Tumibay's Tears

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
My first short story so I'd love to hear your thoughts

Submitted: October 20, 2009

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Submitted: October 20, 2009



Tumibay’s Tears
They’d been talking about it for days. “Get out of here” they all said, “a terrible storm is coming”. The villagers rushed here and there, kicking up brown dust as they secured hurriedly wrapped bundles of belongings to the few remaining cars, trucks, and motorbikes with old pieces of rope, twine, or whatever else they could find. In stark contrast, Bai Tan stood like a statue at the window of her home and watched. The truth was, she had nowhere else to go. This house had belonged to her mother, and her mother before her, and it had been the happy home of her own family too until the dreaded sickness had taken her only child away from her.
At only nine years old, Tumibay had contracted the deadly virus and his fragile body had slowly wasted away until, on the day before his tenth birthday, his weakened heart finally gave up the fight. Her husband Yacapin had been there with him as he died, and in the years following Tumibay’s death he too had passed away, slowly drinking himself to death, unable to come to terms with the crippling loss of his son. Now only Bai Tan remained, and as she stood staring through the cracked window at the frantic action on the other side of the glass, a solitary tear rolled down her soft cheek towards her chin. Her eyes caught the sudden movement in the reflection of her face and her focus shifted to the tear itself, watching as the tiny ball of salt water stopped and started, gently changing direction at random, seeming to choose its own path. In that droplet she pictured a raging body of water, relentlessly smashing rocks, boats, buildings, and anything else that stood in its way, crushing homes and taking lives in an effortless display of overwhelming power. When at last she blinked and awoke from her daydream, the streets outside had emptied and grown silent, and she drew strength from the oddly serene view through her window.
With a slow, gentle intake of breath that seemed to last forever, Bai Tan crossed to the top of the steps leading down to Tumibay’s bedroom, still perfectly preserved and as it was when her son was alive. As she descended the concrete steps, she remembered with a pang the months of hard work Yacapin had gone to converting half of the basement into a new room for Tumibay, as his old room was simply too small to cope with the ever-increasing number of machines and instruments needed for his care. Now though, the room felt strangely bare, as if something was missing. With a careful hand, Bai Tan peeled back the covers and climbed into Tumibay’s small bed, feeling instantly comforted by the warmth of its heavy top-sheet. She pulled Ongoy, Tumibay’s favourite teddy bear, close to her chest and quietly fell asleep.

When Bai Tan awoke, the room was dark and a cold wind was howling in the deserted streets up above. With a violent crack of thunder so loud it seemed to shake the entire house the rain started, and as the hours passed the wind and rain worsened with ferocious intensity. “It’s OK” she whispered to Ongoy, “everything’s going to be alright.”

With an almighty rushing sound, the water from the nearby river whose banks had finally and inevitably burst under the immense pressure of the torrential rain tore through the village, carrying with it livestock, uprooted trees, and large chunks of broken buildings, destroying everything in its path. Moments later, Bai Tan hardly noticed as the raging torrent took on an altogether different sound, somehow slower and calmer, as the house above was completely engulfed in the flood.

Bai Tan lay facing a picture of her beloved son by the bed, still clutching his favourite teddy as the water began to spill down the stairs and fill the basement. With Tumibay’s smiling face still fresh in her mind she closed her eyes and rolled onto her back. The cool water continued to rise, up past the bed, to the ceiling, and then at last she was at peace.

Name Meanings:

Tumibay – “to be strong”
Yacapin – “to embrace”
Baitan – “goodness”
Ongoy– “monkey”

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