Title: Her Songbird
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 11 December 2009
Fandom: Film Star (Bollywood movie)
Word Count: 1373
Summary: Heera receives a letter from Leela regarding her impending release from prison.
Warnings: None really.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW09
Disclaimer/Copyright: Intellectual property of director Tanuja Chandra and the production company.
Heera strode through the house then dashed up the stairs to the bedroom she shared with Digs. She called this room her sanctuary, especially in the early afternoons on days like today when no one else was around to interrupt. After a day spent in negotiations for yet another dramatic movie, Heera needed the solitude and serenity of her bedroom. More than the quiet, she needed to lose herself in her thoughts.
This space became her quiet place away from the rest of the world where she let herself fantasize about her songbird, Leela Sharma. If her husband knew of her thoughts and dreams of the woman they had saved from the death penalty, he might condemn Heera to that very punishment herself. But as much as she loved Digs, her soul belonged to the green-eyed woman whose story had become the biggest accomplishment of Heera’s acting career.
The white envelope propped against her mahogany jewelry case caught Heera’s eyes and she sucked in a sharp breath. Dare she hope? She suspected the envelope contained a letter from Leela. Three quick strides brought her across the room and flush with her dresser. With Leela’s release less than thirty days away, Heera hoped the letter contained the news she wanted to hear – that Leela would come to live with them.
Heera had the perfect incentive to offer, since she and her husband had been serving as foster parents for Leela’s young daughter while Leela served her sentence for killer her abusive husband. Digs adored the girl and would want to be sure she was safe from any potential retribution against Leela, so Heera knew just what to say to him to get him to concede to the living arrangements. But she had no idea what Leela would say to the idea, and that left her with a frisson of worry.
Her hand trembled as she reached for the letter. She lifted it closer then traced the handwriting with her fingertip. With a loving touch, she spelled out Leela’s name over and over. She turned the envelope over and in a rush, tore the envelope open and dropped the ripped paper to the floor. Taking her time, she unfolded the paper, drew in a deep breath. A hint of Leela’s scent permeated the paper and Heera let out a wistful sigh. She dropped her gaze to flowing handwriting.
Her heart stopped for a brief moment then began to race as her eyes scanned the page. Heera’s hand shook harder as the news sank in. She re-read the letter another three times before looking up. She pressed the letter against her chest, over her heart, and felt the thud of her heartbeat beneath her palm.
The letter contained the news she’d been anticipating and yearning for, and her breath caught in her throat. In less than thirty days, Leela would be a free woman, finally released from the remaining hold her deceased husband held over her. In less than a month, Leela would no longer be tied to Abhishek in any place other than her own mind. Heera’s heart constricted at the thought of the man who’d tortured and abused the woman she loved. She knew the whole story, from the initial meeting to the courtship to the marriage to the home life that turned hellish almost from the start. She had heard it from Leela’s own lips, had even experienced a version of it when she portrayed Leela in the movie.
She shuddered in recollection of the stories Leela had told her, in the early days when she’d been formulating the film inspired by Leela’s saga. Those were the days before she’d realized how she longed to be the object of Leela’s devotion and affection. She shoved the rush of envy she always felt when she thought of Leela and Abhishek. Not even the years that had passed could stem the tide of anger and resentment she felt toward the man who’d nearly killed her songbird. Even though he’d received his comeuppance, Heera still longed to replace him in Leela’s heart. A woman such as Leela deserved tenderness, and Heera wished to show her that.
After reading the letter one more time, she smiled. She’d been trying to figure what reason to offer Leela to entice the other woman to stay with them, but now she only needed to convince Digs. She believed the man would not say no to her request, especially given his attachment to Leela’s daughter, but she had a tiny flicker of doubt. She didn’t know if her doubt sprang from being unsure of Dig’s reaction to her request or his reaction if he were to find out the truth. She wondered how her husband would react if he knew the truth, knew of Heera’s deepest longings and desires.
Perhaps he already knew and didn’t mind, although Heera doubted that. In her heart, she suspected he would be aghast to learn of the nature and depth of her need for Leela. Digs might be more liberal in his thinking than most of his countrymen, but even he had his limitations. While most men from the West would salivate at the thought of their wives making love to another woman, Indian men considered such interactions taboo. Digs might not be as heavy-handed as most Indian men, but she felt certain her husband would draw the line at his wife making love to Leela, or even her need for the other woman. She wasn’t sure she wished to put his limitations to the test, especially since she suspected her love was unrequited.
Her sigh echoed in the room, a heavy sound of resignation. As much as she desired Leela, she knew her lust-driven fantasies must remain secret. If she knew Leela thought of her in the same manner, she would take the chance to deepen their relationship. Fear of losing their friendship kept Heera from pushing that boundary.
She let out another frustrated sigh. Heera should not waste her time wishing for what would never be. Even after all the abuse at the hands of Abhishek, Leela seemed to still love the man. Jealousy, swift and sure, coursed through Heera for a second time in less than ten minutes. She shook her head. Why did Leela inspire these intense emotions in her? Would any other woman stir her in the same way?
Heera clenched her fists, dropped to the edge of the bed. She pounded the mattress then grabbed handfuls of the bedspread in her fists. No matter how many times she tried to deny her feelings, deep in her heart, she knew the truth. Leela embodied everything a good Hindu wife should be, still devoted and loyal to her deceased husband despite all the pain and abuse he’d inflicted upon her. Heera knew she embodied few of the characteristics of a good Hindu wife, rebelling against most of the traditions, as her lusty thoughts would attest.
Good Hindu wives didn’t fantasize about men other than their husbands, and they definitely would not fantasize about another woman. But Heera didn’t want to be a good Hindu wife. She wanted to cast off the inhibitions forced on her by her native country. She craved to toss aside the religious restrictions forced on women. She desired to lock Leela away in her bedroom, in this room she considered her sanctuary, and then slowly unwrap the other woman’s sari to reveal the luscious curves – the full breasts, the wide hips, the thick thighs.
Heera wanted to watch as every inch of Leela’s body was slowly exposed to her hungry gaze, to place kisses in the crook of Leela’s elbows and knees, to spread Leela’s legs and inhale the heady scent of her arousal. A shiver of desire and longing coursed through Heera’s body and she let her eyes drift shut. An image of Leela, clad in a vibrant red sari and singing a haunting melody filled Heera’s mind’s eye.
The distant slam of a door broke her reverie and Heera opened her eyes wide. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror when she heard her husband calling for her. Time to set her plan in motion. Time to bring her songbird home where she belonged.