A PORTRAIT (Short Story from Winsome whispers of a lissome soul by Dr. G. Jacinto Shane)
It was 5 am in the morning. “Wake up already” she yelled at me.
With half closed eyes, my sight was completely rambling. I wiggled, and turned my body to the other side. I could see her wearing the polka dotted purple gown that I got her for valentines. I shut my eyes again.
“So exhausted. Stop screaming.” I phrased in a momentary illusion.
Her nagging prolonged for another ten minutes, and it made me sit up on bed, bothered by her persistent screaming. I dropped my feet on the floor, but I was still sleepy with my eyes shutting down involuntarily. I slowly tried to look up at her. She was petite. She always had been. She was standing, holding up the typical Hand-on-Hip pose. I grunted and nudged her on the back of the head, as I plodded past her.
“Don’t you dare do that again” she raced furious, turning towards me.
She was always impulsive and I liked the way, she got annoyed every time I did that.
Breakfast was done. She smiled at me from the other side of the dining table. She’s always such a sweetheart, never stays mad for long.
She pouted and said, “Dress up soon! We’re starting by 8 am”.
She then, picked up the food vessels, and carried them towards the kitchen sink.
Meanwhile, I was puzzled wondering, about the sudden trip, “Is it another anniversary?”.
“Wasn’t it the 5th of September?”, I murmured to myself and got dressed up, confused.
I have to admit that I was bad at remembering dates and anniversaries. Not my thing.
We were all set to leave. I was looking for the car keys in the living room.
“I lose these keys every time”, I hollered, losing my temper. “Amy, where are you?”
I gave up after looking for some time. Restlessly, I picked my brown shoes and polished them, as she showed up fully lighted. She displayed with her fine long black hair, cuddling a single pretty yellow daisy amidst them.
“How do I look? Does this mascara look a little too much?”, she asked raising her eyebrows.
I glanced at her for a few seconds and smirked, “You look ugly anyway. Get me the keys”.
She was quite insecure to take that easy. She rose in anger and clenched her teeth, cussing some inaudible words. Impatiently, she roamed around the room, found the car keys, threw them on the couch, tied a ponytail out of her hair and despised my existence, as she walked out of the room.
A glee plastered into my face, as I thought, “She’s cute, even without that expensive mascara on”
She shut the car door ghastly with a thud. I had already guessed that she’s probably mad at me for the rude comment.
I broke the awkward silence, and asked, “Where would you like to go?”.
There was a dull pause for a few seconds before she reluctantly raged, taking shots at me with that creepishly pink handbag of hers, “Go to hell!”.
I almost lost control of the steering wheel. “Mad woman”, I thought.
I could see her outraging through the mirror. I tried to humour her to normalcy.
“Give me the directions” I ridiculed.
“Was that supposed to be funny”, she chuckled.
“Your jokes are as dumb as you”, she jolted.
There was this sudden spark lighting up her face.
“Now, we’re even” she slammed as she burst out, giggling.
I mumbled, ” Uff! anything! as long as it takes that devilish look off your face”.
Her mood quickly shifted to excitement, and she went on laughing intensely, throwing her head back, as tears dripped down her eyes. I smiled engrossed with memories, as this laugh of her always reminded me of something from old times.
It takes me on a quick flashback to our school days :
It was a fine Friday morning by the garden at our school yard. I was there, walking by, pretending to enjoy some fresh air, when I was actually catching scenes of her, gossiping with her pals. She had these cliché type of friends that used to spy for her about the guys drooling after her. Ahem. Okay, I wasn’t drooling at her. Not even close. Okay, maybe a little.
I felt that it was the right time, that day. I garnered the courage finally and walked toward her. She abruptly gazed at me and gave me this sweet and slightly sour unpredictable look. I immediately froze with anxiety. My hands were shivering, like I was about to slip off a ledge.
I held my nerve and casually slid my fingers into the pockets.
“Hey..” I began, trying to look into her eyes.
But damn them! My eyes just wouldn’t co-operate.
I said to myself, “HUDDLE UP. You’re a guy. Girls like intimidating guys.”
I took a deep breath and continued, looking into her blinking eyes as I spoke, “You’ve got nice eyes”.
I was startled for a moment.
The voices in my head, threatened, “What did you just say?”
“This is it. You’re never talking to her again.”
“Learn to be patient, will you? You’ve ruined everything”.
The three girls beside her, chorused “Nice eyes eh?”.
She reluctantly stuck her tongue out and grinned, “Thank you”.
“She said, thanks? She just said thanks!”, I cackled. It just took two words to put me on a high note.
I added, “Maybe, you’d like to have some coffee, after school.”
My eyes were fixed on her.
She replied “Maybe”.
“Okay then.” I felt elated with a hysterical laugh.
She looked like she had been reading my mind the whole time.
“You’re such a poor stalker, Shaun”, her smile cracked into a laughter, as she threw her head in a backward arc, while tears dripped down her eyes. I guess that was the first time I watched her laugh her signature laugh. I felt truly happy.
“We had a bad first impression at the beach, but I knew you liked me after I joined this school. Don’t worry. The past is in the past. We were kids then. I am not mad about that or anything” she smiled, casually..
She had grown older but she’s still the same. I thought. It felt nice.
“A lot of years have passed” I reminisced.
She put her snout upfront and enquired “Mister. You have no idea what today is. Don’t you?”.
It was a bit embarrassing.
I acted cool, smiling, “Sure. I remember”.
“I know you, mess up. You mess everything up” she sighed.
The sudden trip was to the beach, that we first met. The beach was a long way from home. We started early but it was around dusk, when we reached the place. I could smell the salt of the sea, floating in the evening breeze.
“This never gets old”, I emoted.
The coastline, so wide and spread appeared fascinating, with the sun getting into her sheets slowly. A sequence of nostalgia rushed right into my eyes as I looked at a particular direction. All of it looked the same, but us. It took me back to our very first meeting, the one before she joined our school and we fell in love.
This is how I remember it :
She was building up a sandcastle. She could have been almost fourteen at that time.
She sang, “My sandcastle’s here before the mighty sea. Strong and elegant as me, she is.”
I heard a girl’s voice, ringing somewhere and I turned around. A sun flare blinded my eyes, as they wandered looking for the voice. As my vision came in flashes back again, I saw a sandcastle first.
“I wouldn’t call it a sandcastle though”, I mocked.
“Pretty much looks like a hut……” I snickered as I paused mid-sentence, looking at her face.
She was standing beside that crooked sandcastle. It was the first time that I ever saw her; the love of my life. She had a pale face with robust eyes and dominant eyebrows, accompanied by a shade of pink lips complimenting them.
She frowned at me, “Go away, rude boy. No one wants your opinion”.
It was kind of insulting. But I think I deserved it. It wasn’t that much of a fruitful event, but it was still memorable. I thought I’d never see her again. But I did. She enrolled in my school the next year. A love story promised by fate? I think so. School would always be a sweet memory.
Coming back to the present, at the moment, at that exact place in the beach, I saw a bunch of dry roses half sunken in the sand, still holding ground. Something felt very bitter and odd. It felt like it tried to embrace me of reality. But I didn’t want to accept it.
Before I could think much of it. “It is so cold here”, I could hear her revelling. “I’d never find a place to love more”.
She started prancing like a little girl, running along the water border and slowly put her legs in the sea water.
I watched them from a distance. She and the ocean, in their harmonious play, like they were one. Being enveloped by nature’s empire, I could feel the waves gliding with the breeze strumming and trees waving. The music of nature, from the strings of divinity filled all around us. The masterpiece of God’s melody aged around us.
Excited, she asked “The stage is set. We should dance now”.
I was hesitant complaining, “I’m not sure. If this……”.
She was always cumbersome to handle.
She held my arms tight and whispered into my ears, “One step over here and one step over there”.
I was a bad dancer. I could barely take a steady step. But it was about time before I started enjoying it as well.
Time evolved pitch dark and became the most romantic, a night can get. She appeared sparkly with the moonlight shining upon her. She had eyes that possessed the moon and laughter that reverberated with the ocean waves. Eerily, a callous fragment of agony thrilled my spine with a recurring scene from the past. I wanted to accuse it to be alien.
“My sandcastle’s here before the mighty sea. Strong and elegant as me, she is”, I hummed, as reality started kicking into my senses and tears started slowly flooding my eyes.
“Immortal lovers like the sea and shore, we can be”, I whispered, tearing up.
“You are my angel who descended the thick skies for me.”, I confessed. “Now don’t you dare leave me alone again”.
I couldn’t help the staggering teardrops, rushing through my hopeless eyes, sliding into my nostrils.
“Your tears will run dry, very soon. Your skin will shrivel, very soon. But never will we”, she charmed with a blush, stroking my hair.
She gleamed very content and jubilant with an unceasing smile.
“Your angel has to fly again”, she rang in a mellow chime.
Gasping, with a heart growing uncertain with every beat, I thrived to embrace the skin of her spectacular cheeks.
The pulp of my cold palms grazed into the empty disdained wind. I collapsed and fell weak on my knees. The pleasant ambience of the wonderful night, succumbed. The dry roses laid before me, with no elements of fragrance left.
“Just a few more minutes” I yearned.
Panting heavily, I screamed onto the deaf stranded island, “Why?”.
She was gone. The heavenly choir was put to rest. I pulled out my wallet and clenched the portrait. It had been ten long years, since the accident.
The rear of the portrait read, “Hey, mess up. Reminding you, October 12. You proposed to me at the beach. Love, Amy.”