Prompt: Red and Gold
Source: My little brother. Red and Gold (found through Google):
Response: Neela ducked her head as she came through the cloth door of the shop, a fluttering of dust sprinkling her and swirling in the air. Honeyed sugar spices engulfed her as she entered the shop. In the scant light that traced its way from the single covered window to the floor she could see minuscule floating pieces of the spice plants that had broke off from their brothers hanging from the ceiling to spread their cloying scent,. They seemed to dance with graceful agility in the breeze created by the movement of the cloth.
The shopkeeper - a man she knew by sight, though not by name - looked up as she came in, but when he recognized the tiny street urchin he inclined his head slightly before going back to his business. Neela never bought anything and she never spoke.
Neela worried her bottom lip with her teeth. She always felt she should say something to the shopkeeper - a greeting or an expression of her gratitude for the many hours she had spent in the deep shade of his shop, perusing but never buying - but, as usual, she could not think of anything specific to say and so she said nothing.
Quietly, Neela made her way past the jumbled rows of cloth -cloth reeled onto bolts, cloth wound onto spools as tall as she was, cloth draped over displays. Passing slowly, she reached out her fingers to catch the edges of the fabric. She felt the rough brocade and the slippery silks and satins, the minute embroidery and the woven patterns beneath her fingers.
The fabrics were intriguing, exotic. Neela could have spent the remainder of her life studying perhaps one or two kinds of cloth, but she has a specific aim that day. Though the cloth called to her with its alluring textures, Neela kept herself focused on her goal.
In the farthest corner, hidden beneath a hanging display of gauzy, floating azure fabric was the selection of red and gold fabric. Neela ducked beneath the airy display and touched with reverence the intricate cloth. Though heavily woven it was soft, comfortable.
Neela lifted an edge to touch to her cheek. The design came to her eye line - it spread before her like a field of red and gold fire dancing in a high wind, yet it was somehow warm and calming. It reminded her of watching the sunset on the hills behind the shack she called her home. It reminded her of the cold winter months when she would wrap herself in a blanket and watch from the back door as the sun spread its rose-colored light over the hill. She would watch the sky fade from the gentle reds and golds to intrusive blue then black and wish that she could follow the wonderful colors over the horizon. Neela would wish that she could find somewhere warm - somewhere that was always red and gold and warm.
Neela reached into her small pouch and fingered the coins inside. She had been waiting and saving for so long to buy her own piece of the red and gold sun world - a piece that she could have and carry and wrap herself in - a piece of the rosy light to protect her and keep her safe from the winter and the storms.
Cautiously, Neela lifted the bolt of cloth in her frail arms and walked slowly to the shopkeeper. She laid the fabric on his counter, unable to make eye contact. She fingered the edge of the cloth, unable to let it go.
"Can I have two lengths of this, please?" Neela swallowed, blinking quickly.
The shopkeeper looked down at her, almost tenderly, as he removed the cloth from her hand and measured slightly longer than two lengths. He cut it with a pair of long sheers, severing the lovely threads.
Neela dug in her pouch, piling her coins on the counter before the shopkeeper could even calculate the price in his head. He counted quickly while the small girl fidgeted nervously. The shopkeeper folded the swath of fabric precisely, making a show of care for the benefit of the urchin.
When he offered the fabric Neela took it slowly, clutching it to her chest. She fled the store. It was still light outside - still warm - but it would be cold that night, Neela could tell from the heaviness of the air.
By the time she was home it was dusk and Neela began to shiver, but she was unwilling to unfold the cloth. She was almost afraid to look at it - as if it might disappear.
She reached her house just as the sun began to slip behind the horizon. Neela crouched in the back doorway, unfurling her piece of red-gold sun and encircled herself with it. It was warm, safe.
Neela fell asleep before the sun had fully faded from the sky, leaning against the door frame. The night grew chill and harsh around her - cold and vicious - but Neela never felt unsafe. She had never felt more protected in her entire life. Her dreams were peaceful and sweet even as her skin took on a blue tint that contrasted with the red and gold of her protective sheath.
Notes: Well my computer is back . . . it's not perfect nor is it back to where it was but it is back from the brink - hallelujah!