Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Summer Day ــ Short Story

 Today marked the first day in the second week of our annual summer visit. It changed, changed very much from those days I could remember. But  no, I couldn’t remember days, not a whole day anyway, just fast glimpses that flickered within my mind then went away before wrapping my hands around them digging for more depth, more memories.
    The first instance I entered the house, after one year of not seeing it; the little changes that seemed so natural to the inhabitants of the house took my surprise. Little details year by year, that must’ve been imperceptible one day, now swept away the place in my reminiscences, and the people within it. This year, gramps put a T.V on the table facing his favorite chair in the bedroom where he and granny stayed. I watched as she entombed herself beneath the many layers of quilts her bones incapable of taking the air conditioner artificial coldness whilst she repeatedly asked her husband to turn the damned TV off as her ears were fed up from hearing the reruns and he would either ignore her or tell her to stop controlling his life. I passed their room and advertisements were on. Funny! So funny how they seem to disentangle life’s deepest conflicts and true heart of suffering into simple products that buy you happiness. The toothpaste will get you the girl. Coke will make you dance. Soap will make all men want you and cologne will make women have hard time resisting your charm. And at the end, all are happy, all a smiling. I watched the sullen face of Gramps and the light in his eyes put off before the cheerful ads and the  irony overflowed my heart and I couldn’t resist smiling contemptuously.        
    At the end of the hallway, there was the kitchen where mom was standing under a cloud of smoke. Seeing me dressed up, she said, while stirring whatever it was in the bowl, “Where to miss?”
  “Going for a walk.”
   “Okay, just don’t be late.”
  On my way to the door, I saw my sister in the living room playing with my cousins; both toddlers whose mother left five months ago. My bag fell and when I bent down to get it, the youngest approached my face with his mouth still incapable of kissing, yet his almost-kiss had more purity and innocence in it than other thing I had ever seen. I kissed him back and wondered how any mother could do that to her child.
   In the sky, the sun was blazing and almost immediately, I was covered with beads of perspiration that made my clothes stick to my body. I had second thoughts about heading back home, but visualizing what awaited me of  dullness made me push my legs faster away.
   Before me stood a clothes’ store and just a glance at it told me that there was nothing there my parents could afford; and really, I took only twenty bucks with me, so anyways, I’d buy nothing. Still, I entered.
   It was a hobby I had, entering fancy places and acting like I had a mine of gold in my backyard. It wasn’t like I ever had dreams about these stuff, but it always amused me to see how the treatment changed when they knew your purse was full. I could act well. I knew how my posture determined everything. Using hands and especially pointers implies a feeling of superiority that makes people feel inferior to you and thus, hate you; but when you go ‘shopping’ in places like that, it was inevitable  to act proudly in order to gain respect determined by how much money is in your bank account, and since I had no bank account, I had at least to make them feel like I was a millionaire.
   I tried on a beige dress that had fake but beautiful jewelry all over it reflecting the lamp’s light. Looking at the mirror, some changes had to be made. I took off the rubber band and let my hair glide gracefully down my back; the shoes too, I threw them away for they didn’t fit. I saw the reflection and it was no longer me. It was someone beautiful. For the first time in my fancy stores adventures I wished I could own it. The price of it appalled me; it was what my dad made in a month. I hid it away and focused only on that beautiful reflection that I seemed to have stolen away from someone else, for it couldn’t be mine. Through my head, ran a million fancies, when abruptly I heard a knock on the door from the salesgirl that made my feet land back on the crude lands of reality. Embarrassed, I gave her back the dress tying my hair and wearing my shoes and the me I had  always been came back.
  I moved forward with a destination unknown. It made me insecure, walking without a target. Within the wide streets, I felt my skin melting into the particles of air as the y burnt in it. My eyes could determine no end to the way.
   I was snatched away from my thoughts by a smell of cigarettes that at first, I let pass unrecognized but when I felt the proximity of it was something I couldn’t neglect, I looked beside me. There stood that kinda guys you always seemed to instinctively avoid saying, “wanna talk a walk with me sweetie?”
 “You go to hell!” I sneered going further away. Going back home.
  I remembered the way he smiled and it made me nauseous. There was always something humiliating about a guy hitting on you; turning the person in you into nothing more than a body that would be rotten when your soul leaves it. Few tears escaped my eyes, and for some reason, the way back home was longer.
   I pushed the door open. No one was in there. It scared me a little but then I saw them all, in the bedroom, around the TV. Gramps was more  alert and granny finally awake; mom out of the kitchen and my sister sat beside her with the little boys on her lap. All were laughing. I couldn’t say happy. Laughter is a spontaneous act that has not the least relation with anything within you. You can laugh when you are happy, and sadness could never stop you from it. Nothing could. You laugh and have no control over it. I searched for an empty room and threw myself over the bed choosing to pass the rest of the day blissfully sleeping.  


Sam Liu said...

This was an engaging read, Maha. Your writing is truly wonderful, it completely draws your reader in. And I have said this before, but still it is true. You make many striking points, but I especially liked how you touched upon the fact that adverts have us believe that the answer to all life's problems is material objects. Very, very true. And I loved this paragraph:

"I moved forward with a destination unknown. It made me insecure, walking without a target. Within the wide streets, I felt my skin melting into the particles of air as the y burnt in it. My eyes could determine no end to the way."

I have often felt like that in the heart of the city. You have a wonderful ability to identify and describe the deepest of human emotions.

Brian Miller said...

i think this was the longest thing i have ever read by you maha. you kept it moving all the way through...and maintained the emotion as well....i like the close...the differenc between it and what is offered in artifical adverts...

sheri said...

maha, i've got to tell you that i love this newest style of writing that you offer! it seems more personal, less dagger-through-my-heart kind of writing. everything i've read has always been wrought with so much skill and bravado but i can relate more to this style! you tantalize me each and every time i come by to visit...YOU are an incredible pleasure to me!

steveroni said...

MAHA, I would also have ended that day ...sweeping it away, sleeping it away. For many years that was my escape from the world of cruelty. Now, my escape is being busy.

But do you know, there is not ONE THING I do today which I do not absolutely LOVE. I pray that can be your own reverie now, and I suspect it is.

PEACE! You are AWESOME, girl!

Magpie said...

It was like walking through your day with you. Wonderfully descriptive.

dulce said...

Amazing part of a day in a family life... you being the observer is the best part of it all.

Anonymous said...

You need to write a book I think. I have to agree with Sam Liu on this. Very well done. I needed to read a post like this today.

THE BEATY said...

Throughout some of your more recent stories I've started to notice a bitting sarcastic sense of humor to it all. I personally am a huge fan of that