Sep 21, 2012


By Aleena Kazi

Q. Write the opening to a short story where a detailed use of setting helps the reader to appreciate the moods and thoughts of the character. 

The clinking of metal against metal brought the brunette out of her shell-shocked state. She had seldom heard this sound in her short life. It was always deafening explosions and gunshots. It was hardly ever the sounds of money she heard, the sound of coins in the metal can a few inches away from her. Today, she heard the clink of a coin against the inside of the empty metal container.
She lifted her head slightly out of her arms that rested upon her knees. Her piercing hazel eyes focused on the rusted metal can on the cold floor, blurred legs walking in different directions behind it. Strands of rough, tangled brown hair fell on her dirty face. The layer of soot masked her adorable features and made her look grim.

“We have two pieces so far. Only need four more.” The young child blinked twice before turning her head in the direction of the sweet voice. “Is there something wrong Sarah?” Continued the older of the two girls. She, too, was caked in filth and wore tattered clothes like little Sarah.

“No, Javeria.” She assured the other seated next to her on the damp, disgusting stone pavement.

Sarah brought her focused gaze back to the sight in front of her, blocking out Jane’s chatter. She watched the rich people walking around in their fancy clothes and perfect jewellery. Children her age skipped alongside their parents, clean and healthy.

The young girl snapped her head to the side when she heard cackling and pleading. Three boys, a bit older than Javeria, ran off with the coins they had collected. She sighed when she saw tears roll down Javeria’s cheeks, wiping away the dirt where they fell on her face. Javeria pleaded for the boys to give their money back but the boys too were poor. They too were hungry and to them, stealing was the only option. In a matter of minutes, the two girls were left with no money.
Sarah stood up and raised her head to the sky. The grey clouds curtained the rays from the sun. It was going to rain soon. She returned her gaze to what was in front of her and started to walk. Ignoring Javeria’s calls, she entered the Bombay Bakery.

The scent of freshly baked bread was overwhelming especially in contrast to the scent of disease and burning trash outside.

She picked up a loaf of crisp brown bread and looked up at the baker. “Can I please have this?” She asked, motioning to the beautifully baked bread in her hands.

“Sure, that will be six pieces.” It was a simple and reasonable request.

She softly told the man that she had no money so he had no choice but to ask her to return the bread.

“You don’t understand. I need it.” She spoke as if she were about to cry. Then she did something, something completely horrifying.

Sarah repeatedly stabbed the baker with a sharp piece of glass until he stopped breathing. His messy body lay on the wooden floor. Her hands were drenched in warm crimson blood. The stench of blood now pushed aside the once delicious aroma that dominated the inside of the shop. She walked out of the store, towards Javeria, shaking.

Fear evident in innocent hazel eyes that moved from Jane to the loaf of bread in her scabby little hands. Was it fear of death? Fear of what she had done? Poverty forced the poor child to her first kill. Something no child should go through.

“Sarah! What did you do?” Javeria was horrified at the sight of the younger girl.

“I did say please.”

An eerie smile made its way to her lips as Sarah replied and licked the edge of the blood soaked piece of glass. It wasn’t her first kill.

The heavens poured open as a crack of lighting brightened the sky. For Javeria, it rained blood.


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