A Flower of Freedom

Posted: October 21, 2011 in #fridayflash, Short stories

As the sun beat down on her back, its heat penetrated instant warmth to her skin, like a hot water bottle on a bleak winter’s night.  The fine hairs on her back stood to attention, saluting the suns ray’s like their almighty leader in the skies. 

Her back packing trip across South Africa had only started a few weeks ago and she had seen so much already.  The small, yet busy Saturday market, selling fresh meats, cheeses and breads, was a world away from the supermarkets back in England.  Fresh meat prepared and cooked in homemade shacks, acting as vendors.  The smells hitting the back of her throat, whilst the accents of local villagers had buzzed around her ears was an immense and captivating feeling.  She felt the atmosphere surround her like a blanket and snuggle her gently, whilst opening her eyes to a new civilization

Today she stood starring at the fields of wild flowers.  A carpet of Namaqualand daisies, lipstick red and vibrant.  The warmth of the colours that surrounded her and the humidity was an ambience she had never experienced before and probably could only be understood by someone who was standing beside her, a feast for all her senses.  She had seen them in photos and books, but seeing them first hand, had been her burning passion and determination for this adventure.  She wanted to spread her arms out wide and spin in circles around and around, falling into the sea of petals, like a school girl covered in handmade daisy chains.

She sat for a while taking in the views and writing in her journal.  The photos she’d taken on her digital camera would look amazing, but reading the experiences and feelings first hand would certainly prove to her mother why she had needed to take the trip.  Having been opposed to the idea of her daughter travelling a million miles from home, alone, her mother just needed reassurance and letters home, proving not only Alice’s independence but that her daughter was embracing life and hadn’t been abducted by aliens.

As she put her journal inside her rucksack she lifted her nose into the air and breathed a huge belly full of South African oxygen, a dense substance to that back home, which mainly smelt of petrol.  She could see a house sitting up on the hills, a large looking house even from this distance.  She was keen to find herself a hostel for the evening and that seemed like her only option so far, having left most of civilisation behind yesterday.

A bead of sweat trickled from underneath her fringe, down her nose and sat at the end of it, like a nervous abseiler, before she swiped it away with her bare wrist.  This didn’t look like a hostel, closer up, in fact quite the opposite.    

The house was lavish compared to the huts she had seen in the villages and markets.  The bright white walls, beige clay floor tiles and green foliage covered the outside.  The estate looked almost the size of her street in England, that alone her house. 

She pushed open the black railing gates and was met by a man in long shorts, linen shirt and sandals.  He smiled at her “Hello.  My name is Moswen,” he bellowed, “Welcome.  Are you looking for somewhere to stay?”

Alice nodded, taken aback slightly.  This wasn’t the normal boarding house she’d been used to.

She was ushered up the path leading towards the front door.  She saw a young girl of a similar age in the garden pruning the shrubs, whilst another slightly older girl was cleaning out the mosaic lined pool.  They made slight eye contact, before Alice was escorted into the house by the man as he pushed her slightly with his hand in the ridge of her back.

“Why of course.  Come, come, let me show you around,”

As they walked around the house,  it was obvious this wasn’t a hostel, from the fine furnishings and show house type cleanliness about the whole place.  The bedrooms were magnificent, with large poster beds and views as far as the eye could see.

As they came down the stairs, a young boy of about ten, hurried past them holding a tray with one hand with drinks of various descriptions.  

“His name is Abri” the man smiled.  He seemed to have a permanent smile on his face.  “He is the owners son. Now, let me show you to your room.”

They walked down a stone staircase to what seemed like a basement.  The atmosphere seemed different down here, but calmer.  They walked down a corridor, with about half a dozen doors along either side.  They walked right to the end, and the man opened the heavy wooden door with one of the keys hanging from his many bunches.

“You can sleep here,” the man smiled.

“Thank you.  Thank you very much.” She pulled a small bundle of money from her pocket and asked how much it was for the room.  The man looked at her and then the money, then back to her again. 

He laughed.

“You don’t need to pay us,” he said politely, “you’ll pay us back remarkably well”, he smirked looking her up and down.  Before she had time to question what he meant, he guided her into the room and took the bundle of money from her hand.  He laughed again before shutting the door and the key turning in the lock.

She turned to look around at the room.  There was nothing more than a single mattress, a small barred window and a sink.  A small carving had been etched into the brickwork next to the rusty hinge of the door.  She read it allowed, as her heart sank: “You walk in as a traveller, you die as a slave! Damn those pretty red daisies!”

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Comments
  1. FARfetched says:

    Oh, that was a twist and a half! I knew nothing good would come of this, but you kept me guessing until the end.

    Typo in the last sentence: “allowed” should be “aloud.”

  2. Oh that was a nasty ending. Didn’t see that one coming!Never trust a book by its cover (or a house by its red daisies!)

  3. Helen says:

    Interesting story, it reminds me of something I saw on tv that had the same structure to it. About halfway through I guessed what would happen – however it was very well written, damn those red daisies! ^__^

  4. Icy Sedgwick says:

    She really needs to be less naive. One typo – starring in the third paragraph should be ‘staring’. Good build up of tension.

  5. Some good description and the girls parents shouldn’t have let her go – too naive

  6. adampb says:

    Something wicked this way comes. Devious twist.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  7. Chuck Allen says:

    I love the contrast of the flower field with the cell at the end. You did a great job of building to the ending.

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