The other side of time

A restless wind whistles; windows creak as he sits at his old creaking wooden study table. The skies outside turning into a surging wave of early morning orange clouds from beyond the mountains and the dark vapor rain clouds from beyond the river side. The clouds collide into an angry thunder clap as he opens a large notebook, spread apart on the worn out wooden table top – a carpet of a thousand doodles etched out with a knife. He turns several pages before stopping upon a blank one, dips his quill into the soot ink pot and begins to write.

His lips shrouded by a bushy white mustache constantly quiver as he mumbles under his breath; barely audible whispers; the words pouring out on the pages telling a different tale all together. His fingers wrinkled resembling the crumpled paper skin under his eyes, he writes on; page after page.

She drives really fast along the long winding road, meandering between hills and vast forests of maple; the morning Sun rising beyond the peaks as lustrous as a thousand moons, overflowing into the skies feebly against the army of raging clouds. She drives faster almost running off the dusty road into the glistening river, however managing to control the Cadillac from skidding with a certain amount of modernistic flair. Up above the hill; less than two hundred yards away she sees the old red house with a chimney letting out a thin trail of steam.

“He’s preparing breakfast…”

He pauses momentarily, his hand still. He stops writing and looks up at the large French window frame right in front of him. His eyes still, staring into nothingness he realizes that beyond that window is a room exactly identical to the one he is sitting in; the same upholstery on the same armchairs, the same old Persian rug, the same walls, the same wooden floor, the same spider webs in the same places; even the exact same study table and chair as the one he is sitting on right now. There is a large open notebook on the study table but no one is writing anything in it. His eyes still, staring into nothingness a thin line of a tear wells up in his left eye. He looks down at his note book, the pages yellowed over time, the dark soot ink beginning to fade and smudge at the edges of each Victorian letter; he writes on.

She parks a few meters away and steps out of the car. She takes off her large polka dotted scarf to release her tresses, which begin to play immediately with the winds. She walks slowly towards the door left ajar. A few rabbits scramble about playfully as she approaches. Hesitant, she walks in, pushing the door inwards. Her heels knock the wooden floor as she enters the room.

He looks up and sees her standing in the window. She smiles awkwardly as she comes closer to the glass. Her voice choked with a lump in her throat.

“Do you remember me…?”

“Yes I do…”

He smiles as he helps himself up and walks towards the glass.

He asks, “How are you Claire…?”

Even before she can answer…

“How long has it been…? I… I can’t seem to remember…?”

His wrinkled fingers come to his lips slowly, involuntarily as he looks down at the floor trying hard to recollect.

“It does not matter… I have come to see you and I remember you…”

“Have you come to set me free…?”

“I hope I can…”

Kohl lined tears flow out of her eyes as she takes off her glove and places her slender palm on the glass bringing her face closer, her breath fogging a small ‘O’ on the surface. He stares at her palm… so tender, so fair, so young and gentle…

He snaps out of it and brings up his wrinkled palm and places it against her palm on the glass.

“I can’t come with you… I have held on to our past for very long, it is as if I have gone back in time…”

“But I have come back… I have come back for you, because…”

His eyes widen as he stares at her in anticipation of what she is going to say. They stare into each other’s maddening eyes for a few moments in stillness.

“…because… I still love you…”

“But… it’s too late…”

He looks away, shakes his head lightly and begins to walk towards the door leading out of his room.

She stares on, tears lined with blood and kohl; her fists hammering into the glass, she screams… “No… you can’t go… you can’t leave me…”

He turns to look at her one last time before walking out of the door.

Her tender fists hammering incessantly on the glass; slowly cracking. The echoes of her screams turning into howls of pain and anguish muffled by the raging thunder; the window glass shatters into a thousand silver glistening pieces, falling and tumbling away on the floor as the entire French window frame collapses and spreads out on the carpet.

He is gone…

She runs out of the house and gets into her car, tears streaming down her beautiful strawberry kissed skin, eyes reddening. Stopping by the river, she stumbles out of the car and staggers towards the river bank.
Her eyes turn up to the horizon for one last time, she sees hills covered in lush green grass, the Sun emerging from behind dark clouds. It begins to rain.

A silhouette appears from beyond the curved hill, she cannot believe her eyes. She breaks into a run, kicking her heels away, running in childlike glee. The grass beneath her feet seems to pass like the miles of a countryside airstrip passing rapidly under an aircraft just about to take off.

He spreads his arms open wide as she collides into him with enough speed to knock him off and fall on top of him even as they roll down the hillside with laughter louder than the rolling thunder. In each other’s arms, they make frantic love in the grove. She lets out gasps in pure joy and ecstasy while he strokes her with the strength of Hercules. They fall into each other’s arms, exhausted, comforted; their eyes closed in the warmest embrace of love. Their skins glow from within as a thousand gleaming butterflies hover around in formations around them, a rainbow ending behind a tree close by.

In the house, the pieces of the shattered mirror begin to reflect several colors and hues as an old transistor suddenly comes to life and a NEWS broadcast is heard through the squeaky distortions.

“Authorities from the missing person’s bureau have declared a reward for anyone reporting the whereabouts of Miss. Clair Selena Montgomery, a twenty eight year old female last seen leaving her home a week ago in her owned red and white Cadillac… the license plate on the vehicle bears the numbers…”

The thousand silver pieces of the broken mirror gleaming in the sunlight, in each little piece; a reflection, a moving kaleidoscopic array of Claire and Him in eternity… The pages of the book he wrote in, now wiped clean of their story…

Claire and Him… who went missing centuries ago.

26th July, 2011
Siddharth Pathak


9 comments

  1. Dude !! YOu just made my day …. reading this just before going to work .. wow !! beautiiiiful !!! can’t even express the feelings that are bubbling inside me .. am all smiles !!! ^_^

    thank you !!!!

  2. gripping piece of art. I wudnT say imagination it was, i cud see claire and the man in front of me, as if i knew them ,as if it really happened. I sympathize with them. A writer lik u shud publish novels, or such short stories they wud b bestsellers.


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