Short Story: Water Baby

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Anita walked slowly back home from the train station. It had been a very long and hard Tuesday.
“Why was the Tuesday after Monday a working day?” She wondered.
Well, Monday, you had the entire weekend to prepare for Monday, and on Monday, you worked through the tasks that were left unfinished on Friday, this meant that Mondays were very productive, but  by the end of the day, after repeated exaggerations of how exciting and adventure-packed your weekend was to your clearly disinterested colleagues, one is left feeling rather drained, with a desperate need for another weekend to re-energise. Surely it would make more sense to have a rest-day after Monday, and then two days of consecutive work, followed by two days of rest, and then one final day of work/rest or an official work-from-home for all. That cannot be too difficult It appears that no sooner has Monday lunch-time ended, than is Tuesday upon us.This particular Tuesday was a unique one. No, it was not different in the sense that Anita still had to commute by overground train into London and then take the tube to her office at Embankment. You have to blame the exorbitant house prices in London for this. Anita, had rented a nice apartment in Battersea for eight years, but decided to get on the property ladder, as all her friends had done, and she was not one to feel out of place now. So she had bought a house.

“My property is my property, wherever it is located” Anita always thought proudly to herself.

No, it did not even have to do with the fact that she knew, as she shut her front door and stepped into the rain, falling softly, slowly but steadily and made her way, the twenty minutes walk down to the station, that she was not wearing the right outfit for  this rainy Tuesday.

It wasn’t that. That could be remedied. She was now on first-name terms with her dry cleaner. He had taken to teaching her how to care for her garments by herself, to save some money. That was how often she went. But with a pressured job, who had time to read through the care labels? Really?

No, it wasn’t the rain, it wasn’t the outfit, it wasn’t even the fact that it was Tuesday.

Even as she went about her work, attending all her scheduled meetings, she knew she was not fully present. Well, it would have been hard for anyone else to notice, she had been working at the firm for over a decade, she knew how these Tuesday catch-up meetings went.

Clever idea, it was, to have the meetings on Tuesdays instead of Mondays as this way, staff had realised that the weekend was over, and come to grips with the demands of the week, at least then, the editor knew how productive her team would be, and could form a clearer picture of the deadlines that were most likely not be met.

No, it was not the meetings. The meetings went well. Although as she recounted how full and exciting her weekend was to a colleague she had not seen on Monday, she realised that she still had to have a few telephone meetings, they were to be interviews with members of the House of Lords. She anticipated that the conversations were going to be along the same lines as the usual verbose nature of her interviews with members of the peerage. And it was like that for the first interview with Lord Campbell, but she was pleasantly surprised as she was drawing her conclusions from a tough conversation with Lord Bakings-Hall on why fox-hunting was good for the community, when he commented that he had enjoyed this interview, even better than their first interview a couple of years ago, and how he had followed her work in the papers.

That went well. By lunchtime however, there was a certain restlessness. Her vision was blurred. Her body was telling her that something was missing. No, it was not hunger. She had had a late breakfast, as per usual. No it most certainly was not hunger, she thought again to herself

So why was her stomach churning in and around itself? Why was it that as she looked through her glasses, all she saw were streams of water in front of her?

Why was it so hard to focus on her laptop screen, and why was a mirage of an oasis in the desert appearing constantly and slowing down her work? She had seen that mirage before, once when she was very ill, about seven years ago. She remembered it, but then she discounted the thought, it was just her body trying to control her.

She ploughed on. Anita, she is a tough one.

And as she continued to work so hard, we looked at ourselves and wondered why humans were so stubborn and so reluctant to accept their true selves?

I spoke to the others, pleading with them to give her a few more hours, just until her day was over.

Why? They asked? Why must we always bend the rules? Why can’t they obey the rules?

I reasoned that the time was not right. The time had not come. Not in Embankment. I begged and I pleaded.

You see, I was the goddess Anita’s mum begged for a child, thirty-six years ago. Anita was given, on the proviso that by the age of thirty-five, she would have a child and that child will be dedicated to us by the time she was thirty-five. But Anita’s mum died a few years beforehand, and had failed to tell Anita this.

Well, she had hinted at it in her will, – I wish she had put it more bluntly, but I suppose she did not want to scare her child who had been brought up as a Christian. To go into this new realm would have been an uncomfortable conversation.

Anita thought the hint, written in the will was her mother’s final plea to ensure her daughter was not a n older mother. And she thought, “no, I’m certainly not ready for a child. Who am I going to have the child with? Where does this fit into my plan? No. No child till 40.” And that was the end of that. Anita, she is a tough one.

As Anita made her way home from work, the rain was falling harder. You see, the others were getting restless. They kept saying “We have waited for more than a year. This is not fair. We have to keep to our agreements. If not people will never honour our contracts, and they will come to disrespect us.”

I could see their point of view. Yet, my heart was not ready. Not just yet. There was lightening, and thunderstorms, and it was so fierce that a fellow commuter commented to Anita on the train ride home “goodness, it’s relentless isn’t it? Lucky the trains are not yet cancelled”, to which she merely nodded, and continued reading her copy of the evening’s Standard.

And as she walked home, she did not mind the rain. She had never minded the rain. Although this Tuesday, she was looking forward to getting back to her abode, and having a glass of the Barolo her date last Friday had brought her, she planned to light some with candles and perhaps watch the latest episode of Community.

But as she opened her front door. She knew something was different. She felt lighter, and with a keen sense of realisation, she saw that the water from the streams that she had seen through her glasses at work appeared to now be  in her house. “What was all this about?” She wondered, now slightly frightened. Her feet appeared to be sinking and she was waist-deep in the water. And then she realised she couldn’t feel her legs. And then she saw that her torso was dissolving also. Becoming one with the water. Slowly her life flashed before her. But before she had time to process it, she was gone. One with the water.

It would be said later in the news that House no 20, Raleigh Street in Guildford was the only flooded one from the rains, that day in April.

And me? I cried.

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