Love conquers all

This started out as a flash fiction for the Flash Fiction Faction prompt by Quil Shiv. But it ended up being longer than anticipated. I present to you, a love short story instead. As usual I welcome all feedback to help me improve my writing.

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Alan stroked the silky strand of hair; bundled together in a pink ribbon. It was a beautiful black, as dark as a cloudy and [added after edit] starless night in the outback. As he looked out of the aeroplane he imagined running his fingers through masses of soft, black tresses. Only this time they were still attached to their owner – Inthira. From the photographs she had sent him and their countless video chats via Skype, he knew that she had long straight hair. A quick glance at his watch told him that he would be seeing his love for the first time in less than an hour. After months of communicating over the internet, he was impatient to hold her in his arms; to touch her, to smell her, to taste her. If it had been up to him, he would have visited her earlier. However his only financial resource was his pay, plus tips, as a waiter at The Steakhouse. Nowadays, people were extremely stingy with their tips, which is why it has taken him months to save money for this trip.

Eyes scanning the crowd gathered in the waiting area after he cleared immigration, Alan felt a lump forming in his stomach. What if she did not come? What if it was all a lie? Before he could think another destructive thought, he caught sight of her waving enthusiastically at him. He was overjoyed to see her. She looked the same as she did in the photographs. There was no mistaking it. He walked over to her. Standing in front of her, he was unsure what to do next. He knew he was in a conservative country but a handshake felt inadequate to express his joy and love. Inthira smiled at him and stood on her toes to give him a big hug. It felt good. He would have loved to kiss her but a hug was definitely better than a handshake.

“Is that backpack all the luggage you have?”

“Yes.”

“Then follow me. I will drive you to the hostel.”

The ride to the hostel was pleasant. They talked about her plans to show him her country. They spoke about the weather, about the food in Thailand. She smiled at him a lot but he couldn’t help feeling disappointed. He had felt closer to her in their hour-long phone calls compared to the present; within the confines of a car, where a slight stretch of his arm could result in physical contact. He wondered if his expectations for the first meeting had been too high. Remarks made by his friends echoed in his mind.

You are practically strangers!

She only wants you for your money. To them all white people are rich.

You’ll see that long distance relationships cannot succeed.

It is not a relationship, as long as you don’t do what normal couples do.

“We’re there! This is your home for the next 2 weeks. Are you tired? If yes, we can call it a night and I’ll meet you for breakfast tomorrow.”

Alan snapped out of his brooding.

“I’m not tired.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.”

Alan checked into a single bedroom with shared bathroom. He couldn’t afford anything better but he hadn’t wanted to stay in a dorm either; not when he was there to visit his girlfriend. Maybe it had been a bad idea to come here. Maybe his friends were right. So stupid of him to be such a hopeless romantic.

Inthira walked him to his room, entered it after him and closed the door behind her. She let out an audible sigh, which caused him to turn to her.

“Finally! No more prying eyes. Now for a proper ‘Hello’.”

With that she embraced him in a hug and planted her inviting lips on his. Alan required no further encouragement to return the greeting in kind.

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The following days passed by in a blur, as if he was caught in a sensory whirlwind. One moment he was in a temple, where hundreds of tiny golden bells hung from every accessible corner. Even in his dreams he could hear their chiming sounds as they swung in the wind. The sound was comparable to the clinking of champagne glasses; the sound set to repeat mode as long as there was enough wind to provide the necessary push.

The next moment he was walking through a market selling multi-coloured produce. The mere thought of the salty, sour taste of a preserve caused the saliva to collect in his mouth and cringe his eyes. He did not believe Inthira that a plum could taste like that and it was one experience he was sure never to repeat.

Today they were watching the farmers harvest the rice fields. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the wonderful earthy smell of freshly cut grass. Inthira was standing next to him, holding his hand. He realised all of these experiences did not cause his senses to short circuit. But Inthira did. Being with Inthira in reality was better than in his dreams. He loved watching her mimic while she talked; the soft tones caressing him softly. He loved the jasmine smell of her hair and the way it slipped through his fingers. He loved the strawberry taste of her lips; enticing him to bite them. He loved her mind as much as he did her body. Inthira was clever, witty and humourous. She was kind and cared for others; especially those less fortunate. She had gotten under his skin and he wanted her to stay there. They needed to find a way to overcome the physical distance separating them and they needed to do it soon. He could not imagine a life deprived of these senses.

Alan felt Inthira stiffen slightly before withdrawing her hand from his. He opened his eyes and saw the worried look on her face. He turned around to identify the cause for her sudden change of behaviour. A man was approaching them with angry strides.

“So this is where your lecture is? I don’t believe you had the nerve to lie to me and meet him after I told you not to!” He looked at Alan wagging a finger at him.

“Stay away from my daughter. She is not a whore for you to play around with. If you see her again, I’d…”

Unfortunately Alan was not one for keeping a cool head.

“Did you just threaten me?”

“Yes, what are you going to do? Beat me up? You have a great taste in men, Inthira. I knew he was not good for you.”

Alan did not like where this conversation was heading. He looked at Inthira’s teary face and realised this was not the time for pride.

“I am sorry sir. I didn’t mean to be rude. I love your daughter a lot and I would never do anything to hurt her. My intentions are honest, I promise.”

“Inthira, you drive back home now.”

“But Pa, I love him!

By then a crowd of farmers had formed around them, curious to find out what was going on. Inthira’s dad cleared his throat.

“This is not the place to talk about family matters. Everyone is watching. Take him to our place. We will talk there. If you both are serious, then it is time he is introduced to the family.”

Alan swallowed in relieve. He would move mountains, just to be with Inthira. Meeting the family should be a much easier endeavour.

Flash Fiction Faction: The Fruit

This is another 100 word Flash Fiction inspired by a prompt. This prompt came from Quill Shiv; follow the link to read more posts based on this prompt. Thank you for the inspiration.

Here is the prompt and I have tried to go the extra mile. Tell me, if you think I have done it in a convincing manner. I welcome other constructive criticisms as well. Cheers!

Mark had been overjoyed to see his partner, who had been missing for days from the excavation site. But that joy had swiftly turned into anger hearing that idiot’s preposterous plan.

“I am trying to conserve your ancestor’s dynasty and you threaten to blow up the temples? That is totally senseless behavior, even for you!”

“Taste this fruit, Mark. The food-hunter said that he can easily market this as a high priced product. We need to destroy only a few walls to aid the harvest!”

Mark bit into the sweet smelling food, puncturing its smooth skin. The taste was indescribable!

Back to Nature

This flash fiction is inspired by the following photo prompt. the challenge is hosted by Madison Woods.

I welcome constructive criticism that’s why I am posting these pieces on a blog. 🙂 Thanks in advance.

“Mommy! I need to pee!”

“Lily, why aren’t you asleep yet? You peed thirty minutes ago!”

“Mom! I can’t sleep. Lee is wiggling in her sleeping bag!”

Samantha rolled her eyes at Jack. She left the warmth of the campfire and headed towards the children’s tent.

“Come on Lily. Do you only need to pee?”

Lily nodded her head energetically as she got out of her sleeping bag.

Samantha looked back at Jack and her smile slowly melted away.

“Lee sweetie, I need you to keep quiet and still. Kids, remember what I told you to do when a bear visits us?”

The Dreaded Red Box

This is a 100 word plus the prompt, …the red box…, flash fiction challenge hosted by Julia.

Pete stared dreamily at the photocopier. The CEO was scheduled to arrive that morning. Maybe he would be in the meeting too and witness Pete’s strategy to increase sales. That overdue promotion could finally be his! He caught a flash of colour from the corner of his eyes. He turned to look directly at Mr. Smith walking down the aisle. He was carrying the red box. Pete felt sweat beads rolling down his forehead. His colleagues had noticed the box too; their eyes glued on its path. All were silently praying it was not their time to pack their personal belongings into the box.

The Hate Game

Amanda closed the cubicle door. She lowered the lid and sat down. Her pulse should have been racing, given but she felt extremely calm. She took a box of Panadol out of her school rucksack. She had bought one at the pharmacy last week to add to the package she had found at home. She popped one pill out of the blister package. Her fingertip traced the groove in the middle of the pill. Would breaking them in the middle quicken the effect? She held each end between a thumb and index finger and pressed. It was harder to split the pill in the middle than she had expected. She decided to leave the remaining pills whole. She couldn’t risk dropping any of the pills; she needed every single one.

Her heart skipped a beat at the shrill ring of the school bell. She prayed that no one would enter the toilet. She had chosen the one on the third floor because most of the rooms were only used for Extra-Curricular Activities. She had one more free period before her next lesson started. How fitting that it would a Math class; since she hated it and hopefully wouldn’t have to live through it. It would have been nice, if it were music instead because singing made her happy. Amanda wiped the tears on her right sleeve.

There was no other way out.

She needed to put an end to the pain. She threw the ham and cheese sandwich, her mom had made for her lunch, in the bin in the cubicle; the lunch menu has changed. She removed the remaining pills from the blister packages and put them in her lunch box. She concentrated on the monotonous action and managed not to think about the chain of events that had brought her there. She had 47 pills in all. She hoped it was enough for her plan to be successful. She stuffed the empty packages in her rucksack. She stood up, righted her uniform, swung her rucksack over her right shoulder and left the cubicle.

Amanda knew the perfect spot, where she could consume her special lunch in peace. There was a bench next to the canteen, overlooking the school garden. There was a rose bush right next to the bench. She loved sitting there because the roses smelled lovely. When she closed her eyes, she imagined being in a candy shop, surrounded by the sticky sweet smell of roses. She bought a can of Coke from the vending machine. She had read on the internet that carbonated drinks increased the effect of paracetemol. Even if it did not, it was much tastier than plain water.

She placed the first pill onto her tongue. She took a sip from her can and swallowed the mixture. The next 5 followed swiftly in the same manner. However she couldn’t hold back the tears for long. She wiped her tears with a tissue paper, folded it and blew her nose. She hoped no one noticed her crying, especially not a teacher. She was doing the right thing. She couldn’t live another day reading the lies her classmates spread about her on Facebook. The names they had for her went through her mind, virtually burning, hitting, spitting on and shaming her before hundreds of spectators. Some were strangers but most she knew personally. They encouraged her demons with their applauding and cheering! Why her? Some of her tormentors used to be her friends. She has looked for a reason many times before as to why they had turned on her. But she always came up blank. There was no sense to the madness that had overcome them.

Amanda had difficulties swallowing the remaining pills. Her throat felt constricted and she was sure that the slightest pressure could result in her puking into the rose bush. But she would see this through. She wanted her death to haunt her tormentors with guilt for the rest of their lives. She practically shoved the remaining pills one by one down her throat and washed each down with Coke.

The bell rang again. Amanda stuck the empty lunchbox in her rucksack and threw away the can. She was starting to feel ill, comparable to the time she had the flu. Her stomach was cramping as she slowly made her way to class.

“Amanda, you’re late!”

“Sorry! I don’t feel well.”

“What is wrong with you?”

“I don’t know.”

“You do look pretty pale. Cynthia, please escort Amanda to the sick bay.”

“Not Cynthia. I can go myself.”

“You look as if you would faint any moment. Now get to the sickbay quickly.”

Amanda and Cynthia walked to the sickbay in silence. Amanda wanted to tell her a lot of hurtful things but she couldn’t get a single one out. Instead as they stood in front of the sickbay she said, “Hope my death makes you feel happy.” The shock in Cynthia’s eyes was enough to make Amanda feel temporarily happy. At least Cynthia will suffer after her death.

“Here’s a pail my dear, in case you need to be sick again. Your mom is on her way here. She will bring you to the doctor. You have a slight fever. It is probably only a stomach-flu. Have had a couple of kids come down with it last week. You will be fine in a few days time.”

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“Amanda! You have visitors.”

“Mom! Who?… Oh! What do you all want here?”

Cynthia and five other classmates entered her bedroom. Cynthia held a bouquet of roses up and spoke.

“We want to apologise for being mean to you. We did not seriously mean the things we said. It was only fun. We have deleted all the posts about you. We hope you can forgive us.”