The Other Side

Grieving for the recent death of her parents, 17 year old Simran flees from place haunted with memories to seek the comfort of whom she calls family. But death is closely following her, she is the last one left- who wants her dead? The truth is far beyond her wildest imagination...

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4. Chapter Two

Omonia Square, Athens 2011

As usual holidays were the rare occasions that was worse than the torture I faced at home. My father had an annual inter group meet, held in Athens this year. My legs were stiff from the EasyJet ride and the absence of food in the last seven hours left me weary. Our hotel was an old stoned building worn away by the fiery sun. The brightness of the sun that chased away the dampness in my heart caused by the ugly shade of grey the architect had chosen to splash carelessly onto the building and faintly reminded me of home. It was a good feeling. When I closed my eyes and let the sunlight tickle my skin, I could almost pretend to myself that I was in India.

Then mother ruined it with a sharp pinch on my back. 'Do you want to give yourself a sunburn, you little idiot. Then go around telling tales that we forced you to work in the sun? Hurry up an go inside,' she shoved me forcefully towards the automatic doors of the entrance. I dragged the luggage across the pavement littered with cigarette buts, catching the eye of a beggar crouching outside the hotel, clothed in grey. He held out his hand and I caught sight of father spitting at him disgustedly. Sympathy tugged my heart but I was fully aware how helpless I was, so I gave a blind eye to my father's insensitivity and stepped through the doors into an air conditioned room.

My parents had a bank balance large enough to cover the cost of two hotel rooms, especially for a cheap downgraded dump like this that shamed the history of Greek architecture yet they chose to accommodate me on the bathtub of their single bedded room (it was the most affordable room in the entire building). It was far too much of a regular routine to be deprived of any pleasure in the presence of the people responsible for giving me life, to complain or express the slightest of annoyance. Although, I have to admit, the bathtub was a more comfortable location that my previous sleeping areas.

I stood behind mother's shadow fearfully (as she had a previous history of knocking me on the fireplace after accusing me of stepping on her shadow. The wound had required seven stitches and you can still make out the scar between my forehead and hairline). Father swiped the card across the handle and pulled the door open. I waited patiently till they were both at least two metres ahead of me before I followed. Safety precautions.

To cut the story short, my stay at Athens was as disappointing as I'd expected. Confined to the dull interiors of a crumbling hotel, I stared at the tourism leaflet that promised luxury tours and magnificent sights such as the Acropolis and Parthenon, the Temple of Poseidon, Lycabettus Hill and more. The room seemed eerily empty without the overhanging presence of my parents. They'd gone out, not bothering to inform their hostage about their departure or the whereabouts. Father had come out of the meeting, fuming and mother expressionless. I could easily guess that his business was suffering and that would place him in a constant bad mood, meaning I had to make myself scarce.

Borrowing a spare key from the reception, I slung my messenger bag across my shoulder, my sunglasses perched on top of my head and set off to explore Athens.

I stopped at the nearby corner shop, purchasing a map of the city and a Bueno bar. The ceiling of the shop was hardly visible due to the lack of lights that plunged the entire room into darkness. The man behind the counter snatched the items from my hand and spared me a glare before coughing out the price. I handed over the correct amount of money, wary that he may be a little reluctant to give back the change. I suppressed a shiver and got out again.

Spotting a rather derelict looking bench- overgrown with weeds and surrounded by scrunched up aluminium cans- I perched on a corner hoping that the wood isn't rotten enough to give away. Pulling out a bright pink highlighter, I opened up the map ; brushing off dust from the cover, and began plotting all the sights I wanted to see the most.

Soon, pink pen tracks crisscrossed the page and I followed it by foot, occasionally hopping on to local bus (the sightseeing bus couldn't compromise to my financial crisis; I only had a handful of euros and a few notes left). I couldn't complain though, each building struck me with awe and an overwhelming sense of freedom. I could easily choose to do architecture at University, each sight so beautiful in all it's archaic glory that I could sit and stare all day. I didn't mind the long walks though the streets that contained stone and marble houses, even the bricks had the flair that brightened this ancient look. My eyes never grew tired.

The sun grew tired however, and sunk into its cozy bed below. Dread and dissapointment occupied my soul at the prospect of returning back to hotel to face them. An entire day has passed without fear or pain, spoiled by freedom instead ;I couldn't possibly go back to all the abuse again. I knew I had to.

They were waiting for me.

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