Flames and Storms
Edited by Miriam Zeghlache
Walking into the city, each step takes me a ridiculously enormous amount of effort. My feet are weights, I thought, as I drag them along. I want to turn back and run, but where to? There is nowhere to go. The sun is obscured by dark, furiously crackling clouds. Barely anyone is out. Why would they be? They certainly seem to mind the storm. But I don’t. The storm and I are alike. It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon; the sun should be shining and winking down at me, and I should feel energized. Yet there is no sign of the sun, darkness embraces me, and it is almost as if it’s 11 o’clock in the night. Exhaustion begs me to sit down but I cannot, I cannot. I have to keep going, travel as far away as possible. Two days have dragged by, painfully slow, with this darkness engulfing the light. The once-clean streets are an utter mess now; the howling wind from yesterday having wrecked the place. Passing a green and red themed restaurant, I frowned. Had I not been here before?
Then it clicked. It was the same one we had been to just a couple of days ago. It caused a deep thought to surface. A thought that I’d been shoving down for the past three hours. I have left my family for good. There’s no turning back; I am free.
But was I though? Would I ever be?
Just four days ago, my family and I had been enjoying sushi and Chinese food. Everyone was sitting on cherry red, metal chairs. My younger brother was cracking jokes as usual, his grin growing and cutting into his cheek as my parents, sister and cousins laughed heartily at each and every one of them. All the chairs were huddled around the crystal-glass tables, as if coming closer to celebrate the family reunion. We ate and gossiped, laughed and insulted. This was the perfect family. The glass table sparkled in the sun, displaying its fondness for all of us. Silver cutlery clinked and patterned cups arose all around the table. A toast to this harmonized family. Smiles appeared simultaneously on every face.
A crash of thunder brings me back to reality. My hair whips around my face as my body begins brimming with anger. A balloon of emotion was rapidly expanding in me, screaming to explode. It had all been such a filthy lie. They are no family. Families don’t lie to you, don’t hurt you, don’t leave you. My eyes lock on to the large crystal table and the cherry chairs, and I stare, hard. They look barely like the ones I’d seen a few days ago. They are strewn all over the place, as if the raging war at my house last night had journeyed all the way here, destroying everything I once knew as fun and family-like. A glass, patterned cup that was held by my father just days ago was rolled around on the ground in the wind. Picking it up, I turned it through my fingers. Blood seeped from my middle finger as it brushed over a sharp, jutting edge. Watching the blood trickle down my finger caused a rush of adrenaline in me, mixed with resentment and fury. I hurled the glass into the wall. It shattered into thousands of pieces, redisplaying to me what has happened to my family.
Another crash, followed by the deafening crack of a lightning strike. Rain began to pour down, as if the clouds had sucked up the sea and spat it out on us in fury. Puddles and streams began forming immediately. Hair plastered to my face, I found the cherry red chair that I had sat on that day. It looked nothing like itself. Rust was enveloping it, making the color an eerie deep, reddish brown. It didn’t look unlike blood, but it didn’t exactly look like it either. Droplets clung on it, as if they were terrified to let go and hit the ground. Had the chair been giving me a warning that day, I thought, as I sat down next to the glass shards and looked at it, about what might happen? Should I pick it up, place it next to the table? No, whispered the voice in my head. Pain demands to be felt. And so it does. One last look at the place. I pictured the day when everything was all right. And looking at it now, who would have imagined that their life would take an entirely different, sudden turn?