Honors English 2
5 September 2017
A cool breeze blew through her window, shimmying the pale pink curtains above her. She felt the wind slither up her arms in the form of a shudder. She was awakened by the bright moonlight that stretched across her bed, and into her eyes. She swung her legs over the side of her twin bed and stood in the small room. Glancing over at the calendar that fluttered quietly on the wall, she saw that it was July 5th. She had missed her little sister’s 19th birthday.
It was 5:17 AM, so she got dressed, descended the stairs, and silently slipped out the back door. She closed her wooden front door and as she turned around, nearly ran into a tall girl standing in the threshold. The girl was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and red converse shoes, and for a moment didn’t look at all familiar. After taking a closer look, she saw that this girl with sandy blonde hair was Adrienne, her little sister.
For the past seven months, Lauren lived and worked in the quaint township of Auroville, India. She wrote apologetically to her family, explaining why she loved living in the culture that lived so fluidly and purely, without conflict, but understanding, and how sorry she was for not coming home when she said she would.
Her plan had originally been to float around India and Sri Lanka for a year, photographing everything she experienced. She passed through Rajkot, to Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal. From there, she had travelled south to Sri Lanka, and stopped for a short while in Puducherry, but once she caught wind of the City of Dawn, she couldn’t resist seeing the town for herself.
Now, with Adrienne in front of her, she was speechless.
“Well hello,” said Adrienne with surprise, “I didn’t know if this little clay shack thing is where you’re staying, but I guess it is.”
“Wha-what are you doing here?” Lauren asked, still bewildered at her little sister’s presence.
“What? No birthday wishes? Nevermind, this can be your gift to me. I’m here to take you back to Sacramento with me,” smiled Adrienne.
“What? No way. I came here to create a photo journal of “The City of Dawn” and I’m not leaving until I’m finished,” she stated adamantly.
Adrienne began to frown and said, “But, Lauren, this place isn’t what you need. You hardly know anyone here, and you never visit home. You need your family.”
“Sorry Adge, but I won’t be done for at least two more weeks, and I’ve been considering moving here permanently even after I’m finished. I love it here. The people are all so genuine and loving. It’s perfect, and totally unlike Sacramento.”
“Oh. I thought you would… Well, I’m in town all week, if you change your mind.” Adrienne said as she turned away.
On the last day of Adrienne’s visit, Lauren explored the town with her baby blue polaroid camera in tow, and captured the grimy side of Auroville found in the sector Tamil Nadu. She walked up to an old building that looked abandoned and disheveled and pushed the metal door open with difficulty. As she entered, the graffiti covered walls appeared around her.
After climbing three flights of worn down, dusty stairs she found herself at another door, or rather, drapery. Someone was whispering in the room behind the thin curtain, so she gently pulled it open. A quick glance revealed a middle-aged man in slacks and a grey shirt clutching a knife that was thrust to the hilt in the chest of a young woman. Her bright yellow t-shirt was drenched in blood.
With great effort, Lauren stifled a terrified gasp that tried to escape her lungs. She had never seen a dead body before. She reached very slowly into her saggy knapsack for her camera and peered through the viewfinder. Everything was distorted for a moment, but then came into focus as she took a deep breath and pressed down on the shutter release. What seemed like a very loud click came from the camera, breaking the silence, and the man snapped his head around in Lauren’s direction. She turned on her heels, clambered down the stairs, through the hall, and past the heavy door. After running for two blocks, she ducked behind a cluster of Neem trees. She carefully peered around the branches of sticky, green leaves to see if she had been followed.
She located the man, who was nearly 300 yards away. He didn’t see her until she moved from the protection of the greenery and raised her camera again to snap a photograph of his face. Their eyes met momentarily, but then she broke into a sprint with the man pursuing closely after her. As she glided back into the center of town, she was lost from his view.
She ran to the small town hall and delivered the photographs to the secretary sitting calmly at the front desk. The secretary hurried to the back room where she made copies of the photos, handed them back to Lauren, and told her that they would look for who was responsible, but not much could be done.
Back at home, she slammed the door behind her and sank to the ground. Tears began to run down her cheeks. She began to realize that this place, her home for the past seven months, was not what it seemed. She thought that this was a beautiful place of peaceful existence and freedom from religious prejudice, but this murderous, terrifying pit of despair she found herself in now was not what she had signed up for. After seeing the lifeless form of the young woman, she felt that there was no way to forgive this place for its violence. She knew now that Adrienne and her parents were right about her need for support from her family from the beginning.
She stuffed her duffel bags full of the few things she had acquired over the past seven months and headed out the front door, still clutching the photos she had just taken. With the hope that she wouldn’t be too late, she inspected the boarding pass that had been left on her doorstep three days ago.
At the airport, she rushed to her gate and saw that the door hadn’t been closed, but would be soon. She hurried to the attendant and handed over her boarding pass. She climbed on the plane and found her seat, but Adrienne wasn’t in hers. Lauren sat down, and thought that she was just running late, like her. She buckled her seatbelt and tried to relax, but was nervous that Adrienne wouldn’t make the flight.
Now that there was a moment to breathe, she glanced down at the photos in her hands, but this time, after looking a bit closer, she saw something she hadn’t seen before. The girl in the photo was wearing red converse shoes and had sandy blonde hair just like Adrienne…
Lauren bolted up from her seat, but lost her balance as the plane began to move and a calm tone came over the speakers saying,“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be taking off now, so please remain seated, and we’ll be in the States soon…”