The bedspread was a deep blue,
with dancing peacocks in orange and elephants
in green and then worked with running stitch
in thick white thread along the edges and
borders to form a pattern. The material was
of closely woven cotton and it draped flat
and heavy on the bed, hiding the latter's
ugly wooden legs and scratched sides.
Heidi looked at Stan, who lay supine on this beautiful bedspread which spoke of distant lands of myth and magic and had found its way into her drab home. A forlorn Indian woman in a street corner was selling it for a pittance and Heidi had managed to scour around in her cheap rexine bag of indeterminate color to come up with the required change. The purchase had been instantaneous and she had not regretted it.
Stan looked fat and incongruous as he lay
there in his white underwear, his near naked
body one of patched pieces of pale white
and sunburn brown and angry red. The afternoon
sun was merciless as it shone in from the
window. Heidi had been unable to afford suitable
curtains for it. The window's glass would
have to be replaced first. One of the panes
had broken and its jagged edge was dangerously
exposed. Heidi had been unable to pull the
glass off and had cut a finger in her attempt
to do so. Now she just walked very carefully
around it and did not open or close the window
at all. It remained the way it was and would
do so till it was repaired, if at all.
Stan stretched and turned and found her staring down at him. He patted his stomach, its round, ugly navel protruding out from the convex surface.
"Like what you see, babe? Come to Daddy,
Heidi gave him a wan smile, hiding her feeling of revulsion. They had been living together for the past two years and she had been growing progressively sick of him. He did a couple of odd jobs here and there but had been fattening himself on her earnings. Heidi had stopped buying milk and vegetables for herself since she had to spend on ham and cheese and alcohol for him. She survived on her cigarettes now. She had grown thinner and thinner and was almost waif-like. Her bones jutted out in angles and she compared herself to that jagged piece of glass that mocked her from the window. Even her voice came out in a whisper now and it was an effort to make herself heard.
She ignored Stan's invitation and lit a cigarette.
Kicking off her shoes she refused to look
at them, since there was a gaping hole in
one corner of each that needed fixing. She
sat on the lone wicker chair in the room
which creaked under her frail weight. Stan,
luckily, could not fit into its narrow confines
or the chair would have been history by now.
She thought back to the day she had bought
the blue bedspread. It had been drizzling
slightly. She walked slowly, allowing the
rain to soothe her as it fell. A strange
voice called out to her. It was the Indian
woman. She just held out the cloth to her
and even in the falling rain Heidi could
make out its bright beauty. She had instantly
fallen in love with it.
"Its for you, princess," the woman
said quietly, "but you pay." She
mentioned a sum which was quite within Heidi's
budget, though she would have to skimp on
a few things. Like getting her shoes repaired.
Heidi thought little of it. The water had
already seeped in through the top of the
socks and now could do so from the bottom
"There is a little tag on the corner,"
the woman whispered. "You send it to
the address given, and you may get a gift."
This was an added bonus that clinched the
deal. Hugging the bedspread to herself Heidi
now ran, for soon the rain would make it
too heavy to carry.
Reaching home, she had spread the cloth out to dry and detached the multi-colored tag. At once she had scribbled the address on an envelope, pushed the tag in, and sealed it. Unthinking now, she stepped out once again in the rain and ran to the nearby letterbox. The envelope would soon be winging its way to its destination. She just hoped that the stamps she had hurriedly pasted would be enough.
Her thoughts turned to the present. Now it was too hot, with the sun blinding in its brightness. Stan was saying something. She stubbed out her cigarette and rose. She would have to tell him to leave, that she had had enough of the relationship.
"What do you think, baby," he was
saying, "should I take that job? Of
course, then I would not have much time to
spend with you."
With your own self, you mean, she thought to herself.
When she had met him, he had been big but lean. Gentle in his touch and considerate beyond belief, she had allowed him to enter her life. He was the first man with whom she had had any kind of relationship outside her family. Abused and battered as a child, she had run away and tried to find a life for herself in the city. She found that if you kept to yourself, the city left you alone. She dressed in pale colors and did not call attention to herself. Wary of strangers, she did not mix with anyone.
Stan had befriended her on the bus home from work. He began to frequent that particular stop and often rode home with her, seeing her off near her block of flats. She did not know when she began to open up to him. The sex came much later and then he moved in. She had not protested initially and later on just let it be.
Over the past few months she had grown weary. The relationship was sapping her strength. Stan had proved to be a man who liked a good life but made no effort to go out and get it. He grew bigger and more careless and she had begun to feel claustrophobic in the apartment with him around. The funds were running dry and she could not bring the subject up for discussion without incurring his anger and admonitions.
Now, seeing him splayed across the bed like a badly browned piece of fish, she had decided that she would have to tell him to leave.
"You should take that job, Stan. I have
wanted to speak to you about a few other
things as well."
Her voice was a whisper, barely audible.
It scraped against her throat and rasped
out of her like a second breath. Then she
was standing up and shrieking "I want
you out. OUT!" Her voice hung in the
air and moved around and tried to disappear
but could not. It kept resonating between
the walls of the small room.
Stan was hovering over her, his big, burly figure menacing in its hugeness. She felt the sweat form on her upper lip and under her armpits.
She moved away out of his reach towards the window, sparring for space.
"I didn't know you gotten bored of me,
sweetie," he said, his tone mocking
in its use of street lingo. "Mebbe we
wanna see some sparks flying here. You getting
it off with some other chap, huh?"
Heidi felt her head swim. He was breathing
his hot garlic fumes into her face. Her mind
flew back to her childhood, when her uncle
would take her for long drives in his car
and then kiss her and close her mouth with
his cigar flavored tongue. He was a small
man but he appeared big and terrible. He
would pinch her soft pink nipples and rub
his hand over her white body so hard that
it colored a deep pink which would later
turn a soft blue and purple wherever he rubbed
too hard. She would squeal and squirm and
yelp but soon learnt to accept everything
quietly since her protests only excited him
more. Once he had touched her wrist with
the tip of his cigar to warn her off from
making any noise. From a warm, young girl
she had turned into a quiet, pale woman and
no one bothered to learn why. Her parents
were too busy trying to lead their own lives
in a dying relationship to really care about
what happened to their daughter. She had
run away and now this--
Her eyes filled with angry tears even as Stan bore down on her. She could feel the jagged edge of the window pane poking her back as he leaned into her. She ducked as he lunged towards her and his throat caught on the glass. He fell heavily forward and the ragged pieces tore into his throat as he fell, dragging himself onto the ground. The rest of the window pane fell along and shattered over him, breaking into a million pieces blinking in the light of the sun. Body and blood and glass lay at her feet and the bell rang.
Heidi froze. She could not move. She wanted to cry out for help but no sound came from her throat.
The bell rang once more and someone called
out,"Parcel for Miss Heidi Lamont."
It was the shrill voice of a young adolescent.
She opened the door and found that the person
had left. There was a small parcel, perfectly
packed for her. She brought it in and tore
open the contents. In it was a small box
containing a pair of silver earrings inlaid
with small pink and blue stones in soft hues.
There was also a letter within and a small
vial of Ittar‚ an essence of jasmine. The
letter was from the Rajasthan Society of
Weavers of India. She had won a lottery in
Indian rupees which was worth one thousand
dollars. They would be sending her the cheque
Heidi walked with leaden steps towards the mirror. She opened the vial and dabbed the perfume all over herself. She wore the earrings and turned her head from side to side. She did look like an Indian princess with her big, brown eyes and her head of black hair. She pushed her hair behind her ears and the stones gleamed in the soft light. The sky darkened suddenly and a large gust of wind blew in.
It had begun to rain. She walked barefoot outside with the letter in her hand to the nearest phone booth.
"Hello, police," she said, "I
want to report a death--"
When she had finished, she went home and lay down on the blue bedspread. She took off the earrings and placed them on the letter. Then she waited and watched the blood run into rivulets as the rain entered the room through the open window. It was no longer red but the color of pink nipples on a white body. It then turned into purple and blue and she was swimming in it, drowning in it.