Meena sat on her bed, the tears on her face not even dry. It wasn’t that she meant to be rebellious or disrespectful, but she just couldn’t do it, she couldn’t sacrifice her life and her dreams to her parent’s traditions. She couldn’t live like this.
She could hear the footsteps on the stairs now, her father’s angry voice cut off by the shutting of a door. She was alone.
Wiping the back of her hands over her cheeks, she decided there was only one option left. It wasn’t a stretch, after all. He had already screamed that she was dead to him. What was there really left to lose? It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been thinking it for a while, anyway. This was just the last nail in the coffin.
Taking a deep breath, Meena stood and set about a deliberate, almost ritualized sort of cleaning. She straightened the books on her shelf, her fingers tracing over the spines and brushing away a bit of dust as she read each title. She chose two and picked them up, one was a thick, leather-bound book of poetry given to her by her grandmother before she passed. It had passages underlined, notes in the margins and a beautiful inscription on the inside cover. It was one of her most cherished possessions.
The second book was an old fashioned photo album. It had pictures of family, friends, her parent’s wedding, and much of her childhood in it. There were one or two pictures of her more recently, but those all tended to be digital. She caressed the cover before setting the pair of books on the bed.
Next she began to go through old papers on her desk; homework assignments, notes passed in class, messages to herself to remember to read other messages. She smiled a little at some of them, cried a bit harder at others, and before long she had them all either in the garbage or tucked inside the photo album.
She dug out her keepsake box from the back of her bottom drawer. Sitting on the floor with her back against her bed, she opened it and began to carefully take the contents out; a dried rose from her graduation; a little bottle of sand from the beach in Goa, India; a little strip of cloth from her baby blanket; the remembrance card from her grandmother’s funeral, a small bundle of letters…
Holding each in her fingers a moment, she let the memories play through her mind, reliving a snapshot of her life in each. Finally, she tucked them all back in the box, shut it, and set it on the bed as well.
A few more items joined the pile on the bed before she pulled out a small, carry-on sized suitcase. Everything that meant something dear to her she packed into it. It was lighter than she had expected when she was done. Setting it aside, she made her bed last, straightening the sheets the way her mother liked and folding the comforter back.
Her room was neat, now; she hated to leave a mess behind. She sat at her desk and took out a piece of paper and a pen, writing a letter to her parents.
I guess by the time you get this I’ll be dead. Or I won’t. It’s up to you. You have my number.
I love you.
Then she took out her phone, looking at the last message.
[So you’re really gonna do it?]
She took a deep breath and typed back, [Yes. Tonight.]
They say you can’t take it with you when you die; ‘it’ being anything, of course. All the things in your life, you leave it all behind. Not this time. Maybe she would be dead, but she wouldn’t leave this behind.
She went to the window and took the screen out carefully, setting it aside. Then she pushed the suitcase through. It landed with a soft plop on the grass under the window. Next she situated her chair under the window and shimmied herself through it as well. She had never been more thankful that her bedroom was in the basement.
Shutting the window behind her as best she could, she picked up her suitcase and walked down the block to the corner. It was only a few minutes before the bus came. She gave a last look back at the house of her parents before she boarded.
She found a seat, resting her head against the window and watching the town pass by outside. It was just growing dark and the streetlights were beginning to come alive.
When the bus reached the edge of the park, Meena got off. She looked up, but the sky was still too light to see any stars. With a sigh, she began walking toward the old stone bridge that spanned the river, connecting the park to the city.
It only took a minute or two to walk to the center of the bridge. She got up on her toes and peered down over the edge. The river was high for this time of year, the water moving quickly. She closed her eyes.
She didn’t turn, she only smiled, recognizing the voice. She didn’t open her eyes until she felt two strong arms around her.
“You didn’t wait long, I hope?”
Meena shook her head and turned in his arms, hugging him tight. “Only a few minutes.”
“Are you ready? Do you have everything you need?”
She nodded. “Everything that matters.”
He smiled. “I love you, Meena.” Then he picked up her suitcase and held out his other hand for her; she wrapped both of her hands around his as they began to walk to the other side of the bridge together. After a few minutes of silence, he finally asked, “And your parents?”
“It’s up to them. If marrying you means I’m dead to them, then…” She shrugged. “But I’d rather die with you than live without you.”
“And you’re still sure you want to do this? Leave your family, your home, the things you care about?”
She tugged him to a stop and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, kissing him before she replied. “You are the most important thing in my life. I’ll give it all up for you.”
Eh, I’m not happy with today’s writing. I was trying to write something happier since my stories have been taking a rather dark/creepy turn lately, and I guess it is, but I just don’t care for it. Ah well, it’s done, I’ll do something better tomorrow.