A Short Story
by Maleeha Bismilla
She believes time can mend her. That time- in its endlessly circling void- passes ceaselessly on a mission to fix her. Wandering. Darkness behind her, a dream in front of her, and distractions on either side of her. Yet, without failure, the stars shine rapturously above her. Twinkling diamonds in the darkness. It’s euphoria leaving a trail of adrenaline and hope in the adventure yet to come. A yellow line separates the road in an illuminated strip. Hilary couldn’t help but walk the line. It reminds her vaguely of the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz. She glances at the sunrise kiss the edge of the world the road seemingly led to. Since her parents died in a house robbery when she was nine, it’s been a rocky eight years so far. Although, her hope for a new adventure never faltered, even as she walked her yellow brick road into the dawn of a new day.
Holding my thumb out for a lift, yet another car passed without hesitation. The Highveld sun burning my neck and legs. A drop of sweat tickles the back of neck, skin tingling with its coolness. I drop lamely to the ground. With no tree in sight, fields of lush sunflowers my height mock me. The heat harassing the tar road creates a mirage, as I look up the road for someone. Anyone, really. My throat suddenly feeling dry, as car a engine sounds in the distance. I fix my white short-shorts and purple sleeveless top, showing a little of my tummy. I push my hands through my short black hair, putting my thumb out again. A yellow vintage mustang drives up the hill. It’s engine roaring. I drop my arms lamely. Did it have to be this car that had to stop? The engine dies down at the side of the road. I drop my shoulders out of frustration, but pull it back up as he pulls down the passenger window. Leaning my forearms on the head of the car, I lean in and, “Hey there, love.” I know that voice anywhere. Chills interlock my tense spine.
I close my eyes. He smiles that crooked smile I know all too well. Getting out of the car; his muscled physique is harsh and pointed as he leans against the door of that ridiculous yellow mustang. His steel grey eyes examine me, smirking all the while. That damn smirk. It frustrates me that my heart still skips beats when he looks at me that way. I move toward him. With a brief glance, my hand collides with his cheek. I rub my hand on my leg. A red mark remains on his slightly stubbled cheek. He laughs jeeringly and says softly, “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, baby girl.” Rubbing his cheek, he continues, “But that really is no way to greet your husband.” I retort, “I’m not your baby and that’s ex-husband.” His face contorts, almost looking pained. Glancing down at his feet, he regrets showing any emotion. I smile. He holds the back of his neck, asking curiously, “Do you think you could lose me that easily?” Biting the inside of my cheek, I refuse to answer. Standing up, he looms over me. A shiver travels down my spine.
“You can’t escape Juvenile Hall, Hilary.” Hearing him mention the past I desperately escaped, only makes him a beacon of what I left behind. I concentrate on a rock instead of looking into his eyes. He continues, “No matter how much you want to leave, people like us will always find our way back to it. Back to each other. It’s our home.” He leans down slightly and moves a strand of hair from my face. “You’re my home, Hilary.” My heart roars in my chest, a lion is stuck in my rib cage. ‘People like us’ I thought. I’m not like him, after what I’ve done, I’m worse. Stepping away from him, he somehow pulls me closer. I don’t dare fight it. I miss it. His smell, his hold, him. I don’t want him to let go; however wrong it may have been, he was the only right thing after what I had done. I guess no one can start over. A tear trickles down my cheek and he lets go. He lifts my chin with his finger. I don’t look into his eyes. “Look at me Hilary.” With much protest, I eventually do. His eyes don’t insist on making it all disappear, but rather remind me of the good that came out of it. “I told you not to follow me.” I barely whisper. Shrugging, he insists, “How could I not?”
We said goodbye when we left the correctional center this morning, I can’t manage doing it again. He’s the only thing I didn’t want to leave behind, but I couldn’t start fresh with him around reminding me of my past. “You know I can’t move on with you around.” I whimper. Eyes, now turned softer, pan over my face landing on my lips. Nodding, he pleads, “I know, but you can’t keep punishing yourself for something you didn’t do.” I chuckle, but it’s gruff and humourless. I clear my throat, swallowing hard, thinking, ‘Don’t cry. Please, don’t cry’. “Don’t be childish.” I say, but my voice cracks, momentarily failing me. He wipes the stray tear away and I swear under my breath. “Don’t make me say goodbye again, Sebastian.” I pull myself away from him completely and fold my arms across my chest. I won’t be subjected to outright sobbing in front of him. It’s as though I had kicked a wounded puppy pulling away from him, but it disappears from his face just as fast as it came. I hadn’t noticed the sky change from solid blue to solid grey. The storm threatening to explode, matches the storm raging in Sebastian’s steel grey eyes. Heartbreak and confusion tug at him, as he tries to convince me this is not another goodbye, but another reason why I should go with him.
“I came for you, Hilary. We need each other.” I shake my head, “I don’t need you, Sebastian. You deserve better.” I muster up the courage to say, “Leave.” He clears his throat hastily and takes my hand. He starts sure of himself, “You killed your baby sister, so what?” he pauses, “I’ve done worse, trust me. Don’t let me go. If you do, you’ll be killing me too.”