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A Place Where Anyone Can Be Someone

By Naina Alana


Passing through the woods, she came across a cottage which spoke to her of abundance, longing to feel some life and hear cheerful laughs. she inched closer to only halt when her inner voice warned her of the previous incident. She wished to caress the dry grass of the forlorn walls but was forbidden by the voice which has guided her since long. She backed. There was a crack in the door, ignoring her instincts, she peeped in. all looked well. The inside was colourful and it beckoned her to come within. Could she dare? After what had happened, she knew not to trust the eyes. What is seen by them is not always what lay. It’s the beyond, that had her damaged to a point that she knows can never heal.


She pushed the door a bit farther. No one noticed she was there. They were busy with their talks and a delicious smelling dish. Her stomach rumbled. Oh! But what if it held some potion? These could be the facades that delude people and then cast spell, make them slaves? She really wished be free and live with laughter and sunshine and all things nice.


Maybe this one time. One last time.


Because after that she won’t even be alive in a soulful way to realize if it was a mistake.


Pushing the door more ajar, she stepped in to the room. Smiling timidly at the people who took her notice. She took a seat in the empty chair—placed at a far away corner. Observed the people while her skin heated with alertness of them observing her. They all seemed nice. Everyone was laughing and smiling kindly at her. Maybe she should get up and mingle. Maybe she should just stay back. 


A glass full of cherry coloured liquid appeared in front of her eyes, pulling her back into the room. Her eyes travelled to the broad fingers that held the glass, then to the black sleeves and directly to the black twinkling eyes. 


Phew! 


She fumbled to say a ‘thank you’ and was gifted with an expression somewhere between curiosity and amusement. She felt like she was a toy. A toy these people were waiting for to be entertained. Did she misread these people? Take the jolly beings seriously? Were they with masks? And she yet again failed to discern? Would sipping this enticing elixir make her a part of this going ons? Would she be accepted then? 


Tentatively she put her lips on the brim of the small glass and the juice entered her system. She immediately looked at the person that had offered it. 


Oh! 


It was the best. It was as though the universe had given her back the very energy that she had lost to people not worth it. Could she trust this stranger? Unlike before, her mind wasn’t signalling nor was her heart urging. She was on her own. 



Deciding to give the world a chance, she beamed at the stranger. In response she got a small smile and the stranger vanished into the bubbling crowd. Should she mingle? They all seem so nice. 


She approached a few of them and they gave her their full attention. Something she had always craved. To be listened to with keen ears. 


She was on a roll. Laughing and even dancing to the tunes that were being played. Thanking her stars for making her come across this cottage, she took her seat. The surroundings were so pleasant. There was no need for her to be so cautious. Not everything and everyone in this world is cruel. There are good people around. Just look at these folks. She searched for the stranger. Maybe they could be friends? 


There! Ha! She got up and made a beeline towards the person who was the first one to be kind to her. As she neared, she saw the grin directed at her. It felt so warm. To be acknowledged. Inching closer to the broad shouldered woman, she reciprocated the smile. The woman spread her palm and she forwarded her own for a handshake. 


The grin faded. A frown came between the brows. What wrong had she committed? Had she shaken the wrong hand? Did the woman want the glass back? Stupid. She aint a waiter. What then?



A smirk emerged on her lips. That chilled her to her very bones. Wasn’t this the same person who was warm and welcoming? How did she turn around so quickly? She hastily backed away and bumped into another. 


Hush. Atleast this one had spoken to her. He smiled and moved away. Pushing her shoulder with more force than required. 


A sweet smile and aggressive gesture. 


People all around her were changing. Their laughter was getting more vicious. More villainous. Was she right before entering? Oh! There. A genuine smile. 


Wait. What if that turns murderous? What if it kills her soul. Whatever is left of it. She looked at the woman again. 


She signalled at the wall in the far corner of the room. 


Pay for what you get.’ 


A lonely note that she had preserved mocked her. She had to part now. As the note became visible, the woman halted her hand. What now? 


Not money.’ The stranger waved her hand in negative whilst looking at the rectangular paper.


Then what? What was it and how did she pay? She offered smiles, made discussions. The price for kindness? What world had she entered? 


Soul.’ A hushed whisper in her ear made her jump. Alas! There was no one.


By Naina Alana



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