Silk - by Mehreen Ahmed (Flash Fiction 2021)

 Mehreen Ahmed is widely published and critically acclaimed by Midwest Book Review, The Wild Atlantic Book Club, DD Magazine to name a few. A winner in The Waterloo Short Story Competition, her short stories are Shortlisted in Cogito Literary Magazine Contest, a Finalist in the Fourth Adelaide Literary Award Contest, and winner in Cabinet of Heed stream-of-consciousness challenge. Her works are Three-time nominated for The Best of the Net Awards, nominated for the Pushcart Prize Award, Two-time nominated for Aurealis Awards. Her book is an announced Drunken Druid's Editor's Choice.


Silk

by Mehreen Ahmed


Consistency wasn’t my forte. I watched my parents play chess every day with a tad of scepticism, wondering if they really enjoyed playing the same game. My mother could win hands down. My father lost every time. It upset him. He was a bad loser. Just watching them was monotonous. The same arguments over those moves on the chessboard.
In those days, I wore Naagras. They were royal shoes with a narrow pointy front bow. I went to some really dark places in them. Both boredom and romance took me into forbidden forays, as I sought newness. I really didn’t know what I expected. A nuanced romance that would explode a life of taste and colour. The more I tried, the more disappointment my adventures brought me, flat prairies of no exciting relationships.
One summer’s afternoon, however, I sat reading Tagore’s The Last Poem. His definition of love and marriage eluded me. The essence of true love is fascinating and dangerous. He compared true love with an ocean where the mellow heart must be allowed to immerse occasionally. Marriage, on the other hand, was washed away with sullied water, fetched every day, and used every day.
Then I heard footsteps. Our neighbour’s son Sunny ambled through the garden. I looked up. He smiled and sat down next to me. We started talking about romance and marriage. 
“Are you reading Tagore’s The Last Poem?” 
He asked looking at the turned pages.
“Yes,” I answered.
“How are you liking it?”
“I like his views on love and marriage,” I said.
“Hmm, Interesting take, say, do you think Madame Bovary could change?” he asked.
“Seriously? No, I don’t think so. Her boredom was too deep.” 
He noted my terse answer. However, I continued unabashed.
I had roped myself in defense of the Madame Bovary types of the world. Suddenly, Sunny looked at me strangely. He pulled me towards him. His lips were pressing hard and hot on mine. I had the strangest vision in his arms. I felt a connection. Something actually clicked.
“I have been there. Done it, many, many times.” 
I cried and unlocked myself from his arms.
“With the same person?” he asked.
“No.”
“Aha,” he chuckled.
I started to walk away from him. He followed me. We entered the house together. Our parents chatted on the far side of the verandah. Sunny joined them for a drink. I went to my bedroom and stood by the window. The pomegranate tree was in full bloom. True love didn't exist, I reminded myself. But, I felt something there with Sunny, which I had not felt with any others. Maybe Sunny checkmated me. Maybe, I was in love. One kiss, could this transform me? I braced myself for a fall.
The next day, I texted him asking for a date. He responded promptly. It was in the afternoon again in our garden shed. I pulled up a branch of a mango tree as I walked under its foliage.
A desire swelled in my heart. He carried me and he walked towards the shed.
After about a quarter of an hour, I saw through the tiny shed window, a crow flying in and sitting on the shed of the corrugated iron roof. He dropped a patch of faeces lather on its edge before it flew away with a caw. Sunny and I spent nearly two hours here. I began to feel it, the passion, the romance, and a rash desire for Sunny. Sunny was the one, the only love of my life.
Sunny looked at me and asked,
“What’s up! What’re you thinking?”
“Of you.”
“Really? Do you want to marry me?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Hmm.”
“Hmm? I asked.
“Not sure, if you’re committed enough.”
He lit a cigarette and made a smokey ring as he puffed it out through his pouty lips. The penny dropped for me. Sunny was right. I wasn’t marriage-worthy. This passion would relinquish; I was another Madame Bovary in waiting.


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