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Shackles Of Memories - 1

Shackles Of Memories - 1

6 mins 4.3K 6 mins 4.3K

“I'm back…”

Silence knew that his time to depart had arrived as the sharp creaks of the door filled the house. Yeah… ‘I know… I'll be back soon.’ The tender days of the dusk-light made their way through the doorway, dancing away from the huge silhouette of the middle-aged man slowly entering the wide hall. He was greeted by the soft ticks of the wall clock, who paid no heed to the factitious smile that surfaced on his face. He knew the pain and the agony that the smile tried to hide.

The clock heard the grocery bag settle on the large table and loud footsteps heading to the room. ‘What's the purpose of all these?’ thought the clock. ‘Ever since I've entered the house I haven't seen any soul move other than him. Haven't heard any voice other than his occasional soliloquy, sometimes evolving into a cry. I don't understand and he doing this for… whoever's in there...’

His thoughts were cut off by the loud blubber from inside the room. ‘There he goes again… He won't stop for a while now… Wonder who's that person in the room he crying so much for?’ He is waiting for the answer from the past 4 years. ‘Well, time to go back to my work. Not that my question will be answered any soon…’

And the ticks continue…

*******

“I’m off!!”

The rusty bell of the bicycle goes off in harmony with the rustling of golden brown leaves under the bicycle tyres. “Be careful!” he couldn’t wait for Mom’s voice to reach him as the tyres screeched for the sharp turn around the corner.

A week ago and he had never guessed that he had to spend all his two months of summer vacations in his grandpa’s house. Health, who had been such a good friend of Grandpa for all these years, was showing signs of betraying him. Though not too serious, someone had to take care of him and the house he lived in. And that someone had to be his only daughter. And her loving son had to be with her wherever she went.

The blazing sun was slowly calming down as the smallest needle in his watch ticked past 4. The rays had a lot of work to do though. They had to dribble through the foliage of those huge trees, only to find him racing away in his two-wheeler. This was a sight the trees relished since his arrival in the village; a change from their usual monotony of staring at the empty road all day long. But their encounter with him was only for a moment, as he would vanish into the fields in a jiffy.

But ‘a jiffy’ was longer today as they heard the brakes slowing down the tyres to a halt. “Why not take this path instead? I’m bored anyway...” His voice reached them for the first time as he took a sharp turn into the woods.

“Oh God! This road’s bad!” His murmur resounded back to him from the gigantic trees banked on either side of the road. He could hardly call it a road, more like a small unpaved footway. The path was drawing out all his bicycle skills to hang on to the road, which excites any second-year high-schooler. And he was no exception.

The path was not eternal though. It ended at the foot of an old railway station. “Wow! Look what I found!” The sign boards were all broken and weeds grew out on the tracks. He got onto the platform and strolled past the office, only to find it closed ages ago. His walk continued, past the food stalls and the confectionery, with the green patches of alga and the leaves peeking out of the wall cracks the only signs of life. But as he closed in to the end of the platform, he saw what he hadn't expected.

On the last bench in the platform was a girl, about his age, completely engrossed in a book. He didn't know how to approach her, and so he sat on the bench next to her hoping she'll start the chat. She was a few inches shorter, but with a fairer tint on her cheeks than him. She had leaned forward a little, with her hair flowing down her back below her shoulders, the bristles in the end swaying to the calm breeze.

He could hear his impatience growing with each tick of the watch. The only hints of movement from her was when she turned the book leaf for the next page. He could wait no longer.

“Umm… Hi”

Her eyes darted from the book to him, and she slammed the book onto the bench. “Oh sorry! I didn't notice you…”

“It - it's ok. I'm Ethan” He took a few steps towards her, his right hand outstretched for a handshake.

“Hi. I'm Ella” She shook his hand. “Please sit down” He sat next to her, polite enough to pick up her book and give it back.

“Do you come here often?”

“Yeah. Everyday. Probably...” Her puzzled eyes tried to identify him.

“Oh. I'm new to the village. My Gramps live here. He's sick now so we're here”

Silence. That both wanted to break but neither could. Almost as if Time stood still. Until he spoke again.

“Do you stay around here?” Shit. I sound like a stalker now. He looked at her hoping she wouldn’t mind. She didn’t.

“Yeah. A mile from here”

Silence again. Running out of topics to talk about, he tried to read the title of the book she was holding, and recognised it. “Is that ‘How I live now’ by Meg Rosoff?”

“Y - yeah” She was finding hard to keep up with the sudden change in the conversation.

“That’s seriously one hell of a book!! I didn’t expect it to be that good”

“Yeah!” She eased out a little. “I’m halfway through and I love it! I especially liked it when she...”

Ethan found it surprising to see her switch gears so quickly. Just a moment ago she was shy and reserved, replying only with a ‘Yeah...’ and now she is going on and on about the book. Not that he would complain though. His boredom was lost in her excitement.

The two went on about the story for a while. She was now standing and throwing her arms open as she narrated one of the scenes of the book. His face was lit up with a broad smile as his eyes followed her every movement. Not that the scene was a joyous one. He was happy and relieved that he found someone of his age with whom he could share his thoughts, at least to get rid of the ennui he had that day. But can they meet tomorrow too?

He saw the sun slowly approaching the horizon. Oh. It’s time to go back. Unintentionally, his eyes met the needle of the watch. 5:05 pm. Although momentary, this act of his couldn’t escape from Ella’s sight.

“Oh. S - sorry if I’m boring you. It’s just that, I don’t know anyone my age around here, so I was excited to talk with you...”

“No! I’m glad that we met too! I was bored of not having any friends here, so this was actually a relief for me. But… I think I have to go now”

Her eyes met his to take a glance at the watch, only to meet again. “Oh I didn’t notice time flew so fast!”

“Yeah. If possible...” trying to be as calm as possible, “can we meet again? Tomorrow?”

“Sure. I’ll be here every day after noon”

“Ok then bye! Glad to meet you today!”

“Yeah bye! Same here!”

He saw her collect her book, wave her hand at him and walk away from him along the tracks. His eyes followed her till she took a sharp left and disappeared. Finally! Found a new friend! He was trying to contain his delight as he headed the other way, towards his bicycle.


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