Mia sat down and took a deep breath in – she had been unpacking stuff all day. She had always wanted to buy a house by a lake, with a lot of trees around, but it all didn’t turn out like she thought it would. She had thought she could move into a big house, among the trees, near a lake and live with her fiancé, but all of that came crashing down. She had almost finalised a house, not far from where she had been staying, but she ended up taking a house far away – as far away as possible from him. But then, life hardly gave her any choice – she would just go wherever life would take her.
She was hardly seven when her parents died in a car accident. She was in the car with them, but death spared her. So at the age of seven she had become all alone. Of course she had an uncle and an aunt, but they were not ready to take her in, so she ended up in an orphanage. She did have to face a lot of difficulties but then she had a family there. Ben was her best friend, her partner in crime and life support system, but they had to part ways at the age of 18. He was very brilliant, and had received a scholarship from one of the best engineering colleges. He always loved machines, and Mia always encouraged him. He went away to pursue his higher studies, and Mia did her college. She had to work part time to make ends meet. She got only a partial scholarship, as she was not really that brilliant academically. But she loved to write and was pretty good at it. The two promised to stay in contact – and they did. As life passed by, the frequency of contacting decreased. And finally, Mia got to live her dreams – she became a songwriter.
Her debut song was a big hit, and that is how she had met Kyle – her fiancé, or rather ex- fiancé. He was a singer, and the duo was quite a big hit. She would write, and he would sing. It was this dream, where everything was so perfect. And Mia was absolutely in love with him – the happiest girl one could find. But like every dream that vanishes when you wake up, she too was forced to wake up one day.
The events of that heart-breaking day were still fresh in her mind. Things had not remained the same between them and she was disturbed because of this. She was listening to the radio – a live interview with Kyle. This was when the radio jockey asked him – “There are rumours that you have been engaged to Hayley, Harold Smith’s only daughter.”
To which he replied – “Yes, it is true. I proposed to her yesterday during dinner, and we plan to get married soon.”
At this, Mia was completely heartbroken and shocked. She didn’t know if she was more angry or sad. He always had some engagement whenever she wanted to go out or spend some time with him. But she never thought that he would dump her to marry Hayley. Of course Harold Smith was one of the biggest producers, and there was no better way he could secure his future – financially. But she had no idea that this was coming.
“But weren’t you dating Ms. Mia, the songwriter?”
“Well, yes. That is my past. But things did not work out like we thought, so we thought it was best to part ways.”
Kyle had never mentioned anything like this – though Mia did doubt he was hiding something from her. But she was absolutely not alright with whatever he had just done. He was in fact double dating her. He should have told her this long ago, why all this suspense and drama? Coward.
She thought and thought, and realised that all this while, Kyle had just used her, for publicity- and also her songs. She was disgusted at this thought and decided she didn’t want to see his face ever again. He was not even worth it.
She made call, and waited for an answer.
“Yes, about that house – I decided I don’t want to buy that. Do you have a similar house, or any house somewhere far away from here?”
“Ok, that’ll do. No no, I don’t want to waste time going over there just to see the house. Just send the papers to my lawyer and if there are no legal complications – then I will buy it. I want it as soon as possible.”
“Yes, you can send me a few pictures of the house. That would do. Yes, thank you.”
Mia went into the kitchen and prepared herself a cup of coffee. She went over to her balcony, and enjoyed the some fresh air. Her new house was so much more peaceful.
She had bought a house a week after the breakup, and moved in a week after that. She did not bother to tell Kyle about any of this, instead she wrote down one small letter wishing him goodbye:
You came into my life, just like that, without telling me – and now you are out of it, the same way. You have given me a lot of happy memories, but to think they were all lies – like that fake smile of yours. I sincerely hope one day I will be over my disgust with you and that I can put all of this behind me and maybe work with you – but you better have the guts to look me in the eyes. Goodbye.
Not yours anymore,
After finishing her coffee, she did some more unpacking, had dinner and decided to call it a day. She locked up all the doors and windows and climbed into her bed. It was a cold night, but a peaceful one – except for the trees, dancing with the wind.
She had not told anybody where she was running off to, there was no one she was so close to. She would have told Ben about it, but then they had fought over Kyle. He had hinted that he doesn’t trust Kyle, and like every girl who is madly in love, she over-reacted. And it hurt him, so he said he will not to interfere in her life ever again, and she had said that she was perfectly fine with it. But now she feels that was the biggest mistake ever. He was the only family she had, and now she was all alone in this house.
Love dale was a two-storeyed house that had a very antique look to it, which Mia really liked. It was 27 years old, but was still in a good shape – and after the recent paint job, it looked younger. The floors were all wooden, and there were trees all around. There was a lake a few metres away to the left of the house, and there was a long drive way from the main road, which isolated it from the world outside. Inside those gates were a different world altogether, and that is what Mia wanted.
Mia felt the cold breeze brush against her face, and water being sprinkled on her face, like Ben would do to wake her up when they were kids. She smiled in her sleep, but opened her eyes all of a sudden, and sat upright in her bed. It was just a dream. She covered her face with her hands, and realised that there was water on her face, which is when she noticed the open window. It was drizzling outside.
Once it had stopped drizzling, Mia stepped out for a walk. She went over to the lake and stood on the edge of the wooden ledge. She had been there only a while, when she noticed a small girl on the farther end of the lake.
“Hey”, she called out, gently.
But the girl just ran away, but before she could go behind the girl, the phone rang. By the time she turned around to look at the girl, she was gone.
“Hello?” she said.
“Hey, it’s me, Ben. Remember me?” said the voice.
“Of course I remember you, what kind of a stupid question is that?” she replied.
“Just say it already – I told you so.” she said
“Well, though I DID tell you, I didn’t call you to settle scores. I called you to apologise. I shouldn’t have stopped talking to you and left you alone with that idiot.” He said.
They talked on for about an hour, catching up with all the lost time. Mia, finally felt she was not all alone, and that she can maybe after all get over this. Ben was her only family, and family never leaves you alone. They’re with you, always, no matter what
She spent the day reading a book, and just enjoying the change of atmosphere, far away from all the buzz. She was done unpacking the house, and had a quiet dinner, and went off to bed sometime after that.
Mia was near the lake, and she saw the girl again. The girl was kneeling, picking flowers. She looked around fifteen or seventeen years old. As she extended her hand out, she saw rusty coloured marks on her pale wrists. Mia went near the girl, but she still could not see the face, as it was covered by a hood. But Mia noticed her hair, a long tangled mess which reached her elbows. She extended the hand out to the girl, and she took Mia’s hand.
Mia woke up, sleepy, but she could feel somebody holding her hand, in the dark. As if someone was lying right next to her, holding hands. She suddenly jumped out of the bed, terrified and turned on the bed lamp. There was nobody. Must have been a dream- there is nobody else here. She was about to get into bed again, when the clock struck two. It rang twice, like the big grandfather clocks and its echo lasted for a few seconds. She was sitting on her bed, and reached out to switch off the bed lamp, when she froze.
The house does not have any grandfather clocks.
She took her phone, turned on the flashlight and slowly made her way to the drawing room. Step by step, she went into the drawing room and turned on the light – but there was no power. Then she heard a noise – that of someone walking around with chains. The noise grew louder and louder, as if that someone was walking towards her. Then it stopped, and she could hear heavy breathing behind her. She did not want to risk looking behind her, so she took a step forward, but tripped and fell down. Her leg was chained to something. She grabbed her phone, which was lying nearby on the floor, and traced the chain. On the other end of the chain she saw a pale leg, and water around the leg. Her scream broke the silence of the night.
The legs started walking towards her, and she started crawling backwards, still screaming. The water ran towards her, and touched her leg. She shivered – it was ice cold. She hit a wall, and couldn’t move backwards. The legs stopped suddenly, and she couldn’t take her eyes off the pair.
Suddenly somebody grabbed her from behind and pulled her in. She was drowning, and it looked like the lake near her house. The water pulled her down, deeper into the lake, no matter how hard she tried resurface.
Mia frowned as the sunlight hit her hard on the face. She sat up on the bed, and held her head tightly, as if it was about to explode. She took a deep breath in and let it out. All this was just a dream. She moved the blanket and was about to get out of bed, when she noticed it. The mark on her left leg, the same leg that had been chained the night before. How can that be?
She thought of going somewhere else, where there were people around. Here there were no neighbours. The next house was around a kilometre away. There was no one around to help her if she needed immediate help, and after her weird encounter in the night, she didn’t feel very secure all alone in there. She wanted to tell Ben about all this– though she was not sure if he would believe her. But he did not pick up her call at all.
Later that evening, it felt weird for her to stay alone in the house. So she decided to go out shopping. She changed, locked the house up and went up the driveway to open the gates. Suddenly she heard a scream – It was a girl. It came from somewhere near the lake, and she ran towards it worried that someone might be hurt.
When she reached the lake, it was silent and there was no one around. She walked over to the edge of the wooden ledge, and was about to call out, if in case somebody was really hurt, when somebody pushed her from the behind. She fell into the water, and something was pulling her deeper into the lake. This time is was real.
She was struggling to overcome this force that would not let her go up, when she saw the girl. It was the same girl she had seen picking flowers. The girl was pretty with her long hair dancing in the water. But she had scars all over – her wrists, hands, neck and even one on her face. But her eyes longed for something. Suddenly Mia noticed the girl’s legs. She could not believe her eyes – her leg was chained. Yes, it was the same leg she had seen yesterday. But how can that be?
Mia felt her senses going to sleep, her surroundings were fading away. She reached out to the girl. But something pulled her away. She could feel something pulling her up before everything went black.
Maybe I’m just hallucinating. Maybe this is how I’m going to die.
Mia was inside the house, but it looked very different. There were old fashioned beds, decorations – the furniture was not hers. Then she saw that girl, moping the place. A tall thin man came up the stairs, and started shouting at her.
“Is this how you clean the house? Such shabby work!” he shouted.
“But Father,” the girl started, but the man raised his hand.
“Enough! I don’t want to hear a word. And, my family has a status, a reputation in this town, so I won’t let anybody ruin that. Especially not you. So if you want to be part of this family, then you better do everything I say.” He said.
Saying so, he left and the girl stood there weeping. She was shabbily dressed and looked very weak. Mia turned around to look at the man, but all she could see was bright light – all around her.