“I don’t see it!”
Dawn Nicolson’s grave had been vanishing for over a century. With fewer visitors to the island on which it lay, like most of the island’s unkempt and abandoned colonial-era cemeteries, the small flagstone which once held her remains, now lay hidden from view, in an obscure corner where obelisks, crosses, and funeral statuary peeped out in chips and shards from beneath dense undergrowth.
Such a hard-to-believe dead end for the fiercely independent woman that she once was. But history has a way of coming to the rescue. A larger than life willow sculpture statue woven on a steel frame had mysteriously sprung up in Bali, drawing huge crowds.
One thing led to another. By Thursday, walking in endless spirals to cover tourist locations was proving a thoroughly asinine exhausting affair.
“Here’s what I expect to unfold of the last chapter . . .”
“For chrissake, the woman is dead and gone. Leave her be!”
“The world is full of strange things my friend, like dawn breakers and dawn seekers and dawn chasers . . . you need only to look!”
“I’ve looked! What I see is no garden, but an ill-maintained graveyard.”
“Need only calling it a graveyard! Why are you whispering? Like the dead care to hear our views.”
“You forget, it’s not yet dawn, crowds are at the statue . . .”
A famed dancer, who had once blazed an exotic trail from the steamy dance halls of Paris through Egypt into Burma, Dawn Nicolson had crawled through life like she had been born with wings. Massively popular in her heyday she had grown name, fame, and notoriety as the Shalimar of the East, for her ostrich-feather act, sparkling in the sun, performed on hot, sandy beaches, especially in that first moment as the round red orb broke over the waters, at dawn.
It was mesmeric those who had seen would retell from old writings discovered in Parisienne news editions and her own scrapbook. A well-known novelist had devoted an entire book to her, most of it fictitious by some accounts. But that is where it all ended.
Truth to tell, no one really knew anything much more of this quintessentially quixotic woman living in strait-laced Edwardian times, who had left little of her life behind, except a quaint mix of fantasy and folklore and her trademark dawn awakening, which gave goose-bumps.
“This is it! We’re there! The Garden of Kamara!”
“It’s not yet light! I don’t like it! Let’s get out of here!
“Pale hands chiseled in stone, resting under the canopy of the great Jambu tree, show thyself!”
The pergola moved, its crossbeams swaying. Moving precariously like a burning marionette, it collapsed. Some screamed. The show consisted of being serenaded by a wicker-woman lookalike of Dawn Nicolson. But what terrified concert-goers saw was the real dawnrise pinky red from out of her gravestone.
It was the dawn of a new day.
Rekha Valliappan is a multi-genre writer of short fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. She has won awards for her writing, been shortlisted, long-listed and published in international magazines and anthologies. She can be found at her website SILICASUN and is active on Twitter @silicasun and FaceBook : Silicasun