the short story project


Things are not always what they seem

The velvet sky was wrapped up with the cloak of darkness. There was pin drop silence all around with not a soul in sight. The cool breeze was blowing, the sound of the leaves rubbing against each other could be heard and there were hardly any stars twinkling in the sky. David was crying loudly and any of my efforts to solace him didn’t work. I needed answers to my questions; I was completely in a vexed and perplexed state.

I recalled how all these things started some weeks before; I was lying half asleep on the bed beside my son who was awake. That evening my husband had organized a party at our home on the delightful day of our son’s first birthday. David, our son had turned 1 year old. After looking after all the arrangements and attending about 200 guests I was very tired so I slept as soon as the guests left. My husband had gone to drop one of his uncles at his home and he was supposed to return at any time. David’s sudden cry disturbed my peaceful sleep. I could hardly open my eyes; my eyelids had become so heavy and were drooping down. His cry grew louder and louder but my body was tired enough to permit me to get up. Suddenly a creaking sound of the door could be heard, someone had opened the door. Then David stopped crying. I assumed it to be my husband who must have given milk to David. After that, I don’t remember anything. The next morning when I woke up I saw my husband sleeping on the bed holding David in his arms. This pleased me a lot. Then my eyes went on the empty milk bottle lying on the ground.

“My husband gave milk to baby last night,” I thought. Then I went to carry out my household work.

When my husband was having his breakfast, I said to him, “Dear thank you for handling David last night.”

He seemed confused and said, “What are you talking about and why are you grateful to me.”

“You gave milk to David last night, right?” I asked

He said, “No! I was very tired last night so as soon as I came home I fell asleep immediately, Emily must have done that.”

He asked me if Emily was doing her job properly or not.

“She is a perfect maid except for the fact that she is a bit forgetful,” I said

He said to me, “It’s fine, we don’t have anything to do with her memory, her work is to help you out in the household work that’s it.”

I forgot about this incident gradually.

After a few days, I witnessed something very bizarre.

I made David sleep, laid him on the bed and placed two pillows on either side of him to prevent him from falling. Then I went to take a bath. Afterward, when I returned into the room I was surprised to see that David was not on the bed. I searched for him in the whole room. Then I ran to the corridor where I found him crawling. I noticed that he was chasing something. I had never seen David behaving strangely like this before. He seemed to be interacting with someone but there was no one all around. I thought:

“David hasn’t yet learned how to walk, then how did he get down from the bed and come to the corridor?”

Once in the morning, I was preparing breakfast and Emily was busy mopping the drawing room floor. Emily was murmuring a nursery rhyme. David was beside me playing with his teddy bear.

After preparing the breakfast when I turned around, his toy was lying on the ground but David was not there. I quickly called Emily. Emily said that he was neither in the drawing room. I ran to the bedroom but I couldn’t find him there also. I could hear David’s voice in the bedroom but I couldn’t make it out where the sound was coming. I went near the window and saw David in the garden. He was smiling and giggling out there. I went to the garden taking long strides, I found him there crawling and chasing something. This was enough to frighten me, I was sure that something was going wrong in the house. I didn’t want to lose David after losing her; I couldn’t have afforded another loss. I revealed all those weird incidents to my husband. He laughed mockingly at me for being superstitious. He made fun of me and said, “It must be Emily who would have taken David to the garden. You are making simple things complicated.” He didn’t believe me; I knew it was not Emily for sure who took him to the garden because she was murmuring that rhyme all the time.

One evening my husband insisted on a family picture. He wanted to frame it and hang it in the drawing room.

I got dressed up nicely and also got David ready. My husband handed over the camera to Emily. He taught her the basics of using a camera. He said to her, “You have to just click this button here on the top to capture a picture.”

Three of us sat on the sofa and posed for a perfect picture. I made David sit in the middle.

Emily said, “Say cheese.”

Then I noticed Emily’s face expression changing, her pupils dilating and her face turned pale as if she had seen a ghost. She then dropped the camera from the hand. My husband violently got up, picked up the camera and discovered that its lens was broken. He scolded her for being careless. I somehow made him calm and placated him. The next morning I asked Emily about the matter.

Emily whispered something which wasn’t audible. Then she cleared her voice and said, “I swear saw her, as I was going to click the button to capture the picture she came somewhere from behind. When I caught her sight my hands started trembling and so I dropped the camera.”

I missed a heartbeat; I starred at Emily without a blink

She paused for a minute.

She said, “She was a little girl, around 4 years old. She was standing behind you and the moment she noticed that I had seen her she disappeared.” Her face was pale and her voice trembled.

I asked, “What was it, do you mean to say that there was a ghost behind me.”

‘Yes,’ Emily answered.

While Emily was narrating all these to me she was sweating badly.

I needed to do something about it. The house was not anymore safe for my family.

Thinking all over this deeply I acquired a severe headache, I lay on the sofa closing my eyes. The headache was so intense I could hardly bear it. Within a few seconds, I felt unusually icy cold fingers massaging my forehead. The fingers were frail and little. That massage gave me a soothing effect and I loved it. Suddenly something struck my mind. No sooner had I realized that it was her that I opened my eyes abruptly. A frail little girl in a white dress stood in front of me. She stared straight ahead, not moving at all. She smiled at me. I froze in terror at her sight. We both looked at each other for about a few seconds. “Emily, Emily!” I cried in fear. “Are you there? Help me out.” The girl disappeared. Emily came running from the kitchen. I was breathless and crying terribly. I had seen a little girl disappearing in front of my own eyes. How could I be calm?

I narrated the whole horrifying event to my husband. He didn’t believe me as always. He said that I must have seen a dream.

He was not only a firm believer in science but he was also a sort of man who believed in things which he had seen with his own eyes.

The thought of living in that haunted house after that day was revolting.

I used to stay in the bedroom holding David in my arms and singing prayers. Seconds seemed to be hours for me. Emily had also stopped coming and I knew the reason very well. For some days the paranormal activities had stopped.

One night my husband was late; he was busy in some work. I was waiting for him in the drawing room. David was playing with the camera which was damaged. I took it from him and tried to switch it on. Surprisingly it worked. After that what I saw was frightening. It was our family picture that we clicked that night and that mysterious girl was standing behind me in the picture. Now I had evidence with me. I had made up my mind to bring it to an end. I stood in the middle of the room clasping David in my arms tightly.

Mustering up courage, I said on top of my voice, “Hey you mysterious girl, I am not going to take any more of it. We were leading a happy life before you poisoned our lives with your existence. You have come to harm us right. I beg you stop tormenting us, leave us.”

I had just finished saying when that little girl came out of the kitchen. My heartbeat grew faster. I was afraid that I had made her angry. There was no one in the house except me and David. The lights went off. This redoubled my fear, my pathetic condition grew worse. I could make out from the sound of her footsteps that she slowly marched towards me, my heartbeat grew faster.

There were beads of perspiration on my forehead.

She said, “I will not harm you, mummy.”

I questioned myself, “Why is she calling me mummy.”

The sound of her sobbing was clearly audible.

She said, “If my existence troubles you, I will leave this house right now. I love you, mummy.” Immediately the lights came.

Then she disappeared within a blink. I couldn’t even spend a minute there in the house after that spine-chilling encounter with a ghost. I took the camera in my hand and ran outside. I sat under a tree in front of the house remembering all this and thought:

“We need to leave this cursed place immediately,” I thought.

 I felt completely helpless when I heard David crying continuously without a pause. The ghost could come there anytime I needed to go to some other safe place. Within some minutes, my husband arrived. I ran to him and without wasting any time I told him about the ghost and also showed him the picture on the camera. Seeing the picture he dropped the camera.

He asked me, “She called you mom?”

I answered, “Yeah.”

“Give me a minute,” he said nervously.

He went inside the house in spite of my repeated warning, he returned within some minutes. He came near me and fell down and buried his face in his hands and wept.

“What’s wrong with you dear?” I asked him

I had never seen him in that condition before.

He cried, “I am the root cause, I shouldn’t have done that, I am the cause of this ruination.”

That made me confused.

“Whom did you kill,” I asked. “Answer me, will you please explain to me what is happening.”

He said in a sorrowful tone, “Remember 5 year’s back you gave birth to a baby girl.

“Yes how can I forget that day, my baby died the moment when she was taken out of my womb,” I answered.

“No you know incomplete truth,” he said. “Dear I always wanted you to give birth to a son who would carry on the historic family lineage (family name and values) so when the nurse informed me that a baby girl was born to us. I bribed her to tell a lie about the baby’s death. I took the baby and left her on the stairs of an orphanage owned by my friend. I thought that my friend will find her and take care of her. But things didn’t happen as I wanted them to be.”

He cleared his throat and continued.

“I just called him to know about the girl. My friend told me five years back he didn’t admit any baby girl in his orphanage. There was no record of it in this register. He said to me that he found a baby girl lying dead on the stairs 5 years back. According to him, she succumbed to death due to harsh and cold weather outside that previous night.”

All my questions were answered; she was not a ghost instead she was my daughter’s spirit who wanted to live with us. She had not come with the intention of harming us. I couldn’t do well to her when she was alive and now I drove her out of her own house.

I stood there speechless. David was still crying.


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