Previously on "The Storyteller's mercy" My heart beat faster by the minute. Soon, I could not feel it or rather, it had skipped several beats? I clutched my chest. I was dead sure I was dead.
“You aren’t helping matters.” She muttered, “…and to think you are the man.”
“I’m sorry.” I wriggled my toes to be sure I was alive. “I can’t help it. It’s like I’m supposed to be dead.”
“That’s weird. You should seek help.” She frowned.
“A dead man can never seek help.”
“Then relax because I hear dead men rest in peace.”
I looked out the window. With help from the moonlight, all I could see were plains, full of grass or as I would normally refer to them – weeds.
She spoke again, “Sorry, I did not mean to be mean but if you want to talk about it, I do have listening ears.” I shook my head. She would not understand. Besides, it was personal.
“I presume the scene we just saw didn’t help matters.” She persisted.
She heaved a sigh and remained silent. She took a notepad and a pencil and began to sketch. Since it was none of my business I looked away.
An hour later, curiosity got the better of me and I looked at the sketch again. It was almost done and from the looks of it, she was very good. Too good, it caused me to feel uneasy. I quickly looked away.
“How can you sketch that?” I asked, somewhat offended. She had drawn the face of the robber who I presumed to be on the lookout along with his fiery eyes. The sketch was exasperatingly good.
“I don’t know. I thought I saw fire in his eyes and it intrigued me,”
“Unbelievable…” I shook my head.
A thin smile began to form on her face, “Usually, sketching helps me get an insight into things.”
“What insight do you want from this.” I tried to restrain my emotions as much as possible.
“You don’t get it. When I saw those robbers, I marvelled at how man could be wicked. Don’t you ever wonder where all that hate comes from?”
“I don’t have to.” I breathed in deeply, “The bible explains it’s all in the man’s heart.”
“Exactly, so what if that fire I saw in his eyes was a reflection of his soul. There should be nothing but death and ashes; no love, no sense of humanity.”
In a sombre mood, she continued, “And saying this makes me feel awful because all I did when I saw a family in distress was to come up with this…this…” She proceeded to tear the sheet of paper from the notepad but I instinctively grabbed her wrists. She looked at me with surprise. I pulled away, wondering what came over me.
“Don’t worry, I guess I will keep it to remind me that I’m also a beautifully decorated urn containing ashes.” She shoved the notepad into the handbag on her laps and folded her arms.
“Urns contain ashes of loved ones. More like a vase just sitting there, useless.”
When she did not respond, I looked at her again and observed a faraway look in her eye.
I spoke again. “…but you are a beautifully decorated vase holding flowers full of life.”
She smiled and it looked like a break of sunlight through the dark clouds, “That’s nice but artificial flowers do not have life.”
“I am talking about natural flowers.”
“Then it will not last. You will have to change it frequently.”
I nodded. The bus sped through sleeping villages, towns and plains. The driver had switched the lights in the bus off just before we passed the robbery scene. It never came on again. It was so quiet; every passenger sat in the seat, either lost in thought or in dreamland or somewhere between. We seemed to be the only two engaged in a conversation, the only two in the real world.
The question I was asked after praying still haunted me. It was just an unusual question; I never ever thought such an answer could be given to a prayer.
She yawned loudly and quickly turned to see if anyone had seen her, then slowly in my direction.
Was that embarrassment I saw written all over her face?
Before I could stifle the laughter that threatened to pour out of my mouth, I also yawned. Loudly. We giggled.
“Let me tell you a story,” I said.
Featured image credit: Google images #TheStoryteller'sMercy continues on Saturday @0600hrs GMT