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Story Time: Home alone

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Illustration by Sophia Khan
Illustration by Sophia Khan

It was a stormy night and I was all alone in my house. All of a sudden, a sweet music began to play. It sounded familiar, but my mind was blank and I just couldn’t understand what caused it. Meanwhile, strong cries of the wind were shaking the windows of my room. The curtains were moving here and there.

Some weeks earlier, we were told about Uncle William’s aggravating illness, a former colleague of my father. He was a very remarkable personality and my dad had fond memories of him. So when my dad heard of his death, he was pretty sad and just couldn’t miss uncle’s funeral. Meanwhile, I was having my semi-annual exams.

After I realised that the two things were clashing, I thought of ways to resolve the situation. My parents had never left me alone in the house and none of our relatives or friends lived nearby, so I couldn’t stay anywhere else. Uncle’s daughter was my best friend and I wanted to meet her in this tough time. After some time, I had a talk with my family and finally, it was decided that I had to stay at home and the rest of the family would be departing for New Jersey.

Next morning when I woke up, everyone was doing preparations for the journey. Dad was washing the car, mum was making lunch for the trip and Andy was cuddling his dog which he could not take along. They were all ready after an hour.

“Alice, take care of yourself and the house. Beware that you turn off the stove and water taps after using. Also, call us as soon as possible. Don’t open the door unnecessarily until you know that a trusted person is knocking. If any street vendor or serviceman is there, just don’t give any response. Have a good night’s sleep and don’t panic at night as I know you are not used to being alone. We would return tomorrow evening,” Mum kept giving me her last minute instructions as I kept assuring her of my responsible behaviour in their absence.

“Goodbye, have a nice time ahead!” Andy waved to me.

At last, they left. I watched the car turning around the juncture until it finally disappeared.

Now, I was alone — feverish, curious, lonesome and jittery, all at the same time. I began thinking about how adventurous it is to be alone. Several scenes from those suspense movies began bouncing inside my mind as I eagerly planned how I would be going to spend my day.

After having a punch of orange juice and some sandwiches prepared and kept by mum for me, I headed towards the park to get some fresh air and exercise. I did some cycling, then had a stroll and eventually sat on a bench. Soon, I started to get bored. I noticed that time was moving on very slowly, and I was doing nothing but wasting it. I realised I had to return home and begin studying for my exams, regardless of all distractions blowing inside me.

Back home, even after trying to concentrate on one topic, I could not study. This was perhaps because I had become used to studying in a noisy environment, Andy and his never-ending chatter were to blame.

I do not remember when I fell asleep but found myself waking up at nearly 10 pm, bright and lively. I got up and turned towards my bed and lay down on it, wondering how I was ever going to fall asleep now.

There were strong, frigid winds blowing outside that caused terrifying sounds when they collided with doors and window shutters. I looked out of the window. The lucent moonlight spread over the city in a horrifying manner, making visible most of it. I went back and again lay on the bed.

Meanwhile, a sweet music began playing. I was motionless. My eyes grew wide. I thought I had heard it before. After a few seconds, it became spine-chilling.

Gathering my courage, I tried to locate it. Moving my pillows, blanket and the clothes on a chair, I could find nothing. When I peeped under the bed, Andy’s teddy bear, playing its guitar with fervour, caught my attention. Andy had probably left it under the bed.

My night had been ruined, I was too uncomfortable to sleep and waited for the sun to rise and my parents to return in the afternoon. To this day, I still wonder how that teddy bear started playing music on its own.

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 16th, 2019