November 1, 2013
Red Cars and Yellow Trucks: a Short Story
Mamu says lightning can strike you if you sleep straight on your back facing the ceiling and the sky, or if you stand straight. When it’s dark and raining this way she likes to say ‘the night is in a caper’.The night was in a caper one night. Our glass window in the old house was divided into three separate rectangles with the same pitch black in them. Sudden bursts of bright light filled these shapes and called to me like a magnet. I had nothing to do so I stuck myself to the window trying hard not to stand straight. I bent my body sideways into a diagonal line against the biggest rectangle, or half a diagonal at least. With my feet on the ledge and my fingers clutching the bar on top, I watched the weather weep.
I thought of why Mamu always got the exact same pajamas made for me and my sister and brother. All three of us were wearing it that night – the same dark blue with the same repeating red cars and yellow trucks safe in mid motion. But theirs looked bigger when she put them on the bed for us to change. Mamu and Papa go out at night sometimes so we stayed with the Rimals once. Grandma wasn’t here and Papa said they were going to be late again so we went across the street in our best outfits with pajamas in our bags. We had different ones back then with cats and dogs, flying not with parachutes but with umbrellas – and the three of us had the same flying cats and dogs. Isha, their daughter, didn’t; she slept in her underwear and vest. I looked from our window to their garden. They had a little pond in the middle that Isha’s dad had built himself. He had set up poles on its sides to hang lights that dangled about three feet over the water. It always made me think of a bucket hanging over a well when not in use but the lights were in use every night. It went on as soon as it got dark and everyone could see how proud Mr. Rimal was of his pond. I thought a pond ought to have fishes but theirs didn’t. Isha and I played together sometimes and once she explained to me what her father had explained to her. The pond wasn’t deep so it filled to the brim on rainy days. If there were fishes they would float out onto the grass. The pond was overflowing so it relieved me to know that there were no fishes in it or else they would flow out and die.