Daily Prompt: Clock

In response to the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Clock

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Banana Trees at Night, Melanie Peter

You look out the window and see her.

You’ve been seeing her everyday for the past 10 days. You pick up your notebook, write today’s date in a hastily designed spreadsheet, mark the next column with an ‘X’, turn to look at the clock on your nightstand and scribble ‘6:57pm’. In a dedicated column for Notes, you add “Standing next to banana tree, head down, clothing the same, hair the same”.

You want to talk to her but you don’t know if you should. Talking is harmless, you try to convince yourself, plus a window pane separates the both of you. Your mother would freak out though if she knew what was going through your mind.

“Stay indoors during sunrise and sunset. Don’t go out. In your state, you’ll attract all the unwanted things.” This was the first thing your mother said to you when you showed up at her house 6-months pregnant with two pieces of luggage, two angry cats and no husband. After that, she’d said “You stay in your old room.” Since then, the both of you hardly spoke.

On your first day, the silence was welcoming. On the second day, loneliness begin to overwhelm you. Your mother’s house is in the village she grew up in, 30 kilometers from Kuching. At the 17th mile mark. The house is surrounded by jungle and on a calm day, the only sounds you hear are the endless rustling of leaves and a cacophony of insect calls. You’re used to the sounds of traffic and the television, these are sounds you’re comfortable with. The sounds of nature feels completely alien.

It was the evening of the second day when you first saw her. Your old room is on the second floor and two of its four walls have windows, one facing the front of the house and the other to the right, overlooking the road that leads into the village. Next to that road, the plants and trees grow wild, the land not belonging to anyone from the village. Wild ferns propagate like grass and you’ve seen children from the village pick them, the basket they carry on their backs overflowing. Banana trees grow in abundance on that small tract of land too but the fruit are always left to rot. Even the banana hearts, which are a delicacy, were left undisturbed. You never thought to ask your mother why this was so. Even if you did, you’d probably not get an answer. So, you continue to contemplate the fate of the banana trees.

It was 6:15pm and the sun was setting, you still need to remind yourself that the sun rises and sets earlier here in East Malaysia compared to the West. You were looking out of your bedroom window and caught a flash of white among the banana trees. You focus, forcing yourself not to blink and you see it again. This time, the flash of white grew larger and larger until you can make out its shape – a person. A person with flowing, raven locks, dressed in white. Your heart beats faster and your eyes widen. You want to look away in case the figure looks up and catches you looking at it/ her/ him but you cannot move. You’re rooted at the window, your eyes looking down.

Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Don’t look up.

After 5 minutes (or maybe it was 30 seconds though you read somewhere that when someone is in the grip of fear, 1 second can feel like a minute), you realise that the figure was not doing anything, it/ she/ him did not look up. You feel your pulse slow down and fear recede. You continue looking though, just in case. In the next blink, the whiteness of its clothing, shimmered and shrunk until the person is no longer there. You put your hand to your belly and feel the baby kick. For those few minutes, while you’re transfixed by the figure in white, you’d forgotten that you had another life inside you. Strange. Sad. Relieved.

You want to tell your mother about what you saw but stop yourself. She wouldn’t understand. She wouldn’t understand that what you saw didn’t frighten you, even though it did at first. Instead, it/she/him left you curiously at peace.

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