Sometimes, you meet a person and you feel like you know them. You feel like you know their face, their aura, their soul... yet, you just can’t put your finger on where exactly you know them or how you recognize them. Then, they’ll do something so simple like smile, and then the memories come crashing down.
Idris Murakami is a 28 year old detective who gives up his position and life in New York to move back to his small hometown in Manitoba to live with his grandparents. All Idris wanted to do was escape the pressure and stress the city had on him, but little does he know, a small town your soulmate lives in, can be just as stressful.
Categories: Original Fiction Characters:
Action-Adventure , Comedy , Drama, Friendship, RomanceStory Status:
August 13 2017 Updated:
November 28 2017
1. Chapter 1 by Mercie21
2. Chapter 2 by Mercie21
3. Chapter 3 by Mercie21
4. Chapter 4 by Mercie21
5. Chapter 5: Part 1 by Mercie21
It’s always better to arrive earlier rather than later, but how early was too early? I thought as I glanced over at the clock in my car for what felt like the tenth time in a span of thirty seconds. It was 8:43am. Two more minutes and I’d go inside, I told myself as I stared at the station and mentally prepared myself for my 9am shift.
I patted down my hair then my pockets to make sure that everything was in order and I had all the things I needed. Though I didn’t think I needed to bring anything with me other than my wallet. I’d already signed the forms that I was required to, so there wasn’t really any much I could do at this point.
I nearly jumped out of my car seat when the alarm I’d set on my phone went off. I had set the alarm for 8:45am last night to make sure that I knew what time I had to arrive to work by. It was something I did often. Set alarms. They made me feel…structured. Orderly. Secure. Like I somewhat had my life all put together.
With a deep breath, I squared my shoulders, lifted my chin and got out of the car.
As I made my way to the front door, I saw a few fellow officers hanging out by their cruisers having a chat and drinking their morning cup of coffee. The officer who was talking animatedly to the group made eye contact with me so I raised my hand in greeting. It’d be a good idea to become friends with my coworkers and when better to start than on my first official day. The officer’s smile drastically faded as he made eye contact with me. He looked away, flashed back his brilliant smile and continued talking to his pals without acknowledging me. I quickly lowered my hand and avoided eye contact with anyone else as I steadily made my way to the front doors.
There wasn’t much going on inside the station. I wasn’t very surprised considering we lived in Willock, a small town in the middle of nowhere.
Willock, a town of twenty thousand people, was located in southern Manitoba. The town was established in 1947 and was named after Eunice Willock, a nurse who dedicated her life saving thousands of the brave soldiers of WW2.
“Yes, sweetheart,” the woman at the front desk said into the phone. “I love you very much and I’ll see you soon. Bye now.” The woman was a bit older than most of the officers’, she had a few gray hairs at her temples, but she looked to be in tip top shape. Some of the few guys that I saw outside seemed to have fewer muscles in their entire body than she had in one arm. I wondered why someone like her was stuck behind the reception desk.
“Taking personal calls during work hours, I see?” I tsked. I meant it as a joke but I didn’t think she saw it that way considering her piercing blue eyes cut to me and gave a me death glare that could out-beat my mother’s.
“That was my son,” she said straightening her shoulders. “He just got out of the hospital and he called me to let me know he was okay. Is that a problem? Should I perhaps have waited eight more hours until I called him?” she asked tilting her head to the side a bit.
What a fantastic way to start my career, by making a fool of myself two times in a row. I knew things weren’t going to be easy, but I didn’t think things would get rough this quickly. I could feel panic slowly creeping into my body.
“I am incredibly sorry, Officer-,” I stopped abruptly after I read her name tag. Niamh. I had no idea how to say it so I didn’t bother trying.
“It’s pronounced ‘Neave’,” she kindly offered. I nodded my head in thanks. “It’s my first name. They made a mistake when they made my tag.” I nodded once again and took a deep breath to calm myself down. “What are you here for? Need to make a statement or something?” Niamh asked grabbing a sheet of paper and watching me expectedly.
“Actually,” I said clearing my throat and standing up taller. “I’m here to work,” I said cheerfully. Niamh gave me a confused look so I repeated myself without sounding like a random person off the street coming in to ask if they were hiring. “It’s my first day. I start my shift at 9am. My name is Idris Murakami.”
Niamh raised her left wrist to read her watch. “You’re two hours late,” she sighed. “You’re not off to a very good start here, kid.”
“What? That can’t be right,” I said shaking my head in denial, swallowing down the inevitable fear the was bubbling in my chest. “Sergeant Khalie told me to come in at 9.”
“Did he also tell you to always check your email?” Niamh asked, patiently waiting for me to nod. “Then you would’ve realized that he sent out an email last night telling everyone that there was an important meeting at 7am.”
I hadn’t officially started and I already messed up. Maybe I should just give up now, move to Scotland and become a sheep farmer.
“Here, follow me,” Niamh said getting up from her chair. It was then that I noticed the crutches on the wall behind her. She grabbed them, came around the desk and began walking.
“What happened to your leg?” I asked. It was really none of my business but I was a really curious, maybe that’s why I became a cop.
“Car accident,” she answered.
It made me wonder if that was the same accident that got her son in the hospital.
“Are there meeting minutes that are emailed after meetings?” I still felt incredibly bad for missing the meeting but if I got a memo of what was discussed, I really wouldn’t have missed much nor would I feel as bad as I already did.
“No. Sorry, kid,” Niamh said. She stopped in front of a small closet door and opened it. “What are your sizes?”
“You’re a small little fella, aren’t you?” Niamh said winking at me.
I dipped my head to hide the blush that I knew was probably going to show up on my face despite my somewhat tan complexion.
“Here,” Niamh said handing me my uniform. “Men’s locker room is right behind you. Your locker number is 392. Get changed and meet your partner Niska. She’s waiting for you in cruiser 972. Welcome to the force Idris. You’ll be a great fit,” and with that, Niamh walked away leaving me to my own devices.
For a men’s locker room, it was generally clean and odourless. I didn’t want to waste anymore time than I already had so I quickly got changed and rushed outside to the parking lot to frantically find the cruiser. Finding cruiser 972 was not hard at all since it was the first one I saw.
As I approached the car, I saw my partner and if I remembered correctly, Niamh said her name was Niska.
Niska cautiously watched me as I walked my way over to her and the cruiser.
She didn’t wait for me to introduce myself before she got into the cruiser. I followed behind her and decided to introduce myself in the car.
“Hi, I’m Idris Murakami.” I extended my hand for her to shake but she just lifted her hands and placed them on the steering wheel instead.
“Buckle up,” Niska said. As soon as my seatbelt clicked into place, Niska peeled away from the parking lot.
After ten minutes of awkward silence, Niska quietly yet firmly said, “I’m Niska Dhillon.”
I smiled at her and told her it was nice to meet her. She didn’t smile back. Nor did she repeat the pleasantry.
Niska was beautiful. I didn’t want to admit it to myself before but she was really pretty. She was biracial like me, but where I was half Mexican and half Japanese, she was half African and half Indian. I could tell from her last name that she was Indian.
Apart from being beautiful, Niska was terrifying and I didn’t think she liked me much. I didn’t think anyone on the force liked me much so far. Maybe Niamh liked me a little bit but I was uncertain.
“I didn’t know there was a meeting today,” I told Niska. She and I were going to partners for the unforeseeable future. “I feel so bad I accidentally skipped it. Was there anything important I missed? Is the Captain angry?”
“No,” Niska answered gripping the steering wheel tighter.
We were driving around an open road near the woods, so I turned to Niska and asked, “How long have you been on the force?” I needed to develop a friendship with Niska and we couldn’t do that if we didn’t speak and got to know one another.
“Long enough to not need a partner, yet here I am, working with a rookie,” she snapped driving faster.
Oh. That’s what was up her ass.
All of a sudden, Niska outwardly beauty was gone and replacing it was her inwardly beauty. Or lack thereof. She had an ugly personality.
“Maybe you shouldn’t drive if you’re so angry,” I said watching as the speedometer read higher and higher.
I think I might’ve gotten to her because she gradually began to slow the car down.
“Would you like me to drive?” I offered. Niska shook her head once.
That’s how we spent the remainder of the morning and into early afternoon. We just drove around aimlessly doing nothing and not saying a word to each other. Mostly just waiting to see if they might radio us for something but in all honesty, Willock was a small town where nothing happened so not much was to be expected.
It was 1:30pm before Niska and I decided to get some lunch. I was hungry three hours ago but I didn’t want to bother her in fear of her glaring my hunger away.
Niska pulled up at a mall that served some of the best fried chicken I’d ever had in my life. I tried to convince Niska to buy some of the fried chicken but she refused and got Chinese food instead. I knew she secretly wanted my fried chicken because for someone who was adamant on eating Chinese food, she sure was eyeing my chicken a little too much.
After lunch, we walked around the mall for a bit just enjoying stretching our legs out. There was quiet flower shop I went into to buy Niamh some flowers because I felt a bit bad for how I acted in the morning and also because so far, she’d been the nicest person to me today. I also got her two get well soon cards one for her and the other for her son who’d just gotten out of the hospital.
“Who are those for?” Niska asked when we were back in the cruiser.
“Oh, I thought I’d get something for Niamh and her son. She told me he just got out of the hospital and I wanted to just do something nice.”
Niska huffed in humour but she didn’t actually smile. I knew she thought something was funny because I could see the humour in her eyes. Does this woman know how to smile? I asked myself as she drove us out of the malls parking lot. A lot of people smiled at us at the mall and she never smiled back. Maybe she’s physically incapable of smiling.
The rest of our day was uneventful. Just like the morning, we spent most of it just driving around in silence. Niska, unsurprisingly, never tried to start a conversation with me.
I was grateful when my alarm finally went off for 4:45pm. “We should probably head back to the station,” I told Niska waving my phone around. “15 more minutes and we’re off duty.”
I didn’t know if it was the fact that we were heading back to the station and I could finally get away from Niska and her negative attitude, or the fact that I could go home and watch tv in a few short minutes, but I just couldn’t stop talking.
“So is this what it’ll be like every day?” It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It was a bit boring if I was being honest. I thought I’d be getting into more action, issuing speeding tickets at the most.
“No,” Niska answered simply. I was beginning to think “no” was her favourite word.
When we arrived at the station, Niska and I both got out of the cruiser but she didn’t follow me when I started walking to the front doors.
“You coming in?’ I asked pointing my thumb behind me.
“No,” she said untying her thick curly black hair from her bun. “I’m going to wait for my fiancé.”
“Oh, okay,” I shrugged. I didn’t notice an engagement ring on her finger. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” Instead of leaving it at that and walking away, I raised my hand and waved at her. I actually waved goodbye at her when she still stood right in front of me.
Niska, as expected, just nodded.
Niamh was just grabbing her purse to leave when I walked up to the reception desk.
“Hey, kid,” she said smiling at me. “How was your first day?”
“Boring,” I replied. “I don’t think Niska likes me much.”
Niamh chuckled and lightly punched my shoulder. “She’s all bark no bite. Don’t worry about her.”
“More like scowl and no smile,” I joked. Niamh released a boisterous laugh and I couldn’t help but smile back at the fact that I made her laugh like that. At least I did one good thing today, even if it was making someone smile.
The station was getting a bit chaotic with the morning crew heading out and the night crew coming in, so no one could really blame me when I didn’t immediately notice the man standing beside Niamh.
“I got these for you and your son,” I said holding up the flowers and cards. When Niamh gave me a confused expression, I quickly stammered out, “I wanted to apologize for this morning. I hope you and him get well soon.”
“Why don’t you just give it to him yourself?” Niamh giggled.
It was my turn to look confused. “You want me to go to his house?”
“Just give it to him now,” she said patting the shoulder of the man beside her. He had Niamh’s blue eyes. He was undeniably her son. He was also scratch-free.
“But you just got out of the hospital,” I said looking at him from head to toe. “You look fine.”
“Thank you, I work out a lot," he joked. "I’m a doctor,” he laughed along with his mother. “I will take the card though,” he said taking it from my lifeless fingers. Along with his card, he also took his mother’s card and flowers.
“Let’s head out,” Niamh chuckled, nudging me out the door.
“My clothes…” I said pointing towards the men’s change room.
“You can pick them up tomorrow. They’re not going anywhere. You should really just come into work with your uniform on. It’ll make everything easier.”
I stared after Niamh’s son and then her. I really thought he was ill. “You had me think-.”
“Rule number one, kid,” Niamh said cutting me off. “Don’t take half the things I say seriously.”
“My car is parked there,” I said pointing at my brand new BMW that I’d bought when I came back into town two weeks ago.
“Mine is the one beside it.” Niamh’s son, whose name I had yet to find out, made my car look like garbage. It was an Audi and it was so shiny, the sun’s glare made it difficult to look at it.
As we reached our cars, I saw Niska with the man who didn’t wave back at me in the morning. He had an arm around her shoulders and she had an arm around his waist. He must be her fiancé. Mr. and Mrs. Scowling Jerks. They were perfect for each other.
Niamh must’ve noticed me watching them because she turned towards them and yelled, “Bye, Niska!”
Niska turned around to the sound of her name and said, “See you tomorrow, Niamh.” Then she did the darndest thing.
And then I remembered.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have a lovely day!
We first met at the Acropolis of Athens in 431BC.
I was there to pay tribute to the goddess Athena at the Parthenon.
There was a war occurring and father had ordered my brothers and I to act like men and proudly serve our city by joining the army and fighting against the Spartans. My mother was against it but she had no say when it came to father, none of us did. He was the leader and authoritarian in our household and whatever he said, we did.
I was the youngest son in our family. Only 17.
There were a total of five children in our home, my two older brothers and my two younger sisters. My brothers were stronger than I was. They were men of tall great build and lean muscles. They would be honourable soldiers. I, on the other hand, was of short height and made of mostly soft muscles. I was never meant to be a warrior. I would not survive long in this war.
“Serve us proud,” were my father’s parting words when my brothers and I had finished gathering the little belongings we had and were ready to head out to Acropolis of Athens. Though father was stern and strict, he was not cruel. I could see the pain and yet pride in his eyes as we stood before him ready for war, in a week’s time. We would stay in the Acropolis for a week worshipping and praying to the gods for strength and success in the war, and then go off to battle.
“May the gods return you all to my arms,” my mother had said to us. She had tears in her eyes but she kept a strong face. She embraced each of my brothers and gave them a two kisses, one on each cheek. When she embraced me, she softly whispered, “Stay close to your brothers. I shall miss you, my little warrior.” She was so beautiful then.
The journey to Acropolis of Athens was a rather short one. It took about three hours on foot. By the time my brothers and I got there, there was a crowd of people. There were some people praying, some eating and some talking amongst themselves. There were children playing and running around unaware of what I was about to go through in a week’s time.
“Let us rest here and eat,” my eldest brother Tiberius suggested. “We should pray afterwards and perhaps practice our swordsmanship.”
Our mother had packed us more than a week’s worth of dried meat, vegetables, fruits and grain.
We were in the middle of eating when a beautiful dark woman walked by brothers and I. She was dressed as a modest middle class woman and she carried a basket of oranges with her. When our eyes met, she offered a shy smile and lowered her gaze.
“She is a beauty,” Tiberius announced. “And she has an eye for you.”
“What are you saying?” I asked, a rosy colour appearing on my cheeks. “We only saw each other just now.”
“Ever since we sat down, she has not taken her eyes off you. I’ve been watching her watch you,” Tiberius explained.
“Well nothing will come out of this,” I said shoving a piece of bread into my mouth. “I will never see her again.”
“What does it matter?” my other brother Augustus asked. “You are here now and she is here now. Get to know each other.”
I turned around and watched the woman walk away. Oblivious to her, one of her oranges fell down from her basket.
“That is a sign from the gods themselves,” Tiberius said kicking me in the knee, “go on and speak to her.”
It wouldn’t hurt to go speak to her. I put my bread down, took a deep breath and ran after the woman. I picked up her fallen orange and lightly tapped her on the shoulder. When she spun around, I gave her a soft smile and said, “I’m sorry but you seemed to have drop this.”
“Thank you,” she said taking the orange from my hand and putting it back into her basket.
“You’re welcome,” I replied.
The woman gave me a blinding smile that caught me off guard. It was the most unique smile I had ever seen in my life. Most people with dimples had two, some had one, but it was unheard of to have three. Yet, that was what she had. She had three deep dimples, two on her left cheek and one on her right. I watched her and memorized her smile. I memorized the way her lips parted, the plushness of them and I memorized the depth of her dimples.
“My name is Maximus,” I said offering her my hand.
Instead of shaking my hand, she plopped an orange into and grinned. “I’m Mira.”
The loud ringing of my alarm abruptly woke me up from my dream. With shaking hands, I turned it off and buried myself deeper underneath the covers. I wish I could just stay at home with my grandparents, not go to work and get paid. Unfortunately, that was not how the world worked, so I ripped off my covers and made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth and take a shower.
This always happened.
In each life, Mira, now Niska and I would meet and I wouldn’t remember her until she smiled. It always came down to her smile. Maybe it was because I fell heavily in love with it back in Greece. After all, it was the only thing about her that never changed. She always changed. We both did. No matter how tall or short she was, how much she weighed, what race she was, her smile never changed.
After taking a shower and wearing my uniform, I went downstairs to join my grandparents for breakfast.
“Morning,” I greeted them while making myself a cup of coffee.
“Hello dear,” Nana returned spreading butter on her bread before putting it into the toaster oven. I cringed at the sight of it. “Oh hush now,” Nana said after she saw the look on my face. “I like it this way.”
“I’m just saying, it taste better when you toast the bread first and then put the butter on it.”
“Let it go, Idris,” PapPap said whilst pouring an copious amount of sugar into this tea. It was a miracle he didn’t have diabetes. “I’ve told her the same thing every day for 50 years and she still doesn’t listen.”
“You two need to accept that I just like my toast made a certain way,” Nana huffed. “I bought three crates of strawberries this morning at the farmer’s market. Help yourself, Idris.”
I looked over at where Nana had left the strawberries and I couldn’t help but laugh. Sometimes, these things happened. After I’d recognize Mira, now known as Niska, I’d always have a dream or flashback to when we first met, then after that, I’d remember things slowly. Not always in order of when we first met to present day, but it all came back eventually. Even the little things, like how strawberries were her favourite things in the world. Niska loved strawberries in every life. In one of her lives, she developed an allergy to them and I’d never seen her so miserable.
Breakfast was the same as usual. Nana would tell me all the about the television program she watched the night before, completely disregarding the fact that I watched it with her, PapPap would read the newspaper and summarize everything he read, even the comics.
I was in the middle of suggesting to my grandparents that we should see a movie tonight at the theatre when my alarm went off.
“Which one is that,” PapPap asked jerking his head to my phone.
“It’s my ‘finish food’ alarm. I need to be out of here in five minutes.” I quickly inhaled the rest of my food and took them to the sink to wash.
“Leave them,” Nana shouted. “I’ll wash them for you.”
“No it’s I alright,” I replied. They were letting me live with them rent-free; the least I could do was wash my dishes.
I was done and out the door with strawberries in hand just in time for when my ‘drive to work’ alarm went off.
When I arrived at the parking lot, the scenery looked exactly the same as the day before. There were a group of officers standing around, enjoying their coffee and chatting away. The sight made me panic a little. It would be awful if there was another meeting I’d missed. I’d checked my email about 5 times last night.
I was opening a package of gum when my, ‘get out of the car” alarm went off. I carefully cradled the crate of strawberries out of the car and made my way to the station. Unlike yesterday, I didn’t bother to look around at the other officers and wave at them. I wasn’t trying to humiliate myself two days in a row.
Niamh was at the desk typing into the computer when I approached her.
“You don’t have to come to the front desk every morning, kid,” she said without looking at me.
“What if I want to?” I asked flirtatiously. “You are, after all, my favourite co-worker.”
“Am I?” she asked raising her eyebrows, still not meeting my eyes. “And what did I do to receive such a high honour?”
“I got your email last night,” I said giving her a smile once she finally looked at me. “I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to write me the meeting minutes.”
Niamh silently stared at me for a few seconds before she slowly blinked, smiled and said, “You’re welcome. Now get to work,” she ordered shooing me away.
She acted all tough but I knew she liked me.
The email Niamh sent was a detailed note on what happened in the meeting I missed. Basically, in the past three days, there have been families calling and reporting their children missing. However, in each situation, the child was found safe not far away from home. The chief said that he wasn’t sure what was happening but we should all keep an eye out for any unusual behavior.
I walked over to my desk which had a plastic plaque with my name written on it. Because Niska and I were partners, our desks were placed side by side.
“Morning,” I said greeting Niska with a bright smile.
Just like the other day, Niska gave me the cold shoulder and barely a response. All she offered me was a short nod.
“What are you working on?” I asked as I peered over her shoulder to see.
Niska quickly hid the sheets of paper from my view and shot me a hard dark look, “None of your business,” she answered coldly.
“Okay,” I suspiciously said stretching out the word. This isn’t the first time Niska has been rude or distant to me. She was worse during Ancient Egypt. The pharaoh shows you a slight bit of interest and suddenly you think you’re untouchable.
I smile to myself and remember how much of a brat she was then.
“So,” I sighed sitting down and placing the crate of strawberries on my desk. “Are we just driving around today as well?” I deliberately took a strawberry and slowly ate it. It was hard to keep the smirk off my face with the way Niska was eyeing the strawberries. When Niska didn’t immediately reply, I asked, “Well are we?”
“Are we what?” she asked snapping out of her strawberry daze.
“Driving around today?”
“No,” Niska said turning on her computer. “Today we’re just going to be in the office and help some of the other deputies fill out their paper work.”
“Sounds like we’re doing the jobs they don’t want to do,” I joked.
From the look on Niska’s face, I could tell that I hit a nerve so I quickly excused myself from my desk to escape her glare.
I took a brief walk to the breakroom to make myself my second cup of coffee for the day. The breakroom wasn’t much. There were four round tables and each table had four chairs around it. There were also two vending machines, a refrigerator, a coffeemaker and a microwave.
Niska’s fiancé was making a cup of coffee and beside him was a box of donuts. There were about a five donuts left in the box.
“Hey man,” I said standing next to him and grabbing a mug. “I’m Idris, Niska’s partner.”
“Okay,” he said in a monotone voice. “What does that have to do with me?”
“I just wanted to introduce myself since we’re coworkers now.”
“We’re not coworkers,” he laughed harshly. “You’re just the new guy at the bottom of the food chain. I’m on a whole other level, rookie.”
“We’re literally wearing the same uniform, have the same title and we drive the same cruiser,” I said lazily pointing my index finger at him.
“Don’t get smart with me,” he sneered getting close to my face. He pushed me a bit but still stepped closer to me. Our noses were almost touching.
I gave him a tight lipped smile and he actually growled in my face. Like a dog or some kind of wild feral animal.
I honest to God thought he was going to punch me when Niamh opened the door. “Hello boys,” she said walking towards the coffeemaker. Niska’s fiancé stepped back, gave me another dirty look then stormed out of the room.
“He’s really nice,” I told Niamh sarcastically.
“A real charmer,” she said in an even more sarcastic tone than mine. “Niska sure knows how to pick ‘em.”
“Thanks for intervening,” I said ignoring the fact that Niamh just hinted that Niska has a bad reputation of boyfriends.
“I’m just here for a donut,” Niamh said making a show of picking up a donut and taking a huge bite out of it. Somehow, I doubted that.
When I returned back to my desk, the crate of strawberries was noticeably smaller. I looked over to Niska and she had a guilty expression on her face. Also, her cheeks were puffed up because she was hiding a piece of strawberry in her mouth. “What happened to my strawberries?” I asked.
She shrugged and I grinned.
“Here.” I took the crate off my desk and handed it to Niska, who grabbed it red stained fingers. “I actually brought this for you.”
“Really?” Niska mumbled.
“Swallow first,” I said.
“Really?” Niska asked again, this time with an empty mouth.
“Yes,” I answered. “I thought you might like them.”
Niska smiled at me. A real smile, all three dimples and all, and shoved another strawberry in her mouth. “Thank you,” she mumbled again, mouth full.
“Here,” she said reaching into her desk drawer and pulling out a bag with about four oranges. “You can have these in exchange for the strawberries.”
I really wanted to say no and tell her that the strawberries weren’t for trade, but love for oranges were legendary so I took the bag and bit my lip to stop myself from smiling like an idiot.
After Mira and I introduced ourselves, I asked her if she’d like to join my brothers and I for our remainder of our meal. To my surprise, she shyly agreed.
By the end of the meal, we all loved her. Tiberius and Augustus loved her as a person and like another sister, I thought I did as well, but as time went on, I loved her for different reasons, in different ways.
Mira was supposed to leave the temple after that first day we met, and she did, but she returned the following day claiming that she really loved praying and worshipping the gods. Tiberius said that she only came back to spend more time with me and to worship my body.
Mira and I were never apart. We grew incredibly fond of one another. Our personalities were compatible with one another. I had never felt so strongly about another person in my life.
I realized I loved her romantically when I noticed that instead of praying for myself, I prayed for her. Instead of asking the gods to protect me and my brothers in the war and, I was asking them to protect her, to let her live a long and happy life, to let her have an abundance of strawberries, to let her always find beauty in things and to never stop laughing. To never stop smiling.
As expected, compared to my brothers, I was the worst when it came to sword fighting. Tiberius was the best out of the three of us. Mira would always watch us when we practiced and I hated her seeing me so weak and uncoordinated, but she’d always smile and encourage me on. Even on my lowest days, her smile always lifted my spirits.
When the week had ended and day to leave and join the war arrived, I could barely eat. “You must gather your strength,” Mira said urging me on to take a bite of sweetened bread.
“I will miss you,” I said instead. “I will miss your smile.”
“You shall see me again,” Mira said confidently. “I will meet you right here, at Parthenon. We shall –,”
“Maximus, it’s time,” Augustus said cutting Mira off.
I slowly arose from the ground where Mira and I were sitting and she arose with me. I quickly embraced her so she wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes.
When I had my composure, I slowly let her go. “I love you,” I said gently cupping her cheek with my hand.
“I love you too,” she returned grabbing my wrist and kissing my palm.
“I swear to you, with the gods as my witness, that I will love you for eternity. I will always return to you, in this life and in the next. You are my soul.” With that, I kissed Mira with all the love I had to offer and I parted.
The war was the most horrendous and brutal thing I had ever witnessed. Every day, was a struggle. As a person who believed that each life mattered, I hated myself for being responsible of the end of human lives.
The Spartans were tough. They were born and bred to be warriors. It was a miracle I’d survived as long as I did.
I had just ended the life of a boy who looked to be my age when I saw a Spartan creeping up behind Tiberius. Tiberius was doing exceptionally well in the war. He and Augustus were respected amongst the army. I was moderately respected simply because I was their brother, not because of any skill I had.
“Tiberius,” I yelled rushing over to him.
“Tiberius!” Augustus yelled also, seeing the Spartan approach. “Maximus!”
I got in front of the Spartan warrior and his sword just in time before he could pierce Tiberius. I saw Augustus kill the Spartan before I fell down to my knees. I felt two strong arms hold me before my entire body hit the ground.
“What have you done, little brother?” Tiberius softly asked as cradled me to his chest. He hadn’t called me little brother in a while, ever since we left home. I doted on the nickname.
“Maximus,” Augustus said laying his hand on my shoulder. He must’ve seen that I wouldn’t make it because he kissed my forehead and said, “You have fought well.”
I softly smiled at him and raised my head to smile at Tiberius. In my heart, I knew they’d both survive this war. We all knew that if one of us were to die, it’d be me. We just never spoke of it.
“Mira,” I said choking on air.
“We will tell her how well you fought. How you saved my life by giving up your own,” Tiberius said holding me closer.
I closed my eyes and thought of Mira and my promise to her. We wouldn’t be together now, but I knew that we’d meet again in the next life.
And in the life after that.
Tell me, what's your favourite fruit? Mine are strawberries and pineapples.
Thank you for reading!
I’d been stirring the pot of my so-called strawberry jam for a good ten minutes now and it still wasn’t thickening like the recipe said it was supposed to. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong but I was quickly becoming fed up and quitting all together. I’m sure Niska wouldn’t mind some strawberry soup.
As soon as I’d gotten home yesterday after I’d given Niska one of the crates of strawberries my Nana bought, I begged my grandmother to give me the other two crates. She had given me a curious look but hadn’t made a comment about my sudden interest in strawberries.
I growled in frustration when I scooped some of the “jam” to test it viscosity and it was still watery.
“Growling at it into submission is not going to make it do what you want it to,” PapPap said patting me on the back and peering into the sauce pan. “What is that? Tomato soup?”
The look of annoyance I flashed at him made him erupt in laughter. “I know it’s strawberry jam, kiddo, I saw you chopping up the strawberries. Though,” he said looking amused, “from the way you were cutting those things, I wouldn’t doubt that your blood is mixed up in there.”
I scoffed, “Even if my blood was in there, it would’ve evaporated. It’s simple science, PapPap.”
“How do you expect your blood to have evaporated when there’s still a lakes worth of water in it?”
I couldn’t help but chuckle at my grandfather’s sassy and smart mouthed nature.
“Hey there it is,” PapPap cheered, tousling my hair. “You’ve been scowling so much I thought you’ve forgotten how to smile.”
“I just really want this to work out,” I sighed, solemnly looking into the pot . Maybe if I stared at the pot with puppy dog eyes as opposed to glaring at it, it’ll take pity on me and thicken.
PapPap left my side to rummage through the fridge and cupboards to pull out various snacks to munch on. “It’s late PapPap, you shouldn’t be eating those.”
PapPap was approaching seventy years old, though admittedly, he was quite fit for his age, he cared very little about things like his cholesterol and sugar or salt intake. In fact, Nana was quite fit for her age as well. Her being seventy-three doesn’t stop her from believing she has the body of a twenty year old. She always moving and dancing about and playing sports at the local gym. Sometimes, PapPap joins her at the gym. Anyone would think it’s good for PapPap to go to the gym but after every trip he always congratulates himself for being active by buying himself a huge chocolate bar from the local Costco. I love my grandparents so much and I want them to stay as happy, healthy and as fit as long as they can, but it is exceedingly difficult when my grandfather has a sweeter tooth than a five year old and my grandmother thinks she’s Michelle Quan, Mike Tyson and Tony Hawk.
“So who’s this lovely lady with a strawberry fetish you’re cooking up a storm for?”
“Just someone at work, she mentioned she loved strawberries a lot and we have a bunch and I didn’t want them to go to waste.”
PapPap had the decency to ignore the fact that the strawberries were fresh and perfectly fine.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” he asked after about two minutes of silence, voice soft and tender. “Don’t you think it’s too soon. You’ve been working there less than a week.”
“Nothing is going on,” I said sharply. I closed my eyes and took a deep slow breath. “I’m sorry,” I apologized feeling embarrassed. “I’m fine, PapPap. I’m just doing something nice for a co-worker.”
I risked looking at PapPap, scared to see the disappointment in his face, but, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t see his face because it was inside a bag of potato chips, trying to catch the last crumbs from the bag. When he finally put the bag down and saw me watching him and shrugged.
“I’m sorry,” I said again because I truly did feel bad and I wanted him to know that. The last people I needed to be angry at were my grandparents. They were just looking out for me and I couldn’t snap at them every time they mentioned a delicate subject.
PapPap gave me a soft smile that reached his dark brown eyes. “It’s okay, Idris.” He threw the empty bag of chips into the trash can and grabbed a hard candy from his candy jar. I opened my mouth to tell him to not eat that, when he cut me off before I could even start. “I’m old and old people love hard candy, leave me alone.” He turned around to leave the kitchen and head upstairs to bed. “Hurry up and try to get some sleep.” There was silence for about five seconds before he yelled again. “And turn the heat up on the stove. It’s still on low.”
Something was wrong. I didn’t know what it was but I could feel it. My body felt too good, it wasn’t screaming at me to get more sleep, it was happy and well rested. Too well rested. That could only mean one thing, I’d overslept.
I shot up and scrambled for my phone by my bedside table. I pressed on the power button to look at the time only, it wasn’t turning on. There’s no reason for this to be happening I charged it overnight, I thought as I tried to figure out what was wrong with it. I looked at the outlet where I’d plugged my charger to come to the realization that I actually hadn’t plugged it in properly.
With cellphone in hand I dashed out of my room and downstairs to find my grandparents enjoying their breakfast.
“Is everything alright,” Nana asked, watching me with wide eyes.
“No, everything’s not alright,” I said freaking out. I looked at the stove to see that I had overslept by half an hour. It wouldn’t seem like much or a huge deal to some people, but it was a huge deal to me. I had a schedule dammit, a clear concise schedule. Everything had to be done at a certain time or it would ruin the flow of the entire day.
“Idris, what’s wrong?” Nana pressed sternly.
“I overslept and now it ruins everything.” I didn’t know what to do with myself, I could barely think. I had a routine and I didn’t even know where to start. “My phone is completely dead,” I added holding up my phone to show them. “How am I going to keep track of time?”
“Idris, it’s okay,” PapPap said getting up from his chair and grabbing my phone out of my hand. “I have a portable charger you can take to work with you.”
“How do you know what a portable charger is?”
“One of the teenagers at the electronics store suggested I buy one since I always forget to charge my phone and it’s always dying.”
“It’s almost 7:45, I’m usually showered and ready to eat breakfast by that time.”
Nana pushed me out of the kitchen and up the stairs. “It’s only 7:35, go take a quick shower and come back by 7:45.” I opened my mouth to ask her how I’d know if it was 7:45 and as if she was telepathic she said, “I’ll come knock on the bathroom door to let you know when it’s time.”
“And I’ll make your breakfast,” PapPap offered.
I looked at Nana with a pleading look, both of us remembering the cooking disaster from 2005.
“I’ll do it,” Nana laughed.
I quickly hurried up and took a shower while also rinsing my mouth with mouthwash. It was a disaster but I was out of there in less than ten minutes.
True to their word, there was a plate of breakfast for me when I got back into the kitchen.
PapPap slid me my phone with the portable charger attached.
“Thank you both so much,” I said before I began to eat. “I owe you both a night out together. Dinner and a movie.”
“How nice, all three of us going out together, Nana cheered.”
“No no,” I said shaking my head. “Just you two. You deserve a night out with each other. You don’t need your grandson tagging along.”
They both insisted that it was no problem but I wanted to do something nice for them and this was the least I could do. After all, they saved me from a mental breakdown and a heck of a lot more.
Though I had only started working at the precinct this week, it had become a routine of mine to stop by Niamh at the front desk and start up a conversation with her. She was rapidly becoming one of my favourite people not only at work but in town. She was kind, patient and had an incredible sense of humour.
I liked talking to her so much that I had fitted a ten minute “Talking with Niamh,” schedule into my daily agenda.
“Well what do we have here?” she asked pointing at the two medium sized mason jars I carried.
“Just some jam,” I explained.
Luckily, she didn’t pester me too much about why I was bringing jam into work.
We were in a very passionate conversation about romantic movies when my “start work” alarm went off.
“Well enjoy your day ‘Mr.I-think-Ghost-is-better-than-Dirty-Dancing.’” Niamh said waving me away.
“We aren’t done here,” I called as I made my way to the break room to get myself a cup of coffee.
Niska and her fiancé, who I found out was named Logan, were in the break room when I got there. There were a few other officers scattered around but I didn’t really know them well.
The couple were seated and huddled together at a small round table. They hadn’t noticed that I had walked in, nor did they notice when I stood in front of their table until I cleared my throat.
“Morning guys,” I said cheerfully. I gently put the two jars onto the table in front of Niska and said, “My grandmother bought a lot of strawberries the other day and we didn’t want them to spoil so…” I made a ta-da motion at the jars. “For you.”
“Wow,” Niska breathed as she slid both jars closer to herself, her eyes fixated on them.
Logan snatched one of the jars, popped it open, stuck his index finger in it and ate the jam right off his finger. He obnoxiously smacked his lips and gave me wink. He turned his face to grin at Niska only to find her glaring at him. He quietly and quickly closed the lid of the jar and gave it back to Niska, looking apologetic. He kissed Niska’s forehead, got up and came over to me. He faced away from Niska and put his mouth close to my ear to whisper, “she doesn’t need anything from you. I can give her everything she needs.” He pulled away, presented a tight smile, slapped my shoulder twice and walked away.
Niska was looking at us with watchful eyes. I took Logan’s vacant seat but pushed it a bit further away from Niska so she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable from the closeness and sat in it.
“Please thank your grandmother for these. I really love it.”
“Oh,” I blushed. “I actually made those myself.” I scratched the back of my head in mild embarrassment.
“Oh,” Niska sighed. “Well then, thank you. I really appreciate it.”
We were both quiet. Niska staring at the jars and nothing else, whilst I just gazed at her sheer beauty. She had her hair in a loose ponytail today. I could smell her perfume. It smelt like a lovely mix between citrus and vanilla, kind of like an orangesicle. Her makeup was done a bit more than usual but it didn’t take away from her raw natural beauty, only emphasizing it.
She turned towards me and she must’ve seen something in my eyes that she didn’t like because her face turned hostile and she quickly stood up, her chair loudly scraping on the floor. “I’m going to put these in my locker,” she said voice clipped. “I’ll meet you at our desks. We have more paperwork today.” With that, she turned around and left.
We do a whole lot of paperwork for cops who don’t get a lot of action.
After hours of mindless paperwork, Niska and I decided to take a quick break and go out for lunch.
We were sitting down in the cruiser, outside a local taco place, when there were loud consistent knocks on my side of the window. A woman stood outside looking frantic with tears falling from her eyes. Her face was red and her hair looked wild as if she had been pulling at it. I quickly got out of the car, forgetting my lunch, Niska briskly following my lead.
“My son,” the woman cried, her words mumbled by her sobs. “I can’t find him. He was there a second ago, I looked away and he was gone. Help me please.” She grabbed my arm and yanked me to follow her.
“Ma’am,” I said in a cautious voice. “Please remain calm. We will find your son. You just need to tell us what he looks like so we can have our other officers keep an eye out for him.”
The woman put the heels of her hands to her temples and closed her eyes, a tear falling when she did. “He…he has red hair. It’s short. He’s eight years old. He’s wearing a Spiderman shirt with blue jeans.”
Niska relayed everything the woman said into the radio on her shoulder to alert the station.
“I don’t know what more to say,” the woman wept. “Please just help me find him!”
The mother agreed to get in the cruiser so the three of us could drive around and look from him. We constantly got updates from the other officers on their search efforts and the areas they’d already checked.
Almost an hour into our search, we were driving by a park when I saw a figure with red hair hunched over by a large willow tree.
“There he is,” I shouted quickly getting out of the cruiser and running towards me. All throughout my life, I took pride in being the fastest runner I knew but it seemed that a mother in desperate need to find her son was a far faster runner than I was.
The woman fell to her knees in front of her son and pulled him close to her body.
“I’m sorry,” her son immediately cried into her neck. “I didn’t mean it, mom. I’m so sorry.”
The woman petted her son’s head and shushed him. I could tell that she wanted to cry but she was putting on a brave face for her son’s sake.
Niska got down to her knees and put her hands on the backs of both mother and son. “It’s okay, you’re safe,” she told both of them. “Everything is okay.”
After everyone was cooled down and emotions weren’t everywhere, we questioned the kid on what happened but all he said was that he was sorry, that he didn’t mean to be a bad son. His mother explained that before he went missing, they had an argument, nothing major, something about her not wanting him to go to his friend’s house and to do his homework instead and in the heat of the argument, her son yelled that he hated her.
After making sure both of them were okay, I noticed that Niska kept wincing and rubbing the left side of her chest.
“Come on,” she said. “Let’s head back to the precinct to finish up some work. It’s going to rain soon.”
I looked up at the clear bright blue sky and gave Niska a skeptical look but followed her with complaint.
About a half hour after getting back to the station, a small group of officers who we saw outside smoking, rushed back inside…. wet.
“It’s raining hard out,” one of them commented as they walked by.
I dared to look at Niska to see what her reaction was but she kept her head down, a small “I told you so,” smile on her lips.
“How’d you know?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
She shrugged and said it was just a hunch.
“Hey Officer Murakami?” a beautiful blonde woman said.
“Please, call me Idris,” I immediately said turning my attention towards her.
“Okay,” she breathed. She must’ve been one of the officers smoking outside because she was wet from the rain and I could smell the cigarette from her breath and uniform. She kept one hand on her belt and extended the other. I quickly shook her hand. Her grip was firm. “A bunch of us are going out for drinks and we were wondering if you’d like to join us? We’d all really like to get to know you.” She flashed me a bright smile and rocked on her balls of her feet in anticipation for my answer.
“Yes,” I said smiling back at her. “I’d really like that. Is this kind of like an ice breaker initiation thing?” I joked making a face.
“Oh God,” she said laughing at the face I made. “Yeah you could say that.” She tilted her head down and looked up at me through her lashes. “So, I’ll see you there?” she asked pushing some loose hair behind her ear.
“Yeah,” I answered.
When she left I looked at Niska to ask if she was going to go as well, but she harshly said no and continued to ignore me in favour to do paperwork for other officers.
Just when I thought Niska and I were starting to get along, she’d push me away.
But I wasn’t raised to be a quitter.
Thank you so much for reading!! What's your favourite romantic and rom-com movie? My favourite rom-com is The Proposal and my favourite romantic movie is probably A Walk to Remember.
And yes, I think Ghost is better than Dirty Dancing.
I should’ve known that this day was going to happen sooner or later.
Elizabeth and I had an unorthodox friendship. She was from a well-respected wealthy family and I was a son of a barely-tolerated poor tailor. She was a woman and she was 4 years older than me but we were inseparable. Our friendship was frowned upon not only from our families but from society as well.
We first met when she and her sisters were out for an afternoon stroll around town. She was 14 and I was 10. When we met, it was a rough time for my family and I. My parents had just given birth to my second younger sister and they were constantly finding themselves short on money. I tried to help the only way I could – by stealing.
I’d seen Elizabeth as the easiest target because she was the youngest in her family and she was the only one carrying a handbag, a handbag she was carrying loosely.
I waited until they were in a crowded area before I snuck up to Elizabeth, purposely bumping into her roughly and taking the purse right from her hands.
I ran home as fast as I could and handed the bag off to my parents. They were uncharacteristically angry with me but there was nothing they could do but take the money. They couldn’t give it back because they didn’t know who it belonged to, I didn’t know who it belonged to.
My parents scolded me and gave me a strict warning to never do such a thing again and with that, I thought I had gotten away with it. Until the girl came by the shop with her father the next day. She was dressed in a beautiful green and white dress and she had an orange in her hand. She’d smiled at my father when he greeted them and I knew she was the Mira I fell for long ago in Athens. Her dimpled smile quickly faded when her eyes caught sight of my mother, holding my baby sister in her arms as well as the stolen purse. Her eyes snapped to mine and we stood there staring at each other. I feared she would tell her father what I’d done and I would be in grave trouble but she surprised me by dipping her head in greeting and introducing herself.
From that day onwards, we were the best of friends.
Our bond grew more and more until it became something greater than friendship. We never explored it more than what was proper, but we both knew.
We knew there would come a time when Elizabeth would have to marry. She had managed to convince her parents into not marrying her off until she was 23, but in society, especially with the wealth Elizabeth and her family had, she was expected to be married of to a Lord no older than 23.
Two weeks into her 23rd birthday, Elizabeth was engaged to Lord Peter, a man who was 8 years older than her and not nearly as blessed in good looks like she was.
From the announcement of her engagement, we hadn’t seen much of each other because it was improper and because she was busy planning for the wedding.
On the eve of her wedding, Elizabeth had snuck to see me. She proposed that she and I run far away together. She said she had lots of money and we could go anywhere and be together, where no one knew who we were or where we fit in into society.
I’d declined. I knew how much Elizabeth loved her family and how much they loved her and I couldn’t take her away from them. I knew we were soulmates, but what soulmate would I be if I selfishly took her away some of her happiness?
She begged, cried and pleaded but I held firm. I was usually weak to her but not this time. I couldn’t do it.
Elizabeth had kissed me and ran back home. It was our first kiss and only kiss. It was long, passionate and desperate. We put our souls into that kiss.
I couldn’t bring myself to attend the wedding.
Elizabeth couldn’t bring herself to see me before she and her husband moved away to his estate.
When I was younger, it was an unspoken rule that Sunday mornings were reserved for church - no excuses. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise that now, even in my adulthood, I wasn’t to expect anything different.
Nana and PapPap must’ve been the most popular people at church because it seemed like everyone wanted to talk to them. When there was a break in the conversation and I had had enough of standing awkwardly around and smiling, I gently touched my grandmother’s shoulder, leaned into her ear and whispered that I was going to find us some seats.
Finding seats was easier than usual because the turn out today wasn’t too much. A little less than half the church was filled up.
I scoured the church just to see if I recognized anyone when my eyes fell upon Niska and Logan. They sat two rows ahead of me and were huddled together in conversation. They both had beaming smiles – Niska’s three dimples getting deeper and deeper from her happiness by the second. Niska puckered her lips and Logan happily leaned in to kiss her. It was a quick peck, but when he leaned away, he dove right back in to give her a couple more pecks - not only on her mouth but on her cheeks and neck, causing Niska to smile harder.
“We’re in freaking church, dammit,” I muttered as I looked away from them a little sick of their overly affectionate behaviour.
“Such a lovely couple aren’t they?” a older woman said taking a seat by my side.
I shot her an obvious fake smile and turned my head to look at the opposite direction of her. She looked somewhat familiar but I didn’t really care where I knew her from. I just felt a bad vibe from her.
“Mind if I sit beside you dear?” she asked, sitting a lot closer to me than she was a second ago.
“Not at all,” I told her.
I stood up when I saw my grandparents making their way down the isle to their seats. The woman didn’t stand up to let them pass, but she did move her legs to the side so that her knees weren’t in the way.
“Oh, hi Elanor!” my grandmother said to the woman. “Idris, shift along so I can talk to her.”
“Oh that’s alright,” the woman said grabbing onto my bicep and stopping me from moving. Her grip was surprisingly strong. “I wanted to talk to your grandson anyway. I haven’t had a chance to speak to him ever since he got back into town.”
Nana narrowed her eyes and gave her a tight smile. “Well, can it wait?” she asked. “They are about to start soon.”
“Not for another ten minutes,” Elanor said smiling back just as tightly. “Plenty of time for Idris and I to catch up.”
“I don’t know you,” I told the woman bluntly.
She turned to me with somewhat dark look and said, “don’t you remember dear? I own that little candy store you loved. You used to come by every day after school.”
As soon as she mentioned the candy store, I remembered. From what I could remember, she used to hate me back then. She was also a very nosy person.
“So, how was life in the states? How was New York? Tell me everything and don’t leave out any details, dear.”
“It was fine,” I said.
Elanor’s smile dimmed a bit before her body perked again and she said, “well what about your -,”
“Sorry but I just don’t feel comfortable discussing my personal life with you just yet. I hope you understand.” I turned my body away from her as a silent and final way of telling her that I was done speaking to her.
From the direction my body was angled, I was in clear view of Niska and Logan. They weren’t intimately huddled anymore but they were talking to each other with adoration in their eyes. It made my heart drop a bit.
Niska and I weren’t always together. In fact, about half of the time we weren’t together the way we wanted to.
Watching Niska and Logan looking so happy, it quickly became a harsh reality that we wouldn’t be together in this life, just like we weren’t in 1850 and 1976 . She already seemed to hate me, she barely spoke to me and besides, she looked very happy with Logan – her fiancé. Just because we were soulmates didn’t mean we would be together – not this time at least.
With each life, Niska and I were always different. We were always different races and ethnicities. The only thing about us that carried with us through each life were our unique features. For Niska, it was her three dimples and for me, it was the star shaped birthmark on the left side of my lips. The mark is a perfect star but half of it is on my top lip and the other half was on my bottom lip so when my lips were closed, it made a complete star.
The choir comes out and sings a few songs, my Nana humming along with them. I can’t bring myself to pay attention to anything other than Niska. Before I know it, the sermon has began. The priest reads some text and I really do try to listen but I find myself trying to remember times when Niska and I weren’t together. I have hundreds of different timelines of our lives, but they’re not clear.
This always happens. The memories don’t all come at once. They come slowly. Sometimes, I see or hear or smell something that triggers a memory or it comes in a dream, but most of the time, the memories come as they please. One thing I know for sure is that no matter how many memories I get, there are always holes. There are some global events and time periods I know I should remember but can’t, no matter how hard I try, I can’t remember. It makes me feel like there is something greater at play.
My mind is so far gone that my Nana must notice because she roughly jabs her elbow into my side. I shoot her an embarrassed smile.
As I’m turning my attention back to the priest, my eyes catch the red haired boy that went missing a few days ago. He sitting in between his mother and a man who is undeniably his father because they share the same coloured hair. I smile to myself happy that he’s been reunited with his family and that they seemed okay.
“Now, from the text what we learn is that children need to be kinder and better to their parents,” the priest says. My eyes automatically shift back to the red-headed boy just in time to see him squirm in his seat. “No one will love you like your mother will, like your father will,” the priest continues. The boy shuffles closer to his mother, who lovingly puts her arms around him and kisses the top of his head, the father looking on serenely. “Be good to your parents and respect them because they brought you into this world and they dedicate their lives taking care of you, no mater your age.”
I huff and roll my eyes at the priest. Nana taps my knee gently and I quickly grab her hand and place a kiss on it. I keep her hand in mine until the service is over.
We are outside the church doors when I get a text from an unknown number. No one ever texts me so it’s a bit of a surprise. It’s an even bigger surprise to see it’s from Niska. ‘Idris, tomorrow night at 7 I’m having a birthday party. Would you like to come?’
I ignore how and where she got my number and quickly text her back that I would love to come to her party.
She immediately responds with an address to a bar.
Maybe things will be alright between Niska and I. We may never be together in this life but we might have a chance of being great friends.
“He’s a wicked man,” I told Carolina as I pulled her closer into my body. “He’s going to do something bad. I can feel it.”
“I think you’re overreacting,” she laughed. “I know things are rough right now but we’re all fighting and things will change for the better.”
“I doubt that,” I told her honestly. “We’ve had to hide our relationship, my rights have been taken away and they’ve arrest Nelson for treason…again. I don’t see things getting better.”
“Well,” she sighed turning around and facing me, her soft hair brushing across my face. “You’re here aren’t you.”
“Only because of my mother,” I swallowed. “When they start realizing I’m also my father’s son, they’ll take me away too.”
It was already 28 years into the apartheid and it seemed like nothing was getting better. Things were only progressing worse and worse.
Unlike my fellow black people, I was treated a little bit kinder than they were because my mother was white. Though I wasn’t immune to the harshness of the whites and the racism, it wasn’t at a much larger scale like my counterparts.
Carolina tried to be supportive and help me protest things but we were only high school students and we felt like we couldn’t do much. We could barely help ourselves let alone all of South Africa.
Carolina was the love of my life and I knew I couldn’t be with her unless I helped fight for the rights of myself and my people, so when I heard about the protest that was going to happen at a high school in Soweto, I jumped at the chance to go.
I snuck to see Carolina before I went. I feared I would never see her again and she smiled widely, displaying her dimples and told me not to worry, she had a strong feeling that we would see each other again. She gave me a kiss for good luck before I left.
Soweto was much more worse than I thought. The protest was broken up by the police who came with tear gas flying bullets. From the moment my eyes started burning from the tear gas, I knew I would never see Carolina again. The pain of not seeing her again was greater than the stinging of my eyes.
It was the bullet that ended my misery.
Chapter 5: Part 1 by Mercie21
For most people, Monday was the worst day of the week. For those who, “lived for the weekend,” it was a thief that robbed all the fun out of Sunday night. It was too sudden of a change from their late night weekends. For people who hated their job, it meant doing it all over again.
For me, Mondays were great because I had the day off.
I really loved my job, but I also just happened to love my off days a little bit more. Off days gave me a chance to have some alone time, to run some errands and most importantly, get more sleep.
Though, in all honesty, off days in the town of Willock, didn’t seem to matter much. Being a cop in New York was much different than being a cop in Willock. In New York, things were much more stressful and fast-paced. There were always things going on and it could get a little overwhelming. It was a nice change to take things easy.
Usually on my off days, my productivity levels were low – they were pretty much nonexistent. However, I promised myself that I would be a better adult and try to accomplish smaller but no less important chores in life, but I was ashamed of myself when I finally crawled out of bed at 2pm.
Even my grandparents were far more active than I was. They hated the idea of me staying in bed and sleeping my life away, so it was expected to receive their dirty looks when I finally came downstairs. PapPap was sketching on the couch – he was an artist – a well accomplished artist for someone from a small town. Nana – a now retired high school math teacher – was reading a book while eating baby carrots.
“I’m going to make a quick brunch then go out to get some groceries,” I announced. “Would either of you like anything from the store?”
“There’s a grocery list on the fridge,” Nana replied, not taking her eyes away from her book.
“Do you want me to make you anything?” I yelled from the kitchen.
“Why, thank you for your offer. I’ll have whatever you’re having,” PapPap said surprising no one. He never turned down food.
“I’m fine, dear. Thank you,” Nana said.
By the time I finished my late lunch and headed out for the grocery store, it was already a little past 3pm.
I’d decided to walk there instead of taking the car, just to be a little more active.
In between my grandparents house and the grocery store, was an elementary school and 3:15 was when they let their students out. There were a bunch of older kids happily yelling and running around. The younger kids were also yelling and running around but towards their parents. I slowed my pace to watch them. I loved watching families – family’s very important to me.
My throat clogged up as I watched a little boy in particular run up to his father with his arms stretched out in front of him. His dad caught him by the armpits and pushed him high into the air, effortlessly catching him when the boy came down. The boys mother watched from the sidelines, her hands on her hips with a small smile on her lips, she leaned into the boy in his dad’s arms and gave me a kiss. The boy reached up to his mother, without getting out of his dad’s grip, put an arm around her neck and hugged her. She leaned into him and put one arm around the child and the other around her husband and they engaged in a three way hug. I smiled softly at them and resumed my walking pace.
The first time my dad left, I was three years old, I’d be turning four in two months.
I was asleep when he left for work – which wasn’t unusual. What was unusual, was that he didn’t come back at the time he usually did. Though I noticed the time, I hadn’t noticed the missing shoes, clothes and coats. I hadn’t noticed my mother’s fake smiles and false cheeriness. I hadn’t noticed her wobbly voice when I asked her where daddy was and she said he went back home to Tokyo to help a friend who was being sued. She didn’t know when he’d be back.
My dad was my hero. Everyone saw him as a scary lawyer but I saw him as the man who saved people. I thought he was being his supercool, heroic, selfless self by flying across the world to help someone in need. I wasn’t the only one who thought he was a hero, mom did too, but at night, I would sneak up to her bedroom door and hear her cry. I’d quietly open her door to watch her cry into my dad’s pillow. Sometimes, she’d sneak into my room, lay down beside me, hold me and cry. I pretended to be asleep during those times. When my mom cried, I didn’t think he was a superhero anymore, because heroes didn’t make people cry at night.
Nana and PapPap had visited from Manitoba when I turned four. They took me to Mexico to go visit my other grandparents, but my mom didn’t go with us. She decided to stay back because she had a lot of work to do. I thought it was weird she didn’t want to go to Mexico to see her parents but my Nana and PapPap said it was okay so I believed them. When we got to Mexico, my other grandparents didn’t talk about my mom so I thought it was all ok.
I had so much fun with all of my grandparents. I was so happy to be with them that I even forgot about my dad and my mom. I only remembered them at night when I was in bed.
When Nana and PapPap brought me back home to Calgary, my dad was home.
I was really happy to see him and he was really happy to see me. I jumped into his arms and he hugged me so tightly I could barely breathe…or maybe I hugged him so tightly I could barely breathe. I couldn’t tell.
Even though dad was Nana and PapPap’s son, they didn’t hug him, they didn’t smile at him, they barely spoke to him. They only paid attention to mom and me. They only spoke to dad when they were leaving to go back to Manitoba. PapPap calmly said something to dad in Japanese and that was it. I didn’t know what he said; his voice sounded calm, his words sounded calm, but his eyes were not calm.
The second time he left, I was five. I was awake this time. I heard my dad yell at my mom that, “he couldn’t do it anymore.” He said he couldn’t live like “this” and he really tried but he couldn’t do “this” anymore. He said he loved her but this wasn’t the life for him.
I heard the entire fight. I’d heard all the mean things they said to each other but my ears stopped listening when he said he loved her but he couldn’t do it. Her. Just her. He never said he loved me.
This time, I didn’t ask where he went and mom didn’t tell me.
When he was gone, I did everything I could to make my mom happy. I would tell her about the jokes my friends at school would tell me or the funny things I did or the funny adventures the characters in the books I were reading were going on. I did everything I could, but the responses I would get were never genuine.
He came back when I was six. This time around, he came back on a weekend – on Christmas day. We were in the middle of watching a holiday movie. He came back bearing gifts, flashing them at me hoping to get a smile out of me. My mom kept hitting my shoulder and giving me looks, telling me to be nice to my father. She said it was a Christmas miracle. She said Santa listened to me and brought my dad home, but she was wrong, I didn’t ask Santa for my dad back, I asked for Lego.
I loved him because he was my dad, but I didn’t like him anymore.
The third time he left, he took mom and I with him, then left me.
We’d packed everything into boxes at our house, ready to move. They wouldn’t tell me where we were moving to and I didn’t ask. Not even when my friends at school asked.
We flew to Manitoba. I was happy because it meant I was going to see Nana and PapPap in person instead of talking on the phone with them. They always made me happy.
When we got to their house, only my suitcases were taken out of the rental car. Nana and PapPap tried to look happy and they were, but only when their eyes landed on me. When they looked at my parents, their eyes couldn’t mask the anger and hurt they felt.
“Aren’t you guys coming?” I asked them watching them sit back down in the car.
“We have to go back to the airport,” my dad said.
“Did you forget something?” I asked.
“No,” my dad answered - short.
“Be good to your Nana and PapPap, okay?” my mom said reaching her arm out from the window and stroking my cheek. “I love you,” she confessed with tears in her eyes.
“I love you, too,” I automatically said without thinking about it. She hadn’t told me she loved me for a while. The first time my dad had left, she’d stopped saying it. She only said it twice a year on special days. I said it to her all the time - twice a day – day and night.
I never saw them or spoke to them again after that. My dad’s parting words were, “later champ.” At least he’d said something before he left this time.
I love parents, but I don’t like them.
From that day onwards, my grandparents became my parents and I loved them with all my heart and they loved me with all theirs. They never stop telling me so.
We all like each other.
I’d just paid for the groceries when I got a text message. I checked to see who it was from, half expecting it to be from PapPap asking me to get him another bag of chips or something but to my surprise, it was Niska. As soon as I shoved my phone back into my pocket, I got another text alert. I quickly packed all the groceries back into the cart, ran outside, and hailed a cab. I didn’t anticipate on buying so much food, there was no way I would be able to walk back home with all the groceries.
After packing everything in the trunk with the help of the cabbie, I checked my phone to see what Niska said and noticed that the second text was from Lindsey.
Niska: Hi. Just reminding you of my party tonight. Hope you can still make it. : )
You: Niska! How could I forget? I’ll be there. See you later!
If she only knew how excited I was to spend time with her outside of work, even if a bunch of people were there as well.
Lindsey: Idris, hi! Are you going to Niska’s party tonight? If so, I was wondering if you’d want to go with me? 😉
You: Hi Lindsey! Yeah that sounds fantastic. I’m not planning on drinking since I have work early in the morning so I can pick you up.
Lindsey: Perfect! Would you like to come by a little earlier so we can hang out first? Maybe around 7 or so? I live on 34 Hewlaine St.
I scrunched up my eyebrows and stared at the text. I didn’t really want to hang out a bit earlier but I had no friends right now and Lindsey was offering what I hope was friendship. For now, if anything.
You: That’s would be cool. See you then.
Would you ladies like a cast pic? Or do you prefer just imagining what everyone looks like?
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.