The Witch7 mins 225 7 mins 225
It was the same routine every single night. Or at least for the last 78 nights. Drink warm milk with a teaspoon of sugar. Brush my teeth. Make sure the curtains are closed all the way to the very end (no gaps, thank you!). Moisturise. My pillow fluffed just the right amount. Set a redundant alarm for 6 am. Close my eyes. Go to sleep.
All for what? I open my eyes to see it is 3:13 am, every single night!
Every night at that moment, all I hear is silence. The silence is so loud, I barely hear my pounding heart. An eerie feeling creeps over me as I see through the (now open) curtains, the ice glazes over the windows from the sudden cold. A smell waft through. One that is so familiar. I know what it is, I have definitely smelt it before, yet I cannot name it. All these days, I have never been able to remember it. I have tried day after day, night after night, still zilch. What now....?
That night, the same suit followed. My eyes flung open. The clock was concealed by the dark, but I knew it was 3:13, the time of ghosts. The strong hypnotizing scent, a perfume someone's grandmother may wear, tingled my nose. I froze. I heard no comprehendible whispers. An owl was hooting in a low tone. I heard footsteps.
Tock-Tock… Tock-Tock… Tock-Tock…
I prayed it was the society guard taking rounds, but the pointy sound felt rather related to women.
Tock-Tock… Tock-Tock… Tock-Tock…
It is a hallucination. Please, let it be sunrise. My leg throbbed, but I dared not move. I could feel presences roaming near me, the whispering taking an exigent tone.
I stared at the curtains with wide eyes. They were opened, and they flew, letting moonlight in, even though I had shut the windows.
Probably I had forgotten, like every day.
I saw a face peering in with a visibly vindictive smirk. I subdued the urge to scream and run away because I knew there was no escape.
She will find me.
Then, it was gone, and I did not remember how I fell asleep, because an alarm woke me up. Relief spread my heart. I searched for my glasses as I stood, groggy, in a daze.
As I was making coffee, the spoon clanking and the coffee's ardour filling the atmosphere, my eyes fell on the calendar. I felt my heart in my mouth for a second. I had the answers! I had them for a moment, but they scurried away before I could grasp them.
I dashed to the calendar, hoping to get the piece of memory back, looking at it from different perspectives. I pounded my hands on the wall when nothing came. Come on. My hands were red by the time I stopped; my eyes teared. I didn't want to be haunted again. I didn't.
My gut feeling was unusually strong when I stepped into my office. Probably because I was just a minute early. A lady stood at the reception, filling the register. She was bending, her brown hairs spun more than noodles settling on her shoulders. I felt goosebumps creep my arms. Something inside me told me to turn away. I ignored it as I headed to the counter, listening to the silence again, my ears perked up, my limbs animal alert.
Pain exploded in my brain like a supernova and I could do nothing except hope that this was a dream or to become unconscious. A scream stopped short in my throat. A deadly lassitude had taken hold of me. Everything around seemed slow and surreal.
The shadows echoed:
I am... Coming... Coming... Coming.
A cold palm touched mine. Everything crashed back to normal, and the pain subdued, but my heart still raced. When I saw I was grasping the lady's hand, I yanked it out with a start.
The lady, I knew her. I racked my head. Where?
'Are you all right?' She said, the mature and breathier scent closer than ever. I tried to make it all fit; bring back that major part of memory, but it pained when I thought of it.
I nodded as I tried to move on, but she stood in my way.
'Look in my eyes,' she said. I shouldn't have, but I looked. Red enlarged and dancing eyes. The atmosphere collapsed around. Air screamed in my ears as if I was standing on a bullet train; the vicinity passed away in a blur.
I found staring at myself, my past self. I wasn't surprised now, because the glance at the eyes had brought the obscured, forgotten memory back. Those red demon eyes. I was looking at the scene that occurred 78 days ago.
On my past self, the same woman, significantly thinner and redder, was crying, her eyes red and nose snuffling. M.p.s seemed barely able to control her anger.
'That's enough.' She said, 'I… I am sorry but I can't bear it further.'
Don't do this. I wanted to shout, but I could only observe.
The witch glared in disbelief. Her lips quivered.
M.p.s stood up and clutched her bag. 'I just feel drained to be with you. I don't want to be in your life anymore.'
She grabbed m.p.s's wrist. 'Don't do this. Don't.'
She was a witch I had stumbled upon and helped. That was my worst mistake. I had sympathized with what she had gone through; she was an orphan, abused often and betrayed when she tried to be good and forget her sorcery, but crimes she wished to do were unthinkable.
She had taken my memory. She had already haunted me for 78 days. What now?
But m.p.s had been waiting to say this for days. She knew there was no mending. She yanked her hand away, apologized, and sprinted away.
I fell; my hips bared the brunt of the hard floor. Then, I didn't remember anything else.
The ground lurched. Light blazed in. For a moment, it was all I could see. Then, I saw a grey surface. A knife. The airy fragrance. I screeched as I backed.
Don't do this... Don't do this... Don't do this...
'I am sorry—' I blurted with my heart in my mouth.
'Are you mad?' she spoke. The knife had vanished. Her eyes seemed worried. 'You fainted. Now, come on. The celebration is about to begin.'
She extended her hand. I did not take it but jumped off the sofa. Suddenly, I felt foolish. She wouldn't murder me in broad daylight; besides, why would she even think of it? I shivered.
She grabbed my wrist anyway and led me through the crowd around the table. I wanted to yank it off but couldn't. On the table was a red lava cake, punctured with candles that showed 23.
'Your birthday! 'I said. That is what I had remembered on seeing the calendar.
'You forgot.' She said this as a statement, not a question. I gave a stifled laugh, trying to calm myself down.
'This is also my first day in this office.' She added.
My mouth gaped open. 'What?'
'I just joined here. I thought I would have a party. What do you feel about it?'
'I-' I did not know what to say. I suspected she had used her sorcery to get employed. There had been no recent vacancies, but my dominant thoughts remained: Would I be haunted still? Was this the warning my gut had told?
'You seemed scared for a moment. Anything special?' She mused when I gave no reply.
'You aren't mad?'
'I was, but you gave me an important lesson. No one will take care of your problems. You need to handle it yourself. I stopped moaning from that day. Independent. Thank you, actually.'
My shoulders relaxed. I clapped, singing the birthday song. Maybe we could mend our friendship now. Maybe I had done something appropriate then. Maybe I would no longer be haunted.
'I owe you an apology.'
She looked at me with raised eyebrows. 'Really? There is no need. What goes around comes around.' She smiled.
I took that as acceptance, though I did not like the soft voice she spoke in. She fed me a bite of the cake. My mouth smiled at the sweet and prickly taste filling my mouth.
The next day, a newspaper reported: One member of an office was found dead after eating a cake. All forty other members that ate the same cake are perfectly fine. The lady who bought the cake is innocent, according to the police. Investigations continue.