Monday, September 26, 2011

Challenge 37: The Reunion

The school compound was unusually quiet. It was unusual to me because the school which I remembered was always filled with the chatter of students, some sudden outburst of a teacher’s reproach or the shrill ringing of the school bell.

“Visiting it again made me realised how I much I missed my teachers.” I had found Sarah mawkish and unnecessarily sentimental when she said this. But as I was pacing along the corridor of the classrooms, I caught myself feeling exactly the same way.

I realised that I wasn’t alone when I heard a voice. “Come on, you can do it!” and followed by the laughter of children.

Out in the fields, there was a family with picnic basket, and picnic mat spread out over the grass.

Her hair sparkled with gold when the evening sun touched it for a moment. The curls, the colour, that hair, I recognised it immediately. Mrs. Sweetman taught us literature when I was sitting for my O’levels. She was the only Caucasian teacher in our school.

Her eyes were the most noticeable. They were blue, the same blue which Sarah and I had described as Smurfy blue. It was the same pair of eyes that had watched us intensely as we tried to write an essay on “The driving force behind Macbeth’s ambition.” It was the same pair of eyes that had seen us through the exams, and the same pair of eyes that was glossy with a little wetness when I got distinction for literature.

No doubt, it was the same eyes. But shouldn’t it be framed with a little wrinkles or some crow’s feet at least?

She didn’t seemed to have aged, which made me realised that it wasn’t Mrs. Sweetman. It wasn’t her. At least not exactly. It has been 14 years, surely no cosmetics could cover that trace so well?

Then I remembered the news about her returning to UK for her retirement. She can’t be Mrs. Sweetman. But those eyes, they resembled so much like hers.

When I was trying to figure that out, she had spotted me. She nodded and smiled, a friendly acknowledgment between two strangers. No sign of recognition from her at all.

I decided to unravel the mystery.

“Mrs. Sweetman?” and offered my hand for a handshake.
As her hand slid into mine, I noticed that her nails were painted orange. The Mrs. Sweetman I knew only stick to red or beige.

“I’m her daughter, Winnie.”

There and then, the puzzle was solved.

“I thought I had travelled through time!” I laughed “How is she? I hope she has been keeping well?”

“Oh you didn’t know?” Winnie’s eyebrows crinkled.

She looked down for a moment before she said “My mother died of cancer last year”

474 words.

This might look easy, but it's quite a tough excercise! :P

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