The sun is beating down on her back, blue sky, cirrus clouds, hurrying footsteps, random shouts, faint music, catcalls, birds screeching (not chirping), muttered curses. Ordinary day, ordinary sounds. “Idiot! Put me down.”
“Miss, wait a minute.”
“How many times do I have to say that the strawberries are kept in this container?”
“Don’t you dare.”
“Miss! You left your change!”
“Lady in the red top!”
Ordinary day; ordinary words.
“Woman! You!” Isn’t that in the wrong order?
”Aika!” Her name finally registers and the sound of gravel crunching underfoot stops. Sunlight glints off her glasses as she turns to face her cousin, Miles. She glares and he rolls his eyes. “She’s been running after you for a while.” Her eyes follow the direction of his finger and lands on a pair of huge breasts. She reacts by rapidly looking away and back, looking up into brown eyes, producing an embarrassed smile and scowling immediately after. Miles reacts by laughing. ‘Top-heavy’ dumps a $500.00 in her hand and winks at her. She shudders and Miles laughs... again. “What did you buy?”
She ignores him and continues her long trek home. “You could’ve invited me. I didn’t even know you left the house.” Her rhythm falters momentarily as she glances at a flute in a music store. The light shone down on the display, lending it a magical aura and her thoughts wander as her leg muscles start moving. She misses her sister so much. Her fist clenches as memories flood her consciousness. Music was Danni’s thing. From way back, she could remember her shouts to tell her sister to go practice somewhere else, the notes of sorrow at their parents’ funeral, her battle screams punctuated with bursts of shrill whistles from the damn instrument and the happy tune as she sung along at her school auditions, right before Danni fell and began hyperventilating, heart attack. Danni was too young for that, too precious, but that never stopped her from going away. It never stopped her at all. Aika hadn’t cried yet. Danni used to cry for everything, from watching soap operas to getting an ant bite, the girl was annoying, but it was Danni who had raised her, Danni who helped her with frustrating homework, gave her her first paintbrush, taught her about her body, boys, life. Danni who was now dead.
A month had passed since she’d last heard her sister’s voice and her Aunt Michelle and her son were living with her. She resolves to buy the flute on her next trip to the mall.
“Aika, you’re not even listening to me?” Miles was like a fly: ugly, annoying and persistent. Well, scratch the ugly part. He had commendable locks and eyes. However, he was still a pain, all the time. They made their way home, and she continued to grapple with her thoughts.