Above the Red

The girl experienced a feeling of rising above the ground.

It felt surreal, the weightlessness of being and the feeling of awe. The ground below was spattered with well-defined spots of red. As if they knew their place and had comfortably settled in and were now staring up at her in wonder. The air around her had a peculiar smell. Not the fragrance of something alluring. But a tangy smell. Oh, damn, she thought. I did not finish the lemonade. Alia had made it for her with the freshly picked lemons from the garden, and also added those secret herbs. For an instant, she almost regretted her decision and wanted to go back down, just to finish the lemonade. As a last wish of sorts.

Never mind, she thought. Lemonade cannot be an overbearing thought right now.

She thought about him. She had promised to meet him at the cafe around the corner of the street. It had been planned down to the most casual detail possible. Alia and she had giggled and conspired many a nights after everybody had gone to sleep. But when the clock struck five in the evening, she could not get herself to step out of her room. She knew Alia would be looking out for her from the kitchen window that overlooked the garden. But she would not go down that path. She could not. The planning had been a challenge. The most creatively spontaneous thing she had ever done. But it would never come to fruition.

She felt bad for him. He had never yet worked on a plan which had failed. Or so, he boasted. It made her laugh when she saw that confidence and bravado; and that is what had charmed her in the first meeting. He felt a paternal pride for his street-smart wisdom that had held him in good stead over the years. He claimed of having never fallen in love before. Neither had she.

But she could never have let go. If she did, it would break the very foundations of the house which had been painstakingly built by many generations. This is what they had told her at the table before every meal, as a prayer-chant of sorts. This is what they had told her when her cousin had eloped, and been forever excommunicated from the family – and gone ahead to become folklore that was never to be mentioned. And this is what they had told her, every night before sleeping, with a glass of warm milk.

So she never left her room that evening. She never walked down the garden path towards the cafe. Alia never got to look out for her from the kitchen window. And he was waiting, smoking a borrowed cigar, when she finally rose above the ground. Above the red.


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