Howling At the Moon: Chapter 1

By-Shashank Reddy.

The night. Black. Dead. Two people in a room. Awkwardness giving in to passion. Tongues exploring each other slowly, then surely. Two explorers caught in an alternate world of smoke, darkened rooms and unimagined heat, seeking unknown pain and gentle pleasures, tasting salt and manna dancing in the inner recesses of their mouths. Oblivious of the night, and of each other, they dance the dance with the opposite body.

The morning. Nothing remains of the night before. The blackness is gone and death, for the moment, seems to have vanished. In place of two people, one person remains. The woman, standing by the window, gazes at the brown sea, the dirty little boats and the piles of fish waiting to be sold, and sees nothing. It has become a habit now. Last night was but one night among many. The same story with one constant protagonist, her and an ever changing credits list at the other end. And endless cycle of alcohol, flirtations and disappearance. Each morning, a promise made to herself. Each night, a kind word, a gentle smile and a promise broken. A sigh. She turns around, taking in the crumpled reminders of the previous night. Everything that she has is borrowed. From parents, friends and banks. Except for her books and her notebook. She once aspired to be a writer. A dream that still simmers somewhere deep inside her. She flips through the notebook. It has been a long time since she opened it. Poems, old and forgotten, stories started but never completed, stories with a finish but no beginning, forgotten words and old friends leap out at her. She gazes at a small boat slowly making its way to the horizon, and decides that she needs to get away from everything here. From her nine to nine job, from her endless tussles with herself and from everyone who would even remotely know her. She knows that she can’t get far and she does not have the courage to be gone for long. But she needs to get away. For however little time.

****

The building is an edifice to forgotten memories. Crumbling. An incorrigible blot of grey against the multitude of neon colours that flanked the sky, unmentionable by day, invisible by night. Like a dead rat by the door step, no one wants to touch it. A sign on the right hand corner of the grey spells CNEA. It used to spell CINEMA. Empty space after the letters. Possibly for more letters. The name of the cinema. An inconsequential fact rendered more inconsequential by its absence.

The doors do not exist. The ticket booth is an empire of transparent cob webs and opaque spiders. Unused tickets dating back to a non-existent time carpet the entrance.  Sunlight shines through the open blackness of the doors, reflecting off centuries old wood and unnamed carvings. She had first noticed the building years ago, during a random bus ride. Since then, she passed by it atleast twice a week. It didn’t seem to matter where she was going or what route she was using, the cinema house was always there, twice a week. It seemed like the building wanted to come to her, but now, she is here. Outside the cinemahouse. Her refuge for however long she wants, like a lover who never asks any questions, never seeks any answers, simply accepts. A deep breath and an entrance.

****

A single ray of sunlight manages to sneak its way past the heavy, dust laden curtains. It travels past stacks of pizza boxes and cartons of used cigarettes, gently rounding past the bottles with their contents in various stages of completion, taking care not to touch the non-existent floor before gently settling on the man asleep in a corner. He lies on a couch, torn and tattered with the burden of holding him all these years. The man awakes, and gently takes in the room that is his home. He is average. Average of height, average of build, average of age and average of looks. Long, black, shaggy hair descends in waves from the top of his head till his shoulder. A haircut, he thinks. Then he remembers that whether he has long hair or not is inconsequential today, as is every other ritual that he has followed in his lifetime. There is only one thing left to do. The man finds his laptop lying on top of one of the great pizza towers, and boots it up. The 1084 pages that constitute his masterpiece stare back at him. Only one thing left to do. Finish it. Today.

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