Beyond the invisible line

“Just like that, eh?” the old man sighed.

“Just like that.” the little girl repeated.

“It’s just a story, who cares right?” the old man walked back to collect the little girl’s empty mug and headed over to the kitchen. The separation between the kitchen and the living room was paper thin.

“No, it’s not.” the little girl argued, “Janesha says the boy was actually crazy. Her mother told her that.”

“How old are you?” the old man returned from the kitchen and looked at the little girl with genuine curiosity.

“I am eleven.” the little girl grinned.

“I see.” the old man murmured. “You think the boy was crazy?” he added.

“I don’t know.” she mused, “at least, I didn’t…” the enthusiasm from the little girl’s face disappeared remembering where she was and how she got there. She said in a grave voice, “but then I saw it. I, I think it tried to lure me in.”

The old man’s shoulder tensed. This was the moment he never thought would come.

“You believe me, don’t you?” the little girl frowned.

“I do.” the old man replied calmly, “because I am the boy in that story.”

The little girl didn’t immediately understand what he said. The old man silently stared at her, unsure of what to expect. Then her eyes widened as the meaning of his words slowly sank in.

“What? Really?” she asked, dumbfounded.

“Don’t worry, I am not crazy.” the old man laughed at his own joke.

“I know you’re not. I told you, I saw it.

For a moment the little girl and the old man stared at each other. There was a mutual understanding between them. Their shared grief of discovering something no one will believe.

“What is it?” the little girl asked, breaking the silence.

“What is what?” the old man quickly recovered from his confusion, “You mean that shapeless hole beyond the line?”

“Yeah.”

“No one knows for sure.” the old man replied, “but since you’re asking me, I will tell you what I think it is.”

The little girl leaned forward eagerly.

“It’s a tear.” the old man began, “in the fabric of the thing on which the earth and the planets swim in. You learned about the stars and the planets, haven’t you?”

“Just a little.” the little girl answered, visibly dissatisfied at her lack of expertise in this area.

“If you stepped inside, you’d become one with the stars.” the old man informed.

“Really, will I fly? Will I sparkle?” the little girl’s eyes lit up with hope.

“Sadly, no.” the old man chuckled, “You’d die one way or another and your body would disintegrate into very small invisible things that comes from stars.”

“Oh…” the hope eluded her eyes, “How do you know this?”

“I spent my life chasing after it. Trying to find out if anyone knew anything. But no one did. I travelled further and further only to be disappointed.” the old man paused then added, “except this one time.”

“I was travelling to a city and had to cut through a small village. I stopped to rest in an old friend’s place there and he had a library full of books about unexplained phenomena all around the world. After searching for two days straight, I found the first book that remotely had any information about this hole and went on from there…which lead to here again, where it all began.”

“So, you didn’t really disappear?” the little girl raised her brows.

“No, that’s just some tale.” he replied, shaking his head. “I came back around noon, after losing my way in the forest. The hole disappeared with the moon and the flowers wilted and crumbled right there and then. Some of the villagers thought I was possessed but soon we moved on to a town. My mother couldn’t take it anymore. The whispers, the gossip…” he finished with a sigh.

“That’s really sad” the little girl mused, “what do we do now?”

“Nothing.” the old man said in a casual tone, “I will take you home tomorrow, your aunt must be worried sick by then. You won’t mention any of this to anyone or they will drive you out, like my family. Not even to that friend of yours”

“Oh, okay.” the little girl gulped.

“Alright, that way is the bathroom and you can take the bedroom upstairs when you’re ready. I will get you fresh blankets and I will sleep on the sofa tonight.” he said, walking up the stairs.

The little girl stood up and sighed.

“And kid, be careful not to get lost in that cursed forest again.” he added, before disappearing completely in the unlit room.


Final installation of:
Dance of the cosmic whales
What the old man heard

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What the old man heard

“How’s the cocoa?” the old man asked before taking a sip of his drink. He sat on the carpet close beside the fireplace.

“It’s delicious.” the little girl grinned. Her initial reserve slowly disintegrated as she got more comfortable around the old man.

“So,” began the old man, “do you wanna tell me what you saw?”

“Wouldn’t you rather know where I am from?” the little girl offered.

“Oh, yeah that too. I thought you’re gonna tell me all that along with whatever you saw.” the old man’s eyes sparkled with suppressed anticipation.

“Okay. I will.” the little girl gulped down the last bit of her drink and put the mug down on the small table that stood beside the armchair.

“I live with my aunty in a village close by. I go school there too. And I come to the forest a lot to play with my friends.”

“I figured you must’ve came from the village.” the old man interjected.

“Aunty always warned me not to go too deep inside the forest.” guilt washed over her small face. “My aunty has to work late sometimes. Janesha sneaks out of her home and we run to the forest to play with the fireflies.” she continued, trying not to think about how much trouble she was going to be in. “There’s a magical lake too, if you go a little further. We throw rocks at it and it glows!”

“My aunty’s going to be late tonight and I finished my homework and chores early. There was still light outside, so we thought we could go inside the forest a little more than we usually do. We were hoping to find some cute bunnies. Oh, or deers with horns like glow sticks.”

“Don’t they tell you kids tales about the dangers of venturing out too much?” the old man shook his head with disapproval. “Back in my days, they told us there were wolves who smelled out brats as soon as the sun began to set. They would devour our bones if we went anywhere close to the forest after dark.”

“No, Ms Diya taught us we don’t have wolves in our forest.” the little girl stated as a matter of factly. Her face suddenly became alive with excitement as she recalled something, “but they tell us stories about an invisible line that only appears…”

“…once during a full moon every decade when the flowers with obsidian petals appear.” the old man finished. “They still tell you that, huh.”

“You know that story!” the little girl exclaimed, “I always wonder what happened to the boy.”

“Well, I never heard of no boy in the story.” the old man said, straightening his legs on the carpet.

“But that’s the best part!” she didn’t hide the disappointment in her voice. “You know, the boy who saw the flowers and followed their trail into the forest.”

Everything about the old man hardened for a moment. His grey eyes became cold and distant. He got up and walked towards the window, lifting the curtain to look at the moon. His features softened and his eyes regained their sad undertones.

“Do tell me more about this boy.” the old man urged, letting go of the curtain. The sudden change in his behaviour confused the little girl but her eagerness to tell the story made her pay no attention to it.

“They say the boy woke up in the middle of the night to relieve himself. But when he got out of bed he saw the window was open and the moonlight was especially bright. Slowly, he peered out the window to see a trail of flowers with petals the colour of obsidian growing all the way from his window and disappearing into the forest. He went to wake his mother up and when they returned, there was nothing outside other than darkness.” she paused, her eyes wide as if she was hearing the story for the first time.

“His mother told him he must’ve dreamt it and closed the window shut. When morning came, his mother realised the house was too quiet. She went to check if the boy was still sleeping. When she went into his room, she found an empty bed with no sign of her boy. The morning sun poured in through the open windows. At first, she thought he went outside to play but then she spotted a single petal lying at the edge of the bed and she knew. She knew that her little boy was gone.”


A Continuation of Dance of the cosmic whales.

Dance of the cosmic whales

“What did you see?” the old man enquired. His voice deep and solemn, “speak up, girl.”

“I saw a, a whale. A whale made of stars, swimming in…nothing.” mumbled the little girl. She didn’t look into the eyes of her interrogator. Her eyes were fixed on the twilight.

“Child, I’ve lived in these mountains for years. So many lonely years, to…to see this. My sanity girl, give me back my sanity!” the old man howled with bitter laughter which frightened the little girl. Her shoulder shook as she began to cry silently.

“No, no. I am so sorry!” the old man cleared his throat and kneeled down in front of the little girl. He patted the little girl’s head with an oversized palm. “There, there. Don’t you cry, sweetheart. I wouldn’t hurt ya. I can act a little crazy sometimes, sorry.”

The little girl looked down at her feet and rocked on her heels, sniffling every now and again.

“I promise, I won’t do it again. Forgive me?” he apologised in a gentle and sincere manner.

She finally raised her eyes to look at the old man and smiled. The moonlight glistened on the traces of snot and tears left behind. The old man gave her an old handkerchief to clean her face with.

“Wanna come inside and have a cup of hot cocoa?” he asked, gesturing towards the small wooden cabin he called home. “It’s freezing out here.”

“Sure.” she whispered, blowing her nose on the handkerchief. Her voice was still shaky from crying.

“That’ll be lovely.” she added, louder this time.

They headed towards the door of the cabin which stood only a few steps away from them. The old man held the door open for the little girl to pass through. He might’ve minimised his contact with civilisation as much as possible but he never forgot his manners. She thanked him while he closed the door and hanged his jacket and scarf. Then he gave the little girl a blanket to wrap around herself and told her to make herself at home. She took a sit on a small armchair in front of the fireplace while he made the hot chocolates.


My writing goal at this stage is simply to write anything so that it becomes a part of my everyday routine.