Shadows Story

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She leaned against the window of the car and felt the cool glass on her forehead. She felt the steady drumming of the raindrops against her temples through the glass. She saw the raindrops bounce off the cobbled streets and she saw herself in them. She saw them scatter into pieces as they hit the floor and then just disappear. Was that what would happen to her? Would she simply disappear? Just cease to exist? A wry smile touched the corners of her lips as she thought these these thoughts and the first tear traced a burning path down her cheek. She surreptitiously wiped it off feeling the stickiness.

It had been long since she allowed herself to indulge in such luxuries as tears. There were simply not enough tears to shed over what her life had become. There were not enough tears in the world to cover all her problems and she simply did not know where to direct the little she had. The world scorned her for what she had become. They reviled her. Even her own family did. She could tell when her mother looked at her. She felt her eyes burning holes in her soul and she could do nothing to dispel those glances. Her mother had accepted it with quiet resignation and sometimes she wondered why.

She wished things could have been different. She thought back to the days when she was ‘mama’ and not ‘mother’. The days when she used to be carefree, running about the streets with her sisters. She remembered how her mother had hugged her and kissed the tears away anytime she cried. Growing up she was always the golden child. Her mother loved her or so it seemed. Whatever happened, she thought that love would be constant. Apparently, she had been very wrong. And if her mother didn’t love her, couldn’t love her, then who could? She wished she could go back to those days, but there was hardly any point in dreams.

Time had come and turned those memories to stone. Stone that engulfed her heart every time she thought of that place, that time. Some days she thought of her father and she loved him because he had taught her the only lesson she needed to know. Men were bastards. True he did not have to be the example but he was and that just made it all the more personal for her. She thought of the wreck her mother had become in the days after and she knew no man was ever going to make such a pathetic creature of her. She remembered now how her mother had held her and told her that her dad would be back.

Everything was fine. Then why were there tears in her eyes? She had worked hard to conceal them but it was obvious. The laughter had gone from her voice and she seemed ten years older that morning. No, she would never be the victim. A fresh surge of something filled her. Was it hope? Was it anger? Was it resignation? She could not define it. Her life had become a cruel joke and there was no way out. She had realized long ago that the day would never come when she would see her mama’s face smiling, ‘April fool! ‘ She saw a couple strolling hand in hand, smiling up at each other and she felt her heart tug.

She was not given to such emotions as envy. But then she was not given to many emotions. There was just a part of her that wished that everything could be normal. She was always a romantic while growing up. While her sisters would attend all the latest parties at the hottest clubs, she would sit down at home watching sappy movies and writing. She wrote about just anything. From nature, to God, to the perfect guy, she wrote. That was until she realized that ‘the perfect guy’ did not exist and then there was only God and nature and there was not much point writing about any of those two.

Any way she looked at it, there was no place for love in her future so the sooner she stopped pining, the better for her. But it was just so unfair. The world was so unfair. And people walked by. They all faded into a blur of smiling lips, some stained with tears, some with kisses. Laughing eyes, rosy cheeks. They didn’t care. Nobody cared. Her life was a living hell and no one cared. People were dying in Iraq and no one cared. People were starving to death in Ethiopia and no one cared. That was the harsh reality of the world. No one cared as long as their perfect existences were not disturbed.

But if the tables were turned, would she care? She could not answer the question. She did not want to. The car drove by a small church and she saw people huddled in raincoats hurrying inside. Were they so devoted to this ‘god’ that they would face this awful weather to pray to an unseen force? There was a time in her life when she was like those people. But that time had passed. Luckily for her, she had been saved from the lie she had been living for so many years and she had come to realize the truth. There was no god. If there were a God, he would have heard her prayers.

He would have heard her when she cried out to him in the depths of the night to deliver her from her slavery. He would have acknowledged the sacrifice she had been forced to make and compensated her for it. Unwittingly she thought of Job in the bible. He endured a lot of suffering but in the end everything was okay. But that was just a fairytale with a fairytale ending like all fairytales. And her life was far from a fairytale. She sighed. She was mooning again. It was bad enough that her life was a constant torment but she had to compound the hurt by thinking about what could have been.

She closed her lids against the burning tears that threatened to escape and betray the emotions she had worked so hard to conceal. Her tears were like fire, burning her lids. But she couldn’t let them flow. Not now, not ever. She took out her make-up compact and began reapplying her foundation trying to keep up a semblance of normalcy. She had to forget. She had to concentrate. She had to detach her body from her spirit if she was to survive. The car jerked to a halt in front of the hotel and she was jolted out of her reverie.

She was partly grateful for it, but a part of her wanted to stay there, as painful as it was. She hurriedly put away her belongings in her small black bag as she quickly surveyed her surroundings. He beckoned to her to follow him. There was no emotion in his face. His eyes gave nothing away. The only movement in his face was the slight twitching of his lips. Was it anticipation or was it guilt? Maybe he had a wife at home. Maybe he didn’t. She shakily got out of the car. This was her. This was her life. She gave him her most seductive smile as he escorted her to the hotel room.

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