Thursday, 26 June 2008

Lakeland (part three)

Rose stole into her mother’s room and peered about it. The curtains were drawn but daylight seeped about the drapes.
After a moment she could see the strange shape of a figure upon the bed. It was naked and its body bulged in places her mother’s didn’t. Everything was bigger, from the arch of the back to the width of the arms.
Rose’s mouth opened slightly, but she bit her bottom lip and kept herself standing there.
Beneath this mass of flesh writhed her mother. She whimpered, as if she was being crushed against her will but had finally succumbed to the inevitability of oblivion.
Everything about this scene was unrecognisable to Rose. The room had changed from the place she had known. It had never been a joyous place, but it had been a place she recognised and felt safe in. Now it was tainted with strange noises and unfamiliar scents.
Afraid of waking the great beast that was draining the life from her mother, Rose whispered: “Mummy, are you alright?” At no response from either figure she raised her voice so that it became a bizarre croak, a sound unlike any she’d ever emitted before.
Her mother seemed to open her eyes at this point and become aware of the monster, squeezing the vitality from her. But instead of fighting it off and comforting her child, scolding words were issued forth and deities were called upon.
“Oh my god, Rose! Get out of here, get out now,” shouted her mother. The creature atop stirred now, to see what the commotion was all about. Its face lifted to look at her mother and then turned slowly to regard the little girl.
Rose saw the face of a man staring, almost without comprehension, into hers. At this point she let out her scream and darted back through the door.
Her mother called after her as she fled down the stairs: “An hour. An hour was all I asked for, Rose.” The slamming front door separated a mother’s cries from a daughter’s tears.
Rose ran blindly from the house and across between the rows of perfect little cabins until she reached the grassy meadow. Here the wet grass rubbed her face mixing clinging rain water with salty tear drops.
She strove on through the tall grasses, until she fell through the last of the thicket and landed in the shallow stream that runs out into the lake.
In the summer, her and Chester would wade through here chasing brown fish and splashing each other with the cooling water. Today she just sloshed through it, soaking her knee socks and ruining her shoes. She dragged her little legs on through the stream toward the lake, sobbing hard so that it was difficult to catch breath.
Through her bloodshot eyes she saw the great expanse of blue water fanning out in front of her and Rose wanted so much to become a part of that beautiful tranquil scene.
Through her splashing she became aware of another pair of feet crashing through the water, coming towards her. She slowed down and soon felt an arm around her shoulder. She wanted to sink into this person, whoever they were, but she held still and let them turn her around.
It was Chester and as she hugged him there in the stream all her fears and strange thoughts flowed seamlessly away through his arms and into his chest.
Rose’s big brother sat her down on the grass bank of the lake, took her socks and shoes off and rubbed her feet to keep them warm.
She’d stopped crying now, but her voice wavered still. “We have to stay out here a little bit longer,” she said, shivering a little. “We’re not to go back in the house just yet.”
Chester looked into his sister’s eyes and nodded gently. He sat down on the bank too, put his arm around her shoulders and they looked out together across the lake at the boats and the ducks, the green hills and the slowly greying sky.


how can you have a beautiful ending without making beautiful mistakes said...

You have a provincial style to your writing. Not that it is in anyway improper or rugged, but whimsical. It reminds me of Mark Twain, I don't know why. Probably the landscape you paint...perhaps the setting. It reminds me of early 20th century novels. I like it :) Some of my favorites!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

what a sad, sordid end to innocence! i like the poignant way you evoked the setting, and the child's point of view you captured so well!

loved your whimsical ode to the shopgirl, too!

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