by DIYA JOY

SCT/HT Young Writer of the Year 2021 winner

Lily’s mind drifted aimlessly, as she lay on the soft, scratched, red couch resting against the plaster wall, crisp and white as snow.  A sprinkle of yellow-stained sunlight tiptoed gently on her face like a ballerina. The open window welcomed a calm breeze which brushed across her face as light as a feather. 

The quarantine had left her bored to the core. The busy and large city had become as small as her own home. Her mother had said constantly that laying on the couch was the perfect way to get bored. 

Abruptly, the irritating sound of her mother’s voice leaped into her ears from the kitchen. This was followed by the creek of the door which echoed through the room, stinging Lily’s ears. 

“Come,” her mother demanded with eagerness edged in her voice, “help me clean out the attic.” Lily, with a sigh, drowsily lifted herself from the couch and obediently followed her mother to the rustic attic ladder.

She clumsily clawed along each unstable step, with no enthusiasm in her voice or movements like usual. Arriving at the top she laid her eyes on a dimmed room littered with cobwebs and tiny spiders in every dingy corner. 

A mess of old toys, letters, and parcels lay crowded on the wooden floor, nearly knocking her over as she tried to move. The only source of light was a small wood-framed window that only invited in small beams of light. 

Suddenly, a faint alarm went off. “My cake,” Lily’s mum muttered to herself. She climbed down the rustic ladder clumsily, leaving Lily by herself. 

Lily found a broken cardboard box laying in front of her, with old dust-coated toys leaking out, and an envelope laying on top. She snatched it up with her small chubby hands, only to find it had been ripped off, with its seal hanging flimsily. 

She carefully opened the note, noticing its bold creases and rough edges. Shining it towards a trail of sunlight seeping through the window, it read…

Dear Ophelia, my only sister, I write this in tears,

Time has passed rather slowly and dreadfully the past few days. Suddenly baking has become a bore and my nerves for Mother have been increasingly poor. I believe she shall die very soon. I have sadly quoted that from her letters she has sent to me and now, my worries for you are growing. You have not written back to me yet and there is only a sliver of hope that you are still alive and well. 

Brother has said the black plague can be cured if only people pray more and more. He says, God has seen all the sins mankind has committed and is punishing us. I have been praying half of the time and the other half is baking for a living, 

I do truly wish that more people would concentrate more on praying. Mother had said that her own home is a prison, and the chains, which is her illness, has rendered her miserable, and since this may be the last days of her life she wishes she could live happier and …

“Lily, tea!” a familiar voice spoke; her mother was calling, the voice attacked so abruptly that it forced her to raise her head, that was initially dug into the quill-written letter. She could smell the sweet scent of the strawberry cheesecake from the attic. 

Lily smiled down at the brown tinted letter; she creased the paper in the middle making the folds deeper. She shoved it into her pink and yellow jumper pockets, crinkling it, and stepped down the wooden ladder for tea. How different her life was when quarantine hit, but, how lucky she felt that she was not born back then.