Seven Days: COMPLETE: Upd: Pg 3] [Twilight Story]

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Posted: 2009-04-02T08:37:18Z

On Moonday, the king of Dreams gave an audience to five small children, who had traveled a long way seeking their lost mother. He met them in a hall filled with scarecrows, who whispered among themselves in the voices of the stars of the silent screen. ' Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones, Chapter 8 (Issue #64)

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Monday

She was taking an inventory of latest dispatch to her book store when she heard a soft rap on the door. It was a dreary Monday evening, complete with unexpected autumn showers lessening the in flow of customers. It had given her time to catch up on inventory and go through the accounts for past months in detail. She co-owned this quaint little book store which had a touch of old-fashioned library to it. Any book lover would immediately fall in love with the store; at least that's what she always thought.

"We are closed", she yelled. The book store closed at eight everyday and it was already few minutes past the deadline.

After a few moments, there was another rap on the door. Only this time, it was a little urgent. For a minute, she contemplated on calling cops. It was late in evening with very little traffic outside and someone was knocking on the doors even when there was a predominant "CLOSED" sign was on display. She rolled her eyes at her own paranoia and decided to check it out. Through the glass, she could see a man, perhaps in same age group as hers ' mid-twenties, had traces of rain drops in his hair and had was intently looking at the sky, watching the lazy drizzle. As she opened the door, he turned his head to her and gave her a tentative smile. The first thing she observed about him was his eyes. It was dark green, like the color of a young leaf in deep parts of the forest which is untouched by civilization. It reminded her about '

"Harry Potter" She wasn't aware that she had said that out loud. When he replied, his tone was full of amusement.

"Damn. I really thought I hid my scar well." She chuckled.

"Can I help you?" There was something intriguing about the man who stood outside her door. She was drawn to the intensity of his eyes, which looked as if they held a million secrets. His gaze on her was strong and unwavering.

"I need a book and shelter for a while from this rain." He told her honestly. She looked around the street to see couple of cafes open and bursting with people taking a refuge from the rain.

"It's too loud in there; not to mention there are too many people absorbed in their own little world to talk about anything else." He added.

"So, you prefer a book store with absolutely no one except for me that is, over a caf full of people and warm food?"

"Always" The certainty in which he said the word made her move out of the doorway and fully opened the door for him to enter. He gave her a thankful smile.

"Are you looking for something specific?" She asked him as he took off his coat to hang.

"I would like to look around, if that's OK." She nodded. Once he disappeared behind racks of books, she shook her head to clear invisible cobwebs and started to arrange books from the latest dispatch. After nearly thirty minutes, she walked with a bunch of children's books to place them in their own shelf. She saw him sitting on a small stool which was hardly a feet tall at the end of the aisle where she kept books for children. As she neared him, he looked up from the book he was reading and gave her a tiny smile.

"Interesting read?" She questioned him as she arranged books in their designated places.

"Charlotte's web is my all time favorite children's novel. It's been a while since I read it though. I lost my copy of this book over the years of moving across towns. I don't know why but I never felt like picking up a new one." There was a hint of nostalgia in his voice. She could understand that to an extent. She sighed and took a place across him on the floor. She was attracted to the kinship of his company.

"I was six when it was read to me for the first time. The whole idea of a spider writing words from cobweb was extremely fascinating. In that age, I simply enjoyed the story for just the story itself and not how it could be interpreted as."

"You miss that innocence." Reading children's books always made her nostalgic for that reason only.

"I miss taking words for their face value. I miss taking these stories as simple stories but look at it as allegories."

"Why Charlotte's web? I am sorry if you feel that I am intruding."

"No, you are not prying. This is actually nice." They shared a smile. He continued.

"As I said before, it was just the cool factor of spider creating cobwebs in the form of words which made me fall in love with this book. But as I grew up, I could actually relate myself, to an extent, with Wilbur."

"Wilbur the pig?"

"Yes, he is the one. I wasn't exactly the runt kind, but was of different kind. I loved reading and playing piano when compared to outdoor activities. It wasn't like I was bad at sports, but organized games held my interest for a very short duration. My parents were happy with me. But sometimes, I wondered if my parents preferred me to be more similar like my siblings." He had a faraway look on his face and was running his index finger on the spine of the book.

"So you didn't play any games as kid with your siblings?"

"I did, a lot actually. But deep down, I was never too satisfied with it. Games have rules and regulations, the outcome of which depends on a tangible evidence which requires an amount of intelligence and physical stamina to obtain."

"You don't like rules?"

"I like rules just fine. But for little kids, the whole idea of outdoor activities with lots of rules is defeated. As a kid, I preferred board games where winning and losing is solely dependent on sheer dumb luck. I loved rain as a kid because my siblings and I would coop up in family room and play board games for hours. Instead of my brother telling me how to hold bat he would clap my shoulder and wish me better luck for next round. In board games, all kids were equals irrespective of their intellectual and physical capability. I liked that."

"That's one way of seeing things. Organized games teach kids to have discipline. It teaches them that no matter how good they are, they can always be better with more training. It gives them opportunities to pursue passion and makes them realize that there are some sacrifices required to achieve a goal; be it a game or be it life itself."

"I agree." She was mesmerized with the conviction in which he said certain things; as if there is no further room for doubt from the opposite party. She loved that aspect of certainty in others.

"Did you cry when Charlotte dies?" She wanted to know what he was like a young man. He must have been one interesting kid.

"The first time when I heard the story, I bawled my eyes out. Even my elder brothers were very supportive when I requested them to light a candle in memory of Charlotte when we visited church." They chuckled.

"When did you first feel that you shared a connection with Wilbur?" She was suddenly curious about it. She was a voracious reader even when she was young and she had started branding books as "kid stuff" when her peers had barely skimmed their book list.

"I think I was eleven when I noted that there was a change in the way I had started to perceive things. It was either that or it was because my perception about things was a lot different from kids of my age."

"It's definitely the latter, trust me." She grinned at him.

"I found out that some kids took competition to whole lot of different level. I was good at sports but I always believed that foul play happened only in TV series and never in real life. That was the first lesson I learned. On that day, I had cried for hours burying my face in my mother's lap. And on that day I lost a shard of my innocence." He grew quiet for a while until she broke the silence.

"It was inevitable, wasn't it?"

"Inevitability is a way of life. Now, I feel that it was more of a resigned acceptance of the way things were rather than being delusional about how perfect it has to be. As I grew up, I kept trading innocence with reality or I don't know if I was trading 'what I can be' with 'what I have to be'. "

"Aren't they the same?" He smiled at her. He was attracted to her natural curiosity and the way she accepted his long boring monologue with a simple statement.

"What do you think?" He was interested to know what she thought about the whole innocence thing.

"When I was young my interests varied between being part of a fairy tale to owning a rainbow of my own. Once I got addicted to reading, interests changed. They changed with time and with my growing intelligence. I would not say that innocence is lost. Innocence is never lost. We simply accept an alternate reality and call it our own. But deep in our hearts we always live in our own personal reality, where we truly can be what we want to be." For few moments the only noise in the bookstore was a faint sound of rain splattering on the window panes. They were both contemplating on their childhood, innocence lost and intelligence gained. When their eyes met, they both smiled and got up together. He picked a copy of Alice in Wonderland and handed it over to her.

"I will take this, please." She noticed with a frown that he had kept Charlotte's Web back in the shelf. After he walked past her towards counter, she silently picked it up. He paid cash to cover for the book and noted in surprise that there were actually two books in the bag that she had handed over to him. No words were exchanged and he simply stared at her.

"A little gift to remember that innocence is never truly lost." He continued to stare at her for few minutes and he suddenly smiled. He waved a good bye and walked out of the store. Just before he closed the door behind him, he uttered his parting words.

"Next time, I am bringing coffee." When she looked up from whatever she was doing, he was already gone. She felt a thrill going down on her spine when she realized that she would be seeing him again. She hummed an old tune as she prepared herself to lock the store.

--o00o--

Tomorrow (Tuesday): He visits her again, as promised with a cup of coffee and to buy a travelogue. They talk about traveling, moving out, epiphanies during road trips and back packing.

~Sookie

Edited by Sookie* - 2009-04-07T21:44:22Z
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Posted: 2009-04-02T08:47:30Z
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Posted: 2009-04-02T08:48:18Z
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Posted: 2009-04-02T21:52:51Z

On Truesday, the prince of stories listened to the tale of a nightmare it had created a handful of years before, and sent out into the world. Then the prince of stories walked the bounds of the dreaming, beginning with the shores of night, and from there to the borders of the shifting places. – Neil Gaiman, The Kindly ones, Chapter 8 (Issue #64)


Tuesday

Her roommate had badgered her relentlessly for information about the stranger who had visited her bookstore on a rainy Monday evening. She had gushed about the things that they had talked about and had felt very shy when she confessed to her roommate that she was mildly attracted to that person. When her pixie roommate had asked for a name, her face had become blank. Over the past few days, she had rerun that conversation with the stranger more than she liked to admit. The two of them had not bothered for an idyllic chit chat or formal introductions. It surprised her to realize that it didn't matter at all. Every evening when clock turned eight, a discreet nervousness settled in her stomach and an unexplainable disappointment when she had to lock the store without a visit from him.

It had been a tiring Tuesday and she had decided to relax with a nice classic before she locked up for the day. She was startled to see a tall cup of coffee on her table as she raised her head from the book that she was immersed in. As she raised her eyes to look the face of the owner of coffee, she got lost in the intensity of a pair of green eyes and her lips curled automatically to give him a smile. He didn't return her smile.

"The door was unlocked. Do you have any idea how irresponsible that is?" She found that she liked it when he scolded her. She ducked her head to hide a smile. After a few moments, he spoke again.

"I am sorry if that was out of line. There were too many bad scenarios running in my head when I saw that the door was unlocked." He gave her a sheepish smile.

"Its alright. I will assure you that it won't happen again. Thanks for coffee." She grinned at him. They walked in silence around the store – him leading, her following. He stopped at travelogue section and pulled out a book which seemed to have caught his interest. She sat on floor and stretched her tired legs.

"How have you been for the past few days?" She broke the silence. He sat on the floor across her still flipping through pages of the book that he had picked out.

"I was traveling. It was purely business." He didn't know why he had to add that information in the end.

"Was it fun?" He sighed. She wondered if that was a wrong question to ask since he was flipping through the book and not looking at her and was being really quiet. But she had seen this side of him the last time they talked. It was when he was contemplating on something and collecting his thoughts before he could give her an answer.

"I am not sure. Traveling stopped being fun a long time ago. My office prepares my plan for the stay; flight tickets, hotels, car rentals everything is taken care of even before my plan is confirmed. All I have to do it follow the plan and utilize any non working days according to my wish. Apart from that there is nothing else that I would have to do."

"And you don't like it?"

"Its not that. You know almost all air ports look alike; a touch of local culture intermingled with international brands. It's like a city in itself. Given the time frame in which I hop between cities, I do most of my shopping in airports itself and I completely miss out on local markets and local culture."

"But that's how life now is, isn't it? Airports cater to those people who have less or no time to go and explore local cities in detail or even shop. Even you, who I think love to travel, have no time when you are on business. Hence airports morph into a dizzy metropolis."

"That is something I can understand and I believe which is good for local economy and is also a good solution for busy travelers. But internationalization of the local community is what bothers me the most. In a small town in central Europe, amidst charming little cafs you can see a McDonalds safely tucked. For many tourists, seeing McDonalds gives them a sense of familiarity in a foreign town. For some, it even reminds them of their home and is a place of comfort. But for some tourists, for example me, it is a reminder of the life that I have left behind during my travel." He took a sip of his coffee and smiled at her. She found that the way he saw things was very different from the regular mass. The last time he had told her that he was of different kind, she was thinking along the lines of having different tastes than an average male. It was not that at all. His perception of everything was different from the rest. It made her more intrigued of his personality.

"I come from small town so I guess I see your point. Lot of local restaurants, cafs, gift shops, bookstores struggle to survive around bigger brands. It's not as if these international brands are bad in any sense, but they sure bring down the uniqueness of a place." She felt a lump in her throat. She was having a tough time maintaining the finances and her partner had told her the other day that they wish to move out of partnership. Her option was to buy it out from them, if she wanted to retain the bookstore or sell the bookstore to some buyer and give her partner their share. He cottoned on her faraway look and badgered her to give him answers. She told him about the finances eventually. He sensed that she didn't feel like talking about it much so he came back to the subject of traveling.

"Which is the place that you would want to visit the most?" She took a moment to answer.

"Asia, I think. There are so many places to visit there. Places that we have heard about talked about and read about. The cultural, language, food, everything is fascinating. What about you?"

"It would be the same. Mostly because, my business has not taken me to Asia and I never had the time to take a vacation in Asia, but yeah, it is something that I want to visit once. My most enjoyable vacation would be a road trip; alone or with really close friends. What is your most memorable road trip?" She blushed at that.

"I haven't exactly taken a road trip." He stared at her for a few moments.

"Not taking a road trip is like your passage to adulthood is incomplete. I am not talking about the romanticized road trips that you see in movies and read in teen novels. I am talking about those which lead to self realization." His eyes were amused. She raised an eye-brow at that.

"What did you realize?"

"During one of the road trips in the early days of college, I had an epiphany. I realized why I preferred brunettes over blondes." She burst out laughing. He joined her a moment later. He continued after he managed to catch his breath.

"What, you expected it to be some kind of a philosophical rambling about existential complexity or something equally inane?"

"Knowing you till now, yes." She giggled.

"Road trips are for fun, to be with friends, to see the world around us without any filter attached to our eyes, to mend mistakes and to think. When everything gets overwhelming, I drive towards horizon, without any goal for hours. Many a times, this self imposed loneliness has helped to bring down my stress level. Its lot better than drowning sorrows in alcohol."

"Maybe I should try it once. You know, to drive without an aim in mind."

"Maybe you should. Take couple of days off. If you think that world around you will stop operating because you are not there, then you are mistaken. The world might slow down or skid or have too many problems overnight but it will never stop turning." She felt tears sting in her eyes. She could not remember the last time she took some time off for herself. During her spare time, her roommate dragged her off for outing or some other outdoor activity. She decided to think about taking a break from normalcy in coming few days. But at present, she didn't want to think about the influence this stranger was having on her. It was too soon to think in that direction. His words cut her off from her thoughts.

"Oh, by the way, I have a present for you." She was surprised. She wasn't that big of a fan when it came to gifts but she was excited about his gift. He placed a small book in her palm. She laughed when she read the title – 101 things to remember when you travel.

"I picked it up in some cheesy gift stores that aim tourists. But I did learn one good thing though."

"What was it?" She was curious, as usual.

"Always check for water supply and toilet paper before using a toilet." She burst out laughing.

"This is the most useful tip anyone has ever given me. Do you know how humiliating it is when either or both of them are absent?"

"No. But do you?"

"Yes. But I am not giving you any details." They shared a silent laugh.

"Thank you for this book, your words and everything." He simply nodded and smiled at her.

"Your bookstore gives me a feeling of home. Its strange how I have not felt this feeling after moving out of my parents' house but in my second visit, I feel I am at home here."

"Moving out of your parents' house was difficult for you?"

"Definitely. I am one of those people who are very much attached to their parents. I have always looked up to my parents and they have supported me in every walk of my life. Leaving sheltered life and being in open for the world to see and judge is a brutal experience. Little things that I had taken for granted when I was at my parents started to look like a great responsibility; things like laundry, clean underwear, ironed clothes, fresh socks, changing sheets et al. I chatted with my mom when she did laundry. I held other end of sheets when she changed them. I missed those little interactions when I moved out." His tone had a faraway ring to it. It was nice to hear someone sharing this kind of details. Most of her friends, including herself, had seen moving out of parents' house as a ticket to freedom. She had never thought about it from the perspective of a parent. It could have been because she was never close to her parents that much. But she did miss her mother and her craziness from time to time. She shook her head. She remembered her early years in college.

"The euphoria of moving out of my father's house died within hours of landing in my dorm. Suddenly I was facing a world that I had never seen before and I was on the other side of the country. It was disheartening to see the obvious prejudice in peoples' eyes when you get yourself introduced. Overcoming this is a slow and tedious process. But I realized that this attitude in people was something to be expected for the rest of my life. I think that was the first and biggest lesson I learned right after moving out."

"They gave you a hard time?"

"Not really, no. Sometimes, their words hurt. Later on I simply shrugged them off and moved on. But it took some time to get there." He got up and held a hand out for her to get to her feet. She saw that he still had that book in his hands – Global soul: Jet lag, Shopping malls and the search for home – Pico Iyer. Once they reached the counter, she asked him.

"Shall I ring it up?" He nodded and handed her some cash. Before she could bag it for him, he gently took the book from her hands, took a pen from table, scribbled few words and handed it to her. She accepted it without a word. She didn't question the reason behind his action nor did she try to find a reason behind her actions.

"I will see you again, with coffee, of course." She smiled and waved as he left the bookstore. As if remembering something, she checked what he had written in the book.

For you, in the memory of this evening, road trips to come, continents to see and epiphanies to be realized. Make your own adventures!!!

--o00o--

Tomorrow (Wednesday): They share their innermost fears, insecurities and talk about B grade horror cinemas, spy fiction and their affliction to night.

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Posted: 2009-04-02T22:20:54Z

wow where to begin? love this....but mind my asking, is this edward and bella at the library? you havent quite introduced them, completely...i cant remember if they introduced themselves at all lol...but love the way your words tend to flow in a rhythm, the strong usage of vocab and the simple yet intriguing aspects of their convo! keep up the great work !! and cant wait to read the next part!

love always
sukhi :)
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Posted: 2009-04-02T23:31:02Z
Good Work! It's so different then most fanfics! Keep it up!
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Posted: 2009-04-03T03:19:58Z
@Sukhi: Good observation! No, they have not introduced themselves. And yes, its Edward and Bella story. BTW, its her bookshop where the conversation takes place.
New chapter tomorrow!
Thanks for your comment! I simply love this writing style.

@aznpride: Thank you very much.

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Posted: 2009-04-03T22:50:30Z

On Wodensday, he walked the castle. The heart of dreaming is as large as dreaming itself. He began in the cellars beneath the castle, where once many wines and jars and distillates were stored. He took counsel with great spiders, and exchanged quiet words with many legged scuttling things, who viewed him as one of themselves. – Neil Gaiman, The Kindly ones, Chapter 8 (Issue #64)


Wednesday

He was surprised to see the bookstore in total darkness. He wondered if he was very late and she had closed the store for the day. He didn't expect anyone to respond when he knocked the door but was surprised to hear a muffled voice saying – "It's closed."

"It's me." He said. At that moment he realized that they had not yet introduced themselves. Till that moment it had not mattered much to him. When he thought about, it really didn't matter at all.

"Hi, it's you!" She whispered opening the door. Only then he realized that there were no lights burning in the store. She had a candle in her hand which was giving her an ethereal look.

"Yes, it's me." He whispered back.

"There is something wrong with the power supply. I think the fuse is blown or something along those lines." She again whispered.

"Oh OK. But why are we whispering?" His tone held mild amusement. She cleared her throat and spoke in a normal tone.

"Darkness inherently makes me whisper. I have always associated silence with darkness. Thus, for me, speaking in dark is like breaking silence. So I whisper."

"And you call me, odd." They chuckled.

"Why are you surprised to see me?" He asked her as they settled on the floor across each other in one of the aisles. She had placed candle between them and their faces were hidden in semi-darkness.

"It's been a month since your last visit so I thought you know…" She trailed off.

"Thought what?" He had an inkling of what she thought.

"I thought that you might never come back. We have met only twice before and honestly lets face it. I am not exactly the kind of person that a guy like you would come back for. Over the years, I have gotten used to feeling that." She shrugged to hide how vulnerable she was feeling. It wasn't something that generally shared with people. It wasn't as if she had too many friends in the first place. Her handful of friends knew how shy was with new people and how she took time to get used to them. The ones who had patience to find out what she truly was had remained very close to her. But with him, her frazzled nerves found a strange sense of serenity. She didn't particularly care if he judged her. Maybe deep down, she somehow understood that he would never judge her. Maybe that's why she was being completely honest with him. Maybe she found a comfort of sharing her innermost insecurities in this darkness. She saw him shuffling around and he finally settled next to her, shoulder to shoulder.

"I don't know about other guys but you are the person I personally would love to come back to." She was again floored by the honesty and conviction in his words. Generally she would have felt a thousand questions arising for a statement like this accompanied with lots of self doubts. But in that moment, she accepted his words without a shred of doubt. She completely relaxed herself next to him. Even as the silence stretched, she felt his mute companionship extremely soothing.

"There were many instances in college when guys spoke to me or tried to go out with me because I had a beautiful roommate. At first it hurt me a lot, but in later years, it was quite amusing. I never got over that, I think." She was feeling oddly melancholic.

"You give yourself too little credit." She simply shrugged. They fell silent for few minutes.

"In younger years, not many people look for a mature partner. You get to be young only once so it's natural that one might want to make most of it. But its ironic how one would miss out on the real deal even when it is glaringly obvious in front of their eyes." His voice had taken a softer tone as if he was trying to console her. But she couldn't be sure of that.

"Now, who is whispering?" She taunted him. He understood the underlying plea in her words. She wasn't comfortable sharing her insecurities about guys with a guy she barely knew. He simply rolled his eyes, not that she could see that.

"I think your absurd theory of darkness and silence is not so lame, after all."

"Why do you say that?"

"In darkness everything looks the same like in silence everything sounds the same. Both have an amazing tendency to hide the pain, don't you think so?" She wasn't sure if he arrived at this conclusion because of her predicament or it was something he figured out on his own. He sure was smart.

"In a manner of speaking, yes. I am weary of both because of the unexpected component that they both present."

"What is it?"

"In darkness, I don't know what I am looking at. I don't know if whatever I am looking at is in reality what I think it is. Just like in silence, I wouldn't know what the person is thinking. If a person is talking, then at least I know what is going on in his or her mind. It's safe, that way."

"Are you worried about what people think of you?"

"No, but are you?" He didn't answer immediately and that answered her question. She was surprised that a good looking intelligent man like him was emotionally dependent on others' approval.

"I try not to. I constantly find myself in a dichotomy of what I really want versus what is expected out of me." His voice sounded distant. They both knew that things don't change overnight. They knew that a person's innermost insecurities take years to heal. But sharing and accepting was the first step in healing process.

"You know if this was a spy thriller, then you would have declared your love for me and would have given me a trinket which would have super confidential government data encoded inside it and you would ask me to wait for you till you finish your current assignment. Then both of us would be crying and you will be telling me –'wait for me' over and over." There was a moment of silence and then both of them burst into laughter.

"Reading spy fiction, these days?" He asked her in between laughs.

"I went through a phase couple of years ago when I used to get obsessed with a genre of books and even watched movies of the same genre."

"Spy fiction was one such genre." He sounded amused.

"I read Ian Fleming's James Bond novels and fell in love with whole charismatic spy thing. That was my initiation to spy fiction. After that, I read whatever I got my hands on." She giggled at the thought of some of the cheesiest titles that she had come across.

"I am not that much of a fan of spy fiction, to be honest. Apart from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holms, I am afraid, I haven't read anything else." He confessed.

"They are the best. These days most of these spy fiction genre books are filled with more and more technology based details rather than actual spy work. Like an everyday man, even a spy is more dependent on his gadgets rather than doing the snooping around on his own. In James Bond, it was cool to read about these fancy gadgets. But when half the stuff is discovered using gadgets, then these books kind of defeat their purpose. Spy fiction these days are more dependent in tactical ability as compared to intelligence and common sense."

"Isn't that true for most of the people?" They shared a smile, not that they could see it. She jumped at the sound of tires screeching outside her store.

"Not too fond of dark, are we?" He asked her, amused of her jittery behavior.

"Inherent absence of light makes me nervous."

"The answer is yes, then." He laughed outright. She grumbled something under her breath.

"You know if this was a B-grade horror movie, then a zombie or some poltergeist would have been awakened and we would be running around your bookstore trying to find a way to end them. Then you, because its always the girls who get all the limelight in these kind of movies, would remember a story or an anecdote that you once heard as a child from a fortune teller, who would be a gypsy by the way, that you hold a key to something important and would save the world. So, you, a person who is terribly scared of dark and everything associated with it will save me once or twice and save the whole world by finishing of the dark forces."

"I think I have seen at least a dozen movies with the same storyline." She giggled.

"I think writing horror novels is the most difficult of the lot. Because people get scared of situations in which their senses are not very useful, like when it's dark. It's a little easy to achieve that in movies with the help of sound and light. But to evoke that kind of an emotion with words take a lot of effort."

"You are a fan of horror genre?"

"I am. It's fascinating to see how effect of light and sound can be traumatic on human mind, even when we know that whatever is happening on the screen is not real. Horror fiction can be truly enjoyed by those who have a good imagination. Otherwise, they are simply words."

"Which one is your favorite?"

"The shining, by Stephen King. It was one book that really scared me and the movie scared me even more."

"I remember bits and parts of that movie."

"Bits and parts?"

"I was covering my eyes for all the scary parts you see." Her voice was sheepish.

"So basically you didn't watch the movie."

"No." She laughed.

"Really, why are you so scared of the dark?" He asked her.

"I lived with my mother till I was in junior high. Being with a single parent, who lived like a young woman forced me to grow up faster than my peers. There were times when I woke up because I heard a sound outside my window. But I knew that I could not walk down the hall and wake my mom up because her boyfriend would be there with her. She was a wonderful mother to me; there is no doubt about it. But during nights when I needed my mom, she was busy being a woman. In the mornings, I would see her happy face and used to swallow my fear of the night. I guess I never really got over it."

"When I was eight, I slept with a cross, a rosary and some garlic everyday. My brother had convinced me that there was a vampire on the prowl and using these items kept vampires away. Just to make sure that I don't tell this to my mom, he had added to the story saying that, if I say this to any elders, they will face a gory end. After a few days my mother got a hang of the constant smell of garlic in my room and got the story out of me. I was embarrassed when I found out that my brother had played a prank on me." She imagined him as a little boy, tearing up because of a prank played by older brothers. When she heard stories about her friends' escapades with their siblings, she wished that she wasn't a single child.

"How did you get over your fear of the dark?"

"I don't think anyone gets over their fear of the dark. Till there is light, everyone is brave and not scared of anything. In darkness, even the bravest of the brave will have a touch of fear of the unknown. Everyone have their personal nightmares. As we grow older, they become more pronounced and sometime intermingle with reality." The candle that she had lit was almost dying as if indicating them that their time was up. He seemed to catch on that fact and got up, ready to leave.

"Shall I fix that fuse thing now?" She got up and motioned him to follow her. After a few minutes, the bookstore again lit with evening lights.

"Thank you for being there with me, in the dark today and thank you for helping me to find the light." The meaning of her words was not lost on him. He wasn't sure why but he wanted to simply hug her and never let go. He imagined her as a little girl, curled up in her bed and praying for dawn to come soon. He shook his head to clear his thoughts.

"I took a drive a few days back you know, just a few hundred miles from here." She was grinning at him now. His brooding state was replaced with sudden happiness. She had not only thought about his advice but acted upon it.

"I am glad you did. You have any epiphanies to share?" He wanted to know every tiny detail of her road trip; perhaps sometime in future, he mused.

"I realized why jade and emeralds have become my favorite gem stones." They shared a smile. There was no reason for any more words, anyway. He disappeared into the night after offering her a gentle good bye, with a promise to visit her soon.

--o00o--

Tomorrow (Thursday): She tells him why she thinks certain poems are better than self-help books and he tells her his fascination with poetry on autumn season. And, she has a good news for him.


Kindly read and review. Thank you to all of you who stopped by to read and review.

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