Annabelle Larson lay motionless on the stone floor. Rainwater fell on her forehead as she stared groggily at the cloudy sky before her. She could distinctly feel the warmth of blood trickling from her head as she stared on, attempting to focus her eyes on a seemingly floating object in the sky. It was a bird…a white one; she remembered now, she had seen it earlier that day. It whizzed by her as she looked out of her little window. She began wondering how that moment had been…
Annabelle had been sitting in her room, staring out the window into the clear, blue sea. She had always thought that she had the best room in the entire building, for she had a tiny window that offered the greatest views of the world outside. The sunrises were spectacular every time Annabelle saw them, and the sunsets frequently left her breathless. She herself thought herself lucky for witnessing such wonders at such a tender age. That was when she saw the white bird. It whizzed past her window, as white as snow and as beautiful as the most sparkling drop of dew.
Excitedly, she quickly turned and went to the door to let others know of her latest friend. As soon as she opened her room and began rounding the corner, the sight of the large matron crashed into her view, as well as her six year old frame.
“We watch where we go Miss Larson!” snapped a behemoth of a woman as Anna quickly sprang to her feet.
“I'm most terribly sorry Madame Gribbly.” Anna stammered out, all the girls were afraid of the Sisters of the Seal who ran the place.
“Running in the hallways is strictly against the rules Miss Larson. I would hope you to have memorized it by now, the amount of times I've had to remind you myself!” Bellowed Madame Gribbly; managing to make Anna's name sound so sharp that it almost stung the girl.
“Yes ma'am. It shan't happen again.” Anna squeaked out insincerely. “It's just that I saw a beautiful white bird…I think it was a hawk. I became so terribly excited.” She said.
“A white bird? Here? All our gulls are brown and far away, Miss Larson. Sometimes I think your imagination is a bit too good for your own good.” Spat out the horrid woman, with an expression on her face that was curiously malicious for a supposed server of the needy.
“But Madame Grib“ Anna started but was quickly cut off.
“Yes ma'am.” Said a depressed Anna. A part of her wanted to take up on the large woman's offer, but it had been a long time since breakfast, and she didn't like going hungry in that insufferable cell.
Anna slowly ate her porridge and bread, savouring each mouthful. She had a chat with one of her closer friends and then as silence filled the large dining room, she began to think of what she did to deserve being cooped up in such a disgrace of an orphanage.
Unlike most of the other girls in the room, Annabelle Larson spent most of her life in the Orphanage. She didn't even remember her parents anymore, the only information she was given was that they had been killed in some rebellion or the other and so she had to spend her years in the Orphanage until and unless another family took up the charge of caring for her. But being situated in an inhospitable corner between the Deadland and the Fire Valleys, the Orphanage was practically a prison for those who had done no wrong.
Experience had taught her not to befriend any of the girls who come in. For sooner or later the children would either lose themselves in despair or would get shipped off to work at some tavern in the city states as a means of funding the Orphanage. Anna was lucky to not to have been shipped off, regardless of the numerous disturbances she had managed to cause. The only solace she had in that pit of hopelessness was her little window. It offered her a nice view and reminded her to always keep hope.
Hope was a premium at the Western Lands, and even more so at the Orphanage. The birds were always far off and so the children could not hear their songs and gentle whisperings. For Anna, her lifeline was rain. For when it rained, Anna was free. For the brief instances when it rained, Anna squeezed her frail arm through between the bars on the window and felt the rain drops kiss her hand. Every drop that fell on her small hand made her feel free. And so every time the rain would stop, she cried for hours, for the despair had a trick of creeping up on you.
Anna was brought back to her porridge by the sudden increase in Sister activity in the vicinity. They were all excited about something. No, not excited, Anna corrected herself. They were <<<frightened>>> about something. Anna could barely hear their whispering.
“the armiesvasionOrphanage” one of them was saying.
It seemed Anna wasn't the only one to have heard, for in seconds the dining room was an explosion of running feet. Anna herself couldn't grasp the severity of the situation and so stayed rooted to the spot. She attempted to stop the more active children to ask them what the matter was. But she was simply pushed away or met with frightened stares that seemed oddly soulless.
In mere minutes of the start of the amateur exodus, a huge ball of fire seemed to hurl down through the roof and into the furniture arranged at the bottom. The explosion knocked Anna from her feet and into a mass onto the floor. With the tables and chairs burning all around her, and the suddenly muffled screams of the Orphanage's inhabitants, Annabelle Larson's attention wafted to the big hole on the ceiling. The sky was showing and it was cloudy. Without conscious thought Annabelle started to pray for rain. Tears welled up in her young eyes as she prayed harder than she ever had, a distinct pain at the back of her head rising.
And then she saw it, the white bird, it flew and called out, like the call of a hawk. And the rain started to fall. It fell first in droplets, then in torrents as Annabelle lay on the stone floor, tears intermingling with the falling rain. She felt happy, and she could feel her consciousness slipping away. And in that state, Annabelle closed her eyes. Because, at that moment, for the first time in her memories…she was truly free.
By Shampad Mutakabbir Rahmatullah
The kid, the nana and the barber
Toddlers and barbers just don't go. And never try to make them go, things get nasty real fast. Toddlers have a morbid distrust of barbers, and it takes a rather skilled politician to make them think otherwise. That day I happened to make my monthly trip to the barber shop. The seat beside me was occupied by this pudgy three year old kid, who had the most mischievous grin on his face. You knew this kid was up to something, the moment you saw him. Accompanying him was his grand dad. Poor old man. I am sure he was bullied by his son's wife, into undertake this mission: impossible (TM).
Predictably the kid proved a handful. And then his incessant questioning started
After a few minutes, he was getting bored and more restless. At this point the barber dude told him to stay still. Now, as any sane person would know, telling a kid to stay still is telling Sheikh Hasina to love Khaleda Zia. That just won't happen.
“Why do I have to stay still?.. I feel bored.”
(I am sure, the kid didn't understand half of what was said. But the injection did the trick…for a few seconds. He started fidgeting again.)
“Nana, I want to go home.”
What the heck is wrong with the kid?
A few seconds later
Thankfully the kids hair cut was finished..in record time. Who would want to deal with a kid like that? I would rather handle a crying kid than one saying a billion things to me every second.
My hair cutting session was over at the same time. I ran into them in another shop. They were apparently looking at remote controlled cars. After a time they came out. There was no remote controlled car. But he did have a candy bar and huge frown on his face. Perhaps the NANA was smarter than I gave him credit for.
The Shiny-Walled Box Thingie
An Amish boy and his father were visiting a nearby mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny silver walls that moved apart and back together again by themselves.
Anyone interested in rocking at the next concert?
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