Salt lakes surround my face, I look around.
She stood there.
Her putrid smell penetrating the air,
pulsating in my palm, permeating each pore.
The breeze brings me a strange calm-
Now, she is at the door.
The bell's ring, followed by that wooden creak.
Then the sweat, dread and fear.
She appears and then disappears.
Lurking and mingling with my own shadow.
I bend in horror to separate mine from hers, but I am a renegade.
She is me and I am her,
the last act in her grand charade.
She was the one who'd dance on the edge of the docks until she fell into the sea.
She was the one who'd stand beside you like a mother or a mystical fairy,
letting your eyes see,
everything you were and everything you wished to be.
A beautiful fantasy.
She'd only been looking at herself in the lake.
I was the unwelcome intruder.
The lilies were white spiders all around,
Each petal a soothing whisker.
You could feel the water simper.
There was death in each gurgling sound.
Why else would her lilies be deathly white,
tinged the same as those unkempt linens by her bedside?
There was that creak again-
like the last bleat of a sacrificial goat.
A farce for she was the returned royal.
Each tear- the triumphant trumpet's blare.
The door opened to ensnare the river
I was sinking, slipping under,
foot entangling in the weeds.
I opened my mouth to speak,
Gulping the aquamarine.
Her lies and her fault, yet I was the one who had taken the fall.
She stood steady, as my words glided in the air like that first paper plane I made.
They slithered across like a friend on a
winter bench on a school trip to the Mayfair,
Both locking eyes but speechless,
away from the crowd's reaches.
They breathed their own mist into her putrid air.
They had their roots but their tree was bare.
And mine was wrapped around the wreckage of her ship,
scattered like the splintered thousands bound by the lashes of her whip.
Water, more water.
Bottles of borrowed water,
encircling my feet.
My salt, my sweat, my tears,
mixing with this pure river.
She had poisoned its purity.
A cream sight - the foam of each wave,
A few shades away
from those lilies of the lake-
now dead white,
like the skin hanging off of my cuts.
Thicker than I'd ever felt it before.
I could smell it rotting red-maroon- and eventually, brown.
All of my worthless flesh she'd collect by sundown.
But they had been said.
The words had found their escape and made a voyage,
through the storm to find its peace
in the heart of the sea.
There I lay, under her bed of green weeds,
Gathered by that same familiar smother.
She had been the one to collect each piece and return them to me, once.
All but one.
One pocketed puzzle piece.
Stitched into the inside of her pocket sleeve,
near her heartbeat.
A reminder of her control over my being.
Each day and each word she'd say,
she'd pocket a piece, unnoticed by me.
Until I stood undone,
My hands -holding none.
I looked at her face.
All that was left now was this silence in the air.
Writer: Debolina Bhattacharya
Editor: Ishwari Tilekar