Lotus of my Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic


"Just how great an influence can you have on some one else?"



Revolving around the splatters of life, under a shady, dreary sky, two young ladies meet for the first time and through a ring of events, they heal each other's scars left by a mutual girl they had
both loved with all their heart... This is the story of Laura and Natalie; this is a story of their lives...

Submitted: July 22, 2018

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Submitted: July 22, 2018

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The gloomy streets of St. Edinsburgh are awash with unending rainfall. And when the downpour slows down to a drizzle, the mist clears the surroundings, revealing a young girl sitting alone on a park bench. This story revolves around this girl, who is being tossled about by the swirling wind in this dull windy day.

She stands up and starts walking, on her way to her home. She senses someone following her. As she tilts her head ever so slightly, her eyes fall on a woman. Tall and slender and waiting with eager eyes. She speeds up but halts when the women calls out, “Lotus, is that you?” She turns around and faces the woman, seeing that underneath her makeup, the woman was genuinely happy to see her.

“It really is you...” the woman says.

“No, it’s not,” she says passively, “I am her older sister, Laura.”

“Oh… it’s just that you look a lot alike,” replies the woman, a little confused.

“We were identical twins,” she says, hoping people didn’t compare her to her sister so much. “I’m sorry but how exactly do you know her?”

The woman smiles at this, “How could I not, when she made the most important decision of my life?”

Roughly two years ago on this date……………

The woman was standing outside the gates of the Merlin’s Cambridge College, nervous to turn the door knob. She had come from a small native town and wasn’t used to the long rail journey she had been through. Neither did she have her parent’s approval which means she couldn’t go back there if she messed up here. This is where her life turns around. It’s a do or die.

“Excuse me, miss, but can you go in please?” she turns, startled at the girly voice behind her. It was a little girl alright, about eight years old, trying to pass the lane. In her anxiousness, she hadn’t noticed how she was blocking the lane. She quickly moved away but the little girl just stood there, wide eyed at her.

“Is something wrong? You look kind of pale,” the girl told her.

“Is it that obvious on my face?” she asks, laughing nervously.

“It’s okay to be scared when you have to. But my sister says you have to talk to others when you want to calm your nerves down. I’m Lotus, by the way,” the girl adds with an innocent smile.

“Natalie Mason Reed,” the woman says, somewhat opening up to this carefree kid.

“You want to talk about it?”

“Well, I’m n-not really from around here. I come from somewhere not here and so I’m just checking out here. But the crazy thing is, if I can’t make it here, then I can’t go back there, so it just has to happen, b-but I don’t know if it’ll h-happen,” she says, embarrassed at her own nervous blabbers.

The girl hears her part of the story attentively.

She says, “Sorry, miss, I didn’t really understand much of what you said, but one thing I do get is, you have to go through this door to get to somewhere really important. If you have to do something, isn’t it better to do that with confidence and courage?”

Natalie looks at the girl, surprised. She’s right!

She smiles, heaving a sigh of relief, “Actually, I have an examination here today. It starts within the hour. Back home in my village, my parents have already set a marriage proposal for me. And sure, the groom Joel is a nice guy and all but I don’t want to get married. Not now, anyway. I just graduated high school at first class. My teachers tell me I’m a bright student but marriage cuts off all of my possible career routes. Also, I can’t blame my parents, being poor people, they are already toiling hard day and night to pay for my brother’s boarding school fees here. And I know I should support them but I can do so much more for them if I get a reputable job myself. And that’ll only happen if I’m selected a candidate here and win the scholarship. Which I didn’t know I could… until now, that is.

I’m going in, Lotus. I’m going to fight for my rights. Thank you for making the most important decision of my life for me.”

“Welcome,” Lotus said, understanding only the ‘thank you’ of this speech. But who cares? All’s Well that Ends Well…

Natalie reaches in her pocket and brings out a strawberry candy, “This is for you.”

Somehow Lotus takes it delicately, like it was something precious. She suddenly got teary-eyed that got Natalie worried whether she might have done something wrong, but the smile that followed, erased away all her worries. Lotus was very happy! Delighted, even!

“You’re the first person to have given me a present today,” says Lotus looking up at her, “It’s my birthday today.”

The thought ticks into place and Natalie finally realizes –‘A six year old girl, alone here, talking to a stranger for so long. Why isn’t anyone coming to fetch her? Where were her parents? And most importantly, how could they leave a child this young alone on her birthday?’

“Are you lost?” she blurts out, horrified.

“Huh? No, I’m not. Why would you say that?” as relief washes over Natalie, Lotus adds, “I’m going to that park over there. My parents are both working people. My sister was supposed to take me there today but she had an early seminar at school and she’s been working late nights, so apparently she forgot. I woke up today to an empty house, there was no one. So I got ready to come to the park myself, surely I’m old enough to do that.” As Natalie heard her story in horror, thankful her own parents were demanding but not workaholics, she couldn’t help but feel proud of the strange little girl. If a child this young can make herself independent, Natalie could do it too. And she was going to do it.

“I’m happy you gave me a present…” Lotus adds silently, in contrast to her cheerful nature.

“I-It’s just a little candy,” Natalie says, her voice cracking, the pride now turning into pity.

“Little or not, for me its happiness. So thank you, Natalie, for giving me a little happiness,” Lotus says with a genuine smile. A smile more precious than anything in the world.

Two years later

(The conversation between Natalie and Lotus’s sister Laura continues…)

“So now you know how I knew Lotus,” Natalie tells Laura, “Because a few minutes with her that day brought about a remarkable change in my life. I turned the door knob and went through my exams confidently. I gained my scholarship and studied abroad on advanced genetics. I am currently in charge of the leopards section in the Columbian Science Facility, near my hometown. I also bear a good relation with my family members, visiting them on special occasions. I stayed in touch with Joel as well, my supposed groom-to-be. If God wills, maybe we could even marry the next year. The difference is then, we will both be independent adults, neither burdening the other. Oh, but I swore to not become a workaholic, even if I’m proposed promotions I will keep it within temptation, I will never let it get in the way of my family. Lotus taught me that. To be content with a little happiness.”

“But do you know the best thing I learnt from then? They say that –‘Pen is mightier than the sword.’ But it only took a few words that made me change my life. Women are more soft-hearted than you think. The inspirational quotes displayed by banners and festoons, and a few words of a little girl, can relay the same message; can do the same change. All that’s needed are the right words at the right time. And if Lotus knew how to do that at that age, it means we have a whole new generation of free-minded and amazing individuals coming.”

“No more hiding for women,” says Natalie proudly, looking up at the sky, “No more Fear, No more gender discrimination. It’s an Age of Women Empowerment.”

 

 

“I’m glad,” is all Laura says, “I’m really glad.”

Natalie notices Laura was clearly dazzled by her sister’s achievement, she had tears in her eyes, after all. Natalie took them to be the sweet tears of pride and joy.

 

Little did she know the weight those tears bore?

 

 

PART 02

(Those of you who still have the patience to read on, may proceed. And to those of you who read this far, thank you so much.)

By the end of the afternoon, the drizzle had turned into a hailstorm; quitting most of the potential possibilities for Laura to walk home alone. Instead, Natalie gave the solution.

“Hey Laura, how about I drive you to my house, I have an apartment nearby, and when the rain stops you can walk back home?” Natalie said eagerly.

“Sure,” is all Laura said for her reply.

Most of the ride was spent in utter silence. Natalie could tell Laura really wasn’t in a mood to talk. Or she could be naturally introverted. What a stark contrast to Lotus! Lotus was definitely the cheerio-type, so how peculiar is it for Laura to be as cool as a cucumber; considering they were twins. 

Laura could sense Natalie peeking at her from time to time and it was getting awkward. So she took the initiative to start a conversation, “How come you didn’t look for Lotus after you had settled?”

“I did, of course. I look for her every time I come here to visit my brother. I also asked the district… oh wait, did I mention I have a brother? He’s in high school this year. So are you, right? Which one?” Natalie asks, the conversation suddenly taking a different turn.

“It’s St.Wells Scholastic High,” Laura replies quietly.

“Oh dear, he’s also enrolled in that school. You two might even know each other,” then as if remembering something, she adds, “On second thought, maybe you don’t know him after all. He hasn’t gone to school in months. Well, a tragedy occurred, an accident. It gave him some sort of trauma. We thought best to let him heal and now he’s in my spare apartment, healing, hopefully,” says Natalie.

“Is he alright?” Laura asks politely.

“Oh if its physical injuries you’re talking about, he wasn’t harmed a hair. It’s more about his mental trauma. After that night, sometimes he went ballistic, like a little ballistic missile suddenly dropping in Cuba, he would destroy his room. He hardly ever sleeps at night due to these nightmares he has of that day. It’s killing him, slowly but surely. I know, because I’m his sister. It wasn’t his fault but the guilt is heavy on his shoulders, my worst fear is the day he becomes a suicidal maniac. Someone needs to save him. He’s holding on for now, and I’m holding on for dear life and praying that someday, someone tells him the right words at the right time, like Lotus did for me. It will, without a doubt, save his life.”

“Let’s just hope that ‘someday’ doesn’t arrive too late,” says Laura, staring into thin air and Natalie knows, she’s thinking about her sister.

Laura starts to say something else, “Listen, Natalie, I need to tell you-” but Natalie abruptly interrupts, “Ah, here we are.” She points to a fourteen-storied apartment building above while she pulls into a garage nearby.

Click. Natalie opens the door and is greeted by darkness and silence. She immediately finds it eerie. No sound person can stay in such suffocating darkness for so long. Although, it doesn’t seem to affect Laura, like she’s used to it.

She turns on the light. It doesn’t look like anyone is there, but she knows her brother is. Where else will he go?

 “Hey, I know you’re in here,” she calls out to her brother, “look here, young man, we have a guest,” she says sarcastically.

The brother comes out from a loophole of darkness, into the light. He was here alright. “Laura, this is Novo, my younger brother. Novo meet Laura-” Natalie suddenly stops. The atmosphere is… tense.

Laura is staring wide eyed at Novo. Her eyes hold astonishment as much as it holds fear. So is Novo staring at her, eyes full of disbelief? Natalie stops. Something’s not right. This isn’t the way people who meet for the first time look at each other.

The answer is straight. Novo and Laura have met before, and judging from the fearsome reaction, obviously not in a good way.

It’s okay. It’s just a couple of high schoolers blocking each other out. How bad could it be? Had Natalie known the true story, she would not have dared to make fun of it even in her wildest dreams… And she was going to get that shock, right there, right then.

“You’re here? Lotus?” Novo mumbles softly.

Laura didn’t say anything. She held her face straight, trying to play it cool. But inside, she was choking with fear.

Novo’s eyes change. “You’re not her, you can’t be her… Because… B-because, she’s gone…” Novo swiftly turns around and walks back into his room; no sound from his footsteps, he was as silent as the grave.

Laura looked like she might not even be breathing. It wasn’t until Natalie grabbed her by the arm and pulled her down to the sofa, that she could breathe again. Something had gone horribly wrong. Something no one could ever expect. A cruel joke of destiny.

Natalie simply stares at her, not daring to ask any questions till she was ready to spill the secret herself.

“Ms. Natalie,” Laura whispers, “a while ago, you told me your story. Let me tell you one now. A story about a little duckling. One fine morning, the duckling woke up from sleep. She had turned one-year old. To celebrate, she left her home in search of childish adventure. She went along doodling and dawdling until she was far away from the pond, her original home. Until she reached the mountains where the eagles nested. An eagle chick saw her and flew down. The eagle asked her what she was doing there and she replied she was celebrating her birthday. The eagle wished her happy birthday and asked if there was anything he could do for her. The duckling said she wanted to fly. She had wings too, after all, how hard could it be? The eagle asked her repeatedly to change her mind but the duckling was hell-bent on it. The eagle tried to fly away but the duckling started crying. At long last, the eagle held her in his claws and flew high, the duckling all the while screaming, ‘Higher, higher!’ Until they reached about their nests, the ground was so far below. The duckling said its fine to let her go now. The eagle hesitated but then remembered what his parents had told him- all baby birds must leave their nest someday. The duckling was a bird, too. It will be okay. He took a long breath and decided to let it go, thinking he could reach the ground beforehand and catch her if needed. He missed her. Hence, the little duckling fell to her death, on her 1st birthday.” Laura finishes the story, flashing hostile eyes at a horrified Natalie.

“So you get it, Ms. Natalie,” Laura clenches her teeth, “tell me, who is the little duckling here?”

“L-Lotus…?” Natalie murmurs, a tear rolling down her cheek.

Laura shakes her head in the affirmative. “Interesting. If she is the duckling, who is the eagle then?”  

Natalie keeps shaking her head no. “Ask your brother,” is all Laura says before rushing out the door. Laura takes a moment to compose herself, then she opens the door to her brother’s bedroom with trembling hands.

In a veil of darkness, her brother sat hunched in a corner. She sits in front of him, daring him to look at her. He doesn’t.

“Novo-o,” says Natalie, barely having control of herself but still hoping against all hopes that the nightmare is not true, “you knew Lotus?”

“Yes,” he whispers.

“Had you seen her on her birthday?”

“Yes,” he whispers.

“Did you meet her in the park?”

“Yes,” he whispers.

‘Tell me.”

Silence.

“TELL ME,” she screams.

“Are you the eagle?” she whispers now, crying.

“Y-Yes,” he says, his voice cracking.

Natalie throws herself out of his room. Oh God! Oh dear God! What is this brutality! The girl who saved her life was killed by her own brother! Heavens! How could this happen! She rushes out the front door to go somewhere not here, anywhere but here…

A silhouette in the front gate stops her dead at her tracks. Laura! She was still here!

“Ms. Natalie?” is all Laura could manage to say before Natalie hugged her tightly and started weeping hard. ‘I’m sorry’-is all Natalie could say for a long time, repeatedly, before she finally calmed down.

“How are you still here?” Natalie asks.

[Sigh] “I came back because I forgot something to do, something really important. I knew Novo, even before that night. He was in my school, the infamous little brat who put a plastic cockroach on the Head Mistress’s wig; he was really something. He was the life of the class, cracking jokes between boring monotonous classes. I never really could talk to him, he was the flashy star, way out of my dull reach. He would help anyone, anyway he could. So I assume when my 3 feet little sister asked him for help, he might as well have taken it as his solemn duty. She asked him for a ride, he gave her one straight to death,” Laura snorts and Natalie gets chills down her spine, “It wasn’t his fault, you know. It wasn’t his fault that Lotus’s family neglected her. I know I call him murderer, but that’s just because I needed someone to blame, other than myself. In truth, it was my fault. I was supposed to take her that day, I forgot and now, I’m regretting it for the rest of my life. If Novo wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have a rest-of-the-life to begin with. I would’ve killed myself straight away. Because, you know, I still walk home and all I see is Lotus isn’t there. Lotus, sweet Lotus, my sister. The place where we met today is right where Lotus died two years ago. I saw her body. Broken, fragile, her eyes closed. She must have been really sad right? She must have really hated me before she died…” Laura cries for the first time. Tears stream down her face, “It took me a while to hold it in, and I could never have realized it if it weren’t for my mother. My father wanted to press charges, but my mother immediately withdrew the idea. She even told me it wasn’t my fault, that it wasn’t Novo’s fault either. I asked her how she was still standing when her whole family was breaking down mourning for Lotus. Do you know what she said? She replied, ‘It is because I am a woman.” Laura says looking proud at the memory, “and that when I’m old enough, I’ll understand.”

“I think I understand now. I need to tell him that, tell Novo that I’m okay now, he can be too. You said that someday Novo will need someone to tell him the right words at the right time. I think that ‘someday’ is here.”

Together, Laura and Natalie walk back to Novo. He was still breaking things now, they could hear him from outside the door. Laura went in.

A long time passed for Natalie, it seemed like an eternity. When she finally came out, Laura was holding Novo’s hand and strangely enough, Novo didn’t seem to mind. They both held tired smiles on their faces, relieved that their self-imposed repentance was finally over.

“I’ll, uh, get my bag,” Laura strolls away, leaving Novo with his sister to reminisce.

“Sorry, Novo,” is all Natalie could say to him now, over a thousand other things she wants to tell him but could get out the only thing that truly mattered. Novo smiled, a smile from the bottom of his heart that touched his blue eyes, the first smile he had given her in two years. Tears stream down her eyes as she hugged her brother, held on to him for dear life.

“So?” said Natalie, when Laura wasn’t around, “What did she tell you that made you smile in years?”  

“She told me that, she wasn’t going to forgive me. Why? Because she had nothing to forgive me for. She said that it wasn’t my fault. She said that it wasn’t her fault. We had done all the repentance we could. Now, it was time to move on.”

“The girl saved my life, sister.” said Novo, smiling, “Why would she do that?”

And Natalie repeats what Laura had told her when she asked her this question herself, “Because she is a woman. That doesn’t make her weak. Rather, it gives her the strength she needed to do what she did. Say the right words at the right time, and thus, save a life. Remember, only a bold heart could survive through the heart-wrenching pain she had been through and still mend itself. You’ve been there yourself. Didn’t you feel like dying? You might have as well, if she hadn’t saved you before it was too late. Thank her for me, will you?” Natalie smiles as she lets go of him.

Novo grabs his jacket and walks out of the room for the first time in days. The evening air outside was chilly. God, he had missed this. His eyes fall at the glossy black hair of a girl glistening in the evening mist. Laura. She was waiting.

 

“H-Hey,” Novo said, timidly.

“Hey, made up with your sister already? Why the hard-to-get attitude? No tears?”

“I think I might’ve used up all of my tears in the past two years,” jokes Novo.

“Wow. Can’t say I’m envious,” Laura holds her equal front at joking.

And they both laugh, something they had both forgotten to do. Of course, only by letting go of the past, could they hope to live and love a future without boundaries…

 “So, heading back now?”

“Yes, well. The thing is, vagabond bikers tend to mess around the place I live in. I wouldn’t call it the safest place for girls walking home alone.”

“Why don’t I walk you there?”

“Would you? Thanks but no. Instead, find me a defense teacher, preferably the best one in the street.”

“Sure,” Novo adds with a smile, “Right; me beating up some dude isn’t going to help you at all. You gotta earn that yourself.”

“Yay for me! Women empowered, eh?”

Later that night, when Novo returns, he finds his sister sitting on the couch in their veranda. He sits beside her. As he stares into space, the starry velvet sky, he says, “Sister, you know how I said she saved my life? Yes, but apparently, for her, I saved her life, too. Do you know how?” He stops to see if she was listening, and meet her eyes. He holds her gaze and goes on, “She asked me. She asked me of Lotus. What her last expression was, before she died…? Did she hate her sister for leaving her alone? Or was she crying?

I told her no. I still distinctly remember her last expression, her every action that day.” As the vivid pictures come back hard at him, he says, “She was smiling. When she got on the ride, she laughed louder than anyone, she yelled louder than anyone. When she lost her grip on the handle and she fell down, she was still laughing. She had just got up on her tiny legs, laughing, when the heavy ride came back down and hit her in the head. Little Lotus was dead before the ambulance came.” He looks to see the same reflection of tears in Natalie’s face like the one that had been in Laura’s face when he had told her this. “But I want you to know that, before she died, she looked like she was having the time of her life. Sure she cried when she missed her sister but, I don’t’ know, it was like, like-” as Novo struggles to get the right answer, Natalie answers it for him, “Like a little bit of happiness…”

Natalie looks up at the sky and heaves a sigh.

Some things will never change.

Some people will never return.

Some hearts will never be mended.

But still as life goes on, time will heal everything. If Lotus had time, she could grow up to be a wonderful young lady. But she never got the time to be. That’s why, no more hold ups for tomorrow. Do what you have to do today. Live every day like it’s your last.

 

Say the words? –Do it today;

Raise your voice? –Do it today;

Make a change? –Do it today… 


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