Coming out of the bathroom, she turned and looked at her bushed face in the mirror and gasped a tired answer to her long asked question, “Never, you just keep driving in the sunset.” She shook her head to wing away those rebellious butterflies in her mind. She knew she couldn’t join them so she didn’t want them to hang around her either.
She entered the kitchen hearing Mike, yelling in his drowsy voice for the absence of his towel in the bathroom. Her youngest daughter Karen started crying for she didn’t want to go to school that day. Nicole, the eldest, couldn’t help herself but to blame Daniel for the overnight fragmentation of her dollhouse. While Randal registered his protest from his bed that he was not going to drink milk in breakfast like every day. While in the kitchen, sugar had run out and the laundry seemed to have been breeding itself. And she was still looking for that magic wand.
She never got to know when morning ran into noon; even the clock failed to tell her that. Mike left for office still screaming and shouting for his towel and the school bus only arrived after the kids had put all their stunts on the dining table. Their absence couldn’t cease her work for they left their incarnations on her day. She was comparing the pile of her courage to that of the laundry when the doorbell rang. It had been so long anybody coming to their home that she had forgotten what their doorbell sounded like. She tried to guess who could it be but not a single name intervened her thoughts. She opened the door with an uncertain hope for a surprise from the blue but only found the postman standing in the door to vanish that uncertainty. “Hi David! Since when did you start ringing the doorbell?” words flew out of her mouth with their own consent.
“Ever since I was a kid. Only that in my childhood I would ring the bell and run away.” David was one hell of a cheerful postman.
“But you don’t need to run away now.”
“No, not until you have signed and received you letter.”
“My letter! Who could send that?”
“I am not sure, its someone named L.H.M. Sounds like a postgraduate degree to me.”
“Never mind, I’ll sign it.”
Tanya received the letter. It was a registered letter from within the town. She wondered who could that L.H.M be. She opened the envelope and the mystery that enfolded it. The handwriting sparked a memory but she felt too overwhelmed to scrape her past. Her heartbeat started flying on butterfly wings.
It wasn’t just a letter with ordinary words written on a piece of paper. She could feel those words fluttering over her heart. They were telling her stories of her long lost love.
"My flowered wish Tanya! I once saw my home in the streets of your palm, my destiny in the smiles of your promises, and my shelter in the shadows of your eyes. I treasured all your whispers under my pillow, your fragrance in my breaths, and your name in my ears. Your face still lightens up the sky in the night, your voice still rhymes the rainfall, and your hair still soften the wind. The sun always rose from the casement of your eyes. And then, time flew you away into someone else’s world. That sun vanished and ever since I haven’t seen a sunrise. Life is spending me and I am aging into it. Days keep climbing the mountain of years. Moon drapes its face in the clouds and the night refuses to bring sleep onto my pillow. I fight your memories and defeat myself. The pain-waves of your absence storm through my stale heart and leave it in a vortex. Life runs like a wheel. The circle starts every morning and ends up late in the night, and then morning appears again. There is no pause, no rest, not even a slight curve to turn into a change. My face has lived with me for ten cold winters, now I want to feel the warmth of you face. Bring the sunshine of your eyes to me. Meet me while the sun sets this Sunday at the river bridge where days use to meet nights. My eyes will be measuring the passage until you come." Larry
The letter ended and left her standing at the door of her time-faded memories. Larry was her classmate in college days. He lived her heart and she dreamed his eyes. They had planned to get married after graduation as soon as Larry found a good job. It took him a year to find one and this expansion of time let Mike surface. Mike was an elegant and handsome man with already a good job. He proposed Tanya and she, tired of waiting for fresh air, stepped into the clouds with Mike. Larry got a first-rate job the day Tanya got married.
In next six months, Larry left the country and Tanya moved to Wisconsin. Life got busy in its details and Larry lived in her memory too much that she forgot to remember him. Mike’s love scattered into his job, kids and Tanya. She did the same to him, except for the job thing. Her job was to take care of the kids and the home. “Easier said than done” she liked this phrase ever since. Her job imprisoned her wishes and she couldn’t even wish for her freedom.
And today, after more than ten years, a letter came into her life like a butterfly carrying on its wings words written in rainbow colors. It was Wednesday and she wished to jump over those three days into the Sunday sunset.
She never got to know when the kids came back from the school and how she spent the rest of the day. The days had started flying with her. In the night she would read that letter to the moon, the stars and the breeze. She would tell them stories of her love; the first time she met Larry, her first words and her first kiss. Every inch of her memory had a bond to a whole new memory itself. Now she remembered everything; every ray the sun ever decanted on her love.
Life had taken a right turn on a straight highway of routines. The orbit had finally broken. She could feel a powerful freedom that was removing those monotonous thoughts from her mind and injecting life into her veins. Life was wearing hope now.
The time from Sunday morning to evening was hard to spend. Time clock was snailing out of the day and the sun got hung up in mid air. Wind stopped on the surface of water and the shadows declined to shrink. She wished time was a horse with a tail on the forehead and she would pull it from its tail. She wished time was a dry leaf and she would through it in the windstorm of her heart. She wished time was a boat and she would sail it in the river of her eyes. But today, time that had always been a teacher to her, had turn into a teaser. It wasn’t breathing at all, just holding its breath and teasing her more. She wanted the time to fly and it was crawling.
She tried to make herself busy in house chores but her eyes quit supporting her hands as they were still looking at the sun. And the sun also kept glaring at her, all day. Finally the sun lost the battle and started going down. From the ventilator, it had skid to the window.
No one in the family felt any change in her. Mike had to go to meet a client and was quite busy looking at himself and the kids were too involved looking at the TV. It was an hour to sunset and she was ready, wearing her best dress and wrapped in her favourite fragrance. She surrendered a couple of years from her face and brought back a few young smiles onto her lips.
“Where are you going dear?” her preparation couldn’t wage enough resistance against Mike’s curiosity.
“Aa, well, actually I thought I would go for some shopping” she hardly uttered.
”Mom! I would go with you.” Nicole yelled as the idea of going out had removed her attention from the TV. The rest were too absorbed they didn’t even listen the conversation.
“Yeah dear, why don’t you take Nicole with you, she could be help.” T anya didn’t feel comfortable having a company at that time but she didn’t want to change Mike’s curiosity in to suspicion so she said OK.
All the way to the city center, Nicole kept telling her of all the stuff her friends had and what she wanted to buy in response. Tanya wasn’t listening. She was just shaking her head in approval of whatever Nicole said. She couldn’t possibly have said a word. Her heart was rumbling like a volcano, hitting the rib cage trying to get out to take a look at its long lost love.
The sun was hurrying down now. She was afraid of getting late so she speeded up a little.
“Mom! Aren’t we suppose to go to City Center?” Nicole asked seeing her turning to a different street.
“Yes dear but I have to take care of something important before we go shopping, all right?” she said.
“All right.” It was OK for Nicole as long as it didn’t alter their shopping plan.
The bridge was getting closer and so was logic. Sanity had started penetrating her enthusiasm. The question of “how should I do it?” turned into “why should I do it?” The eclipse of her memories had started declining. She could see the bridge now. She stopped the car a hundred yards away from the bridge. “Honey! You stay in the car, I’ll be back in a few minutes.” She said to Nicole without a slight touch of emotions. She didn’t wait for her answer, stepped out of the car in a mechanical way and started walking towards the bridge.
Larry was standing on the corner of the bridge, with his back to her. He was looking down the bridge into the running water. She walked for a few yards and then stopped. Larry turned his face towards her. Age seemed to have worn him out. He looked tired as if he had traveled a huge mileage of years. His presence sent no ‘waves of fresh air’ to clean her heart from the mist of dissatisfaction. He disappointed her again. She hoped to find a ray of hope and he disappointed her hope. She looked back towards the car at her daughter. “I have too much to lose, I don’t want to lose my ten years.” she decided and turned back. Larry ran after her but she had reached her car. Larry called her with a passionate cry, “Tanya!” She opened the door and sat in. Larry stopped abruptly with shock struck eyes. Tanya turned the car back.
“You are my wish Tanya!” Larry murmured. She stepped on the car. Larry saw her going into the sunset.
“Who was he mommy?” Nicole couldn’t catch any idea out of it.
“He was a nobody my dear.”
Tanya kept driving into the sunset.