Why Did you Decide to Get Married?

A very short story…

“Why did you decide to get married?” Kumar asked his lifelong, and dearest friend, Amit.  “You always said you wouldn’t.”

They had been sitting, mostly silent, watching the sunrise and appreciating each other’s company.  It had been years since their last meeting.  Tea cups now empty sat between them waiting to be filled back up with words.

Kumar leaned closer to encourage his reply.

But Amit was gathering his thoughts.  It wasn’t for lack of an appropriate answer or because he was unsure.  His friend deserved his best answer.  He deserved his deepest truth.  Kumar, knowing his friend well, patiently waited.

Amit hadn’t married his wife, Sarah, for the reasons most of his friends and family assumed.  But he respected their hesitancy.  They were so different to those on the outside looking in.  They were products of different cultures, different continents, different worlds so it was easy for people to wonder what common ground they shared.  Some ulterior motive was usually the suspicion and that one hurt him most.

Sarah bloomed in his mind then, as she always did over all these years; even those they spent half a world apart.  The image remained the same and the familiar scene formed and played out as it always did when his heart responded.  She came to him as a little child, running barefooted down the path.  Her smile rivalling the sun blazing down on them, yellow hair floating behind her.  His heart would stutter and fill him with joy.  She was as tall as the sky and as tiny as a blossom and his most precious treasure.

He waited for her eternally in this secret place; a green and wild and watery place.  Their place.  Filled with butterflies and birds and promises and his own unending boyhood.  They would meet without words.  All smiles and giggles.  He would offer her the flower he’d picked and she would tuck it in the collar of her dress.  Together, they would push their little raft into the muddy water of the river and lay back to watch the sky.  Hand in hand they would ride the current, making cloud pictures and sharing riddles.  The direction they traveled was meaningless.  There was only one way.  Together.

This was their relationship.  Even the daily doldrums of marriage couldn’t change it.  This was who she was to him and he knew it was who he was to her.  All of this rolled to the tip of his tongue.

“Because I love her.”

Kumar searched his friend’s eyes a moment and sat back again.

“Yes.  This is the best answer,” he said.

He turned his tea cup over and set it back down with a sigh.


The truth is always in the pauses between words.

The Trail’s End

The traveler had finally met his match.  The hill was proving to be a formidable opponent as he fought his way up the trail.  He was beat and losing control of his muscles.  His sandals slipped over loose rocks and dirt and he stumbled.  Little coughs of dust to arose from his clothes.  He was caked with the stuff.  He reeked from effort.  Sweat dripped and stung his eyes.  Grunting raggedly, hope was flooding out of him like an open tap.

The hill hadn’t looked so formidable standing at the bottom.  Now it seemed it would rob him of what precious little he had left to give.  Simply put, he underestimated either the hill, himself, or both.  He paused a moment, shielded his eyes against the sun and mentally measured how many more steps he needed to summon.  It looked like it was going to be about 3 too many.  His legs were on fire.  But he’d come too far and too long to quit now.  If he could just reach the top.  He sucked in a breath and jabbed his walking stick into the baked dust, pulling his body back into action.  Every fiber moaned in protest but the shady relief waiting under the oaks at the top spurred him on.  They waved leafy arms at him, beckoning a like cool mistresses knowing his misery.  If he could only reach there.

Drowning in his exhaustion, ruminations floated across his mind like the clouds of dust following at his feet.  He’d been traveling years on this trail.  When he began, he was a young man full of aspirations and dreams.  He had no idea where the trail would lead and he didn’t care.  It was just laid out before him like an extended hand and he couldn’t resist its invitation.  Something, out there, beckoned to his very core.  Now, with each agonizing step an endless tide of doubts rolled through his head:  What am I doing here?  Where am I going?  What will I do when I arrive?  What do I hope to gain?  Will it ever end?

In all fairness, he thought, this trail hadn’t disappointed him.  He had witnessed sights few of his years would ever see.  Sunrises and sunsets.  Storms and gales.  Feasts and famine.  And everything in between.  But it was taking its toll on him.  His feet ached.  His bones ached.  His heart ached.  His mind ached.  Still the trail went on and on as if it was hell-bent on outrunning him.  His greatest hope now was reaching the top and finding the end in sight.  The thought brought on another tidal wave of sickening exhaustion.  It was almost enough to bowl him over.

Focusing all his attention on his feet and their wretched progress his mind fell silent.  Not a thought stirred.  The tidal wave had washed them all away.  Nothing at all whispered to him to but the shuffle and grind of sole and stick on earth.  One foot in front of the other.  One foot in front of the other.  Every stone stared up at him with a cold indifference defying him not to stumble again.  He kicked one in an exasperated puff and watched it roll on ahead.

“Yeah, run you little bastard,” he wheezed through his clenched teeth.

Suddenly it disappeared.  He blinked.  He blinked again.  It had rolled over the horizon.  He looked around bewildered.  He was at the top.

Relief poured over him like cold water but it was short-lived.  He gazed dolefully over the plain.  The end of the trail he had so hoped for, so banked on, was nowhere to be seen.  Like a brown ribbon dropped carelessly over the landscape it led only to another hill.  And then another.  And another.  Something like a hot rock dropped in his stomach.  He began to tremble.  His legs buckled, threatening at last to betray him.

In what he was sure would be his last coherent moment, his eyes found a lush pillow of grass under the nearest oak.  It seemed to reach out to him with promise from every blade.  Dropping like a man who’d been shot through, he plunged face first into the greenness.  The sweet scent rushed into his nostrils and exploded in his mind.  The coolness of the grass was so delicious he was tempted to take a bite.

“Like the old goat you are,” he chuckled, rolling to his back.

He laid there for how long he knew not.  It didn’t matter anymore.  The sun flirted down, coyly twinkling between the leaves, mesmerizing his spent brain.  The soft grass gave succor to his aching body and the hilltop breeze caressed his brow.  He melted into the moment with such totality it overwhelmed him into blindness.  Then, in the moment of utter surrender, realization came like a sigh.  He understood.

“I am all this and all this is me,” he breathed.

He began to laugh.

Quiet Water

Charlie Davis ran a bandana over the balding spot on the top of his head and returned his sweat-stained cap to its perch.  He liked to consider it his “lucky fishing hat” and last time he figured it, he’d had it most of the last 30 years of his life.  Today the luck hadn’t shown up, though; not yet anyway.  He squinted with one eye up at the sun.  This day was going to be a hot one.  The morning air was dead still and the mosquitoes were making the most of it.  He slapped one on his arm and flicked it into the water.  The pond was as flat and as perfect as a mirror.  Charlie didn’t mind any of this, though.  There was just something about fishing that made not catching anything perfectly okay with him.  Communing with the sun and the bugs and the water fed his soul in ways other things just didn’t.  He arranged himself more comfortably in his lawn chair with a creak and watched his companion dangle her feet over of the edge of the dock and swing them just above the water’s surface.

“How come they’re not biting, Mr. Charlie?” Andrea Sanders asked with a flip of her red 8-year-old pigtails.

“Just call me Charlie, Andie.  That’d be just fine.  Don’t you be worrying about them fish.  They’ll bite when it’s the right time.  Just you wait and see.  Just gotta be patient a little bit is all.”

Andie wrinkled her nose at him but smiled.  He adored the child and didn’t mind bringing her along with him.  It seemed to him her momma didn’t mind either, not that she paid much attention to the girl unless she was yelling at her.  That woman seemed to yell about a lot of things but Charlie didn’t have much to do with her.  He didn’t mind it; except when it came to Andrea.  At least out here she was getting some peace.

He was amazed such a beautiful child came from such a woman as that.  It made him wonder at times about who her daddy was.  He never asked and Andie never talked about him so he figured to leave it at that.  Some things were fine left hanging in the air.  Sometimes they just belonged there.  He enjoyed her company and sharing all he knew about fishing and it was enough.  He figured she enjoyed him just about as much because all he had to do was walk to his truck with his pole and bucket and she would come a-running.  He had to admit, if she didn’t, he would purposefully bang the bucket around the truck bed a few times like a dinner bell.

So here they sat together on the old wooden dock, bobbers motionless in the water, swatting at mosquitoes.  He thought to himself what an odd pair they must be; an old black man and little pig-tailed white girl with freckles.  This wasn’t exactly the norm around these parts, but Charlie wasn’t one to question life in this way and Andie he knew well enough didn’t see color that way.  They were just happy to be doing what they loved best.

“Charlie?”  Andie asked.

“Yes, child?”

“Teach me something new today,” she replied, scratching a mosquito bite.

He wiped his face and neck with his bandana and thought a moment.

“Yes, I guess yo’ right.  We haven’t had our fishin’ lesson today, have we?” he chuckled.


“Alright.  Since these fish ain’t hungry I suppose now’s a good time as any.  Just be sure we don’t fo’get to keep an eye on those bobbers.  You never can tell when a fish is gonna come along and take a bite,” he winked.

This made Andie squeeze herself and shift so she was facing the water beside Charlie’s chair.

Eyes fixed on the pair of lazy bobbers she declared, “Okay Charlie.  I’m ready.”

He chuckled low in his chest and tugged on one of her pig tail making her giggle.

“Let’s see.  Today we’ll talk about the quiet water.”

“Quiet water?”

“Yes.  See how the water is all still and quiet, like a mirror?  That’s what I call ‘the quiet water’.  Now, the quiet water is very special, Andie;  like magic.”

Andie’s eyes grew wide and she tore her gaze away from the bobbers to look up at him.

“Magic?” she asked, filled with awe.

“Oh yes.  Just watch.”

Charlie and Andie sat watching the water.  After a few silent minutes passed a little fish broke the surface snatching a floating bug.

“See there?”  Charlie exclaimed.  “If the water hadn’t been quiet we wouldn’t have seen that little fish right there.  We wouldn’t even knows he’s there or what he’s eatin’.  So, like magic, when the water goes quiet it can tell us a lot.”

“That’s funny, Charlie,” Andie giggled.  “Anything that’s quiet doesn’t say anything at all.”

“Well now, that’s the mystery, Andie.  Quiet things can sometimes tell us mo’ than noisy things.”

Charlie paused to dip his pipe into a rumpled pouch he produced from his pocket and took his time packing the tobacco firmly into the bowl.  He watched the child as she watched the bobbers.  He knew she was chewing on what he’d said.  He could almost hear the wheels turning in her head and it made him grin.  Another little fish rippled the surface and Andie flinched.

“There’s another one!” she squealed, pointing.

Charlie chuckled again, “Yep.  There’s another one.  Just came like an idea out of nowhere, didn’t it?”

Andie turned her wide eyes to him again.  He saw she was nibbling at his analogy and doing a much better job of it than those fish were at the corn-baited fishhooks.

“That’s like them artsy folk,” he continue while lighting the pipe.  “Ever wonder how they get those ideas for they’s paintin’s or writin’s?”  He didn’t wait for a reply.  “It’s like if they’s mind wasn’t quiet water then those ideas wouldn’t never be seen.  Just imagine this here pond if all the little fish decided to jump at the same time.”

“I would be like a sea storm!” Andie exclaimed.  “Tidal waves!” she squealed and jumped up waving her arms around wildly.  Charlie laughed.

“Sit down, youngun, or you’ll scare away all those fish.”

Andie complied, hugging her knees tightly to her chest, restraining herself.

“As I was sayin’,” Charlie puffed, “if all these fish were jumping at the same time, the water would be too rough to see any of them.  We’d just be seein’ the waves and hearin’ the splashes.  We might think there’s no fish here at all; just rough water.  Just like folks and they’s ideas.  If they’s mind is all rough with all kinds of ideas jumpin’ at the same time, they’d miss the good ones.  So those artsy folk know the magic of the quiet water.  See?”

Andie nodded.

“Mmhm.  If you need to find an important thought in all those ideas swimmin’ around in yo’ head, Andie, you need to have quiet water.”

He paused to puff on his pipe and watch the bobbers.

“You mean make my mind like quiet water, right?” Andie asked.

Charlie smiled.

“Yep.  You’s a smart girl, you know that, Andie?”

She leaned her head against the arm of his chair and he patted her soft head.

“I wish my Mom thought so,” she sighed.

The words made Charlie’s heart ache and he hated it.

“Don’t you worry, child.  Don’t you worry now.  She knows you’s smart, she just don’t say it is all.”

He had to resist the urge to take the child onto his lap.  He tugged her pig tail again instead.

“Just keep yo’ mind like quiet water, child.  Everything you need’ll come like those little fish out there, one at a time so you can see ‘em.  Just be the quiet water and watch.”

Andie sucked in a breath and caught him by surprise.

“I’m going to try it right now!”

She squinted in concentration and stared hard at the water.  A good belly laugh seized Charlie up before he could catch it at the sight.

“Andie girl, you can’t force the water quiet by catchin’ all the fish first,” he grinned.  “Just relax yo’self and be quiet.”

“Oh, I think I get it,” she nodded, and settled herself quietly on the dock again.

Some time passed.  The mosquitoes buzzed.  Charlie wiped his bald spot at least half a dozen times and was doing so again when Andie sprang to her feet.

“I did it!  I did it!” she cried.  “I was quiet water then I got an idea!  I know why the fish aren’t biting!”

She raced down the dock onto the bank and began turning over rocks and sticks.  Charlie watched her in amusement and chewed absently on the stem of his pipe.  She crouched and pried a stubborn rock from the ground and turned it over.  She began digging at something then sprung up with a grin.

“I got one!” she announced.  “I got one!  It’s a fat one too!”

She ran back down the dock waving her wriggling prize.

“The fish don’t want corn today.  They want worms!” she cried waving the fat wet worm in Charlie’s face.

He let out a guffaw and clapped his hands.

“Girl, you done lost your mind,” he laughed.

Together they reeled their lines in and plucked the soggy corn kernels from the hooks.  Charlie popped the worm into 2 pieces and they re-baited.  Grinning at each other, they cast their lines again.  The bobbers hit the water with a “plop, plop” and they sat to wait.  A few tedious minutes passed when Andie’s bobber flinched in the water.  Then it bounced.  Andie squealed and grabbed her pole.

“Wait, now.  Wait,” Charlie advised.  “Be sure he takes it all the way under.  We don’t want to lose him now.”

Andie stood still as a statue, her face a work of wonder and excitement.  Her fingers were wrapped around the pole handle so tightly the knuckles were showing white but she didn’t move a muscle.

“Quiet water, quiet water,” she whispered to herself.

Suddenly as Sunday the little red and white bobber disappeared.

“Now, Andie!  Now!”  Charlie cried, sitting forward in his chair.

Andie gave a sharp tug and sang out in triumph when it was met with struggling resistance.

“I got ‘im!”

“Hold yo’ tip up!  Don’t let him get away!”  Charlie yelled.

Tongue caught in the corner of her mouth, Andie fought to reel the fish in.  Her pole bent sharply but she didn’t relent.  Her grip remained firm and determined.

“It’s a big one, Andie.  Oh he’s a fine one.!  It’s yo’ biggest one yet!”  Charlie sang.

Finally, the little girl managed to haul the catfish up onto the dock, panting.  Charlie grabbed it before it could flop back off and they both laughed.

“My, my.  Would you look at that fish!”  Charlie exclaimed.  “He’s big enough fo’ both of us to have us a nice dinner tonight.  Maybe yo’ momma, too.”

Andie swelled with her accomplishment.  She gazed up at Charlie as if frozen in the shimmering buzzing summer swelter, her green eyes fixed on his.  He watched the emotion moving behind them.

“I’m proud of you, Andie girl.”

The words were out before he realized he’d said them, but they were the truth.  He was damn proud.

Suddenly the child flung herself at the old man and hugged him.  It wasn’t just a hug with her arms.  It was a hug from her whole being.

“I love you, Charlie,” she whispered.

He held her to him as the world distorted and swam through sudden tears and he uttered, “Quiet water, Andie girl.  Quiet water.”

The Follies of Dainty-Dilly-Dalliness and Mysterious Eggs

The dwarves sat effort-knotted clenching the gnarled stump between them.  Derp hunched, tongue jammed up one toadstooly-nostril with effort.  He painted a wobbly line on the robin’s egg.

“Ack!  My fingers are too thickish for this dainty-dilly-dalliness,” he huffed.  “I don’t like painting eggs. I want to go home!”

Herp leapt to his feet, his bad eye spinning.

“I can help!” he cried.

With a grin as big as summer, he dug around in his pocket and produced a suspiciously large leathery egg.

“I found THIS one in the swamp!”

Derp grinned at the croc’s egg.

“I think you should just keep that prize in yer pocket awhile, Herpy boy.”


This is the latest entry in the 100-Word-Challenge for Adults.  This week’s challenge was the second part of two.  We were to take the last 10 words of another participant’s story and use it somewhere in our entry for this week.  You can see the original challenge here.

If you’d like to see the story I used the last 10 words from, visit How the Cookie Crumbles and read that story here.

To see my other 100-Word-Challenge entries, and more installments of this saga, go here.

Don’t Open the Red One

The red box sat on the toadstool tempting as a strawberry.  Next to it was its twin, less noticeably brown.  Herp The-Not-So-Clever Dwarf pondered this boxy mystery as the woodsy-shadows grew longer.  Even his ever-wandering eye stopped wandering; mesmerized.

“What do you suppose is inside?”  he asked Derp, his twin brother.

Derp was rear-to-him and busy wrestling a salamander from under a log.

“Whatever you do, don’t open them,” he grunted.

Too late.  Herp had vanished into the woods, a flurry of scurrying feet wailing like a siren as the contents of the red box pondered Derp’s behind with glowing eyes.

The above is my entry for the 100-Word-Challenge. The prompt this week was “…the red box…”

To see other entries, and more installments of this saga, go here.

Hope in a Sklortch

Moribund The Shadow Thing hovered in the dusty gloom of the attic licking his wounds.  They were still raw after the Valentine’s Day Disaster.  He draped himself over the rafters like a sullen cob web and swore off females for the 302nd time.

“Love.  PAH!” he spat.

Something down in the darkness sklortched.


His heart flew into his throat and fluttered there like a moth.  It was Glenda Gloop.  She had come from the under the sink.  Up here.  Looking for him.  Conflicting emotions burned like a cinder.  What should he do?

Unexpected hope exploded.


Eyes closed, he leaped…

The above is my entry for the 100-Word-Challenge. The subject this week was “taking a leap of faith.”

Previous 100-word installments in the Moribund saga:

Toad Slide

The dwarves were under the wood pile again.  The Valentine’s Day disaster had passed but the tension had not.  The clammy moldiness was a comfort.

Herp poked a toad that stared at him blithely.

Derp sighed.  “I don’t think Moribund will ever forgive us, but if you look on the flip side…”

“A what slide?” Herp’s bad eye meandered toward Derp.

“Flip side.  Flip.  FLIP!”

Something warty wetly struck Derp in the side of the head.  It clung a moment before sliding down.

“What?  You said ‘flip!’”

“No, I said toad slide,” he spat shoving the toad down Herp’s pants.

The above is my entry for the 100-Word-Challenge. The prompt this week was “…the flip side…”

Previous 100-word installments in the Moribund saga:


The Sun and Moon

The sun opened his eyes and stretched his mighty arms with a yawn.  Awakened by the shy caress of the moon in her ritual passing, this morn he wanted to linger.

“My love, can you postpone your journey today for another hour or maybe two?” he asked.

The moon shined her pale face to him, questioningly.

“You know I can’t do that,” she smiled.  “All things require your punctuality, as they do mine.  And this you know just as you know I can never turn my face from you.”

He sighed.  He did.

She always had a way with words.

 MS Word total word count:  100


This story is my first attempt at participating in a Friday blogging game called “Drabbling.”  The rules are simple.  You must write a complete story of exactly 100 words.

Drabbling is the brainchild of Lenore who authors the blog Lenore Diane’s Thoughts Exactly.  As a writer, it’s an excellent exercise.  It’s a challenge!  I was invited to participate by Arindam of Being Arindam...

You’re welcome to join in the fun too if you’d like.  Just enter the tag  “Friday Drabble” in your tag line and use the hashtag #fridaydrabble on Twitter and post your entry on a Friday.  Thanks, Arindam and Lenore!

Copyright Jean Mishra 2011

The Pot

Bored by the rains of another monsoon afternoon, the boy wandered the maze of mud puddles to the village potter’s hut. He didn’t know exactly why he was so fascinated by the simple clay pots. All he knew was that he was and they drew him here almost daily. His greatest and most silent hope was to learn the trade from the elderly man who made them for their village. He had never dared to ask though. Until now he had been unable to move beyond is own sense of awe.

Taking quick inventory, he noticed no new pots but his favorite among them remained in its usual place. To the common eye, all the pots looked the same. Any new additions would easily go unnoticed. But the boy’s eyes were the eyes of his heart and every pot, no matter how plain, stood out in its individuality to him. He scrutinized the crooked stacks as he did every day, silently bidding each one good day.

A calloused hand ruffled through his hair. It was familiar as his own mother’s. The aroma of sweat, dust and cigarettes enveloped him mixing with the smell of the rain and painting a grin on his face.

“And what do the pots say today, little dreamer?” the old potter grinned, glancing out at the rain-soaked world.

“Don’t be silly,” the boy blushed. “Pots can’t talk.”

Upon hearing this, the man arranged his old bones on a dusty cushion more tatter than fabric and rubbed at the white brush of whiskers sprouting on his chin. It was a deliberate motion. It made a dry sound. He pondered a moment.

“A pot has a mouth just as you do, a throat, and a good strong belly,” he finally declared. “Why shouldn’t it talk?”

The boy blinked and absently fingered the rim of the pot that rested next to the grubby cushion on the floor. This was his favorite pot, and had earned this place of honor as silent recognition by the old man for the boy’s unspoken love — a love well-remembered over the years of molding, shaping and decorating the very clay that seemed to permeate every pore of his being. Yes, he understood this in the boy better then the boy understood it himself. Resting his eyes on the boy, the child looked up and smiled. The potter patted his face leaving a hand print on his sweaty cheek.

“And you know it does,” he added with a wink.

Filled with bliss and feeling content, the boy returned his attention to the pot. Placing its cool wide mouth between his hands it suddenly exploded with a *plink* leaving the bewildered child holding a pot-less rim. A soggy cricket ball rocked back and forth amid the shards as if trying to shake off the blame. The pot was destroyed.

Filling with rage the boy hurled the ball from the shop. The boy-cricketers braving the rain nearby cheered and scooped up the ball, oblivious of its crime. His heart lay amid the broken shards. Falling to his knees he began picking up each piece and cradling it against his chest, a quivering breath for every shard.

“Why are you so sad?” the potter asked.

“Its broken,” the boy choked on his broken heart. “It was the most perfect one and now its gone.”

“Its outside is broken but its certainly not gone,” the man sighed, wiping at the boy’s tears.

The boy gazed up at him with glistening eyes, the question in them plain.

With a smile that wore the weight and wisdom of his years, the man knelt among the ruin with the boy and picked up one shard, considering it.

“What you see is the skin of the pot, but not the pot itself,” he told the boy. “Yes, its true as I said. A pot has a mouth, a throat, a belly and a skin which surrounds it, just like you do. It also has another thing.”

“What’s that?”

“The pot also has the space inside. The skin may be gone, but that space that was the inside of the pot is still there. Always will be. It was there when the pot was created around it.”

So saying, the old man settled his rickety bones back on his cushion with a dusty puff and lit a cigarette. He feigned returning his attention to the rain.

The boy blinked and looked back to where the pot had been moments before, trying to digest the potter’s words. He waved his free hand around in the space where the pot had been then placed it on his own chest. He didn’t see the corners of the potter’s mouth twist around his cigarette with a knowing smile. The boy considered the broken shards in his hands, pulled them tight to his chest and pondered the space one final time.

After long moments, he rose to his feet and walked with a kind of reverence to the rubbish heap behind the shop, the cricketers forgotten. There he deposited the remains of his most beloved pot with a little smile on his face he wasn’t even aware of.

Upon returning to the cushion, the potter blew a large lazy smoke ring. The boy giggled.

“Tomorrow come by after your lessons and bring a bucket,” the man said, snuffing out his cigarette on the dirt floor.

“Why do I need a bucket?” the boy asked, absently wiping his hands on his shirt-front.

“You’ve learned what you need to know about life today. Tomorrow you will learn to make pots.”

Copyright Jean Mishra 2011