The blinds sagged against the bleary night wind. The moonlight had grown old, lost it’s sheen. Yet the pale glow cascaded down on the patched bedspread, on the flowery wallpaper, the chipped washbowl. The stars had long since resigned to the pregnant clouds. The inky blue marred with an angry grey here and there.
The silence was deafening. She was scared it would wake up mother. It stretched over the tips of her toes, making them curl. She wanted to pull up the covers, block out the silence. But that strange numbness had set in. A cue.
Mother had bought the wallpaper from a traveling fair. It had green leaves and tendrils playing on a pretty pink backdrop. The vines spread intricately, forking and uniting, the leaves strewn all over. The airy room called for it. The naked walls were clothed again.
Time and dust had tarnished the glow, with an occasional tear or a stubborn stain. A crinkled old thing, forlorn and harmless. In daytime when the house was awash with a flurry of activities, she could hear the swings creaking in the backyard, the pantry door banged again and again, mother calling for her tea. The vines remained a mute spectator. The lunch trolley was brought in, mother came to visit, the sheets were replaced. Sometimes she cast a wary glance at the dusty old thing adorning the walls. Mother remained silent.
And now, the darkness had set in. And the vines were moving again.
It started with an innocent squeak, the crinkle of dry paper. It wasn’t smooth. She could make out bumps, little hillocks as the sheet flowed over the slopes. It was moving towards the door now. And then wood wasn’t wood anymore. The vines had swallowed up the door, her only means of escape. They were moving faster now, with a growing speed. A cluster of leaves had devoured the washbowl. The paper was moving at the same ferocious pace, now covering the carpet on the floor, edging slowly towards the foot of the bed. The tendrils were now climbing up the four poster, they had reached her feet. She could feel the vines now, slithering across the bedspread, tying her down. A single one snaked across her arm. And then suddenly she couldn’t look anymore. Had the clouds extinguished the moonlight? Or was the silent so intense, she couldn’t resist? It was the vines again. And the pink of the wallpaper she could feel on her face. She was bathed in pink now, that sick pink mother had loved so much. Only the pink had been drowned in darkness. Now the green of the vines and the pink had become one sordid colour.
She was desperately trying to stay afloat but the her boat was heavy with leaves and vines. She hadn’t even noticed the water. The room was full of it now. She could even hear the water outside. The clouds had finally won the battle, she could hear rainwater sloshing down a lonely drainpipe. Or was it the water of her sea, the water around her boat? The storm raged on. The sea was in turmoil, the waves had soaked her pigtails, her nightdress. She hadn’t noticed, too busy maneuvering her precious vessel, aided and abetted by the vines. The water had diluted the barely visible sallow pink, the paper now a sodden mass slowly making it’s way around the boat, it’s new toy.
And then, without warning, the storm calmed down, the paper stopped playing, the vines released her. Her throat was parched, she ached for water but it had disappeared. So had the boat. The wallpaper had returned to it’s rightful place. And the darkness had taken it’s leave too. Sunlight was streaming in. She could here the familiar sounds of the house waking up. She felt strangely calm today, that hovering nervousness had left her. A trifle elated at this new freedom, she decided to take a walk around the room after lunch.
The walk proved to be fruitful. She had never realized how dusty and worn out her room was. There were cobwebs in the corner and the floor creaked. As she stood near the window holding on to the broken blinds for support, she saw a man outside. He was standing near the porch in a white shirt, looking at something she couldn’t see. The man stood there for quite sometime.
The morning had been quite an awful one for Charlie. The row with his wife had spoilt the day. It was the heat, he kept telling himself. And the baby. Ever since the baby had arrived Charlie had known that their cheap fourth floor walk up apartment wouldn’t do. They needed a larger house, the baby needed it too. But times were rough, and his savings were trickling down. Finding a cheap house in a decent neighbourhood was seemingly an impossibly task.
And that’s when Charlie hit the jackpot. The house was perfect. The merciless sun bore down on him and his new shite shirt was drenched in sweat but he didn’t care. He had found was he was looking for. It was a dilapidated old thing. Which meant that the price was probably low. Charlie knew he could fix the broken blinds and rickety doors with some help from his friends. He read the sign with a smile again.