Footprint

“There’s someone there!” My 10-year-old daughter points out the living room window.

“Impossible. Where are the footprints?” I reply.

It’s snowing tonight and if there were anyone out there then there would be footprints.

“But It wasn’t walking. It was floating.” She says.

I laugh. “Okay then. Let’s get you to bed so you’ll be safe.”

As we’re going upstairs she says, “It’s right in front of us!”

“Sure it is!” I grin.

After I put her to bed I go to my own room and go to sleep.

The next day my daughter complains about a headache.

“I feel awful.” She says.

I give her some medicine, which makes her feel better.

My daughter and I watch movies on Sundays and today is no different.

But at night her head starts pounding again.

“It feels like something is trying to break out of my skull!” She cries. “I think It’s inside me.”

“No, don’t say that… you’ll be alright. Just take more medicine.”

She takes more medicine. Even though her head still feels like it’s going to blast open, she manages to fall asleep.

The next morning at breakfast she’s all smiles and laughter. She’s feeling a lot better. After she finishes eating she leaves for school.

I watch her through the window. It’s snowing again. I made sure she wore an extra sweater under her jacket. Sometimes cold weather can trigger migraines.

But then I realize that she isn’t walking… she’s floating.

 

 

Writer: Rohan

Second Chance

“No! I won’t do it!” My dad screams.

He’s having another nightmare. I rush into his bedroom and wake him up.

“It’s okay, Dad.” I hand him a glass of water.

He sips it slowly.

“Mom again?”

“Yeah.” He says groggily.

I thought dad’s nightmares would stop once we moved to a cottage in the mountains, but he still wakes up screaming. Lately he’s been seeing Mom in his dreams. He says she’s trying to convince him to do something but he doesn’t want to do it.

Mom died when I was young. I’m still young, not old enough to get a driver’s license. But I was too young when mom died so I don’t remember her very well.

After tending to dad I go to the balcony and look at the stars. What a view.

Dad wanted to live in the mountains because he thought it would inspire him to write another book. But he hasn’t written much so far, he’s too exhausted from the nightmares.

Dad joins me on the balcony. Sometimes he can’t sleep after a nightmare. I can never sleep after he has a nightmare.

“I miss her.” He says.

He’s talking about mom.

“What was she like?”

I’ve asked him this question many times and each time he gives me a different answer.

“She became very good at chess. She was worse than me at first but she practiced so much that she eventually became the best in our college, she even managed to beat our math professor and that professor rarely lost to students.”

Interesting. I know something new about mom.

Dad leaves the balcony and goes to the study room.

I go to the living room to watch TV. From the sofa I can see dad writing page after page — it’s been a while since I’ve seen him write.

After dad goes to bed I decide to go into his study room.

I’ve never intruded on my dad’s privacy before but I’m wondering what he wrote just now.

I open his notebook and start reading. What I read is pretty disturbing. He’s written about his latest nightmare.

In his nightmare mom is trying to convince him that she is alive and is waiting for him at a McDonald’s near college — that was where they had their first date, that’s all they could afford as college students. But first he has to do something before he sees her: He has to kill me. But apparently I’ll only be ‘temporarily’ dead.

Once he reunites with her they will have kids and I will apparently be reborn — This way she will be able to watch me grow up. She died in a car accident when I was just a baby and she feels guilty that she never got the chance to watch me grow up.

I shut the notebook and go to the bathroom. I feel sick. I need to calm down. First of all my dad would never hurt me. It’s just a nightmare. And if he decides to write a story based on his nightmare then good for him. Writing is how he earns a living so it’s totally fine.

I try to leave the bathroom but the door won’t open. I try to push open the door but it won’t budge.

And then the lights go out. I try switching on the lights but it looks like the power is out. Just great.

“Dad!” I call out. “Dad! I’m stuck in the bathroom!”

Just then I hear a woman’s voice, “Shh, this won’t take long.”

Who the fuck was that? Then I feel something grab my neck. I’m being choked… can’t breathe. I try to fight back but it’s no use.

Before I die I decide to look on the bright side — maybe I will be reborn.

 

Writer: Rohan Parekh