“I have got a new idea. Want to hear about it?” Those bright eyes insisted. My weirdest, eccentric but the cutest friend who always came up with the bizarre games. My parents usually worked in longer shifts and weren’t home till late night and I, being a teenager at that time, told them I could take pretty much care of myself so we’d have the whole house to ourselves.
That day, as usual, we met at my place after school and she entered all giggling with some old rusty board. Before I could ask she started on her own. Being the blabber she was, I let her.
“Okay! This is an Ouija board. And I have got this voodoo doll with me and we will summon ghosts today”, in her super excited voice she expected a great reaction but none came.
Seeing my impassive face she continued “Oh C’mon, It’s been 3 years I am trying to convince you and you always say NO!”
“Exactly! And you still want to pursue it” I questioned.
In my defense, it was very hard to turn down an endearing person like her, that too when she looked at me with those puppy eyes. Hence, we started. We had one storage room that no one was using and we established our business there. I knew nothing of how this thing works but looking at her I felt she was a pro. Lighting candles, mumbling something, eyeing around the room. Honestly, I kept rolling my eyes at her.
We were holding hands, with eyes closed and she was chanting something from the book which she said got free with this stuff and suddenly there was a loud thud at the window. I freed my hands in panic. I opened my eyes and caught her laughing hard.
“It was the neighbor’s kid. You know how he keeps throwing something or the other. OMG! Look at your face,” she snorted.
“Shut up, Stupid! I don’t want to play this game anymore. I don’t like it.” Frightened as I was, I asked her to go back home that day. Convincing me it’s all fine, she left.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Some uneasy feeling kept crawling up in my veins which I couldn’t figure out. Finally, after trying multiple distractions I fell asleep.
The next day after school, I tried contacting her, went to the park we used to meet but she was nowhere. This happened consecutively for the next 3 days.
She was nowhere to be found. She always said she lived across the street but we always met at the same place so I never bothered asking her postal address. I started feeling jittery.
Panic-stricken, I decided to visit her neighborhood. I tried talking to people, told her name, and explained her features if they have seen her but all in vain. I walked some more steps and fortunately, was able to find the house as she had described once and swiftly ran towards to ring the doorbell. A pretty lady opened it for me and I asked for her.
“Is Karen home? She didn’t meet me for the last 3 days. I am her friend, Venka. “ Perplexed, she answered “No, I am afraid she is not. Who are you looking for?”
I again explained to the lady how did Karen look. She was taken aback for a moment. I am sure I read something on her face.
She dismissed me without saying a word. She was about to close the door when I insisted.
“You know something, don’t you? What happened to her? Please tell me.”
With a heavy sigh, the lady tried forming the words “She met with an accident”.
I couldn’t believe her words. The surroundings went numb. I could hear nothing, at all!
I was too shocked to cry and upon finding my voice I asked, “When?”
“20 years ago.”
“This is some kind of a dream. This is a dream” I kept mumbling.
“This is true, My dear. I am, well I was, her younger sister. My mother lives in the backyard and still awaits her. Many people around claimed that they spotted her in a school uniform at times but even that was a long time ago.”
She was always in school uniform. I never knew which school she went to. For 3 years I never knew anything except her name. She was so playful, so bubbly, always mischievous with giddy excitement in her that the only thing we talked about was of my problems.
I felt a part of me got ripped apart and ejected out of my body from this confounded revelation whereas my heart plummeted down to the ground. My body paralyzed.
“Are you okay, dear?” She asked.
“I suggest you should go home and rest”. The words didn’t enter my ears but I started marching back with baby steps, still absorbing the shock.
I had walked a few steps when I see her, in her freaking school uniform; waving gleefully at me. I stopped. She came running towards me. Gasping for air she asked,
“How come you’re here? How did you find me? Never mind, I am glad you did. ”
“Why do you always wear a school uniform? Why don’t I know anything about you except your name?” Words were out before I realized. “Are you the same girl who died 20 years ago by a car accident?”
She froze. Her eyes widened as if I caught her red-handed. “Answer me!”
To my utter shock, I found her laughing hard. Again! “I hate her when she does it”, I thought.
“Would you stop laughing while I am asking you something” She being herself ignored what I said and that day I witnessed the literal display of ROFL. This made me livid.
Gauging my reaction she controlled herself and continued, “No, No I am not her. Yes, the girl died many years ago but that wasn’t me. Moreover, you know nothing about me because you, stupid fellow never ask me anything. You are always wallowing in your own problems and every time we meet I try to keep you happy.”
“Then where were you these days? Especially after our Ouija board encounter. Do you know how shaken I was after your disappearance?”
She apologized and said her parents had been thinking of getting a divorce, there had been regular fights & that she was quite worried and didn’t even go to school. I realized how less I had heard from her, about her issues. But I was so relieved to see her doing fine, though going through a rough time but at least she isn’t dead or had been dead for years.
Out of the blue, I heard someone screaming from behind. I looked at her. She was so calm.
“That happens here. It’s normal. There’s an old lady. She has frequent seizures. Do you want an ice-cream? Don’t worry, I will get you one. Wait here!”
My words were almost out that how could she change the subject so easily, that how could she leave me here all alone but she was already gone.
The high-pitched voice became clearer as if approaching me. I turned around and saw a lady with unruly hair and almost as old as my grandma running frantically towards me. She grabbed my arm and started asking “Where is she? Where is my daughter?.”
I could see she was howling in pain. She had a foul smell and the darkest eye baggage I had ever seen. Someone who hasn’t slept for years or taken a bath either.
Crying she asked again.
I was petrified.
“I don’t know, I don’t know who you are talking ab….” My eyes fell to the picture frame she was holding in her other hand. It was her. It was Karen. Is she really dead? What game is she playing with me? The quota of swallowing the number of shocks on that day reached its limit. I was flabbergasted. Judging from my reaction she continued weeping and confessed,
“It was my fault. She was a wonderful & playful child. I should never have thought of getting a divorce. Hearing this news she ran away from my arms and bolted out of the door to the main road. She met with an accident here, where you are standing right now. “
OKAY! This has to stop. Somebody, please wake me up!!
Unfortunately, it was all true.
The Old lady begged, “If you ever see her again please, please tell her to meet Mama. She appears in front of so many people but never before me. She is still angry with me. Tell her, her Mama is still waiting. She will wait for 20 more years. Tell her, to come to Mama. Tell her, to meet me one time. Tell her to come to me” saying she collapsed.
The pretty lady, allegedly Karen’s sister finally found her mother and helped her get up. I watched everything as if it was airing on Television. I collected myself somehow and walked back home.
I never heard from Karen again!