‘It’s All Within Us’ – A short story

It’s All Within Us

(The Drunk)

“Cuckooooo!!! Look who’s here!” I heard Jake’s jeering voice as I climbed up the few stairs leading up to our local club’s front door.

Two years my senior in school, Jake was a feared bully when he was in our school, and now in university he’s with my older sister Tisha. His long drawn slang ‘cuckoo’ was well-known within our school circles. He is still the same, I concluded.

I had not seen Jake for two years and here I was face to face, as he stood leaning against the wall, with his overlapping legs crossed towards the feet, while his one arm was way up the wall. A defiant pose with head tilted upwards.

All the courage that I had gathered to reach up to this club, only to see Jake, now seemed to be vanishing as I heard his gruff voice.

“Care to have a drink, ehh?” Looking penetratingly at me in the eye, he twitched his lower lip.

With bent head, I found myself awkwardly fumbling inside my school bag that hung from my shoulder. I gulped nervously and heard myself think “No thanks! I don’t drink alcohol.” Except that I didn’t say this. Even if it was true that I had never tasted any beer before, I didn’t want this pseudo to think of me as any less of a man.

“Bah!! You still a chicken? Bet you don’t drink!” Jake seemed to have read my mind. So I replied promptly “I do! Let’s go”

Jake straightened his posture. Yawning upright till his arms stretched upwards, he deliberately made a crackling sound with his hands that were knuckled together.

“Follow me!” he gestured with one hand as he took big strides ahead to enter the bar room. I had no choice. After all, I needed to talk to him about why he had been chasing my sister for a month now.

As we sat, he asked “Mixed or neat?”

His question made no sense to me but I dared not ask what he meant. Pretending unperturbed I replied, “Neat”

He whistled some peppy tune before he signalled the waiter to fetch drinks. With my ignorance about drink names, I heard him mention ‘malt’ and I wondered what’s ahead.

…….

Staring sheepishly at the plush wine glass placed elegantly on the silken tablecloth, I held it shakily with both hands, quite like a child holds a glass of milk. To boost my nerves, I consciously pulled myself upright.

With him staring at me, I had no choice but to start sipping. A bit of this dark fluid will not harm me, I convinced myself. After all, even as a kid I never got tipsy with strongest of cough syrups that mom gave me.

The first sip was ok. The taste was overwhelming while I felt burning sensation inside my food pipe, just as my stomach knotted. Starting to feel strange, I decided to bring up the issue.

“What do you want from Tisha?”

Dear me! I should have asked “Why are you after Tisha?” Obviously I had put my question wrong, so the answer came out more obscene than probably Jake ever intended to.

“Cuckoooo! What da ya mean I want? Hah plentiful. But what a bomb of a sis you have!”

Fuming with rage, I picked the glass. I felt like throwing the bitter brown syrup on his face, but instead I gulped it all in one go. Within minutes I was up from my seat, staggering up the nearby podium as I faced the microphone.

“Helllloo!!! Listen! Listen! Let’s meet Jake, the biggest lout you will ever come across….”

The usual continuous murmur of the well-behaved gentry turned into silence as everyone looked up to pay attention. Actually ours is a small cosy town so I knew many of the faces sitting down there.

cartoon-drunk-man-champagne-bottle-isolated-37246067After that, God knows what (or who) came over me, that I spoke full throttle, attributing all possible vile adjectives to Jake, while disclosing all his actions, his eve-teasing, his bullying….

The crowd listened rapt. Enraged Jake, who was more boozed up than I was, came up to me and slapped me hard, right there in front of everyone. I retaliated more vigorously but soon I was beginning to sink.

At that very moment things took a different turn. Lucky for me, Uncle Tim, my neighbourhood constable was watching it all. He came to my defense. Soon a huge drama unfolded that I watched with hazy eyes and groggy mind.

After Jake got the bashing that he would remember his whole life, he left the place. Uncle Tim dropped me home, much to my mom’s dismay on seeing me in that state. But she didn’t ask anything.

……

In the coming weeks, I feared the worst. Without any emboldening liquor, I would be no match if burly Jake were to corner me on a lonely road.

But it was all quiet for the whole week, and surprisingly Jake was nowhere around my sister. Just to ensure her safety, I decided to drop her and pick her up from her university each day.

Then one day, I saw him. He was coming towards us as we walked. He stopped.

“Hello Bob! Hi Tisha ”

Tisha ducked behind me and before I could reply, Jake apologized to me for the whole episode. He also said sorry to Tisha while we both looked at him in disbelief. Never did he misbehave after that day.

I’m still figuring out what brought this change in Jake, and what was it that worked for me that day at the club? But I learnt for sure that the world takes us just the way we present ourselves to it. If we are scared of someone, he or she will not be scared of us.

Bold, scared, funny, beautiful, happy – we can be what we want to be. It’s all within us. We don’t need a drink for that, do we?

©2016 Alka Girdhar

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For: Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes Prompt Challenge #31. The prompt word given was “Have a Drink

https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/friday-fiction-with-ronovan-writes-prompt-challenge-31-have-a-drink/

First Journey

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First Journey


Oh! It’s all so scary. Save me God! Please. I can’t bear this ordeal. 
I am happy where I am. Why do they want to take me out?

Now they’re pulling my head with something. It hurts badly. Please let go!

They think they should help me. That I’m stuck inside, drenched in fluids and darkness all around me.

No!! I don’t ever feel sad in here. Never did. That’s my small home. Only mine. My mom’s womb. I feel very safe here. I get food. I feel warm and hugged.   

I again feel like crying. I fear so much. Where are they taking me? Such bright light! Strange sounds I can very faintly hear! What would it be like on the other end? Help me God! Don’t take me away from my mom! I will die. 

©Alka 2016

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Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers that is hosted by Priceless Joy, and inspired by this week’s above photo prompt.

It/he/she will not die, as that is what we call ‘life’.
Is this piece a bit exaggerated? Probably 🙂  Who knows what birthing bubs feel! May be some discomfort as their senses are not fully developed yet.

Pampering Whimpering

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Pampering Whimpering

Ted! Where are you?”

Here mom! A last minute brush up for the party” Ted raised his tone as he replied from the lounge room.

I’ve been looking for you all over the place”. Mom’s face had somewhat mixed expressions as she entered the room. “What? Are you buckling up her sandals?” 

“Tiara’s dress is too tight…not easy for her to bend down. We’re already late, mom!”

“But why are you late? Don’t you think she takes a bit long to dress up for a simple party!”

Not a simple party mom! It’s my office party and I want her to look good”

“But you cooked the lunch too. Was Tiara away somewhere?”

“Mom! She was away for hair-styling!”

“Oh well! You could’ve told me. I had cooked ample food in my tiny kitchen. You never come over. Like you did when you were younger” Mom said as she began to walk towards her room

But mom, what would Tiara have eaten on coming back from the hairdo?”

“I know, she doesn’t relish my simple food”

“Mom! Be happy. We’ll come back late tonight”

The pair walked away arm in arm, laughing. Mom sighed. When she was young, Ted’s father had never been so caring. She often wondered where Ted got it from – this knack of wife pampering.

In fact, Ted did have his dad as a role model. For he did all that his dad did not do; albeit he got carried away and did that a bit too much.

© 2016 Alka Girdhar

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For:  Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy

It was already Saturday when I checked this week’s prompt picture for FFfAW. Recently I had decided not to write any more stories for a while. But this prompt did the trick…again.

Mooing Colours – flash fiction

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Mooing Colours
– two stories

Story 1:

It so happened that a graffiti artist lost his way into a remote village farm. The farm was lovely and so were the two robust cows.

Given his usual reckless creative urges, and given that he had not earned a penny since long, the artist offered to decorate the animals.

The farmer was thrilled. Usually he adorned his beloved pair with bells, flowers and colorful mats. This would be something modern.

“Hope it will wash off??”

“Of course it will!”

The cows were soon painted in multiple hues in all possible shapes.

And over time, the bovine duo became the talk of the town.  Oblivious to their changed appearance, they went around grazing, only to be greeted by over-awed villagers. The farmer loved his popularity.

Then something strange happened. The cow pair gave birth to a calf with skin as multi-coloured as can be. People come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the little miracle.

One day the farmer decided he has had enough. He missed his original cows with their whitish-brown skin that would pulsate under his soft touch. But the colours refused to rub off.

In sheer desperation he hunted for the artist. Only he could help. But the artist had vanished into the same thin air where he came from. For artists, like magicians, can create anything out of space and time, but they themselves are not defined by space or time. Only by their free will.

One day, when he had given up all hope, the farmer came back home to see his cows in their original mooing colors.

© 2016 Alka Girdhar

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This was my story in response to the weekly Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt is provided by S. Writings. Thank you S. Writings!

After publishing the above piece, I was still in a mood for magical colorful stories and so here’s another spontaneous one.

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Story 2:

“Come sweeties! My Shona! My Lillie! “ Mrs Smith’s voice was full of emotions as she patted the colorful cows.

“Look at you. You sound as if they are your daughters Shona and Lillie” I teased her

“But they are my daughters”, Mrs Smith emphasised the word ‘are’

“What?”

Making sure no one was listening, Mrs Smith explained “Yesterday both sisters went to a fancy dress party wearing bright colorful gowns. My naughty girls ended up having a tiff with a guy dressed up like a magician”

“Aww! And then…?” my mouth and eyes all wide open in wonderment.

“He wasn’t just dressed up fancy. He was a real magician. Turned them into…” Mrs Smith hesitated using the word ‘cow’ while continuing to feed them spinach she just bought from the Woolies.

“That’s too bad! But how did they come here…to this shopping center lawns?” I was sorry for Mrs Smith but also amused at the unfolding of her story.

“I had no space to keep them in my flat. Moreover here they can munch grass.”  Mrs Smith explained, with her eyes on the ground.

“Ohh!” I giggled.  The occasion was serious but I just couldn’t help it.

Seeing me laughing, she broke down “The crooked guy wants an apology from my girls”

“Well, if it is that simple. Why don’t you apologize on their behalf”

“I suppose so. That’s what mothers are for. I want my daughters back”

As we walked away from the girls, we heard them cry in their mooing sound. As if telling us to not go.

“Honey! I’ll be back soon. Will send your dad with his ute”

Mrs Smith was hopeful but I had doubts they could become humans again. In fact, I was doubtful if they were indeed her daughters or some real cows. But you never know.

© 2016 Alka Girdhar

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Hope you enjoyed my short stories. Do let me know

Colorful

Her Photo Studio – a flash fiction

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Her Photo Studio – short story

In this era of selfies, my 90 year old Nanna refuses to be clicked by some ‘weird little box’. That’s what she calls my rather big smartphone, the biggest I ever had.

But if I needed her photograph for her passport, what could I do? I had to approach her for a picture.

Once inside her room, where she spends most of her time, I told her to get ready for the picture. She eyed my ‘little box’ strangely and got up. Soon she stepped out of her dressing-room wearing her lovely cream jacquard suit with satiny rims, and dainty heels. I knew she was in her special mood. I had last seen her wearing this attire on her 50th wedding anniversary. Soon after that grandpa had passed away.

She told me she wants to go out for getting her photograph clicked. Her enthusiasm was catchy. I agreed, picked up my mobile phone and drove her to her favorite park. I assumed that’s where she wants her picture taken, but she instructed with her hand, “Not here. There!!”.

Soon we reached a shop front. While she stood waiting, I walked up to a quaint door and checked the rusty board. It was a photographer’s shop all right. She had not brought me to a wrong place. Only that the board said:

“Closed since 1990”

The studio-type photography businesses could probably not survive the technical boom.

~~~ ~~~

My story in response to: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Photo prompt by Uday

With Confident Steps…

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With Confident Steps

Mom tells me fondly how, when I was little, I used to ascend the long stair-case that reached our home terrace.

“Barely ten months old, you would crawl up the stairs…all on your hands and knees with amazing speed. Half-way through, you would look back to check if mom was looking or not!”

Mom also tells that she was always scared, and she tried to stop me as I climbed but I would increase my speed while enjoying her chase.

~~
Now too I have already climbed up a few steps, mom! This time, I’m not going to look back! For me, it is this path or no path!!  I know my goals. I know where I am going. I can already see some light beyond the horizon.

As I climb more stairs, you’ll be proud of me mom!  Once I reach the top, once I become a renowned ******, I’ll look back and wave at you…

©2016 Alka

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That was my flash fiction/micro-story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.
The prompt photo was by Louise of The Storyteller’s Abode.

Ever curious and enthusiastic babies grow up to have their own unique dreams, and they need to be given a chance. You can fill in the asterisks above 🙂 as per your unique child’s interests.

Burnt to Drill – a flash fiction

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Burnt (it) to Drill (away)

 

Grrrr swisshshssh grrrrrrrr shhhhh

The shrill swishy sound sent shivers down my spine as I lay stiff on the stretched chair, my eyes squinting from the glary light peeping inside the dark glasses that the doc made me wear.

Grrr Grrrrrrrrrrr…

It was sheer relief every time the jarring drill stopped and I got a chance to sit upright to spit out a mouthful in a little basin.

Each time I did that, my eyes opened wide and my mouth left agog at the sight of an overpowering painting on the facing wall – a flaming red guitar that seemed enigmatic in the focused light of the surgery.

This happened a million times before the doctor finally showed me all that he took out from my mouth.

I looked at the guitar one last time and came out towards the reception.

“Can I ask you something, doc?  Why that picture in your surgery?” I asked hesitatingly

“Oh! That? That was my dream thrill, this is my daily drill”, his voice sounded excited while the laughter was shallow.

“Aww!  May be you can still pursue it in your free time” I suggested,  while hoping I understood his poetic statement.

Hah! A doc with a free time? Maybe one day”

I came out thinking. Next week I’ve my entrance exam for medical college. I’m sure I too do not love medicine.

~~~ ~~~

My last minute story for the weekly challenge Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy.  The picture prompt from pixabay.

 

Building Up & Down

Here are my two short stories/flash fiction with the same title ‘Building Up & Building Down’, for the weekly challenge Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy. They were inspired by the below photo-prompt provided by Ellespeth’s Friend.

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Story 1

“Superb! A marvel!!”

“Agree. It’s too beautiful!! But what did he do in the end? Build a grand Taj Mahal for his wife and then…then…cut off the hands of loyal laborers who built it?”

“Of course it’s just a myth! Emperor Shah Jahan wouldn’t have been so cruel”, Ravi argued. “Anyway modern builders are no better!”

“And how’s that?”, Sheena raised her eyebrows in her usual argumentative mood.

“Even if, for a while we forget about illegal occupation of lands by builders, we can’t overlook the buildings that collapse due to bad structure and poor quality material used. The destitute inmates lose their life and meager resources. It’s all gain for builders and their families”

“Some truth in your rant. Last month a high rise building in my neighborhood came crumbling down on workers who were still inside”

“And don’t forget how some ambitious builders aspire to be rulers, quite like old time emperors. Entering politics is a shortest route to assert power while their manipulative ways continue”

“Hey Ravi! You sound angry. How about enjoying Taj Mahal while we are at it!”

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

 

Story 2

How are you supposed to feel if your colleague makes you laugh during busy working hours, esp. when you all are hanging in the air with your hands covered in concrete while, like some acrobat, you struggle to balance your feet?

But he always did that. For some reason, he could not work quietly. Either singing aloud or humming funny songs that kept us workers entertained. His hilarious jokes were often side splitting.

The contractor tried to control these distractions. But then, he was not always around.

Being a newbie in the industry, I personally feared losing my balance. And so, the other day when I was in the middle of gut-busting giggles and laughter, I decided to step down the ladder. While I sat and sipped tea to regain my calm, I heard a sound.

Thud! It was he who fell down from such height that he’s now hospitalised. Once his fracture is healed, I wonder if he’ll become too serious a worker. We’ll miss his jokes for sure.

 

© 2015 Alka Girdhar

Cry Baby – a flash fiction

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Cry Baby

My first day at my new university so far away from my homeland and here I am, already full of mixed emotions. Her letter added to my commotion.

I open the paper with tremulous hands.

“Missing you! When will you come back?”   

Crying for me. This girl has nothing better to do. It’s not that I don’t like her. But liking was not enough. We were kids no more who give and take without selfishness.

Ambition, success, power, money – her rich parents were looking for all these in a guy who would keep their only daughter happy.

I had almost shouted at her “I have no money. And mind it! Money doesn’t grow on trees!!

She listened dumbly with tearful eyes. Always crying. Silly girl!

That’s the last I saw of her before I crossed seas, to find my worth in a new country. To prove myself to the world.

Here she writes again. Cry baby!

I can’t do anything about her”, I hear my agitated voice while drops of water streaming from my eyes drench the paper-shreds that I slowly set free, to let them float on river water. Parting ways, each shred carves its own path.

© 2016 Alka 

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Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, hosted by Priceless Joy.
Picture prompt by TJ Paris

If you liked my post, please do share your valuable comments. Thanks.

Finally Home – a flash fiction

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Empty Nest

I paused abruptly on reaching the red bench. Something is amiss. Today again the bench is empty.

Every day, on my way to office I happen to pass by this bench. Each day I see him sitting there. Matted hair hanging on his shoulders like unwashed dreadlocks. Clothes that have not been washed for long. But how can he? He has no home. Dazed and lost, humming to himself, at times he would be playing some sad melody on his guitar while people would put coins in front of him.  

The bench looks sad and deserted. I look around. Would anyone know his whereabouts? No use asking these strangers, for they’re all passers-by using this park as a passage to their destination. For him, it was home.  

I see a young guy walk towards the bench, place a bouquet, say some prayer and walk away.

Of course this had to happen! Day after day, beaten by cold weather at night, he could bear it no more. I felt a lump in my throat. The first thing I’ll do on reaching home is donate to some institute for the homeless.  

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My above story is for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, a weekly story writing challenge held by Priceless Joy. 
Photo prompt for this week was provided by Ady.

I do know “Empty Nest” is not an appropriate title for this story but somehow it’s the first word that came into my mind after writing. Words like ‘vagabond’, ‘vagrant’ and ‘wandering’ are too cliched`.  How about ‘A Vagabond’s Refuge’?