This short story was first featured in the November issue of Telegram last year.
Issue theme: Spaced Out.
Helmed by a talented lot having excellent taste in art- and available here for a minimal price of thirty bucks- the magazine is a fantastic platform for amateur writers to showcase their work alongside like-minded others who value quality writing. Do check it out and subscribe.
…and we had laughed so hard at that. At him. Haha! Just the thought of it cheers me up so much.
Well yes, it was rude of us. You are right, we shouldn’t have.
Most definitely rude.
But it was not like I knew any better back then. It’s not like we are supposed to know any better at that age, is it?
Can you do me a favor? Walk up to that desk and turn that frame away from us, will you?
Why? I’ve told you ‘why’ already. I’m not telling you again.
So where was I…
I mean, how old was I at the time, thirteen?
Come now, you can’t blame a thirteen year old girl just for laughing! That too with a reason!
The man fell. And he fell mighty funny. And he fell not once, not twice. Three times! At almost the same spot!
So how could we not have laughed? Do you not see?
Of course I did feel bad for him afterwards. I did think maybe he must be wrong in the head or something. You know, wiring upstairs gone bad. And if it gives you any consolation, I remember mentioning him in my prayers that evening after I went home. I remember hoping he wasn’t hurt more than it looked from where we had watched and laughed.
What’s that? Yes.
Yes, we used to pray a lot. Took religion very seriously, the people at our house did; especially dad.
So I had prayed for him. Now you tell me what kind of ‘bad’ thirteen year old girl does that for a stranger.
Ah, but I see you are not convinced. So what then… Do you say I was still wrong?
No no, don’t deny it now!
I saw how you shook your head. Your bushy beard gave it away.
No, it was not the cough. Well yes, I did hear you cough, but you cough all the time and I know that wasn’t it.
And what about the way you rolled your eyes? What reason will you give me to cover that up, ha?
Your ‘condition’? Oh fuck your condition.
I am on to you, good sir. Your condition is as fake as that three hundred rupee note your friend over there was trying to impress me with at this very hour last night. I told him the note was crap and that he better shove it up his ass, you know, just to balance the amount of crap his mouth and his ass are holding.
Don’t talk about your ‘condition’ with me. Comes and goes when you want it to come and go. Didn’t have any problem spotting that photo-frame I asked you to move, did you?
(I do hope you’re going to get up and move that darn thing sometime soon.)
Your eyes are fine. Admit it, you are NOT convinced.
And I’m okay with it. I mean, it IS a free country, isn’t it? Dey-maw-cra-cee, am I saying it right?
But now that you’re thinking - and I know you are - that I was wrong, I should get to ask you something in return. Doesn’t that sound fair?
Then tell me this -
Now now, don’t think I’ll let you go if you act all sleepy. No sliding down under the bed-sheet. Up! Sit as you were. Match shoulders with me. Lean harder against the bedpost if you want to, but don’t think you’ll be let off the hook so easy, mister.
And you haven’t even done what I had asked you to.
That frame is still lying there on the desk!
Of course I know this is not our house and we shouldn’t be touching things. Don’t tell me that! Not like I’m asking you to chuck the frame out the window or something.
What harm is turning it to face the wall going to do?
And again with the ‘why’…I’ve told you before, haven’t I?
She looks like my mum. The woman in the photo.
I miss her, you know. And I don’t want her seeing me naked.
Now leave all of that and answer me this - would you have acted any different had you been in my place? Would you have not, at least, smiled watching a pot-bellied man fall flat on the ground and tear the seat off his pants?
Come now. Be honest.
Oh, how you shake your head again!
How your beard, all bushy, swings from side to side.
Hah! And will you not blame the cough for making your head shake this time, my love?
Or, do you expect in all seriousness that I will believe…that I will agree when you say you would have kept a straight face were it you, not me, sitting on that railing?
Oh, how you mutter a ‘yes’ in response. No shame at all!
What’s that? The man?
The one in the photo, you mean?
Why yes, I had noticed before, he looks just like you. Did I not mention that already? No? Well I thought I had. Must’ve slipped my mind then. Didn’t feel important to remember anyway.
So where was I…
Yes. Fine then. I concede.
You wouldn’t have laughed at that man in that situation. But I did. If you think that was wrong of me, then wrong it was. Now let it go.
Wasn’t even a fair comparison to begin with, if you ask me.
How so? Well, how fair can it be?
We were three in count and thirteen in age, weren’t we? All girls too.
And you, how old are you - forty-five minimum?
Yet you think it fair to pit the ‘us’ from back then against ‘you’ as you are at this moment?
Oh, how you mutter a ‘yes’ in response again.
No shame at all!
Why I think I should slide off this bed right away. Maybe I will do that, yes.
That mattress on the floor over there doesn’t look too shabby. And your friend I’m sure will be happy to accommodate me. Maybe he will even do as I tell him and move that god-darned frame from that desk.
Don’t you understand how bad it feels with my dad watching?
Well yes, your friend does look unconscious. And it does look like drool running down his cheek. (Or is it vomit?) But how does it matter anyway. You know I’ll have him standing erect within seconds. Not the first time I’ll have got a sleeping man erect, is it?
Stay away, I say!
I never said dad. I said my mum is watching. Why do you lie and add to my anger?
I will leave! I swear I will leave this bed. No use making puppy eyes at me now.
What of your eye ‘condition’, hmm? Or have you forgotten so conveniently now that you ever had one?
Away! Away with your hand!
My belly is not dough that your fingers should be kneading.
And what makes you think I will lie still as you lean into me the way you are right now - with your waist against mine and your other hand slipping towards the small of my back?
Don’t I have a mind to simply bat it away and push you off the bed!
And that bloody frame! You didn’t move it from the desk. The photograph is still facing us.
Can’t you see he is watching?
Is that an apology now that you are mumbling into my neck? Speak up, will you? I can barely hear. Or why not stop rubbing your leg over mine so I can concentrate better?
And what is with your hand moving up to my breast now? How did you think I would not object to you drawing circles around my nipple with your thumb? Or to your finger strumming the single strand of hair on my teat, like a guitar string?
So what if you say my nipple feels erect and my breast fuller than when your arm had grazed it a while back. Am I not the one who will decide if I like it or want you off my chest?
And how he is glaring at us now - through his round spectacles and his bushy beard - don’t you see? Could you not have moved the frame like I asked you?
Speak up! I’m hearing no apology. You might want to put your tongue back in for me to hear correct once you’re done running it along the length of my neck, making it all wet.
So what if it is cold in here. And so what if the blanket is thin. What makes you think I will allow you just for those reasons to squeeze my bosom and fondle my buttocks and love handles the way you are right now?
And didn’t you notice the mouth underneath that beard slit open? The tip of his tongue slither out to lick his lips and slide back in?
Stay away, I say!
I’ve heard no apology, yet here you are taking my hand below your waist, wrapping my palm around you, teaching me how to stroke. Why you smelly old man, what makes you think I will not want to throttle your cock instead? Or worse, scratch off the skin around its head?
But I cannot do it now, can I?
So stern, that gaze! Just like all those years ago.
Those eyes, all big and round, penetrating right through me. All of me.
And his voice, hungry as ever, whispering into my ear, ‘Harder’.
Or is that you, my love. I cannot hear you proper. You’re coughing again.
‘Harder, little girl’ you say?
But I have grown since then. Can you not see, old man?
I am a woman now.
I have become one since the last time you made me stroke it for you; since that night I had confessed to laughing at the stranger who fell, and got disciplined for it.
(I had prayed for him, remember?)
I am a woman now. I know that for sure even if everything else between that night and this has been nothing but an unbroken blur.
I am fuller now. Not just my breasts, but everywhere.
If you ignore the needle-marks on my arms, my feet, my ankles, my thighs and my wrists, you will find that I am beautiful.
And I get wet down there too, you know.
All unlike the last time you had tried.
Ah, but I think you know that bit already don’t you, you smelly old man?
I see you have swatted away my palm from your shaft that has turned stiff and must be throbbing. I see my bosom my buttocks my love-handles no longer hold interest for your hands and your bush-bearded mouth.
I have heard no apologies from you yet - I must repeat - and now you are on top of me, my legs parted wide, you still throbbing, but inside me.
Won’t take long, I’m sure.
Ten minutes and some change.
I see you were offended by that, good sir, even as you groan and cough and cough and groan over me like the sputtering of a battered and ancient motorcycle.