The Little Red Book - I

First part of a Fiction Series I'm planning to write

Present day

It was 7 in the morning and there she was, seated on the wooden bench by the lake with a tiny red book in her frail hands; a book she never seemed to open, let alone read. All she did was sit there and stare at the azure blue waters that lay in front shielded by the green hills afar. Her eyes fixed on something invisible while her hand clutched on to the book as if for life. Oblivious to the joggers and school going kids around, she sat there, almost lost, as if searching for something or someone beyond the horizon.

The early morning breeze blew through her curls as a few long ringlets fell on her cheeks. Pretty as a picture, she seemed no older than thirty but lived alone in one of the timeworn bungalows in town. Every morning for the past year people in that quiet old town of Keolong, watched her soak in the morning sun. She seemed to have come out of nowhere. Perhaps a spurned woman left by her husband for another woman; a widow or who knew even a murderer in hiding. No one knew who she was or where she came from and it seemed unlikely that they would anytime soon.

“She never speaks to anyone” said some.

“I tell you, she must be a murderer. We must ask the police to do a background check on her” exclaimed others.

“She must be a witch. I saw her in the cemetery alone one night” said the shameful gossip mongers. But who was she really?

The lady with the little red book, she occupied the town’s fancy with each cup of morning tea; with every line of the morning paper and every mile of the morning jog. A mystery for them with only her name known, they felt drawn towards her. The whole town of Keolong wanted to know who this Miss Mili J really was!


A year back

Cynthia ran as fast as she could without looking back as if she would perish the moment she stopped. Panting; hurt and teary eyed, hardly able to see; she jumped fences, fell down yet got up and ran. Every moment though all she heard was the outrageously loud bang, bang, bang and then her name! The ear splitting sound, almost ripping apart the walls of the two bedroom house that was her safe haven for over two years, had awakened her off her slumber and before she knew it she was on the run again. She knew it in her heart that all was lost. As she ran, clutching her emergency bag that she always kept handy, she knew Sam was gone forever.

It had been over two hours that she had been running making her way through gardens, alley ways and busy markets. Oblivious to the world, she only had one thing in her mind. Escape! She now stood in front of the bus station, the gates towards her escape. But she could not go in looking the way she was atleast not with cameras all around since those people after her could find her through video footage. They were too powerful to be taken lightly. So she looked around to find an alternative. She couldn’t take the flight, it was too risky. And the train station was all the way at the other end of the town and it was too dangerous to go back.

I need to disguise myself” she thought. Getting a grip on her nerves as her eyes scouted the vicinity; a small and dingy parlour came to her notice. And without giving a second thought she wiped her tears and walked into it. The place smelt of cigarettes but she knew her purpose would be served.

“Haircut and hair colour!” Cynthia said as she handed out cash to the lady at the counter.

It took about two hours but when she walked out of the parlour she looked different. She had fringes and her hair colour was burgundy now. With a change of clothes from her emergency backpack, she looked very different from her usual self; clad in jeans and a hoodie. They would be looking for her, a woman with black hair clad in a salwar suit but she had managed to ditch that appearance. If not impossible, it would certainly make it difficult for them to trace her; buy her time if not anything else. Thus satisfied with her cover, she walked to the counter and bought a ticket to Keolong where she had purchased an old bungalow under an alias, Mili J, a year back for an emergency like this.

She climbed the bus and took her seat. She had survived the night but what now? She opened the front chain of her back pack and took out a small red book from within it. She held it tight, as if hugging it and closed her eyes.

“Goodbye Sam!” she sighed with tears in her eyes as she knew the gun shot has ripped apart her happiness, the man she had fallen in love with and the man who had sworn to protect her.

I’m going away but I’ll not let your death be in vain my love” she promised as she held her engagement ring in her hand and looked towards the receding city line. She would be back one day she thought but when that was the question.

Read the second part here: The Little Red Book - II