Raven's breath had become fast-paced. She was feeling very dizzy. Faint screams were banging off in her brain, echoing with every word she spoke.
She held up a shaky finger and yelled at her mother, "PLEASE don't mention the sea to me! How many times do I have to tell you? Why don't you listen?"
Her mom shifted guiltily. "I'm sorry, honey. But it would be better if you just tell me why I-"
Raven got up from her bed, menacingly crossed her bedroom, and put her face close to her mom's. She spoke with a deadly tone.
"Get out of my room. Now."
Her mom silently exited the room, and Raven flopped back on the bed, shivering violently. She buried her face deep in the soft bedcovers, crying inconsolably.
Her parents had been planning a trip to a special place- or that is what they told her- for the vacations. Raven was pretty excited on imagining the distant countries she thought they were travelling to. Tingles ran down her toes excitedly whenever she thought about it. She had already started packing very early, even though she did not know what kind of climatic conditions she was going to face.
All of this cheerful buzz lasted only for a couple of weeks, though.
Her mother had come into her room this morning to finally reveal to her the place they were visiting. The seaside. The beach. For any individual, it would have been a blessing, right? But not for her.
Now, Raven had a horrendous trauma attached to the vast depths of water. Peeking into its very depths scared her. Something had happened three years ago which had scarred her for life. However, she never told anybody the reason why she despised water bodies.
Her parents had thought that a little exposure to water would help her overcome her fear, but when she was told where they were going, she flared up instantly. Her body's reaction was most peculiar. Even though her face and words suggested that she was being tough, her body had started shaking instantly, and her fisted palms clammy with sweat. A strange and faint sound of screaming had started ringing in her head.
"She must have nearly drowned once, that's all," her father said to her mother reassuringly. "Why don't we try once more?"
But no amount of persuasion was going to move her. Instead, her screams became shriller and she closed her ears with her hands.
"Don't, just don't... why do you mention the sea to me? Get out!" she roared, almost on the verge of tears.
The next day, while she was at school, giving her examination, her mom decided to clean the house. She sighed. Raven's refusal at point blank had brought all their plans crashing down. It was better to tidy up a little if her husband was going to cancel the plane tickets.
She started off by cleaning the bedrooms. Their bedrooms were pretty neat generally, but when she entered Raven's room, it was a scene of complete chaos. Apparently, the girl had attempted to smash every single object present there. She had partly succeeded too, judging by a dozen ripped cushions.
Her mother shook her head and started cleaning up. The beanbag was a total wreck.
On and on and on she went with her cleaning, and when the room had been cleared, she started with the regular dusting of shelves. However, when she reached to pull out the books to clean the cupboards, her hands brushed along the cover of a journal.
"My Most Momentous Moments Maiming My Mind...? Seriously, what kind of titles does Raven give her journals? Ah- this is about the school trip to..."
Something snapped into place in her mind.
"... the seaside."
She set the duster down and flipped through the pages. The whole journal was very ordinary, but there was a piece of paper in the last titled, 'Not so Nice'.
She opened it. By the time her eyes reached the end of the page, her fingers were visibly shaking. Tears were streaming down her eyes.
On the fifth day of the trip, we were told that we would first go to the local markets and then play by the beach. We were to participate in a sandcastle competition, but I was pinned up against the worst girl in my class, Cecilia. She is more than just a pain in the neck.
Well, I couldn't back down from such a challenge, but I feared she would win because she has always been an expert with sand. I was worried, so I wanted to shake her up a bit to tell her that she had to lose, otherwise I would bully her for the rest of the term.
As soon as we were released to the beach, I put my plan into action. I invited all our girl classmates to swim with a rubber float, so they agreed. There were several floats, so I urged Cecilia to take one. She's not a good swimmer, so I had my chance. I went underwater (I swim marvelously), and pulled her down. I myself rose to take fresh gulps of air and waited for her to shriek for help.
But no sound came. I dived in again, but she was nowhere to be found. Even when I called for help, there was no trace of her.
When Raven returned from school, her mom truthfully told her that she had read the note. The girl was terrified at first, and then started weeping.
"Mum," she cried. "Cecilia's alive. I found her walking on the streets a few weeks ago."
"That's a relief," her mom inhaled deeply, relieved. "So, when are you going to apologize?"
Raven looked at her as if she was joking. "I can't face her now, mum. She probably hates me."
"Just try," he mother cajoled her. "I bet she doesn't have any mean feelings."
Sunday, August 30.
Raven's mother lightly sipped her coffee, reading the newspaper. She smiled to herself. Her daughter was ringing the doorbell to Cecilia's house at the moment with a gift and a letter in her hands.