What does one do when all the writing juice has been sucked out of them? Look for a prompt to put some of that back, of course. I rummaged through quite a few till I found this gem that suits me perfectly – FRIDAY FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES (Prompt Challenge #8). This is the first time that I’m attempting a post of this sort, so I do hope you’ll bear with me.
Melancholy Through a Looking Glass
Vivian stormed out of the kitchen and rushed to the backyard, her hands massaging her temples. ‘Let it go,’ she whispered to herself over and over again. Two distinct voices cried out behind her, but she paid them no heed. She had to get away from the situation or she would lose her mind.
More than a few minutes later, her reason returned. She slinked back, ashamed, and apologized to everyone. Her father’s disapproving gaze did not relent, but her mother was quick to forgive. Her two sisters went back to pretending nothing had happened. She could see through the farce – they would jump on her like a pair of wolves for information as soon as she returned to their room.
“Go on, dear,” her mother urged. “I’ll make something else. Why don’t you lie down for a bit? I’ll call you when it’s ready.”
Vivian stared at the charred mess that was her doing, guilt tugging at her heart. She swallowed, nodded and walked out with downcast eyes. She knew she would be doing more harm than good if she had stayed. A sudden idea made her raise her voice. “Ma! Dad! I’m going to the drugstore. I think I’m coming down with a cold.” Her mother yelled back her acknowledgement.
As the door slammed shut behind her, she began to walk briskly towards a place she loved visiting as a child, a place that was not the drugstore. She had already worked out the lie in her head when they’d ask her as to why she returned empty handed. Alone with her thoughts finally, she opened herself up to them.
On paper, Vivian was perfect, the kind of daughter all parents wish they had. She maintained good grades in school. She was a loyal friend, a model older sister, a helpful neighbour and a kind stranger. She seldom smiled, but people who knew her well had come to recognise this as her unique sign of happiness. This made it easier for her at the moment – nobody would chalk it down to depression.
Her excellence had turned into a burden in the last couple of months. She felt herself alienated from her mediocre friends. A growing number of jealous eyes were on her, waiting for her to falter. Nobody celebrated her achievements, whereas it was made into a big deal when others accomplished something far less challenging. The point was really driven home when her childhood friend had started a nasty rumour in school about her to put a black mark on her stellar record. The chain of events upset her deeply, but her refusal to acknowledge it had deepened the feeling in her till she found herself incapable of doing even humdrum tasks without ruining them in some way. The burnt eggs was the first disaster she couldn’t prevent others from noticing.
The cloud of gloom lifted a little as she rounded the last corner on her route to her destination. Her place of solitude was well-chosen. There was nothing in sight for quite a distance – nothing except rows of trees. One particular tree with an unusually thick trunk was separated from the rest by a few unlinked fences spread all around it. It was a famous local landmark – The Great Boab. But the residents of her little town avoided it and the youngest of children were taught to fear it. Even in the full light of the sun, it wore a slightly haunted look, but Vivian was used to its appearance. To her it was comfort, the key to the happy memories of a simpler time. She used to admire its gigantic form with her father, who had laughed more often back then. She hid herself in its cool shadow and let the tears that she had repressed flow freely, longing for a childhood that would never return.
I’m almost allergic to sad endings, but my muse has abandoned me for a late night party, so I’m afraid I have to conclude the story here. If you have stuck with it so far, I’d love to know your opinion. What did you like about this piece? What should I have done better? Did you have any expectations that went unfulfilled? I’d appreciate it if you let me know in the comments section below.