in turmoil.
Sylvie darling, pray for me, I want to come back home, to India. I want to see the beautiful place where we played our fairy games.... I want to see your beautiful garden and your little bunnies and birds. I wondered if Dan still thought I lived in the same place and was the same little girl who had bunnies and birds for pets.
My heart wept for Dan, the little girl who always wanted to be the fairy who helped others. My Daniella, who was so loving and caring, that the goodies she got were always shared with me, I cried because I had failed Daniella. I never reached out to her, I did not stop her from her mad pursuits. My Dan was now beyond hope.
My waking life and my sleeping moments were all filled with thoughts of her. Feelings of guilt assailed me and over whelmed my heart. My Daniella was dying.
I ran to my bedroom and pulled out the papers from the closet, where I had kept those things that were special to me. On top of the pile was the letter from the man who loved me, now my husband. I dug deep into the pile, until I found what I wanted. There was this yellowing paper, a letter from Daniella on her honeymoon. In it was a picture of her in a bikini, the woman looked flawless, with her sculpted body and perfect smile. She had written these words towards the end of her letter, Sylvie I have done you wrong. This man whom I have married had come looking for you, he had met you at some conference and was interested in you, but I convinced him that you were the most boring person on the earth. Please forgive me, if you have it in your heart to forgive me, somehow I know you will.
I wanted to tell her, it did not matter now, but at that time I was mad at her. Looking back, I think, she had done me a huge favor. I would have never been happy with that man. I had met my perfect match. I have been married to him for fifteen years now and we very much in love.
I sat at my desk and sent an email to Dan, I told her she was forgiven. I told her she was loved, she would find the friend she needed in me, but there was no response to the mail. All that I had was the dream that taunted me night after night, Dan in her beautiful white dress waving goodbye as the ship moved away.
I was preoccupied that morning with the number of things I had to do. My husband was not in the country and there was so much that I had to do on my own. He would always help me with these things, now having to do it all on my own made me tense. I had dropped the children off at school and finished all my chores or that is what I thought and on reaching home, to my chagrin I realized that I had forgotten to pick up that urgent package from the post office. I was mad at myself, and was getting ready to go out, when the door bell rang. I muttered under my breath as I opened the door. The woman who stood there was old and haggard. She whispered huskily, “You look beautiful”. I thought that she had made a mistake and asked her whom she wanted. She said “Sylvia, don't you know me.. I am ...”, her voice trailed off. The tears from my eyes fell on her wrinkled but once perfect hands. She looked at them as though they were precious and said.. “I am home.” We were lost in an embrace that took us back into the time when we were still fairies. My Dan was alive! My friend was back!
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