|Creative Writing Competition 2012 India|
|OBJECT||Any Jewellery – Necklace, Ring…|
To Let It Go – Family Short Story
I love her, I really, really do, but I just wish that at this particular moment of time, she were dead. I begged, cried, shouted, fought, abused, spat, and did everything humanly possible to stop it.
But no, Trina won’t budge.
Really, I hate my best friend.
‘Oh, come ON Nikki, you just can’t stay inside for your whole life!’ she went.
‘Yes, yes I can’ I said. ‘Challenge excepted’
‘Nikki, please. You live in Hawaii. You just can’t live with a fear of water.’
‘Trina, please. I am NOT afraid of water okay. I take a bath every day. What I am afraid of, is a lots of water. As in a sea or ocean. What I have is called Thalassophobia’
Trina jumped off the sofa, her long flame-red ringlets bouncing.
‘So you are telling me you won’t surf again?’ she asked for the millionth time.
‘Seeing that I’m afraid of the thing that it’s done in, no.’
‘But Nikki, you’re a champion! You can’t leave surfing! It’s your life!’
‘Correction. It was before…stuff happened.’
‘But Nikki you’ –
‘No Trina, I’m not having this conversation again. I will never, ever, surf again. Just get this thing into your head okay?’
Trina looked at me with an expressionless face, turned around, and walked away. I looked on as her gracious curvy body dodged the various piles of clothes, empty food packets and tasteless art decors. With her green eyes giving me a last accusing look, she opened the door and went out.
And slammed it.
I sighed and started the troublesome job of cleaning the house. God only knows how Mom kept this ramshackle clean.
Late at night, after I had fed and tucked in Grandpa (HE was the one supposed to be caring for ME, but I’m the one that cooks pasta for him every night) I sat on the terrace of my house, looking out towards the partial view of the ocean visible from between the breezy palm trees. Trina’s words echoed back in my mind. I closed my eyes, and recalled.
I recalled the taste of the salty water in the air, the breeze that blew back my blonde hair. I recalled the burning sand of the beach, that icy coke we drank. I recalled those shellfishes we collected, and those swim suites we wore. I remembered Mom’s large white hat, and Dad’s ‘funky’ sunglasses, that pathetic excuse of sunglasses. I recalled that sense of euphoria I felt every time I stood on my surfboard, the black one with bold green design. I was almost there, standing proud on my surfboard, Trina jumping with enthusiasm, Mom clapping cheerily and Dad looking on with his smile. I felt the rush of adrenaline, the cold water on on my skin.
I was almost there.
That’s what always happened. Whenever I remembered the good times, bad ones followed. Always, without fail.
And suddenly, I remembered.
Mom’s face was tense, and she bit her lips until they were the most red I ever saw. I had seen the car Mom had pointed a few times, but what of it? Mom’s eyes went to the back mirror more and more. The black SUV was behind us. Maybe it was going the same way. Why worry?
Then suddenly, everything changed. It was like those moments in the movies, when everything goes in slow motion. But this time, it was real, it was happening.
I was turning my head back to check whether my board had fallen on the car floor or not when Mom gave a piercing scream. I turned back my head to see a large boulder sitting squarely in the middle of the road. Mom served the car sharply to the right to avoid it. We went flying out of the road, breaking the safety barriers and plummeting straight fifteen feet down in the ocean. The same ocean I had fought with my Mom to go surfboarding it. We had had a huge fight that day.
Mom’s face did not have that tension in it, now she almost looked at peace. She just looked at me and said ‘I’m so sorry honey, I’m so sorry.’
I wanted to scream, but was paralyzed. We went headfirst into the water. The glasses of our car shattered. Cold water filled in, mixed with glass and blood. My eyes won’t open up, as if not ready to face the things that were happening. I moved my hands around but felt nothing but cold water. My panic doubled when I realized that I was not able to unhook my seat belt. I lost consciousness. All I remembered was the chill of the ocean. Then nothing, darkness.
I opened my eyes. I was breathing hard and sweaty all over.
By luck, I group of deep sea divers were returning when they saw our car plummet into the ocean. I still felt a terrible chill whenever I thought about what would have happened if they hadn’t been there.
Mom was still in hospital with head and back injuries. By some miracle, I came out with just some minor scratches.
Oh yeah, and a damn terrible memory.
My hand went out to the necklace Dad had given me just before he had left. It was nothing much, just a flat disk of steel. Still, it was the only thing of him left on me. It’s nearly a month now. Dad still hasn’t come back. I asked everywhere I could, called up a thousand relatives, and checked on his office. Nothing.
Great timing Dad.
Slowly, I came out of my trance like state and realized something.
Dash it all, I was colder than a Popsicle kept in the freezer all night long.
I wrapped my hands around myself and looked out at the beach again. It was strange to look to at it, knowing that I would never go down there again, to something that had been a part of me. I turned back and went back with a heavy head and a heavier heart.
A few days later, I was jogging along the path on the outskirts of the beach. Pink was loud in my head, and the rest of the world (including that giant even-scary-in-the-sun-beach) was blocked out. I was in my second last lap, after which I would be in my house. Of course I never would have came, if it was not for Grandpa’s absolute resolve that I would live my life as ‘normally’ as possible, which apparently included my daily morning jog near the beach. I told him of my recently acquired fear of the waters, to which he gave me
‘Young Lady, just because you are afraid of something don’t mean you won’t do it again, that you should block it out of your life. For all your life, you’ll get the two options. To hold onto it, or to let it go. And the first is not an acceptable one. So get out and moving.
And he pushed me out of my own house. So here I was, thrown out my Grandpa who said that we won’t let me in before 8. It was 7:45. I decided to take another round and then go in. I out out my iPod and shuffled onto Maroon 5. I was almost enjoying the workout after days of being stuffed into the house, when disaster struck in the form of some drunken guys.
They were four of them, with their hair disheveled and clothes half on, half off. They walked in the typical way of the drunk. I kept my head low and turned around as slowly as I could. Unfortunately, the redhead in tux saw me turning and said in his slurry-from-beer voice, ‘Ooooohhhh look! A chicka ! Let’s take her to the parrrty!’. I guess his others friends liked the idea pretty much, since they all hooted and went ‘Yeah yeah! Let’s all go and parrrrty!’ they chorused.
‘Eh lady, what’s ya name?’ the skinny one in red jeans asked.
‘Uh, I’ –
‘Who cares? Let’s take her out to parrrty’ the one in Bermudas shouted.
The guy with curly black hair nodded in grim approval and took a few steps towards me. My backed out, moving closer to the ocean. He chuckled and took a few more steps. My heart hammering, I worked my mind to find a way out. Backing out was not an option, and I was getting closer to the ocean with every step. Shouting for help was useless since there was no one else around (and who would be on a Saturday morning at 8?). I could knock one out, but not all.
But my brain shut out and my fists started working as soon as the guy reached out to grab my hand. Reflexively I pushed down his hand and punched him square on the nose with the free one. He went back flying and landed on the sand. His friends went ooh and aah, but made no effort to help him out. I relaxed a tiny bit as I realized that they meant no real harm, they were just a bunch of drunken dimwits going about their way.
Oh okay, I got THAT wrong. They were the personification of trouble.
The guy stood up after collecting his wits, and kicking up a karate stance said ‘So the lady wanna fight eh? So you got it. I don’t hit ladies, but you a rough one. Come on then eh eh?
I felt no fear this time, since the guy could hardly stand straight, let alone look at me properly. I was almost enjoying it all.
And then suddenly, he gave a loud roar and pounced on me. I jumped back laughing, since it was so comical, the way this wobbly, skinny guy was trying to fight. As I jumped back, I caught the long silver chain that held Dad’s pendant, and yanked at from my neck. The chain snapped and the pendant came to his hand.
‘What is this? Some mini music disc eh?’ he said.
And threw the pendant.
Into the sea.
I stood there, dumbstruck and horrified, and the pendant, sparkling in the sunlight, went into the ocean with a heart-sinking plop I could hear clearly. The guy apparently thought that he had achieved a feat, since he clapped his hand together and hooted.
I looked at the ocean. The feeling of panic, the sweaty palms, the knot in the stomach, the lightheadedness and the pain, all came back to me.
But so did Dad’s face.
And so did Grandpa’s words
For all your life, you’ll get the two options. To hold onto it, or to let it go.
Ditching my iPod into the sand, I ran a few steps and leapt into the ocean. The cold water was a shocker, and made me realize what I had done. Immediately, I let out the breath I was holding, and closed my hand into fists. The memories flashed again, but sharper and more real than ever. The chase, the boulder, the falling. The broken glass around, the water on all sides, the coldness of it all. That feeling of helplessness, the feeling of utter despair.
My head bobbed out from the water for a second, and through my half closed eyes I was something gleaming. It was the pendant. I decided, nearly drowning in that cold ocean, that this was not what I chose. I had to let my fear go, to get back my life before the accident. And that was only possible if a confronted it.
Something inside me warmed up. The part of my heart that still wanted to surf, still wanted to go down to the beach, still wanted to feel the sea breeze. The part of me that remembered the euphoria, love and warmth of it all. I seized to that part, and let the other go.
So I let the memories drag on, but this time, I was an observer, not a doer. I felt the pain, yes, but it was not the sharp pain of reality, but the dull pain of the past.
And slowly, slowly I came up to a floating position and then I remembered the good memories again. The knot was still there in my stomach and my head still light, but I was not in panic now. I was acceptance that came to me, and I overcame my fear by facing it head on.
I was still floating around when something touched my hand. I clasped it in my hand and knew without seeing that it was the pendant.
My Dad, that sneaky one, was a CIA agent, hiding from a gang of drug smugglers against who he had solid evidence. When he went into hiding, the smugglers sent out their goons to hurt us, so that that would come out of hiding. He did, a week after my stint in the ocean. When I told him of it all, his eyes went real wide and the first question he asked was ‘Where is it now?’ I said in the hospital.
‘Not your Mom, the pendant!’
The pendant was the evidence. It was actually a chip inside a platinum cover (platinum!) and the chip contained the list of some of the most wanted men in the world.
That summer, I learnt two things. Firstly, to overcome your fear, you have to let go.
Secondly, damn it, platinum looks like steel!