Scarlet


“Shhh…you might wake her”, said Maya happily pointing at her bed.

Sanjay and Anita looked confused. “Look! She is right there on the bed. She was very tired and wanted to rest.”, insisted their 6-year-old.

By now, Sanjay and Anita were worried.

“Maya!You should not make up such stories!!”, admonished Sanjay.

“But, she is right there. She is wearing a red gown and has beautiful black hair! Can’t you see her?”, responded a hurt Maya.

Anita felt for her daughter. “Look Maya, there is nobody in this room. We understand that since we moved here you miss your friends… It has only been a week since we moved here. We will soon introduce ourselves to our neighbors and you might make some new friends. Now, please get ready for bed…”

Anita tucked the little girl in and kissed her good night. She turned on Maya’s music box but it refused to work!

“Great – another gadget that refuses to work in this house!”, murmured Sanjay as he took it in his hands. It had been rough since the move. The house seemed to be plagued with electrical issues and the temperature within the house oscillated from normal to warm and then cold  multiple times in an hour, which he had attributed to issues with the central heating and cooling.  And now, Maya was making imaginary friends! Was the move to this perfect home a wrong decision on their part?

As he touched the dial on the music box, the power went out bathing the entire house in darkness.

“Must be the fuse… Let me check…”, sighed an exhausted Sanjay. He turned on the flash lights on his cell phone and made his way to the basement.

He passed by the living room where the bulb on their new standing lamp flickering. “That’s odd…” he thought, wondering how the lamp flickered when the rest of the house had no power.

Inside the basement, he was relieved to find the switch board quickly. It was on the wall directly across the entrance to the basement. As he strode towards the wall he tripped on something which  turned out to be a small trunk at his foot.

“Must belong to the previous owners”, he thought. He had never ventured into the basement before and had not paid much attention to it when their real estate consultant had given them a tour of the entire house before the sale.  Located in Ooty the house was a 150 year old stone beauty built during the British Raj. Sanjay and Anita had been offered a  great deal on the house and Sanjay had been eager to complete the sale.

As he bent down to move the trunk aside, it’s top flipped over revealing the contents; some old clothes, documents and photographs. He picked up a photo and examined it by his flash-light;  a chill ran down in his spine. It was a photo of a beautiful woman with long dark hair wearing a red gown.  “Scarlet, at her Debutante ball – 1962” revealed the back of the photo in beautiful black calligraphy.

He was still rooted to the spot when he heard a familiar tune in the still of the night. It seemed to be coming from upstairs, from his daughter’s music box . Then he heard Maya…

“Look ma! You didn’t believe me, but my friend just fixed the music box. She says her name is Scarlet…”

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10 thoughts on “Scarlet

  1. Poor Maya. No one even attempts to believe her, and telling stories is what makes a good writer. I like how much history you added to your story: the house, the photograph. Your touches of spooky worked really well, especially the temperature changes and the music box tinkling from the floor above. There are a few places where the story describes things the reader doesn’t need to know. For instance, where the circuit board is in relation to the basement entrance. Trust your reader to fill in some details.

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