BEFORE SUMMER COMES WINTER

“Got a secret,

Can you keep it?

Swear this one you’ll save,

Better lock it, in your pocket,

Taking this one to the grave.”

Those were the words humming in her head as she walked down town head down afraid of the eyes from the passers by, who seemed to read her like a little book. A dark cloud of betrayal hurt and humiliation engulfed her little bubble which she had believed was too risky to ever let anyone near. But she had and like human she had enjoyed being good and loving others. Feeling a person come alive from her small gestures was once her ecstasy in life. Caring and protecting was what she had lived for. But now she was hurting and although her strong self could not let a tear betray her weakness, any soul who had bothered to take more than a second to look through her would have seen her fighting not to let go of her humanity. She had reached her threshold. To her, only two worlds existed but perhaps to her imaginary saviour she would have entertained a third haven where they would relive the peaceful and humble life with no fear of getting hurt. They would have walked together in the morning chill, watched the sunrise as they remembered how life as mean girls was probably one and their only strength in college but rejoice at how strong their sisterhood bond was. Nothing would have ever broken them. They would only think of the bright future that lay ahead waiting for them to tap into all the great opportunities and experiences life had promised to offer. Like one of their dreams each would meet their prince and fall in love as in those fairy tales they had grown reading and contrary to peoples’ opinion believed. But who am I kidding reality was harsh and life like it does, reminded her it was just joking. Her bubble had burst and she was bare.

Like a cold empty shell she let in the strong wind and the humiliation she had felt that night slapped out every sense of good and kindness in her, every breathe reminding her of her past and the choice she was yet to make. Her mind shutting down she could only focus on those five lines of that song she had vividly remembered to keep her lucid. She had not realised how far she had walked when she felt tiny wet beads hit her all at once. Heavy raindrops had started falling and as the people around her ran for shelter she followed the opposite direction with the hopes of saving herself from the embarrassment of prying eyes or perhaps by luck meet a pitiful stranger who might have stopped her to ask why she was crying so hard . But she did not believe in luck anymore and as for the “pitiful stranger” that must have been a scene from the telenovelas she wished she lived or a pictured scenario from a novel she had read. Perhaps even she realised it was raining heavily but had let the rain wash her believing she would get cleansed. She only came out dirty and drenched of wet mud. There was no hope at all and her last grasp of straw had also slid through her wet hands while she watched. She was fading, letting go of her humanity and with one last look behind Bella knew exactly what she was supposed to do.

Bella was a beautiful girl. Since she was a baby she was envied by both strangers and neighbours who had wished they had given birth to her. Her parents were so proud of her and they always considered their little Bella evidence they had won. She was their little trophy. As a first child little Bella had surprised many with her sense of thoughtfulness and responsibility. Although she was a quiet child, not because she did not have friends or people around her, Bella had always preferred to stay alone. I have always thought may be while in heaven she had seen God’s disappointment in Adam and Eve and even after being born she subconsciously never forgot that humans were not reliable. But that is just me.

Little Bella had grown to be this beautiful girl, (which many had expected) caring and always mindful of those in need. Her innocent big round eyes always made her look like she knew more than she could see and people always felt intimidated. A fountain of dark hair fell perfectly on her shoulders which accentuated how long her neck was. A symmetric face which had lifted jaws and radiant cheeks at the peak. Her nose, small and a bit sharp aligned perfectly with her full pink lips. Little freckles around her forehead gave her a rusty look of childhood and complemented her skin which was so smooth, cloned in a shade from a golden ray of sunset. Looking at her was addictive. Maybe it was because beneath this perfection was a girl in pain and once you got close it would be your new life’s mission to save her. This she always kept a secret.

Little Bella had grown both in favour and grace from those around her. Amidst the difficulties she had gone through to complete both her Primary and Secondary education, she had scored good grades and was waiting to join the university. From a distance, you could see how happy she was and it was infectious because looking at her, had you feel this warmth in your core as if the world just stopped and only her radiance and the ambiance from the sunset, had merged to form this perfect sanctuary, surrounding her with falling colours. According to many, she made it and she would proceed to college, study, get a good job and redeem her divorced mother and sisters, who were looking up to her. And so did she join college.

Life had not begun until then. She had resolved to quit being detached and let people in. She was ready to enjoy life to its fullest in this multi-diversity new found place. All her worries had faded and were replaced by a carefree attitude towards the small challenges she encountered from time to time. Bella earned a new tittle. Fun! She made new friends and since they were her first, from that fateful day she considered them sisters. Sutton and Croella. While she had seen her little self in Sutton, Croella was the voice of sense. She had made the right choice. As a cautious girl Bella had always heeded the advice of careful choices in friends. And like the perfect match, these three envisioned to enjoy their happy promising life together.

But again life was joking. Sutton and Croella had gotten close and their friendship advanced. Since the two lived together, Bella thought it was inevitable but she never thought she would be side lined. As understanding as she was, she embraced the changes and resorted to blending with the two sisters regardless of the differences. But the more she tried the more her intentions were mistook. Sutton and Croella started to see her as a threat. They would throw tantrums and try so hard to make her feel unwanted. Bella never cared for attention but she received it regardless and this was her sisters’ weakness. The attention they craved so much always deviated to her. Bella was gullible and her trust in human goodness cost her dearly. Sutton started befriending people who knew Bella and as the sweet and manipulative being she was she got what she wanted. Now I know why the name had a ring to it. It was more of subtle and she was just living up to it. As much as Cruella was the voice of sense she could not control Sutton and so she supported her mission of antagonising Bella from her friends and people who asked about her. You would think Bella was blind but she chose to trust in their sisterhood and forgive all the meaningless drama her sisters had recoursed to.

Things had changed and life had taken a really drastic turn. Bella couldn’t take it anymore and she transformed into the picture they had painted her. A Malicious and conniving little being. Since the sisters had ganged up against her, she quoted her favourite animation character, Duffy Duck, from the Looney Tunes, “If you want things done right, do them yourself.” What had begun as friendship became a recourse for vendetta. Although Bella knew this was becoming her sisters a little voice kept pulling her to the dark side. She was tired of being good and burying hatchets. The voice finally took over and Bella Thorn was born.

Her plan was to serve a dose of her sisters’ medicine. She had learnt and she was prepared. With every dose she served, Bella never realised the symptoms were building up and she started suffering from the same diseases as her sisters. From a princess with the glass slipper she became the witch sisters. This only alienated her from them even more. They formed another gang by pitying themselves against her and preaching their plight of a sister gone rogue. Everyone believed but no one cared for the other side of the story. Bella had earned a third title. Scarletta!

Bella crossed the threshold and she did not realise how far down the gutter she had buried herself. She had served her plate cold but had soaked herself with filth. Time was running out for that imaginary saviour and drifting away, she heard the song in the background. It was coming from the café near where she had stood to find shelter. The end was approaching and she moved closer so she could listen more clearly. And there were the final missing words she had tried to remember all day.

“If I show you,

Then I know you, won’t tell what I said,

Because two can’t keep a secret

If one of them is dead.”

Bella sought satisfaction in the completed song and a rush she had once experienced seethed through her veins making her warm. She smiled to herself and even without realising that the rain was over, she looked to her right to find a perfect stranger standing beside her. She looked at him and smiled even more noticeably as a sense of relief escaped her exhausted, soaked body. Bella was far from home but it was the right time to go back. And then the stranger spoke. “Hi!”

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