“Hello sweet-pea, how was your day? Early today?”
“Mr Engel , thank you very much for the concern, but I would rather not be called by your silly names . Hope I made that clear long time back.”
“Ok my love, get in the car.”
“I have a name, in case you are losing your mind. Huh !”
Mr Engel started the engine as the seat belts were securely fastened. From the corner of his eyes he spotted and waved at Galiena, the girl with blond ringlets who looked much more mature for her age, heading towards a blood red Audi R8. He gushed for a moment and suddenly turned sideways to look at the passenger next to him. She was watching him all this time, now rolling her eyes in disgust. Galiena had burst out laughing as the doors of her car closed.
“Can we like move now or are you going to keep staring at that car which you can never afford?”
He smiled and obliged. As she took out her phone and plugged the earphones in with eyes shut, he was reminded of the golden rules.
No music, windows down, legs up the dashboard and the most important bit of their daily ritual, absolutely no fucking talking while driving.
Mr Engel had no choice. As a husband and a house-husband at that.
On the back-passenger seat in his coat pocket still lay the nice little present all wrapped up in bright shimmery pink paper he had carefully selected the week before at Paperchase, topped with a azure blue ribbon, neatly tied into a bow. A perfect present, a nice little stepping stone to the much bigger plans he had.
Shall I break the surprise now? His mind was racing. Ah well, there’s still a good twenty to twenty five minutes drive before they reach home. He thought he had enough time. So instead of asking his passenger to take a look back, steering wheel in right hand he outstretched his left and managed to grab and pull the end of his coat, thereby carefully grovelling inside the pockets for a minute until his hands touched the outlines of the wrapping. Eyes firmly ahead, he pulled out the pink rectangular giftbox and kept it in between his thighs, hand back at the wheel.
Pulling the sun visor down he had a quick look at his face. Bright, cheery and with a warm smile, a handsome forty something good for nothing man stared at him. He dabbed a tissue around his forehead followed by mouth and then folded the thing away.
A sigh later, he turned to his left again to look at her face now, as the car turned left towards the stretch of the road which was relatively busy at this time of the afternoon, owing to nearby school closing times. He slowed down and smiled, as she remained aloof and unresponsive. A calculated and measured smile. One needs to be careful what one wishes for. One needs to be sure of the outcomes and be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.
He certainly was. From the day he met her. Close to three years ago.
Wish Ewton was a peculiar child. Born prematurely to German parents, Phillippe and Chloris, she was what medical science called an extreme case of “infantile nystagmus syndrome” or INS. In addition to her pale, melanin deprived skin, her eyes seemed too fickle to focus at one point. They moved constantly, out of her visible control. The worried parents were relieved to know the non-critical nature of the condition, but nevertheless shuddered every day thinking what all she would have to go through as she grows.
They were right, only if they were around to see her plight. Chloris was too busy in her day job as a training co-ordinator in a London based marketing consultancy firm, and by the evening and weekends part timing as an estate agent. The money, the life that she wanted for her daughter meant long hours away from her.
“Wish, I wanted to tell you something. You know that your mother loves you the world…”
Chloris’s only saving grace was at least Wish didn’t have to spend time away from home just because she wasn’t around.
“And try as hard as I may, as many times even, it saddens me that you still…”
At least Wish had someone she can call Dad.
“That you still don’t consider me your Dad. Don’t keep blaming yourself what happened to him, you were too little , too naïve, too young to understand , under what circumstances your father died, a most shameful death … But you don’t have to bear that badge on your head for the rest of your lives.”
“My Dad was a good man, don’t you dare go that route again!” Burst out the angry teenager.
“No he wasn’t, but to save his family, to save you from the repercussions of his criminal past, he had to do what he did. The sooner you realise that…”
“Realise what? That you can be my Dad? Give me a break Mr Engel !”
“I wish you could talk in the same pitch and voice to.. how about Galiena for a start?”
“What do you know of her?”
“White witch, Squint twit, these cannot be names for a beautiful girl like you. I know what she and the other girls at your class are upto. Try and see yourself in my eyes, you are the most beautiful…”
“Please! Stop right there!”
“I mean what I say, and I want you to know today, no matter what whoever calls you, you remember you do have a Dad you can lean on.” Mr Engel looked for the tissue to wipe the droplets of sweat forming on his forehead.
Wish fell silent for a moment.
“I am sorry Mr Engel, I have been rude.”
“No you haven’t been, you are sweet. Look what I have got for you. This I could afford! “And he held out the present in his left hand.
“Open and see for yourself.”
She dusted and cleaned the bookracks, followed by the wardrobes and the kitchen. The three dozen clothes now all washed and dried, she had already neatly folded them and arranged on the seven little wooden racks. The pointy shoes, and there were at least twenty pairs that she could count over her head, were dusted, polished and neatly arranged. She cut parnsips and cabbage and made a lovely warm soup. After her mammoth cleaning project which took her at least a week to bring to a fruitful conclusion, the little oak creek of a house she now called her home, looked a dainty, cosy place one can desire to spend the whole life at.
She headed towards the door, she needed a shower by the waterfall.
As she walked barefoot through the bushes and shrubs, the gurgling of the stream gave her company, indicating it’s not far before she would reach the origin of the stream.
The Kendra waterfall in the middle of the mythical Mahogany forest. She looked at her reflection in a still puddle of water on her way upstream; pale white skin, white as snow, lips red as blood and hair black as ebony.
Still wet, water dripping from all over her body as she made her way back, a strange sight awaited her. Before she could cross the clearing of the long grassy patch and reach the front door to her Oak creek, she found her worst fear materialise at the doors. The queen, the step-mother in all her evil glory, stood tall, her back facing snow white and before she could even blink an eye lid, she shrivelled into a particularly frail looking old woman with a soiled bag around her shoulders.
“Dear, any body home?” The creaky voice boomed.
Before she could fully realise what the aftermath of her action could be, she started tracing back, first stealthily and then in hurried steps only to turn around and enter her home from one of the many secret tunnel passages that the dwarves had shown her, which lay scattered at different parts of the forest.
“Anybody home, dear?” There was a tinge of anger and impatience building up.
And she was there. Ready to open the doors.
“But what is this for?” She was perplexed.
“For a new start. For our new start. Am sure your mom would be delighted.”
Wish carefully took the azure ribbon out and ripped the pack open.
“iPhone 7 plus?”
“The best for the best, I know you would love it, you like it, don’t you my love? I know you have been craving for it for some time, so here I am. “ Mr Engel’s left hand casually fell on Wish’s exposed thighs and the next thing she felt was sense of cold terror that as if started freezing her blood streams all throughout starting from where his hands touched her skin.
“Watch out !!” She screamed.
As the children ahead of them crossed the zebra crossing, Wish’s insides turned into steel, she threw his hand away before he could react and before he knew she hit his head with all her force, with the solid and edgy phone in her hands. As he cringed in pain, she blew another punch onto his face, the phone nearly breaking the sides of his nose. In a flash, she was out of the car, running away from the madness that she had never imagined could exist, out in the open, trying to lose herself amongst the many toddlers chirping their way through to home, safely holding hands of their mothers and fathers. Anger and tears swelled her eyes as she cried into her phone.
“Mom, where are you?” Wish Ewton sounded firm and resolute like never before.
“Buy my apples dear…” The frail hands held out a devilishly beautiful red apple, creating quite a contrast of life and death, hope and despair, kindness and malice, intertwined yet individual in their presence. By the door stood Snow white, her face ashen, hands firmly tucked behind her back and her eyes hiding a terrible future she had already seen.
By her back, held tightly in her grips was an axe, ready to strike.
This story of mine is written as part of the A2Z Challenge 2017 , today’s letter being “A”.
If you liked what you read, may I request you to kindly share your feelings, what you liked about this story and what you didn’t, please do let me know. It’s great to hear your thoughts on this, so please do take a moment. If you enjoyed reading it, please don’t forget to spread the good word.
Thank you !
© “And Life Unfolds” and Subhendu Mohanty, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Subhendu Mohanty and “And Life Unfolds” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.