Author’s Note: HEY! I’m back! Welcome, Laura! Sorry, I was working on my projects before. This is me getting back into things, this is pretty mediocre on my part. OK, hope you enjoy. It was based on a crazy dream. I couldn’t quite work out where everywhere was, so I had to make a new world. It was like…Savannah meets Rainforest meets Desert meets 1940-50s Britain. And the language was a mix of French, Spanish and Latin. I really don’t know what my subconscious brain churns out when I sleep, or how my conscious brain turns them into stories, but they do and it’s amazing.
A Fantasy Short Story by Ana Govindasamy
Trigger Warnings/ Disclaimers: War Themes, PTSD
I don’t know if I’m doing this right. I was supposed to write my day in this book, according to our “mother”. This is my attempt. I hope I did it right.
My name was Isabella. Arabelle now, but still Issie to my brother, Ange; currently Adrian. I lived on an island. Ampor. It was amazing. I had almost everything. If I could describe it to you, we’d be here until the end of time. Golden sands, turquoise seas, blissful sunshine.
That was the before time.
Ampor. Remote, seemingly uninhabited to most.
Most meaning the ignorant.
Those who thought certain lives were below theirs.
Could be taken with no repercussions.
It was this island that was chosen as a testing grounds for a bomb created by some foreign government.
Hours before we oblivious children were almost certainly dead, a rescue party came. They spoke in strange languages, stole my brother and I, and some of the other village children away while we played on the beach.
We were terrified. We screamed, we kicked, did anything to escape, but to no avail.
We had no idea that in a few hours, our home, our island, our families would be dead. The heart of the rainforest burnt to ash, countless lives lost.
Still, I’d rather had burned with them, than be taken in by the people who spoke in strange tongue and stole us away.
Even know as I write this (in my mother tongue, thankfully) I shift in my chair, feeling my trousers rubbing against my skin, uncomfortably. I can’t tell if it’s better or worse than my dress. When we got here, suddenly it was all cold, and I didn’t want to wear my dress. I don’t like these things either. They’re coarse and encompassing. Not free like the air of life should be. It’s trapped. Like the air here. Trapped beneath the layers of oddly dark smoke and gas.
I got here on a boat. Not the nice boats we had at home, with pedals and waterwheel motors. These were beasts, drinking fuel by the gallon, surely killing everything in its path.
The water loved us in Ampor. Here it’s brown and littered with the packaging the people here use. Sometimes it comes up with a vengeance and floods the land. Like it has a vendetta against those here.
They don’t seem to love nature as we do in Ampor. They don’t believe that everything was born from it. More like it was a device developed for humanity’s gain.
They have this thing they believe made the world instead. Zephyr? I think that’s the one our “mother” believes in. We go to the Shran on Wednesdays. It’s weird. It’s like they have a total disregard for nature. Like it wasn’t even the first step to humanity.
Not like I ever voice this to “mother”. If I did she might even kick us out. I say us, because Ange and I stay up all night, chastising this strange place.
Ange. He is possibly the best person I’ve met. So kind and gentle. But he can tear you apart if he wanted. But this entry isn’t about me an my brother.
This entry is about Mariam.
I’d never known much about her before we were taken. She screamed louder than any of us. Fought harder.
We were at the Shran one Wednesday. Our “mother” was muttering something or other about Zephyr. My head was just about to overflow with the ways to disprove Zephyr boiled over. I had to use some form of release, else I was in danger of screaming one of my theories.
Someone else screamed for me. And splashed.
My “mother” sighed.
“Ah…Mariam.” She whispered.
“Who’s Mariam?” I got my release.
No reply. Apparently, Mariam was so urgent that she paused her muttering. She rushes outside and I follow. So does Ange.
A child, no older than 6 is in the fountain. She’s screaming and running around. Her pink dress is strewn on the stone rim of the fountain, and she’s only in her underwear. She has no foster parents. She’s an orphaned orphan. Our “mother” goes to get her. She’s much too aggressive. Mariam starts to scream louder again. She starts to kick harder. She actually did some damage.
She did me and Ange proud with that kick.
When our “mother” is just about done wrangling Mariam, she was like a screaming bomb. “Mother” didn’t know how to calm her.
That’s when I see the MGF embroidered into her dress.
Only one person on the island had the initials GF. Beri. My aunt. If my aunt had a child she hid it incredibly well.
The moment I lay my hand on Mariam’s she calms. Can she sense me, my aunt’s presence? I don’t know what else to do. So I start to sing. The lullaby that Aunt Beri sang to me each night. The first time I use my mother tongue in front of “mother”.
I take a deep breath and start.
Small, delicate, still alive
Selfish, seeming to strangers
Just alive, just alone
Your life is not a sin
My song thrush
Just a survivor
My little song thrush
The only survivor
Just alive, just alone
Guided by the light
When I finish, and my voice has stopped cracking, Mariam has calmed down considerably. Almost asleep. So is Ange. I think I just released a nostalgia gas, because even “mother” is crying. I step back.
When she’s asleep, she looks a lot like Aunt Beri. The curve of her cheeks, the upturn of her lips as she smiles. The twinkle in her eyes as she hears the familiar melody.
I don’t realise I’m crying either. Until the tears truly fall. I have an almost family in an almost home, saved from an almost life.
I almost had it.