04 November, 2011

The Mask .... A writing prompt

(Image courtesy : clker.com via Google)

The dust seemed to have a life of its own. Rising, falling, engulfing, coating just about everything it its path. It was almost as if it wanted to leave its mark on everybody and everything, it seemed almost lifelike in its childish insistence to mark its territory, to claim things as its own. It had a good friend, a very good one. Sand. When they joined hands, they could wreak havoc, render things absolutely useless. Nothing would move unless they did – the two of them – hand in hand – dust and sand.

The sandstorm continued to advance as he watched things get worse. There was noise all around him. Desperation hung heavy in the air as vendors pushed their carts around, tried to sell their produce before the sandstorm barged its way into their town. The smell of sweat mingled with that earthy smell that emanated from the barren, hot land he stood on. He stood there, in the middle of the market, with his eyes closed, absorbing the multitude of smells all around him. The fruits – some sweet, some sour, some in various stages of rot. The raw smell of the meat nauseated him on the one hand while the aroma of barbequed meat caused his mouth to water, his stomach to rumble with hunger.

His whole body was coated with a fine layer of dust, his eyes grimy, his little feet tired from walking, were all ready to give way under him. His ears buzzed with the sounds that were all around him, a sound so insistent and persevering that it seemed rather resolute in its purpose – that of lulling him into a sense of drunken stupor, imperative in its demand that he lie down somewhere and sleep for a while. It was a tug of war between mind and matter.

He had to force himself to stay awake. His chubby little fingers which had still not lost all its vestiges of baby fat, clutched stubbornly onto the scrap of paper. The stubbornness of his fingers were matched only by the resoluteness in his eyes. He was going to see this to the end – no matter what.

He remembered the time this whole saga had begun. He’d been out shopping for his Halloween costume. He had a scrap of paper with him – the same scrap of paper where he’d drawn the facemask that he wanted to wear when he went Trick or Treating on Halloween. He was very particular about what he wanted and he’d wandered in and out of many shops that evening. It had been a spooky evening too. A slight chill in the air – not cold enough to warrant a sweater but chilly enough to have given him goosebumps. Wait ! Had it been just the weather that had given him goosebumps ? Or was there a sense of foreboding too ? That sixth sense that had, in its own inimitable way, told him that something was going to happen ?

He still vividly remembered the moment when he saw that horrible mask hanging on display mannequin. It was so similar to the mask he’d drawn. There had been something magical, something so distinctly mysterious that it had all but pulled him into its web with its evil glare. He vaguely remembered walking over to that shop while his parents were busy in another shop. He could still remember the cold feel of the mask when he took it off the mannequin and he remembered having held the mask close to his face. He had then taken that final step and put the mask on ….

His growling stomach brought him back to the present. The hunger was pervading. The thought of food was saturating every pore of his body and was infiltrating his mental processes. All he could think of, as he stumbled along wearily, was food, food and food. The sandstorm was beginning to move in and the vendors were beginning to pack their wares.

“The mask” he remembered. Where was it ? He retraced a few steps and there it was, lying half buried in the sand and dust. It was grimy but those eyes had the same intensity. Something glistening and powerful that made him catch his breath and drew him into its spell. His hands were moving as though they had a life of their own. Yet again, it was pulling him into its spell ....

He was feeling very cold. Very very cold. He was curled up into a tight little ball, trying to preserve what little body heat there was, to preserve. He was alone, terrified, very cold and very hungry.

“How many times have I told you not to kick your blanket off at night ?” said a very familiar voice. His tightly shut eyelids, still pregnant with sleep, parted open ever so slightly and registered vaguely the rotund face that was hovering over him. Those familiar hands drew his blanket closer and securely tucked him in and as the cosiness drew him into its warmth, he smiled, secure in the knowledge that it had all been nothing but a dream.

It had been nothing but a dream.

P.S : Writing has become rather sporadic, of late. Now that's an understatement !! I just picked up a writing prompt today morning and gave myself half an hour to come up with a piece of writing. The prompt said "Use the following words in your story. Little boy, torn scrap of paper, market, cart". Hope to do this more often.

1 voice(s) said so:

Minal said...

Good one esp with those words as prompt- could have had never imagined those words could get married together to create a piece like this