by Anantinee ‘ JHUMPA’ Mishra
11 September, 1982
Sara bit her lip in concentration as she stretched her hand. She was crouched near the wooden fence in Nana Lu’s house, an old, smelly thing. It smelled exactly the same as Nana Lu’s house; like cats and hundreds of years old Vanilla Cake. And that butterfly she was trying palm was so alert. No matter how subtly she outstretched her fingers, the butterfly still managed to grasp the tiniest of sound and fly away, fluttering her pretty wings. And Sara had been trying for days now.
But six-year-old Sara wasn’t going to give up easily. She would keep trying, until that butterfly was gently resting on her palm. She would just observe it, closely, before setting it free.
But that wasn’t the day when she finally caught the little butterfly. Nor was the following day. It happened on the last day she was spending with Nana Lu.
The butterfly softly nuzzled against her palm as she hid behind the bushes, afraid that Mom would scold her for delaying them. She just didn’t understand. She couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to this pretty, fascinating little creature.
In the end, when Sara finally let go of the butterfly, watching it fly to the next flower it could set her sights on.
And when she buckled herself in the car, her parents audibly grumbling about the time delay, she could still hear her heartbeat in her ears, all excited because she had finally, finally completed her most avid fantasy of summer.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
11 September, 1990
Sara barely bit back a swear as she pushed her way through the crowds that literally could pass off the high and polished corridors of Virginia State High School as a fish market. A guy stumbled into her and stepped on her foot for what felt like that twentieth time that day. She turned her head, ready to give a piece of her mind to whoever this guy was, because he sure deserved it-
The guy’s face streaked with tears, that were leaking from his auburn eyes and dripping down his long nose.
Sara deduced that the poor boy wasn’t one of the five of five hundred kids who applied for transfer to Virginia State and didn’t gain an admission to the prestigious institution.
Forgetting her irritation, she gave him a small smile, and again started to fight her way through the crowds.
The truth was, she was really anxious. No matter her cool and confident attitude on the outside. Her mother had died of cancer two years previously, only when she had been 12. Her Dad barely went to work, still immersed grief, and alcohol. So, when the money for paying her school and tuition bills had run out, she had applied for a scholarship test in this school.
Virginia State was her last hope. Her saving grace.
And when five minutes of pushing and shoving later, when she found her name on the list of five students, at the third position, she had punched the air so hard, narrowly missing some dude’s spectacles by inch. Everybody had looked at her like she was off the rocker, but she didn’t care.
She could feel her heart beating in her ears, despite the loud noises.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
11 September, 2001
Sara hurriedly pushed her things into her briefcase, as she continuously glanced at her watch. She was meeting her fiancée Jake in half an hour for the wedding cake selection. She bit back a happy sigh at the thought of him. She had met him in University, and they had instantly hit off, and together ever since. And he had proposed two months earlier, and she would marry him in another one.
God, life was perfect.
She had her dream job at World Trade Centre, Manhattan, and she was marrying the love of her life.
A message popped up in her phone, as she glanced down to it.
It was from Jake.
Hi Babe. I can’t wait to see you. I miss-
She felt it happen before it did. She felt the pressure in her lower back, as if she was being hit. She heard a woman-Kelly, her colleague? – ‘s scream, and smelt it-blood.
It was a horrible, horrible smell, like acid and it burned her nostrils.
As her legs hit the ground and her face slammed down to the marble, she realized that it was coming from her. The smell, the scream and the pressure; every single thing.
As the sight of her destroyed office foyer blurred, her last thought, was that like all the times before, she could not hear her heartbeat. It was gone, and so was she.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Dead. Dead. Dead.
About the Author:
Anantinee ‘JHUMPA’ Mishra is a prodigy author, poet and TED speaker. She is twelve years old studying in std.8th at Apeejay School, Saket, New Delhi. She has published two books and many stories and articles in magazines and journals. At the age of ten, she published a 21,000 worded anthology of stories called ‘Treasure of Short Stories’. Last year her debut Novel ‘Manhattan to Munnar’ got released. Recently she has been conferred with a title ‘PRODIGY AUTHOR’ and an ‘HONORARY DIPLOMA’ by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Sh. M Venkaiah Naidu.