Peacemaker

Rea Nelson turned eighteen that Autumn. No cakes, no parties, no wishes, no presents to cheer her up or celebrate her legality. “Well, this isn’t something offbeat anyways”, she told herself as she got back to finishing a story she had started working on. The sound of a breaking glass stopped her. “Must be him again”, she groaned as she walked down to clear the mess, something she had been doing every night. The living-room of their house that had not seen air in long unfurled the stench of wine and tobacco as she walked up to the broken wine glass. Rea did not dare to complain. Not even when he chided her with words an eighteen-year-old must not hear, because her father was the only possession she had. “I’d rather live in a dilemma than lose him for peace”, she often told herself. 

She laid in bed that night trying to rectify the puzzles her late-night thoughts had given. “Peace, peace, peace”, she cried, then snuggled in bed. “Where do I find peace?” she kept rehearsing the line like it’s her favourite mantra until she heard the wheels of a vehicle she assumed was a car. Feeling queered, she walked up to her window, trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening in her neighbourhood. “That house has never had people in so long”, she thought and watched two figures get off an Elantra. Watching a couple kiss each other and walk into the house made Rea’s cheeks flush a little and she drew the lace curtains together again assuring herself that she had something interesting to do apart from cleaning her father’s mess every night.

 

Ever since, Rea had sat by her windowpane every night to watch the couple spend beautiful times in their garden. She had even watched their passionate kisses without a flinch in her eyes then smiled and looked away, reminding herself that she should give them their privacy. “Falling in love could be beautiful too”, she had thought at such times trying to change her mind about the pain her first love had given her. Rea was not the kind of girl you find in books or movies, she was fair and beautiful with the sharp features her mother had left her with but could not find a guy who’d accept her for the kind of turmoil she was in; Losing her mother to brain tumor been the first cause, then her father turning into a drunkard. Besides her father who very seldom remembered her existence, she only had a good companionship with a man from the opposite lane. She called him ‘Bliss’. He was an old man who lived all by himself in a house that looked like it had not been renovated since Rea was six. “Why do you live in an old house still?” she had asked him to which his replied had always been immutable: “One must not forget his origin”.

 

The feeble hands of ‘bliss’ always welcomed Rea with candies and cookies that she always adored. The two had many things in common apart from the difference in their age, out of which the fact that he lost his wife to the same ailment she had lost her mother to was one. “Why did you never want to marry another woman?” she had asked him when she found him doing his chores alone even in his hardest times. “She was not someone so replaceable, cupcakes” he told her and added that he was from an era that did not replace memories that easily but cherished the moments that brought happiness once even if the source was long gone. “And that is why, peace reigned in my house all the time”, he’d conclude leaving Rea to think about the tortuous generation she was born to.

On a Friday night when rest of the people in her lane had gone out clubbing or celebrating their weekend start, Rea sat by her windowpane turning pages of a photo album her mother had left behind. Although the pictures and memories of her mother had not continued after she had turned six, each moment captured remained a solid memory to her. “It was more peaceful then”, she told and traced the outline of her mother’s face with her finger and smiled. Closing the book of memories, she looked out at her neighbour’s house to find their everyday romance but unusually did not find them that day. “Must’ve gone out with the rest” she told herself, smiling and got off the windowpane to walk up to her bed. That night had been a little strange to her, there was no sign from her neighbours.

 

Next morning, Rea woke up to the sound of somebody whimpering loudly. “Sounds like that woman from the haunted house”, Rea chuckled and created romantic notions about the couple in her head until she spotted through the window an unusual scenario; the man was in their garden, not looking very happy like he always used to and she could hear the wailing of the woman increase. Discourteous words and other things that were thrown out by the woman were in the air. “Something’s wrong”, Rea realized. She watched the fracas continue for a while and then there were no more things thrown out or offensive words to be heard, but from what she had overheard, she concluded that it was due to a trust issue and neither of the two had given up their ego at any point.

 

“Once, they gave me a little hope on love and now it’s all gone to trash”, Rea told herself before she got dressed to leave to visit ‘Bliss’. On her way to his house, she kept replaying the squabble between the couple, trying to solve her questions as to who was actually in fault. She had always wanted to become a writer who’d bring peace among people. When she was only thirteen she had written a short-story on how the birth of a baby boy had brought peace in a parted family and also of a mysterious mirror that brought inner-peace to a woman who had turned into a hex. “Maybe I could write a story for them”, she thought but soon gave up, thinking they would not be bothered to read a short story to erupt peace amidst them. As she reached the old man’s house, she walked in like she owned the place and found the interior of the house completely strange. The old man had lived his life in solitude after his wife’s death and Rea had been his only companion. He lived on his pension being a retired school teacher but always looked jocular like he owned all the wealth in the world. His house was a small building compared to the other houses in his lane, but what Rea had always loved about it was that he always kept it clean and colourful. Exploring the changes in his house further, she moved about into the house and found a new cockatoo in a cage, picture frames – all containing new paintings by the old man and a new clock that looked very antique. As she continued traversing thoroughly she noticed that the stairs that lead to the man’s room had been painted in different colours too. “He’s weird”, she smiled and walked up the stairs in search of him.

 

In bed, the old man was seated reading a book that looked very old just like the other things in his house. “Hello, cupcakes”, he greeted as he saw Rea in his room and widened his feeble eyes to tell her he had been so excitedly waiting for her visit like he did every day. “Hello, Bliss. Why are you here in your room at this time of the day?”, she asked him finding it a little unusual to see him in bed in that time of the day. To her question she got no answer but a smile as he pointed at the book he had been reading when she entered the room. Directing her to sit by him, he started turning pages and told Rea that it was not a random book but a journal his wife had left behind for him. “This contains our happy memories”, he said with love overflowing in his eyes. As he turned pages, he started narrating to Rea the moments of his married life he always cherished and repeatedly said, “Doing things that make you happy gives you inner-peace, my child” and laughed. “That is what many of the newer generations will never find.” On that note, Rea nodded to herself. He was right. After all, the reason why most of the families lived a depressing, busy life was because they always followed their routine and never spared any time to do what would make them happy. “We are all searching for peace outside when truly it is deep inside us”, she told herself, still trying to figure out a solution for her neighbour’s scuffle. Deciding that Bliss was the only man who would actually solve it out for her, she opened up to him about her neighbours and told him what had happened that morning. “I thought love and peace were interconnected”, she told him. Bliss, who was then sipping his almond tea, stopped and looked at Rea who he found very serious and smiled. “It is, my dear. It is”, he told her. “But just as much you find love and peace together, you must comprehend that the chances that you lose peace while losing your love is a part of it too. It’s not complicated, but it shall be if you don’t follow one rule in a relationship”, he added and continued sipping his tea, waiting for Rea to come up with more questions. She was confused. More confused than she was when she came to him for a solution. What was he saying? Was it a wrong decision she had taken to actually ask him for a solution? “Maybe he wouldn’t have a proper way out for this for me because he always abased the newer generations”, she thought to herself but told him, “You lost your love but you always say your house is reigned with peace. How?” The old man laughed again. “Now that’s the secret to peace, cupcakes. Jenny and I have had bitter times, tough moments and even many separations while we were together as much as the happy moments I talk to you about. The reason why none of those permanently split us was because we always reminded each other of the best moments we’ve had, be it the smallest”, he said. He took her hand into his and further said, “You are a peacemaker, my little diamond. Peace runs in your blood. Go home now and you’ll know just what exactly you will have to do”, he assured her and Rea returned home with a lot of confidence and hope.   

 

“I’m a peacemaker”, she told herself continuously until she walked herself home. Rea had planned on what she had to do to bring the love birds together again. As she opened the door to her house, in the living she saw her father and few other men laughing hysterically at some joke, Rea knew would have been about the wives of those men who were there. “There she comes. The good for nothing my wife left behind. Have you got me more bottles today, girly?”, he shouted at her and the other men started laughing out again. Rea did not wait to reply him or react. She walked straight up to her room and waited for a while until she regained her inner-peace. “I have something much more important to do today”, she motivated herself and worked on her notebook busily. Carefully folding the two different notes she had written down, she put them in two separate covers and took a deep breathe. “Let’s do this”, she smiled and walked down the stairs, then out the door to her neighbour’s house.

 

The doorbell that Rea hesitantly rung brought a woman at the door and she greeted Rea like she had met an old friend. In the lady’s eyes, Rea noticed a kind of disturbance and comprehended that things had not been settled between them. “It’s been few weeks since you moved here and I never got to visit you. So… I thought I’d just welcome you with a little something I made”, she said and handed the woman a jar of cookies she had baked along with the note. Before the woman could thank her or request her inside, she excused her and left the place. “Now it’s the man”, she thought and waited outside her door expecting the car again. 

 

After a while of waiting, Rea gladdened to see the Elantra arrive. Before the man got off the car and went up to the door to repeat his part of apologising to the woman, Rea walked up to him and handed him a note. “She wanted me to hand it over to you”, she said. “It’s probably the ego that’s stopping her from giving it to you directly… but… here you go”, she shrugged looking at her neighbour’s house as an information that the note was from his wife. Taking the note to his hand, the man thanked Rea and opened the note right away. Rea did not wait to directly watch him read the note she had written but went up to her room and did her usual peeping. From the window she noticed the man wiping away his tears and walking up to the door hurriedly. Before he had to knock on the door, the door was opened by the woman and she jumped onto him, hugging him like a koala bear. Rea’s cheeks flushed and she let a long sigh of relief out. “All I had to do was to write two letters”, she laughed. “It was easy. I just had to remind each other of the good times they had all these weeks since they moved here but from two different perspectives”, she grinned. Drawing the curtains together again, she walked back to her bed, recollecting the memories of her little self with her parents. “Bliss was right”, she thought. “He had always been right about peace. It’s the easiest thing one could create and spread in this world but why do so many people refuse to do?”. Her thoughts started hovering in her mind but she fell asleep a little early that night.

 

For the first time in twelve years, Rea woke up happily. She did her dressing very quick and felt exuberated. It was a Sunday and her first thought were about Bliss. Packing some of her cookies for him, she left the house while her father was still fast asleep in the couch. As she walked past her neighbour’s, she noticed the two standing at the gate together. “Now this is what peace does to people. They look so happy, it makes me complacent”, she thought to herself smiling at the couple who returned her with wider smiles.

 

After all the walking, she reached the old man’s house. The door was closed for her that day but she did not care. Opening the door carefully, she went in looking for Bliss. She had to thank him for believing in her. If not for him, she would have not been able to bring peace between the couple or even have started working on a new novel the same day she had written notes for them. Walking up to his room where she assumed he must be, she found him in bed, looking very feeble. “Hello my little cupcakes”, he smiled as he saw Rea but her smile faded into a disappointment, seeing him in that state. “What has happened?”, she asked the man, her eyes almost drenched in tears. The man directed her to sit beside him in bed and smiled again. “Jenny misses me way too much”, he said and looked at the wall in front of him and chuckled, where Rea found new pictures of Bliss and his wife together, framed and hung covering the entire wall. “I think I miss her too”, he added and held Rea’s hand. “My dear, we live in the awkward moment between living and dying. You cannot expect peace if you live thinking about death nor die peacefully if you only think about living. It’s a simple fact of life everyone must fathom”, he told her while his eyes looked into Rea’s unflinchingly. She looked at him poignantly as he shared his sagacious words with her. “Is he sharing all these with me because he thinks it is his last day?”, she asked herself, petrified yet paying heed to each and every wise word of Bliss. “I may die today, this very second and I am not fretful about it”, he said, his puny eyes almost twinkling. “But what will I do without a friend like you?”, Rea cried not being able to control the tears in her eyes. The man hugged her and said, “I will be with you as long as peace prevails in you. If you want me to stay, then you know what you need to do, cupcakes” and she smiled with tears still running down her left cheek.

Rea stayed with Bliss until he fell asleep. She was not sure if he actually went to sleep or slipped away but hoped for all the good to be with him and walked back to her house.

 

The living looked empty and quiet as she walked in and found her father not there at his usual place. Feeling bizarre, she walked up to the lavatory then to his bedroom but he was not to be seen. Sweat ran down her head from the weird thoughts that her mind provoked as she recalled the last words of Bliss’s. “Daddy!”, she cried still walking around the house like a little kid lost in a carnival. As she came back to the living, she heard the sound of utensils from the kitchen. “He’s never used it. Never since mommy’s demise”, she thought feeling even bizarre but walked up to it and saw her father busily cooking. The sight itself bewildered Rea but in a blissful manner. She stared at him for a while until he turned to look at her and smiled. No tobacco stench, no alcohol stains on his dress; he looked very clean and had had a clean shave after twelve long years. He walked towards Rea and kissed her on the forehead. “Surprised, sweetheart?”, he asked her with a grin on his face that made her laugh so hard until she hugged him and started crying. “But how?”, she asked him and he pointed at a paper at the kitchen counter. “Peace comes in many forms and you are one”, he said and she nodded though she was yet in utter scepticism. The paper when she unfolded, was a letter. It said, ‘Dear dad’ but Rea knew she did not written a letter to him. As she read through the letter, she comprehended who had written the note. Excusing her daddy in the kitchen she ran up the stairs gaily up to her window. The curtains were slightly apart and she caught a glimpse of the couple through it in the garden. For once, they were looking back at her. Rea opened the lace curtains completely and waved at the couple who waved back at her. She showed them the note they had used to bring peace between her dad and herself and they nodded pulling themselves together as a sign that it was only a token of gratitude they had shared with her for the amount of peace she’d created between them. With that, Rea drew the curtains back together and walked back to her bed. She knew she did not have to walk down that stairs again to clear her father’s mess but only to taste the food he would cook for her like he had when her mother was alive and go to sleep peacefully. With that thought she opened her journal and wrote in it: ‘And in the end, every one of us could be a peacemaker in somebody’s life only if we try’.  

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