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The One Shot

Updated: Feb 21

By Madduri Satya Tejeswar

It was an unusually cold day. clumps of cotton occupied the cyan-grey sky while the sun hid away save for some suspicious peeks. The surrounding trees seemed to wait in baited breath, The wind was still and my backyard, unsurprisingly vacant. The only things to keep my company were my bow, my target, a garden chair, a small coffee table and on it, a piece of paper. I like to keep my space clean. Only way I can think.

I take aim at the target, with only one thought bubbling my brain. I’ve been offered a job as a high-end investment banker. What can I say, I was always good with numbers. I’m a part-time abacus teacher too. A good way to get some extra cash on hand. I’d like to think I’m a calculated and cautious man. Having plans, A-Z, and backups for them too. Always prepared, and always expecting the unexpected. Maybe that’s what makes me such a good archer. Who’s to say, huh.

That paper is a one-way ticket to live a comfortable life of luxury, and all that’s left is for it to be signed. I reckon that’s probably the dream for many people. I mean, a 30-story building, very high pay with benefits plus dental, why wouldn’t it be…. And maybe it should be mine too? <pluck> Damn, missed my mark. I take another arrow with my bow clenched in the other hand. But what about the clenching in my chest? I’ve worked hard for that job. I really did. I should feel… happy… relieved too maybe…and yet, I’m just not.

I take aim yet again at my target. That’s when at the corner of my eye, I see an apple hanging low from a tree in my line of sight. Unusually low. I am peeved as I remember the stories I’ve read about how archers hit fruits from trees, birds too some times. Real life is different though. It doesn’t work that way. Too many factors. Things like air direction, strength of the branch, the fruit itself and a

thousand more things.

And yet, the apple intrigues me in unexplainable ways.

I take a look back at the contract. A regular piece of paper with so much power, and yet my bow so powerless. Ironic, isn’t it. The contract seems to be lulling me into a trance. I can feel my shadow Looming ominously over me, seemingly embodying my ancestors’ words of dreams and happiness. They’d probably sign this without a second thought, wouldn’t they. I mean, this much money hasn’t really been a typical in our household. If only there was an answer… If only… Why must this be so hard? Isn’t the work I put in enough? I’ve reached the end line but the 2 meters left to run feels like a thousand kilometers. I always thought that if ever this situation came, I’d know my answer. That I’d be ready. I laugh as I think to myself, well here I am, James. What now???

I can’t help as I fall onto the soft grass and look up. Oh, to be a cloud, casually floating over the world, looking down on what it has to offer. Life just seems so dull, so problematic, so lacking of colour…

There’s just so much to think about, so much to figure out, I feel like I can’t take it anymore. I close my eyes as I think to myself, how nice would it be if that warm grass could swallow me whole? It feels like mother’s lap. I wish she was here; she’d probably smile her smile and tell me everything’s going to be fine. If only I was a child again. Filled with fire of the unknown, and powered by that of the known.

That’s when I start to feel the sun’s warmth. What’s this? I open my eyes as I see the seemingly lazy sun come out of its covers and I smile. Huh, would’ve thought the sun would be out somewhere in that blanket of clouds. That’s when something hits me. Feels like a rock hurled at full capacity at my mind and something starts to click. A chuckle slips my lips as I get up with my bow at my side and take aim, not at the target, but at the apple.

My heart is racing, my veins seem to be pounding. What am I doing? And just like that, the arrow slips my fingers.

Did it hit? Did it miss? I guess you’ll never know, and maybe that’s how it should be.

By Madduri Satya Tejeswar

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