Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Beginning 870

They say you can never go back home. ‘They’ weren’t standing at Exit C of Mumbai domestic airport with thirteen years of their lives crammed into a trolley. Beads of sweat trickled down to my elbow and I straightened my spine trying to compose my face. I wanted to make a good first impression on my mother: we had met last when I was four.

Aimee arrived breathless in a standard-issue floral print and a, “You’re looking so tall, Alia!” squeal though she had visited me just last year at Dune’s school.

I looked past her beaming face at the expectant faces of people in the arrivals waiting area. A tiny prick of tears started up in a corner of my left eyelid. I bent down to fumble with my bag irritated with myself when a uniformed man darted forwards and took my suitcases and shoulder bag away.

“Your mother is waiting for you at home,” Aimee said quickly, “and your father is in Delhi on a very big shoot,” her voice hushed to a whisper, “it is like that only when you’re…” she looked around suspiciously. “Come come so much traffic.” She waved ahead.

A shiny black Hummer was boorishly parked right across the exit.

“At least we’re not blocking half the road,” I said.

But Aimee was already making a beeline for the Hummer, so it was just as well she didn’t hear me.

I blinked to clear the tears from my eyes, but could not focus in the heat. The Hummer had come to a screeching, rubber-skidding halt and there hung the body of my grandmother sprawled across its grille, clinging to it as if she’d just hopped on for a ride, the hump of her backside jutting out like a . . . hump.

“Aimee.” I bawled until my face was crushed into a musky madras shirt. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I heard her. I thought I saw ‘them’, as I pulled my face away, slinging her over the luggage on their cart.

“You can’t go home,” someone said, and I knew him for one of ‘them’. The sweat was really running off of me now, flooding down my legs.

What made ‘them’ so elusive one could capture their words, but nothing more? Words instead of a home, security, family, instead of love. For thirteen years ‘they’ had waited, probably camping out in my old room, just to dismantle everything, just to be sure there would be no home for me to go back to. And now 'they' had Aimee.

Opening: Karishma Attari.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

"What big shoot? Lions, tigers bears or heroin?". Now I couldn't stop the tears. My family, welcome home.

--Wilkins MacQueen

Evil Editor said...

I like this.

I've never been to Mumbai domestic airport, so ignore me when I say at airports I've been to, the waiting area to meet arrivals is a thing of the past, as passing through security would take forever and a day if people entered the airport just to meet arriving passengers. Alia has been to baggage claim to collect her luggage/trolley. If it's an airport with several terminals, "Exit C" isn't likely to be an adequate description of her location. And no way would Aimee get away with parking a Hummer as she did. Thus, it might be better if Alia were standing outside Terminal C with her trolley when Alia drives up, jumps out and squeals. Now, if this is a tiny private airport, perhaps you have everything just right. Though readers may not believe you do. Assuming you leave the facts as you have them, here are a few suggestions:

P1. I would get rid of 'They" and start this: I was standing at Exit C of Mumbai domestic airport with thirteen years of my life crammed into a trolley.

P2: I would change "arrived" to "ran up to me." Put a comma after "print" change "and" to "with" and delete the comma after "a." Not sure "standard-issue" is the right adjective.

P3. Get rid of "irritated with myself" or surround it with commas.

P4. Start a new sentence with "Her."

It's not clear what Aimee means by "It is like that..." What is like what?

Dave said...

I had all sorts of stuff in my mind for when this was posted. BUT, EE beat me to it.
I was jarred by the change of "they say you can't go home" to the "my" and "I" of the next sentence and EE took care of that.

I was going to say that the traveler arrived and the family was waiting. That means that only Alia arrives. Aimee is the destination. And I'm second on that point too.

I'm wondering what the rest of the story is about. I like that you've set up come conflict already. Siblings always seem to bicker and that can keep a story going.

batgirl said...

The bit about 'they say' was distracting because I immediately wanted to correct it to 'you can't go home again' and attribute it to Thomas Wolfe instead of 'they'. Plus argue about what it meant, and that it _is_ true in this case. But most other readers are sane and won't react like me.
Agreeing with EE's corrections (of course) and otherwise this is a pretty smooth and economical opening.

vkw said...

This was pretty smooth -

I have a few small suggestions,

"A tiny prick of tears started up in a corner of my left eyelid."

I think this could be made cleaner.


Tiny tears started to form in my eye.

or - My eyes started tearing.

It's the "eyelid" rather than "eye" that I didn't like because it kind of sounds like the eyelid is tearing up.

"it is like that only when you're"

either finish the thought or leave it out, because I find it annoying to be left hanging not interesting.

"But Aimee was already making a beeline for the Hummer" I would change Hummer to car or truck or auto or montrosity, to avoid repetition.

I am not sure why your MC would say "at least we're not blocking half the road"

It kind of broke the flow for me. If she's commenting on how big the car is . . I would be more direct.

"Kind of big,"


"Never been in a car that big before,"

"how much gpa does that monster get"

and I would definately not have the MC say, "at least we're not" I would change it to "at least you're not"


BuffySquirrel said...

I didn't much like the opening couple of lines. Starting with a cliche and then contradicting it is, well, something of a cliche.

Xenith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evil Editor said...

It seems pretty obvious (to me) that the crying is the result of not seeing her mother among the people waiting. And that the reason it's just as well Aimee didn't hear her say At least we're not blocking half the road is because they ARE blocking it; she didn't realize the Hummer was theirs. I also can guess that the uniformed man is their driver and had no idea what Alia looked like, so hung back; then once Aimee made it obvious which passenger was Alia, he rushed forward to get her bags.

batgirl said...

*pointing at post above*
That's what I got from it - I thought the author was doing a good job of showing-not-telling.

The lack of commas bothered me, though. Author, are you trying for a rushed and breathless 'voice'?