Consider the city’s skyline against the enigmatic black canvas of night. Consider a shadow creeping up on the horizon. Consider an Enchantress. A Reason. Consider the attraction of a Beckoning, just out of reach.
Trash it all to follow her delicate bare feet, spellbound, through the labyrinthine Bengaluru streets. Spoor her diaphanous pale-gold wrap, skimming the shiny blacktop; track the sound of her silver anklets thinly etching upon the murmur of a faraway traffic; marvel at her swiftness, her subtilty, in the grandest of senses, an astute power.
Remember she knocks only once; remember you never did answer it so you are here, in flesh and blood, with a throbbing heart intact; remember the souls that did, the unmaking of them, some of them your playfellows next-door, evanesced, now in the bowers of some secreted land.
Until dawn lurks, watch her stop at every shut door, every tightly fastened window. Imagine the hearts pounding behind them, the bated breaths. Notice her raise her hand, knock, then stop suddenly. Observe her peruse the words scribbled on the careful houseowners’ doors and windows: O, Enchantress! Come again tomorrow! Find her tapping her feet, nodding in heavily muddled thoughts, obeying their humble request. Hear her liberate a faint sigh of agony at each failed attempt, and follow her again as she moves onto the next door in her hunt for a few good men.
Mandira Pattnaik’s fiction has appeared in BestSmallFic21, DASH Journal, Atlas & Alice, Citron Review, Watershed Review, Passages North, and Miracle Monocle among other places. Find more work at mandirapattnaik.wordpress.com . On Twitter @MandiraPattnaik
September 27, 2021