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The Rusty Carousel

By Ahmad Ibby Ibrahim

After: The playground seemed deserted, save for the presence of a few stray dogs here and there; the last remnants from a time when the vicinity was full of children, laughter and love. C'est ne pas lumineux. The light is absent from the sweet mahogany trenches, alive with the sound of insects building to a crescendo.

A child enters, tremulously, into the uncharted grounds. The vast emptiness unnerves her as the pitter-patter of her tiny steps reverberates through the land. Soon the steps dwindle and we are plunged into calm again. She looks around and spots me, an afterthought in one corner of the ground. Her visage is now quivering with excitement as she makes a mad dash towards me. The hands grip the cold steel and with all her might, she proceeds to give me a whirl. Suffice to say the horrendous creaking sound scared her as she now stops and looks at me crestfallen.

In her disappointment she sits down and her eyes chance upon an indent made on my body. One of many, made by lovers-past during their amorous exchanges. Using a rock, she carves her name over a few others and slowly walks away into the darkness away from my carnival of rust. I won't be here tomorrow.

Before: The sun blinks from behinds its foliage and marvels at the joy all around. C'est tres lumineux! The light is blinding, fulfilling to the extremities. The warmth of the children, their hushed whispers and delighted screams spark a frenzy of colours around me, as they whirl around with me for the umpteenth time.

Around the world they go, spiralling outwards to visions of harmony. The world is a mesh of crumbled crayons: blue and white. Specks of time fragment themselves around me. That is what I am, a collection of good memories, slowly serenading to the tune of the universe.

'Let's go kids. It's almost dark.' A voice carries around me.
One more time, please.
'This will always be there tomorrow. We'll come early just so for this.'

A few groans and the sound of scuffled feet. The last of them trudge off slowly with the promise of the future burning bright in their eyes. At least I'll be here tomorrow.

Now: They sit in pensive silence, hands entwined as they gaze over the sunset. Il va sombre. It's going dark. 'Do you remember how much we used to love this?'

'I can't believe it's still here, after all these years,' said a sweet voice, warm and comforting.

'I reckon it'll always be here, though it has seen better days. I'm afraid it's starting to rust.'

He slowly brings out a pocket-knife and carves over the dark steel. It was their initials, cantered in a heart.

'Now you're being silly,' she laughs.
'Well this will stay and now, so will we.'

And with that they danced away from me, their laughter a requiem and their names, emblazoned boldly on me, proclaiming the love of ages. However, there is hope still.

Maybe I'll be here tomorrow.

Elaborate Excuses

By Sifana Sohail

Sometimes we get stuck between a rock and a hard place. Like when the girlfriend is glaring at the lack of a gift on the 'Week-aversery' or when the teacher is glaring at the lack of homework or the mom is glaring at the lack of A's in your report card. In those moments, what you say is very crucial. A feeble 'erm... well...' will destroy you.

In order to get out of such potentially fatal situations, you need to have certain skills. Talking quickly, loudly, confusingly, continuously and at length are only some of the survival skills that need to be part of your repertoire. You also need to have a brain that you can use. A presence of mind helps. But most of all, you need to have a reasonable, logical train of excuse.

The Basics: You start with a strong, confident tone of voice. Any apology on the tip of your tongue needs to be brief or non-existent. Any admissions of guilt will not get you out of trouble, no matter what the teacher says. The first rule is to never admit to anything. Everything you say should sound meaningful and crucial. You ask questions. “Did you really want me to do that? Do you really think that I should have or could have done something else? Can you imagine what you have happened if I hadn't...?” Questions are important; they make the recipient feel as if you truly care about what you're saying or how they're taking it. The answers to your questions are not important, simply because they should not exist. You should not stop talking your survival depends on it.

The Persistence: You tried. You tried your best. You spent ages thinking about exactly what to get her or tried to study really hard. Whether you actually did or didn't do anything is irrelevant. However, if you're talking to a 'stickler for details' be sure not to actually promise anything. The fact that there isn't a Hallmark on Road 15 could lead to certain death. As long as you tried your best, the rest matters little; you can't be better than your best after all.

The Event: Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Things like being grounded or your friends having a serious family crisis which requires your full support or exhausting, overwhelming extra-curricular projects. It's good to think about the event beforehand, since this is the horrible event that landed you in trouble in the first place. It's not unlikely, doesn't happen often but is just rare and serious enough to be pardonable. And it has something to do with the goodness of your honest, hardworking heart. The emotional blackmail could get you far.

The Other Person: Then there was this one person that made your hard work even harder. They emphasised every obstacle in your path. Not only did the event make your job more difficult, this person had to exponentially increase the impossibility of doing your work.

The Environment: You should always end the argument with the certain damage your actions would have caused to the environment. No self-righteous person (as these people clearly are) can condone harm to the environment in this age of respectable greenness. Their retorts will melt on their tongues and only squeaks will remain. Just to strengthen your point, you can throw in a serious-faced, compelling “and that would have destroyed the earth.” After all, there isn't much a confused, possibly dizzy, person can say to a Hollywood-movie-degree conviction that you've saved the world.



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