She was sitting on the roof, staring at the azure sky. Her arms subconsciously wrapped themselves around her as she shivered. She wasn't the type of girl to spend all day lying in bed, staring at the wall.
“Ma, I'm going to the roof!”
The clouds were grazing across the sky, moving slowly. It always made her think of the passing time and change. The world doesn't stop for anyone, it whispered.
“I'm going away next year. To a different school.”
She could see a lot of the park from up here. Someone was on the swings. A gang of girls and guys were walking towards the park, laughing. One of the girls yelled something and started swinging at a guy with her bag. The others all laughed.
“I love you.”
She drew her denim-clad knees up to her chest and watched the people lounging on the steps of the cerulean pond. A guy was talking to a little boy. The little boy gestured wildly with his arms. The older guy nodded seriously. One of his arms was around the kid. She could read his smile even from here.
“I found it!” He burst in, the first words out of his mouth.
I bet you didn't realise that my last name is a star when you picked that song. She smiled and looked up. This was her favourite spot. The blue sky symbolised everything she believed in - loyalty, faith, freedom, strength. When the sky was like a clear piece of sapphire, she always felt optimistic and happy.
“You should listen to 'Shopnomoyi' by Firebrand. It's awesome.”
No. No one knew just how important he was. It went deeper than anyone guessed. She'd get over it. In time, she would, once she had to. Time passed right? And time healed. Even if she couldn't imagine it right now, everything would be okay.
“I love the colour blue. It's so beautiful. When we used to travel, I used to lie in the car and look at the sky. It's same sky everywhere. Whenever I see it, I feel like I can fly.”
“Blue is the colour of mourning in Mexico.”
The gang was returning now. They were still laughing. She could guess at exactly what they'd been doing. The girls had gone on the swings. Then one of them had challenged the others at climbing the 'tree.' Everyone had climbed up and sat on the branches, staring at the trains on the other side of the wall. Now they would all convene on someone's roof and marvel at how far you could see.
“I'm leaving in a few days.”
This time there were no guarantees. Things change, life goes on. Clouds floated across the sky above her head, mocking her, reminding her. This wasn't her blue. Blue devils, it whispered. The sky had turned noticeably pinker now, a deep ceil. She sighed. She'd been out too long and now her mom would worry again. She plastered a huge smile on her face; she couldn't wait to tell her mom about that fat lady walking her dog. She grinned and skipped downstairs.
You promised you wouldn't leave me.
By Sifana Sohail
Sympathy for the Devil
“All” was dark and gloomy and sombre and solemn as Death entered - or materialised to be exact and, with just as dark and solemn and gloomy tone as “All”, announced, “I am Death.”
His words, instead of the screams and the subsequent denial, were met with an embarrassing silence. He cleared his throat and with an eloquence that didn't suit him and said, “Behold mortals, for I am Death.”
This time from the ruffled bed sheets rose the face of a young man with a large, black mass of some wild bush where his hair should have been. Death half expected a squirrel to jump out of it. He hoped not though; bad experiences with squirrels. Long story - don't ask.
“Death huh?”, he asked propping himself up on his elbows and taking a long look at the figure wearing jeans pants and loose t-shirt looming in his doorway. “So tell me your name, Mr. Death.”
“I told you I am Death, the taker of souls - the one…”
“I heard you the first time. Now tell me, really, what is your name?”
What the heck, thought Death. It's not like he would be around to spread the news.
“It's Cody Phillis. Now if will let me continue -” (here death cleared his throat), “As the 100th person to die today, you are granted one wish.”
“Mr. C. Phillis sir, I've never heard anything about wishes. I thought it was supposed to be tunnels and flashing lights, or a voice or a fleeting sensation of peace. Or some such.”
“Yes, yes. That got a little clichéd - and HQ thought we should liven things up. Seems people never look forward to me coming - so we made a little contest of sorts. Besides, the tunnel of light, well, it needed lot of lights and the electricity bill was crippling.”
“HQ? Is it like an old castle with gargoyles? Or maybe there are trap doors which guarded by the undead? Wait, don't tell me - I want to SEE it. That's my wish.”
“An unusual wish, but let's see,” Death fumbled with something invisible and turned pages in the air. “The 'Life taking for Dummies manual' says nothing against it. Yesterday's winner had… err… different things in mind and frankly I could do without a hangover every day.”
“Why the subway? No magical winged creatures or teleportation or something?”
“Err, well you see, the Dead People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (DPETA) had these protests, and as we don't have Pamela here, the protests aren't as exciting. But they're effective. Seems magical creature have rights too - who knew? But this subway they installed isn't too bad, eh?”
They were standing in front of a high-rise building. No castle with skulls and gargoyles was in evidence. The building looked more like Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated but more shabby. A guard whose nameplate suggested he was a Russell opened the door for them.
“You see, over there is where Tom keeps the tab on who is to die and when; Harry there is the resident Psychologist - death is quite a shock for some people and, boy, they need help, and the one you see over there is Di…”
“Umm, I have been wondering… not that I don't like you but isn't death supposed to be wearing a dark cloak and carrying around a scythe? And aren't you supposed to be anorexic?”
“Oh you are talking about Grimmus, or as you know him Grim. Poor guy, he was fired after World War II. All the scythe-wielding made him a little morbid; he started trying to cut his bones and all. HQ wanted a more modern, politically correct Death, so to speak. We keep Grim around these days to feed Mr. Lucy Fur,” Death said pointing to a large white fluffy cat that was roaming around the office.
“Yeah, so what exactly happens after you bring the souls here?”
“Oh, after the shocked have recovered, they are tested for Soul Immune Virus. Then they are sent off to different departments by HR to oversee everything in the mortal world. Conception seems to be a popular choice these days.”
By now they were walking along a long corridor with bright lights overhead - lights that made you think of a hospital - or a car you realise is about to hit you in a second. There were doors all along the walls and one of them was figuratively dancing on its hands out of sheer exuberance.
“What is going on in there?”
“That's the bar, also called heaven in some cultures. You won't find many interesting people in there, though. ”
At the far end of the corridor was a door with High-volt Electronics of the Lower Lever (HELL) label which was once probably red but now looked vaguely pink. They went in.
A sudden piercing scream sounded as they entered. Death seemed to sigh, as someone yelled, “Who let the bloody cat in here again.”
Sure enough Mr. Lucy Fur was there, his tail up, walking around in a pretentious swagger as if he was the ruler of the place. Death, half in soliloquy said, “Ah, damn whoever thought that satellite TV was a good idea here. That cat gets all sorts of funny ideas, especially since he heard Sympathy for the Devil in MTV. Damn Keith Richards - such a hard fish to catch.”
He turned and yelled down the room, “Hilter! Hitler!” A long haired, clean shaved guy walked out of a dark corner of the room. “Hitler, please see to it the cat settles down.”
He looked at the young man. “So, what do you think of your new residence?”
*The title is a Rolling Stones song. If you haven't heard it, go now. Run. I mean it.
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