The idea for this story came from Fiction Can Be Fun’s monthly’s #FF prompt for May which was to select a book title from the Recent Books section of Project Gutenberg site as the title and prompt for your story.
With a word limit of 500 words (ish) and a deadline which I missed – totally – for reasons I won’t bore you with, I’m linking my story onto the site’s #TortoiseFlashFiction page instead. Why not give it a go yourself?
Abigail had long dreamed of this moment. She’d been saving towards it ever since she got her first job. Her family had laughed at her, for she didn’t earn much and trips like this cost a ton of money. But she’d ignored them, even waving them off happily when they went on their annual pilgrimage to the sun on the islands of Spain or Greece. Her friends had tried too – first the girls, then her boyfriends – each one becoming more frustrated and upset as she refused to spend her money on anything other than saving for her dream.
And now she was there – in India. She’d heard all the tales about snake charmers and other enchanters, and while she’d seen a cobra swaying to the notes of the strange pipe played by the snake charmer – a pungi it was called according to their guide – she’d remained unconvinced.
She’d also made the acquaintance of some charming and attractive young men. Sikhs she understood them to be – tall and handsome they certainly were. Abigail was pretty – very pretty if truth be told – and they’d paid her court – seeking to make her laugh, persuading her to ride on the back of their motorcycles, taking her to the pictures, or to a tea dance. It had been fun but still, she felt a lack of enchantment.
The architecture of northern India – the Punjab – was simply stunning. The hotel based at the Palace on the Lake at Udaipur had been a magical location where every comfort was provided from the softest cotton bedlinen, to cool drinks carried to your side on trays by slipper-wearing bearers, with veritable feasts of Indian delicacies to eat every evening, and the colours – oh they were just breath-taking. Even though she knew they’d be far too bright once she got home, Abigail had been unable to resist buying beautiful silk saris and hand embelished cashmere shawls in the bazaars.
By the final night of her trip, she’d become reconciled to the fact that India had been a marvellous experience, if not an enchanted one … when it happened. Their final night fell on Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights. Their guide had told them to pack early for she was taking them out for a night of sightseeing. There’d been some grumbles, but they’d rapidly faded with the magnificence on view.
Jaipur was absolutely thronged with lights – lights of every size and colour decorated every road, every building, every single structure. The Akshardham Temple was a particularly fine sight, although it had been the bazaars which delighted Abigail – alight as they were with cream bulbs reflecting off gold strands of tinsel.
But that isn’t what enchanted Abigail – no, it was the residential streets on their way back to the hotel. On every flat roof, every window ledge, every wall were dotted small oil lamps – each alight – rows and rows of tiny flickering lights as far as the eye could see. Diwali lights their guide told them were traditionally simple clay pots, which even the poorer members of society could afford, whilst the rich could push out the boat with a display of the more exotic and fancy should they wish.
Abigail was completely and utterly enchanted.
© Debra Carey, 2018