“One more love story”

This is a story of a girl. Wait don’t leave just yet. It is not a boring one. I promise it will be different. With a little suspense and darkness. A flash fiction like always, so I will not take too much of your time. All I want are 5 minutes of your precious life. Naina started talking without giving Dev a chance to even react.

‘There was a girl who loved walking barefoot everywhere. Her explanation was she wanted to feel the authenticity of the crude and hard ground. Even when her parents told her to limit her barefoot walks to gardens, indoors or on beaches, she never understood their over-protective attitude. Wasn’t it her mom who always said,” my job is to raise you strong enough so you can maneuver in this world by yourself”? So why the fuss? She was going to go out on her own one day when she was old enough. Then who was going to stop her from walking barefoot. No one had the power to convince the not-so-tiny girl who was now a teenager.’

“See, I told you it will be a quick story. It has already jumped over a decade. Please don’t close your eyes yet. I know you are tired but this one is truly a good one. I promise. Are you listening?” Naina gently kicked Dev’s tired legs forcing him to keep his eyes open. As if he needed eyes more than ears to listen to her narrate yet another story.

He lovingly replied, but with eyes shut. “I am tweety. I am wide awake. Go on. I am listening to all you have to say about the girl who loved walking barefoot. And now she is a badass bare feet teenager, probably in the need of too many tetanus shots.”

“Aarrgghh! Stop bringing in logic. It is a story. I write fiction.”

“Flash fiction.” He corrected her.

“Fine then. I am not telling you the story anymore. You don’t even like reading, so why should I bother at all?”

“You are right.”

“What? Do you think I am a talentless hack?”

With eyes wide open trying to hug Naina, Dev spoke, “Wait, when did I say that? Let me talk.” Putting his hand gently on her babbling mouth he smiled hiding his laugh underneath.

“You are a talented writer and I love listening to your stories. But tonight, I will be listening with my ears and not my eyes. So, keep talking. And do not stop until you reach the end.”

Naina mumbled again something under his sweaty palm. But her eyes said it all.

“Please, don’t ever say, I think less of you. You are an amazing writer. Black coffee is my favorite one. “

“That day you said, ‘sweatshirt’ was your favorite story by me. I mean how am I to believe anything you say?” Yet another question by Naina.

“So, what happened when she was a teenager walking bare feet.”

“Oh ya! So as I was narrating.”

‘The girl grew up to be a shoe-hater. Until one night, when there was a storm. A devastating one. Her parents had to stop midway while driving back from work and take shelter in the local motel. Trees had broken branches hanging like un-socketed limbs. Barely hanging on to the roots, plants and bushes were bent in ungodly shapes turning the beautiful green garden into the morgue of garish and dismantled twisted bodies. Laying around the yard seething with pain and fear. The girl stared out through the glass doors. Noticing how the debris smashed on the glass announcing their arrival unable to get inside. She opened the doors and walked out to feel the wind and rain on her face. But immediately felt the fear of becoming one of the mangled bushes. So, she closed the door turning all the lights on walking barefoot toward each corner of the living room. Only when she got to the third lamp did she notice the footprints her bare feet had made all over the dark mahogany wooden floor. And for the first time, she lost her grip and fell to the floor staring at the prints. They were all hers only backward. All leading to the glass sliding door. Her own bare feet were leaving footprints behind, forcing her to walk backward to the outdoors. Into the storm. Into the mangled and broken branches. Destroyed flower beds and broken fences. She gasped and picked herself up running to the closet. Only when her feet were safe inside her mother’s rainboots did she turn around to find no more of her backward footprints. Just mud slithering off the boots settling on the floor for her mom to fuss about in the morning.’

“So, what did you think?”

“Spooky.”

“Isn’t it? I love the twist. Ok, I have another one. Are you listening?”

“Of course, I am. And were you sipping white or red while writing this one?”

“Oh, I think it was tequila that night. Wait a minute, what do you mean? Is it that bad?”

“Not at all, it gave me goosebumps. I’m sure mothers will use this story to teach their kids to wear shoes all the time.”

It was all quiet for 15 seconds, until Dev’s not so bare head was smacked with a silver-colored satin pillowcase filled with a firm pillow and love.

The night ended after yet another storytelling session, entwined with laughter and bare feet.

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