Life began with a story, a story of a man and woman, in paradise. It always seemed as though everything was perfect. Much to why the best stories had happy beginnings. There never was a good reason why it had to be so, and so my story is one of this kind. A story, unbelievable. A story no one told, because it seemed more like a nightmare or meant to be a doomsayer's prophecy. It is the most shameful, the most heart wrenching, victuals- writhing. In those days, the trees were greener, the wind came with a beautiful scent, the tiny songbirds weren't too shy to not perch on our fingers, and more notifyingly our big old storeyed house truly felt like home. Now, I smell nothing, but the pungent smell of dust that erupts by the twirl of the wind, watching the deep orange sun at the horizon, sink into a sea of clouds, should be soothing, now it looks like the poking hand of a drowning girl. There was a perfect beginning - life in paradise, laughter and cheer, love and trust, family and friends, luxury - there was nothing more to want. So there is a striking contrast with the story of the man and woman in paradise, except the curse. I thought it was much worse than the curse. Being cursed would've been much easier to deal with. My thoughts suffocate me. The incessant reminisces I have give me a very queer pleasure. It is quite hypnotizing, I shamefully admit that, it took me a lot struggling with my lugubrious predicaments. I failed tremendously, to get inured to it. Likewise, everything.
With a family as hearty as mine, what else could I possibly ask for?As I am sat here on my wood bed, thoughts of my past flood in, inundates my mind and leaves me wallowing in nostalgia.
"That's your meal tag! Hey! Take her to the dining hall. You! Put on your shoes Goddamnit! Elena Robertson!" He is stomping forth to where I am sat (you can say mentally glued to), throws a card across my face. I hold it up and tilt.
"Yes, you have a pink card today. Better behave, you earned the senior dinning" He rolls his eyes and nods curtly before walking away. With a piteous smirk on my face, I fiddle with the pink otiose thing. I am expected to squeal in glee and wiggle around the place, just because I'm going to eat at the senior dinning, where wheat bread, stale lettuce and a bowl of sour yoghurt was served.
While I am at the dinning, feeding, I let my mind get clogged up by bittersweet thoughts. My mind journeys - thoughts spiral and swirl - it goes way back, the very first thing I remember whenever I feel a pang of rue (like a stake plunged into my ribcage).
It was 2008, May 25. I was in final year, Red Mount senior high. I'd had a cold that humid morning, the way the early morning breeze seeped through my curtain and washed me over was deathly. I was buried in my futon. Wincing and gnashing my teeth, my door flew open, my mother and elder sister had some tablets of aspirins forced down my throat before I was hurdled to the dining room. The sweet aroma of my mother's signature cooking, struck my senses to numbness. She always stunned us with her fabulous African recipes. I had thought of the goodliness of an African mother - superb culinary skills. My father was British but my mother was Ghanian. They had a typical fairy tale like love story, could be cliché but they started conspicuously as college sweethearts, in San Diego. I could never not tell you also now about the our-parents-disapprove-our-relationship scandal, that had diffused like sulphuric gas. My mother had been doing an advanced course on veterinary medicine, at Riverline college at San Diego (where she met my father through Hugh) She had lived with Aunt Molly - her elder sister, who'd been married to a red-haired Scottish. Hugh had been my father's very close friend. Thence, the connection. My mother was the poor sweet girl whose cat had been almost ran over by the white gorgeous heir to a billionaire C.E.O, on a shiny suit. They fell helplessly lovestruck, regardless their both parents' misgivings. It had taken them a lot of drama to finally get signed into matrimony
I watched them at the table, at how lovingly they looked at each other, the very synchronisation of their emotions and unexpressed feelings. We wolfed down the savoury goodness and begged for more.
"Okay, I dearly sympathize with whoever isn't mixed race" we all erupted into fits of laughter at Rose's comment.
We joked, laughed and played while we dined. Rose would rattle on, on how she made her school mates pay twenty dollars for a sale of my mother's beef broth recipe, it was incredible, until she swayed her new kinky skate shoes at our faces. My father had given her an evil smirk after that, which we knew wasn't for nothing.
The clock bells chimed and we ran out to catch the school bus. Our school, Red Mount - remotely on the outskirts of San Diego - was a Catholic school founded by some dogged missionaries, there was a school bus for senior pupils. I always thought it was more old fashioned than likeable, as I walked through the hallway, heads turned at me, eyes rolled, lips whispered, lockers clanked and I just didn't care. It was absolutely normal to me. I had no friends at school, because nobody liked me. Most, were envious - I was unarguably the brightest kid in class. Some, were just afraid to talk to me - I thought they'd taken in more spiteful rumours about me than enough.
Classes were most interesting on Mondays, I thought. Ancient history pleasurably took an extra hour as we pepped up some experimental courses on it. Art class was also a sweet disaster, our substitute teacher was a sucker at painting.
So by routine, I was at the cafeteria sat with my book bag beside me. I watched idly, the nattering teens, the over zealous cleaners, one randy one almost had my meal ruined in his move to bathe his rag in a bucket - my book bag was my only companion and when I was done nibbling, I'd trudged to the library, studied a few random scientific directories and ran out, at the sound of the clanging bells, to the chapel where we prayed to our blessed Mary, usually before dismissal. Someone had kicked my heel so I staggered, I turned around sharply and arched a brow at the offender.
"Learn how to be a little less clumsier, Nit." It was Margaretta, my worst enemy. She hated me so much, she could have me killed if she had the chance. We were in the Mary garden, knelt before Her celestial statue. My heart fluttered at her dazzling beauty, radiating purity and compassion. We chanted our prayers by our rosaries, then prayed discreetly in our minds. I prayed.
"Blessed Mary, mother of Jesus. Show me grace and compassion. Bless my sister Rose, my mother Anabella, my father Thomas. Give me peace, and never ending joy, make us all happy forever. Make all my wishes come true. Pray for me, Blessed Virgin Mary, Amen". I peeked at Her, it seemed like she was smiling at me, but I knew it was my imagination. I, nevertheless, smiled back and stood up, taking along, my bag.
I hated to go by the school bus, especially at noons when students were returning home. It was usually, hot, deoxygenated and ear-splittingly noisy. I'd rather trekked home. I took out my cellphone and slid it open. There were four missed calls from Rose and three text messages.
"Where in the world are you!? You are supposed to come to my school!"
"You missed my calls! Why!?" Read the second text.
"Don't bother coming, I'm at home already. Mom made butter pancakes and guess what, yours were rationed #evilgrin#" I swiped off my phone and sighed in grief, I had totally forgotten that I was supposed to meet her at her own school, so we could go home together in her car. How moronic can I get!? I stomped even more furiously in the coal tarred pedestrian lane, as the blazing sun scorched my face. I walked past a tea parlour, it always had a bunch of pervy cyclists who liked to stick around and have a cup of umami latte every midday.
One haggardly one hollered at me.
"Yo pretty! Come take shelter, the sun's unkind to ya!" I hissed in disgust and quickened my pace.
At the foot of an old oak tree, approximately fifty-five feet away from home sat an old lady, wrapped with a faded linen, had a good number of people in my age range lingering around her, I could hardly note her features.
" I'd give four dollars"
"I'd give ten!" "I'd give even more!"
These restive teens jumped about, swinging notes of money in the air. She was a fortune teller. I moved slowly and pretended to not be interested. I watched stealthily, I didn't know the old lady had been watching me too. My profusing sweats unmasked my anxiety, the children had begun to leave in twos and threes and I knew it was time for me to meet her. On cue, she stared at me, I glanced back, her eyes were calling me. I dragged my feet to where she was. She smiled knowingly.
"Elena, I'd been waiting for you. Sit." My heart fell into my stomach. She knew my name! Okay fortune tellers knew everything. I sat shakily on a tiny clapped-out stool before her.
"So?" She had said, I was lost in confusion.
"What do you want me to do for you, my dear?"
"Hmm?" I raised my brows absent mindedly.
"Yes, the reason you came to meet me" she spoke so calmly, every word falling sloppily on the other, I thought she exuded so much wisdom by her mannerisms. Some courting birds sang noisily in an outrageous frequency, so I was distracted.
"I want to know my future" I spat the words. By lacing my fingers and rubbing continuously the hand of my bag, I was able to control my anxiety.
"You are very special, Elena" She told me. I smiled, the fear and angst ebbing away.
"You want to see your future?"I thought she would look into my palm, and by the creases and lines on it would tell me my future just like we were told fortune tellers do. I nodded vigorously.
"You would like to see it? By yourself?"
"Yes ma'am" I stuttered
"Give me your hands" I rubbed off sweat from my palms and held in.
"Close your eyes, think of nothing, but listen to me" I clenched my eye lids, fastening my hold on her, tried hard not to think and listened to her. She hummed an enchanting tune. In my head it was dark at first then brightness erupted.