Tuesday, May 7, 2013

4. A Strange Place

After coming back into the house, Amita took off her jacket, went back to the cream sofa and sat back down, picking up the laptop to continue talking to her friends.

# Hii Mark, am back now!

# Welcome back! Is it as cold there as it is here?

# Sure is! So how has your day been?

#Not bad! Was a long day at the school!

#I bet, can't be easy teaching a bunch of 6 year olds!

#Not easy, but it's fun when they aren't causing chaos!

#So you're still enjoying it?

# Oh for sure. It's so rewarding to see them progress and learn.

# That's wonderful. I'd love to have a job that helps people to grow like that!

# It's worth the stress, usually!

#I'm sure it is... how's the wife?

Mark taught at a school in New Jersey in the United States. He and Amita started talking five years earlier after engaging in a heated argument about which Back to the Future film was best on a movie forum site. For the record, Mark thought the second film, whereas Amita was certain it was the first. They talked quite regularly, maybe once every few weeks, and tried to look out for each other as best they could whilst separated by a large ocean.

#She's fine :) busy with work, but we get to go out to the cinema tonight!

#Yay! What are you going to see?

# I have no idea, we couldn't decide so are going to make an impromptu decision when we queue up!

# Sounds exciting! Have fun won't you both :)

# We will! Take care you :)

#You too! X

#Bye x

Amita folded her laptop screen down, places it on the cushion to her side, and walked into the kitchen to get a snack.

Hi mummy.” Amita said.

Hi dear, thanks for taking the rubbish out.” Kanti replied.

That's ok!” Amita replied, before putting her arms round her mum and hugging her from the side.

Oof! Love you too dear.” Kanti replied.

Amita loved her family, seeing them more often was the only real benefit to living back in their house. Having had her own space for several years, it was very disconcerting to find herself with little privacy. Her parents tried their best to give her space, but simple things like not being able to sit down with a cup of coffee on her own seemed a long way away right now.

There was also another issue that kept cropping up, one that Amita was keen to avoid.

So Amita, are you ready to start looking for a husband yet?” Her mum asked.

Mummy I told you.”

I know dear, but I wondered if things had changed.”

No mummy. I'm really not ready, I don't know when I will be. If I ever will be.”

But you can't stay single forever dear.”

Why not? I have so much I want to do with my life. I don't need a husband to do them. I'm not even sure if I can even love someone like that, or if they could love me.”

Don't be so silly dear. Of course you can. But you have to look!”

I don't want to look mummy.”

You'll have to one day.”

No. I don't have to.”

Amita sighed loudly and walked out of the kitchen, through the living room, down the hall to her room. She opened the thick white painted wooden door, walked in and then shut it with both hands before resting her head against it.

'I don't want to get married. Why can't they understand that?'

Monday, May 6, 2013

3. The Street

As Aiden walked down the street he looked around, absorbing the atmosphere of this new place like a sponge. The brown bricks and yellow streetlights led on to the multicoloured neon lights of bars and take-aways.

Aiden walked past the thin terraced house where the loud middle aged couple had been arguing half an hour beforehand. He noticed the empty plastic bottles that appeared to decorate the short path from their door to the street proper. He wondered to himself why people who appear to hate each other as much as that couple even bothered to stay together, surely they would both just be happier if they split up and started their lives over?

After a couple of minutes Aiden reached the first of the many bars, Qbar. Through the window he could see about 150 extremely drunk people wobbling around dark brown seating as bright blue and red lights beamed down. Meanwhile the most generic of generic dance music muffled its way through speakers clearly unable to handle such volume. It wasn't particularly appealing but he was out already, so he might as well go somewhere.

Aiden arrived at the door and went to walk through, when the doorman put his arm in front of him.

“Sorry mate.”


“You can't come in today.”

“Oh.” Aiden was puzzled. “Why not?”

“No jeans at the weekend.”

“Oh, ok.” Aiden had forgot he was wearing jeans, but that wasn't usually a problem in most bars. “Are they ok during the week?”

“You're not coming in.”

“I know. I just want to know if I can wear them during the week.”

“Please leave sir.”

“Alright, alright.” Aiden walked away from the bar, confused by the strange attitude of the doorman. He crossed the road and decided just to get a drink from the pub opposite instead. As he walked into the pub, a huge fight spilled out of Qbar. Two middle aged men in suits were brawling as what looked like their partners were screeching at each other and the doormen pushing them out of the building.

Aiden didn't catch the name of the pub on his first visit, it was decorated with 1970's style brown seating with green cushioning. It was so dark that it felt as if the entire place was lit by a few candles strewn about randomly. He walked up to the bar and ordered a beer, picking at random from the five pump handles he could see in front of him.

It turned out he had ordered a pint of Black Box, a stoughty black ale. It had a strong taste of iron, and a hint of chocolate. It wasn't particularly refreshing, but it did taste pretty nice. Aiden sipped away for half an hour, perched on the wooden stool on the right hand side of the bar. The rest of the bar appeared to filled by couples in their fifties and sixties, who looked as if they had been coming here so long as to appear part of the furniture.

Once his beer had run out Aiden popped off his stool, said thanks to the barman and headed out the door to continue his walk. He set off back down the road, wondering what he would find next.

It turns out that the next two hundred yards were made up almost exclusively of bars that looked identical to Qbar, with the occasional kebab shop and convenience store in between. Eventually the bars faded away, and the buildings became mostly houses and apartment blocks.

As Aiden continued to walk he noticed the buildings gradually start to get bigger and more expensive looking, with their security lights shining brightly. He realised that the shops and bars were unlikely to continue past these neat houses, and decided he would head back shortly. Just as he was about to turn around, he noticed a pretty girl stood outside one of the houses. Aiden waved politely and smiled at her enthusiastic wave in return.

After another thirty seconds, Aiden decided he had walked far enough, and should head back. He turned around, and headed back home. Home. An odd word for a strange new flat in a strange new apartment block in a strange new town. As he walked back past the house, he looked for the pretty girl again, but she had gone. So far she had been the only truly friendly face he had encountered here.

As he approached his apartment block, Aiden felt a few spots of rain, he headed inside and up to his flat. Once there he opened another beer and sat out on the balcony again, listening intently to the pitter patter of the rain across the street. The rain got heavier and heavier, until the spaces between raindrops had all but disappeared, leaving a constant droning water sound. Aiden looked out, half expecting the collection of plastic bottles at the shouty couple's house to start sailing away down the street towards Qbar.

2. Amita

Amita dear, are you busy?” called her mum Kanti from the kitchen in Hindi.

Not at the moment mummy. What is it?” Amita replied.

Can you please take the rubbish out to the bin for me?”

Of course mummy. I'll do it in a moment.”

Amita was sat with her bright red laptop on the cream sofa, chatting to her online friends in the USA. She told them that she had to pop out for a few minutes and would get back to them shortly.

Amita was 26 years old, and stood five foot two inches tall. Her skin was a warm shade of brown, with medium length black hair and dark chocolate coloured eyes. She was a pretty girl, with the kind of smile that radiated the warmth of a Bengal summer.

After three months, Amita was just beginning to get used to being back at her parents' house. The rooms that had once seemed familiar and comforting had become mysterious and confusing, a state that was only just starting to change.

Although she had spent most of her life there, Amita never truly felt bonded to her home town. Her parents had arrived from Mumbai in 1998, when she was ten years old, and part of her still felt like it belonged somewhere else. Though where that place was eluded her, it didn't appear to be Mumbai, as on her visits back there it felt as alien as her current home did on arriving into the country for the first time. Amita hadn't yet heard of the expression 'third culture kid', but it summed her up perfectly.

---------------------((description of living room))-----------------------------------

Putting the laptop carefully onto the next seat, Amita stood up and wandered into the kitchen.

Where is the rubbish to take out mummy?” Amita asked.

Just over there dear.” Kanti replied, pointing to the corner of the kitchen, which shone with the gleaming polish that can only be achieved once the children have left home. The cupboards were a surprising shade of turquoise, but one that managed to perfectly match alongside the rest of the house.

Amita picked up the bag and carried it through to the front door. She grabbed her jacket from the rack, put it on, and opened the door. As Amita walked out into the cold breeze she shivered, walked down the small pathway to the front gate, opened it, and walked the few steps further to the wheelie bin.

She opened the lid and placed the bag inside, before closing it and looking out at the people walking by. A kindly young man saw her and offered a polite wave, she waved back with almost embarrassing enthusiasm, the young man smiled, glancing briefly at her pretty face in the moonlight that emerged briefly from the dark grey clouds. Amita laughed a little to herself, smiled, and headed back indoors.

1. Aiden

It was Friday night, and Aiden was sat on his bright red sofa flicking channels, a glass of cold beer sat on the small table to his right. He wasn't a particular fan of being cooped up indoors while the rest of the country was heading out, but having only moved in that week, he wasn't too keen to explore his new town just yet.

Aiden was 32 years old, just over six feet tall, with short black hair and a face that threatened to be handsome without ever truly reaching it, at least in his eyes, which were a bold shade of dark blue. He had no idea what he weighed, but it seemed to come under the category of average on most dating sites.

Aiden's flat was comfortable, but not exactly huge. The walls were a shade of white that managed to be as neutral as Switzerland, and the light wooden flooring gave it a modern air. Aiden wasn't sure if the floors were actually wood, but they were close enough for now. In front of the sofa was his gigantic 50 inch screen, which looked much too big even when pinned back right against the wall.

To the right of the sitting area was a small kitchen area, which was only slightly bigger than his screen. With crisp white cupboard doors and a sleek granite work surface, it appeared to be the most expensive part of the house, if also the smallest.

Aiden's fridge freezer sat just aside from the work area, a tall blue box that, whilst stylish on it's own, completely clashed with every other item of furniture in the flat. It had looked great in his previous home, but not here.

To the left of the seating area was a set of thin bookshelves and a small balcony that allowed him to look over the town, or to be more precise, allowed him to just about look over a very small part of that suburb. It was nice to have a balcony, but the fifth floor wasn't exactly the towering perspective that the initial advert had suggested.

The sofa was nice though. Just the right balance between soft and supportive, if it had been a woman he would have proposed on the spot. Sipping away at his beer he finally found something worth watching, or at least, something not bad enough to make him throw the remote at the screen.

Aiden wasn't normally a grouchy person, but he had been through an extremely tough year, and weak attempts at comedy weren't helping anywhere near as much as the beer or seating arrangements.

After about forty minutes he gave up on the TV and went to the balcony. He opened the sliding door and stepped out into the cool April air. Very cool. In fact it was bloody freezing. Aiden leapt back inside and went to get his jacket, before heading back out and sitting on the lightweight steel folding chair.

He stared out over the portion of the town he was to call home, taking in as much of the sights and sounds as he could. The bustle and noise of Friday night made the places and people he observed seem slightly more artistic, as if the city were trapped in some kind of contrast filled postcard.

In the distance Aiden heard a police siren, he couldn't see the vehicle but noticed it gradually getting louder and louder until it pulled up by a house, a few doors down from his flat. The policeman knocked on the door, eventually it was opened by a middle aged woman who started screaming at him with a remarkably high pitched ramble. A few moments later a middle aged man came to the door, and started screaming at both the woman and the policeman, only in a much deeper tone.

This went on for about ten minutes until the policeman decided that the only person he could help in this situation was himself, by getting away from the couple as fast as possible. He walked back to the car and got in. Aiden saw him rest his head against the steering wheel for a moment, before setting off, presumably back to the station, although he appeared to deserve a shot of something extremely alcoholic.

Aiden chuckled to himself, before realising that these people were going to be this close to his flat for a long time. Still at least they were real people, unpretentious and true to who they were.

After another twenty minutes, Aiden got a little bored and decided he would venture out after all. If not a discovery mission, then at least a quick scan of the street he was to see every day for the next six months.

Aiden put on his shoes and headed out the door. As he closed it behind him, he looked down the hallway of the apartment block and noticed a scruffy man who appeared to be sitting drunk on the floor about five doors down. Aiden pondered to himself and walked the few steps to the lift, pressed the button and waited for it to arrive.

As he stepped out onto the street, Aiden noticed that it didn't seem as brightly lit as it did from on his balcony. Suddenly it lit up again, and he realised that the streetlight outside his apartment was buzzing on and off intermittently. He shook his head and set off, deciding at random whether to head left or right.