The living may be alone. The soul never is.
“Sarah, please come down at once. You mother has served the dinner.” No response. “Sarah?” I yelled again. “It’s alright, John. She’ll come down.” said Martha. Just then, the feeble wooden door slowly creaked open, and sounds of footsteps being placed against the hollow staircase reverberated. There she was, my daughter, Sarah; staring at me through her seemingly tired eyes, with her teddy clasped to her.
“Come here, dear. Sit near me.” She did not say a word. Martha placed herself, and we were about to pray. “Daddy”, said Sarah. “Yes, dear.” “I am too tired to pray. Can I go back to my room and sleep?” I placed my head over her forehead to check if she had a cold. “You seem to be alright, Sarah. Is something bothering you?”
Just then, she stared at me in the most bewilderingly abnormal way possible, and then stared back at her bedroom door, upstairs. And, she kept staring at it. My eyes met Martha’s and we knew that we were clueless about this reaction. “Sarah?” Again, no response. “Sarah!” She jerked herself and looked at me. “It’s alright, John. If she’s too tired. Let her just eat the food and then go to sleep.”
“I hope you like the dinner, Sarah. Everything has been made in accordance with your taste. And once again, congratulations on winning the drawing competition.” On the table, were present, crown roast of lamb with fresh herbs, osso buco risotto completed by polenta and sausage pie, and Sarah’s highly savored vanilla crème brûlée. “But that wasn’t me.” The same stare. Now, I was assured that she is messing around.
“The weather has been rough lately.” Martha exclaimed. I stared at the scene outside the window across the dining table. It was white. White due to the heavy pellets of nature’s cries. At times, when the white at a point was not too dense, one could view a scanty amount of the neighbor’s residence. The thunder screamed at us. “Yes, the weather is terrible. They say that it will remain unchanged for a few more weeks. It has never been like this.” My eyes met Sarah’s plate. Untouched.
“Sarah? If you are weak, and tired; I suppose you must eat.” “I am not weak.” Martha chortled. “Of course you’re not, dear. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to have dinner?” “I sure am.” I was suspired at, by Martha. “Alright then. You can go back to your bedroom, and sleep.” Without saying anything, Sarah ran back to her bedroom. She didn’t have her teddy with her. I searched her seat and bent down. No sign of teddy.
“I hope everything is alright in school.” I expressed my concern. “Yes, about that.” said Martha. “Mrs. Wilson had called. She said that Sarah has been sleeping during the classes. And, yesterday, she had locked herself in the washroom for an hour. She would like to discuss this issue with us this weekend.” “Why did you not tell me before?”
Just then the sound of shattering of Sarah’s bedside lamp shouted at the atmosphere. “Now, I am really upset at her. Let me have a look.” I ran upstairs and opened the door in a haste. There she was, with all the bedroom lights lit, curled up on her bed; crying. “Sarah? What happened dear? Please tell me. I need to know. Your behavior worries me.”
She didn’t respond and continued crying. I approached her now. “Sarah?” I placed my hand on her back. A stained face looked at me. “Daddy? I think there is someone in the wardrobe.” And she pointed at the six feet long, majestic wooden wardrobe on the other side of the room. To assure her that the wardrobe was safe, I advanced towards it.
I opened the door of the wardrobe, and inside, I saw her. Another her. Curled up near the edge with the teddy. “Daddy!” She exclaimed. “There is someone in my room, daddy. Please save me!”
“I have been waiting for you, John.” said a child’s voice, from behind.