“Are you sure you want to do this?” Meenu asked me in a trembling voice. I nodded solemnly trying not to let on how scared I was myself. Behind me Pankaj whimpered and tried to cover it with a cough. The three of us along with Rita and Indu were about to enter the ‘haunted’ house at the edge of the playground where we usually played. We usually ignored the spooky house and tried never to play too close to it but that evening, when we were returning to our homes just after sundown Pankaj dropped the football from his hands and it rolled right into the house.
The house, with its fungus covered walls and the gloom that always remained around it, intimidated us very much. Rita, whispered to me, “Please, I don’t want to go in there. None of us does. Don’t go there Naqiyah. If it’s your football you want, we will all buy you a brand new one. Let’s not go in there.” Everyone immediately agreed. I flatly refused and said, “You go if you want to, I won’t mind.” I desperately hoped they would stay with me because even though I didn’t show it I was as terrified as they were. Putting on a brave face, I pushed open the door and stepped inside.
It was dark inside and in spite of the summer warmth in the air, the house was chilly and a shiver ran down my spine. I waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Walking in slowly I saw cobwebs and old furniture. Along one wall was a grand staircase with a banister which looked as if it had been very exquisite and well carved in its time. I took a step forward and something hit my leg. Scared out of my wits, I shrieked. Someone put a hand on my shoulder. I shrieked louder and started flailing my arms around me. “Shh……its only us. We couldn’t leave you alone,” Indu said in a soothing tone. I was so scared that I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.
I looked down at the ground. There was the ball. I grabbed it and was about to leave when Indu said “I think we should explore. This place fascinates me.” We all looked at her as if she belonged in Bedlam. Before we could respond, a gust of wind blew in and a voice, as if from all around us, hissed “Get out!” With shaking legs and pounding hearts we all fled. Maybe someday we would come back to explore. Just not that day.