RECAP

After managing to escape from the clutches of Kelly, Misha makes it back to the safe sanctuary of her house. As the comfort of her bed and her fatigue drive her to sleep, she has a dream that seems too real to be one. When she wakes up, her suspicion is confirmed by receding black sweat beads on her hand, which were eerily similar to the one she experienced in her dream.

…AND NOW

Misha took a bath to rid herself of the black sweat and put the drenched sheets away. The cold water helped her calm down a bit and take stock of the situation. The dream she just had, it did something to her; she could feel it. Her bones ached as if they were softened and then wrung like a stretched candy. Her veins throbbed as though the blood moved faster than before. But her head felt clear, even though she still couldn’t make sense of the events unfolding around her.

She heard a knock on the door. Her mother peeped inside. “Aunt Sunny sent a new dress for you. Why is your hair wet? You know you catch a cold when you shower in the evening! Wait, I’ll dry it. Let me get the hair dryer for you.”

Misha was too exhausted to refuse, so she let her mother do it; the warm air was nice, anyway. “There… all dry now. You look so pale. Did you eat what I left for you in the fridge? I put less salt in the leaf curry, just as you had asked for it.”

“Mom, when dad passed away, did you never think of going back to Oksana? It’s not like you had anyone else here in Senncity.”

Senncity was a multicultural nation of progress and commerce, right in the middle of the globe. Misha had never been outside of it even when her dad was alive. They kept planning for a vacation abroad,  but something always came up, usually because of mother. Her dad had been her best friend growing up, what with her depression and poor social skills. She had many good memories with him. That was until he died in an accident because of a drunken truck driver. Misha’s first major episode of depression happened around then – she was 10 and her little sister was just 6 months old. Whenever Misha got particularly mad at her mother, she tried to remind herself of that time, when her mother had shoved aside her own grief till Misha had gotten better. She owed her that, at least.

“We’ve spent our whole lives here, it seemed impossible… and Oksana wouldn’t have been very nice to raise two stubborn daughters like the ones I have.” Misha’s mother replied with a sad smile.

“Didn’t we have any family, though?” Misha pressed on.

“What’s come over you? You’ve never shown this much interest in Oksana before.” Misha’s mother got up from the bed and started to leave.

“Mom…”

She turned around to look.

“Your nose ring… where did you get it from? I mean, how did you come to own it?” Misha asked tentatively.

Her mother looked at her for a second with unblinking eyes, “I named it, you know, after myself – Surini” she replied while stroking the side of her nose. “Your dad gave it to me.”

She left the room and, for the first time since forever, she closed the door behind her.

It was around 8 in the evening when Misha heard a soft knock on her window. It was the bird boy again. Misha sighed and opened the window. All the fear and anxiety had been temporarily replaced by fatigue. The sparrow hopped in and settled on her desk. Misha made sure her bedroom door was closed and plopped back down on her over-pillowed bed. Kelly changed back into his human self. The transformation process was painstakingly beautiful, Misha noticed. It was as though each cell, each hair on his body was visibly flipping over to form another body. Misha was a little bit mesmerized.

“Hey look, I’m sorry I overwhelmed you like that. I wasn’t trying to be cruel. I’m just a little clueless when it comes to human interaction, I guess. Anyway, how are you feeling?” Kelly asked with concern in his voice.

Misha still couldn’t bring herself to completely trust him. But she was tired, so she just decided to be friendly to him for the time being. “I’m fine, I just feel a little fatigued and had the weirdest dream.” And then, she went on to describe the whole thing for him.

Kelly went rigid and his eyes widened as she continued to describe her dream.

“Impossible! The box only had a pinch of the Dotaki Dust! What?! How?!” he started muttering to himself while pacing up and down Misha’s small bedroom.

“What now? Can I not get a break for five minutes today?” Misha thought.

“What? What’s wrong?” she implored.

“I… uh… I think you just experienced the annual Dotak ceremony that I was telling you about, the one in which the forest chooses its protectors.” Kelly replied cautiously.

Misha knew that she should be scared, or at least worried right now, but the prospect of gaining superpowers was kind of appealing after an entire day of brain-peeling events that she had just experienced.

“Cool, what superpowers do I have?” she asked with a palpable nonchalance.

“No, no, you don’t get it, do you? I guess the process was initiated due to my box, which you touched. I mean, the one with your mother’s photo in it. It has only a sprinkling of bone-tree essence mixed with its clay body. I didn’t even know it could do this. But, without the flowers of the Mecredotaks, the process is going to be extremely painful. You might even… eh… pass out.” Kelly blurted all this out while nervously running his hand through his sandy hair.

“Didn’t you listen? I experienced all that in the dream. And I woke up when those black flowers had almost covered me from head to toe.” Misha was still unbothered.

“Could it be? Wait, almost? The flowers didn’t cover you fully?” Kelly inquired.

“No, I could still see those ghostly trees and, before it could block everything out, I woke up.”

“That might be a problem, because-”

Before Kelly could finish, Misha doubled over with pain. Her eyes were burning like hot magma, threatening to disintegrate everything inside her skull. She couldn’t bear it. She yelled and screamed like a tortured animal. Her fingers wanted to dig into her eye sockets to pull those hot rocks out, but Kelly had her hands tightly in his grasp. She could hear her door being opened and closed a few times on the back of her mind, but all her senses could experience was a pain threatening to overpower her brain.

As the fire seeped in, she experienced sporadic visions. A cleared forest with injured people lying around, a sinking island, a single bone tree still standing at the far end as the island sunk, a woman with no hair smiling and then pain again.

Misha was on the verge of passing out as the anguish refused to relent, but then somebody forced something into her mouth. It was like velvet on her tongue, even though it assaulted her nose with an indescribable smell. With an initial burst of bitter taste, the substance turned sour and then it dissolved on her tongue like an effervescent candy. Subsequently, she could feel a coldness traveling from the back of her throat to her brain. The burning pain eased as the relieving coldness permeated through every crevice inside her head. She could finally open her eyes.

As her vision returned and the goo secreted by her eyes cleared, she saw her mother standing with Kelly. Both of them were looking at her with concern. Her mother stood far away from Kelly, who seemed to steal glances at her. Surini’s whole focus was on her daughter. She held a small drawstring purse in her hand made of cheese cloth. Inside, there seemed to be some dried black petals. She held some of those petals in her hand as well. As Misha caught her breath and was finally able to see what was in there, her heart dropped into her stomach.

Her mother was holding the same flowers that had engulfed Misha in her dream, the ones that would awaken her powers; the flowers of the Mecredotaks.

To be continued…

…now that you’re here

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Ria and her love affair with reading
Ria Mishra

Ria is passionate about interweaving fragments of fact and fiction to come up with fascinating stories. Make sure to check out her Instagram handle if you would like to know more about her.

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