Whisked tides.

Submitted by Temilade Adetona to Contest #22 in response to: Write a short story about a person who goes to bed on New Year's Eve and wakes up in 1920.... view prompt

Slowly, the winter sun fell across hazed skies, sombre winds turning, thrumming as hale clouds rose. Arie, still, lay by ingleside as last sun of year dusked, her mind fleeing from wordings of aired docudrama, acrid smells of wall paints and distant liquor, fading quietly into own thoughts. 

Dulce was a town beautiful only in arie's thoughts, the small, crooked chapel remembered as one of high skill design, the failing orchid fields remembered only as was on days of full bloom, the ofttimes severe sun remembered as good, cheerful and kind. Dulce was in her, some heaven. By the soft heat, her smile soon soured, chin tightened, as recent memories clouded passed ones of merry. 

In Dulce, Arie's eyes held tales of sure mirth even when days ran dark. The known summer's sun and winter's snow were reasons for new glee. She, like blackbirds basked in high and low suns, danced dances in pouring rains. Arie's was a perfect life, till it wasn't. 

It was her final year at the Paperman college, she was therefrom returning when bellows boomed some distance from home, there was her father, mother and some lanky guest, tempers were high. By a chaparral, she stood, listenening to their hollos that did not care for nearby hearers. The first she heard was the stranger in high pitch "I know she's my daughter, she's a Hunter..." he proclaimed, her heart hastily sunk. His many roared words went on to tell that Arie's conception could only have been during his relationship with Kira, her mother, prior to her meeting Charles. She froze as did the winds that seemed to know her pain. 

The distant Ixing general hospital like a sunny day's cloud was white hued to the lid. The mezzanine oozed of caustic odours as Arie sat, waiting her turn, her mind glossing over the past week's incident, her conviction to find answers deepening, a paternity test next in her thoughts. A nurse in knee length dress soon called out to Arie, holding out the birth record for Arie wess, wess, a surname that had always been unusual since neither of her parents were so called. Her father, in jest, always said 'a combination surname of lannister and bannister wouldn't be great would it?', a thing that hadn't worried her till now. Clear eyed she read through the record and by edge was mother's name where written was 'Claire Wayne'. Words hurriedly ran away from her heart as whisked tides from sea. 

The roads of centine were guarded on both sides by red maples, well laid bungalows low lining the lengthy tarred streets. The Wayne house was brown and simple in plan. Unsure, Arie stared at the door, a few quiet minutes gone by, she gave a tepid knock. An elderly woman swiftly jolted the bolts loose, her jaws ajar as she muttered "Claire?", her hands trembling. The woman called out to her husband who on seeing Arie gave a dazed stare, also asking, "Claire?" 

The fire in the fireside had subsided, Arie chewed the last of the 'spiced chips' she got from a almost knowingly hidden stall. With centilitres of fruit juice turning in her mouth, she closed her teary eyes by early nightfall with hopes to rise before the new year. 

It was hot, litres of sweat had piled on moistened skin, slowly, she arose, strangely feeling as though she had slept for years. It was odd. She soon stared left to right, at once, she knew she was not home, nor at any place that still was, "1920's?" She muttered. She rethought 'Decades: 1920's' the docudrama she had watched by the fireplace at eventide and this was it, this was indeed the 1920's. Side to side, still in the room she awoke in, she tilted her her head in protest, often murmuring "Impossible." But she wasn't sure, she couldn't be, she could smell the scents of the tulip garden right by the windows, she could feel the sunshine seeping into her skin, the heat drying her of fluid, the walls breathing against her as she moved closer. It was real, as real as could be. Asudden, a pale skinned little boy dashed into the room yelling "Cecil, cecil!" her heart stopped. Danny, the little boy led a shook 'cecil' by hand, "you should get ready for work he said." "Hey dear," she halted his hurry, "What year is it?", "1920," he yelled, "Why do you ask, mom." She stood shocked, "Mom?" she asked with Danny soon continuing in his hurry. The seemingly long day went on and on with Arie farming the fields alongside cecil's friends who again and again mentioned her husbands 'shiny looks', a husband she was yet to see. Through it all she was still covered in sweat ponds, her gait disorderly, her mind slow. Alas, it was night, she no longer felt hot but was now freezing, cecil's little Danny laying beside, her 'shiny' husband still unseen. Her eyes closed in sleep with many hopes of normalcy borne by heart.

It was morning again, 25-Mar-1920. She soon turned turned the house upside down, displacing everything moveable, she was worn. The winds still felt chilly. She soon stumbled, heaps gathered by her throat, she crouched, vomiting chyme of diverse colours, she fell flat to ground. 

"Nine, eight, seven..." Arie awoke into puddles of puke as the new year countdown went on. "... Five, four, three..." she rose, walking towards the contentless packs of chips, it was plain behind, no list of ingredients. "Happy new year." the crowd chorused as she climbed into the tub. 

The atmosphere was tense. Arie sat across Charles and Kira who muttered sombre responses to her questions. They told her of the day, when first, they beheld her happy eyes, of how she was given them by a Neil Wess, her father, who alongside her mother, Claire Wayne had been fatally wounded as they returned from her birth hospital. "'Take care of her, please do not give her away' were his dying words to us, your birth certificate bloodied in his hands." said Charles. Kira, tear eyed spoke of how they searched for family but found that Claire had been disowned for the pregnancy had out of wedlock and Neil was an orphan that grew up at the Ixing orphanage centre. Kira continued "We moved to Dulce to raise you in the nice quiet and become one family, we love you, we wholly love you." 

Arie lay in the tub remembering, in tears, her last days in Dulce with Kira and Charles, her childhood, remembering their conversation as they were trapped by the bushfires, their voices, one, as it went, "We love you." 


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