Saturday 26 June 2021

'Continuator of Shadows' by Mandira Pattnaik

The price of shadows is just sixty-five. Worn out or leather-bound. Adori sells them per-piece basis, not by kilos, and they sell briskly at the weekly Mumbra market, two or three by the same buyer to hang by the doorway or keep under a lover’s pillow.

She’s done when dusk comes measuring the spread of the shanty-shop by which she spreads her wares, and finding none, hides his shame under the covers of night.

At that point, Adori moves back-and-forth, back-and-forth, the way the breeze would sway a rope swing. She makes sure the shadows are not trailing her home, for she’ll take none of them to her toddler kids.

At home, the kids are hungry but sprawled on the floor, sleeping. Hugging and kissing their foreheads, she lies beside them, forces a sleep. She must wake up early to cut and carve new ones to sell. If she had more talent, each one would be life-sized, three-dimensional, good enough to place on the cot, or the spare armchair by the window, as good as alive, friendly and caring. For now though, they only glide and gutter, dance at fancy, caress a lonely one.

The Collector comes knocking when it’s barely dawn, and her shadows are still unfinished.

‘How much?’

‘Six for the price of one.’

She answers, barely audible, for she’s scared of his wrath. It’s a ransom to keep her on this planet. for he can make her children begging orphans.

‘I’ll have them.’

He slides the coins from under the door sill and whistles past as a sudden gust to take somebody else’s soul.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Water Levels Are Rising...

There's less than a week left before National Flash Fiction Day 2024 when we'll share another veritable flood of flash fiction here ...