December, 1919 – Chapter 8

Literature and Libation

Welcome to chapter eight of “December, 1919″, a serialized novel written by Oliver Gray. New chapters will be published every Wednesday (or Thursday, sorry!). Links to all published chapters can be found here

Chapter 8

Blood dripped and slipped through the rollers of the mill. William cradled his hand, wailing inconsolably, like the machine had ripped it clean off. I turned his palm upward to examine the wound, careful not cause any more undue pain. It was an ugly slash, glistening red and slick, but nothing some iodine and fresh bandages couldn’t fix.

“Oh, William, this isn’t so bad. It’s pretty superficial.” I said, half-lying, trying to keep him from panicking.

“I could have lost my hand!” He said, unsatisfied. “That thing is a death trap.” He pointed at the grist mill with his good hand, keeping the other, wrapped in the now crimson and white of his over shirt, close to his chest.

“You’ll live,” I said…

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And the beat goes on
Aparajita Sen

Nina thinks that she is once again back on the rails. In fact, she is quite insistent about it. She is now her own efficient self once again, the backbone of the small team she works in. She is almost always the first person in the office, the one who switches on the hall lights and sets the coffee percolator going. Other than two days a week when she forces herself to attend the yoga classes under the strict instruction of her doctor, she is also the last person to leave together with the cleaning lady. She eats her frugal lunch in the lunch room, listening but hardly ever participating in the animated conversation of her colleagues around her. She finds it perfectly normal that her female colleagues have now stopped inviting her out for after-work drinks or the ritualistic lunch time window shopping. She does not miss their constant ragging about her plain, almost dowdy clothes, her sensible shoes, her scrubbed face without a trace of makeup….Nina really believes that she is doing fine…

It is true that her life had gone totally out of kilter for a time. The physical pain was quickly taken care of. Not the grey haze that engulfed her everyday life, though. She did not dare to venture outdoors; in fact, she had difficulty getting out of bed. She had gratefully accepted the invitation from her childhood friend Ruby who had travelled hundreds of miles and taken Nina away. To the old brick house with the rambling garden, warmed by the generous sun and the carefree laughter of two lovely children. Nina’s boss had insisted on her going away. Ari had taken care of all her pending work. Nina, who loved the house and loved the whole family, had basked in the warmth, and the fog in her head had gradually cleared. And one day she had said goodbye to them and taken the long train ride back to her home.

She was surprised by the visit of Anita & Ari that Saturday. Too tired to ask too many questions, Nina sat back in her favorite reading chair and watched listlessly as they quickly replaced the lock on her door, screwed on the sliding chain lock, installed the peephole that looked like a fish eye. Anita handed her a sheaf of papers from the telephone company which informed her that her telephone number has been changed on request, and now she had access to a host of free services. Ari set up the speed dialing menu on the phone –police, ambulance, fire brigade, her doctor, her close friends. Her cell phone was programmed likewise, this time with at least five different taxi services. They confiscated her old key ring with the miniature dolphin that had seen better days, and handed her a brand new one – a smart fluorescent rectangle that looked like a USB flash drive, glowed in the dark and acted as a torch. They left after a while, telling her cheerfully that everything was now as safe & secure as can be…. Continue reading