Chapter 8 - Curious
Earlier Khushi's mornings were always chaotic wake up at the sound of alarm, get ready in a rush and be out of the house. Now, she'd become somewhat organized and could squeeze in half an hour to have a homemade breakfast.
In a couple of days, she'd complete 1 month in her new house. She was mildly proud of her achievement given that she lived with a ghost and despite of that she'd not gone crazy.
"Are you there?" she asked, twirling her spoon around a bowl of porridge. She always began her conversation in that manner, though there was no place else where he could go.
"Yes," came his monotone single-syllable reply.
"So, I was thinking about what you said, you know, about waiting in the dark room and the door opening and walking to the light," she surmised their conversation from the other day, "And I think I know what that means."
"You do?" his voice was a mix of curiosity and disbelief.
"I am no expert," she gave a disclaimer, "But I think that dark room is a place between life and death like some where in the middle of earth and heaven," she quickly added "or hell, depending on the person."
"And the light beyond the white door is the salvation when you leave the land of living and go to-," she wanted to say a land of dead' but settled for, "-a land more suited to you. Basically souls who find peace move on, via the light. And souls who have some unfinished business or some unfulfilled purpose or desire are stuck there in the dark room, till they fulfill whatever was incomplete."
He took some time to process. "That..." his voice was lost in thought, "that actually makes sense."
Khushi grinned, feeling childishly proud of her self for a second time that morning, "So, we just need to find out about your life and what is it that is holding you back. Once we do that, you'll be free and you can leave this place."
There was a pause. "Oh," he mumbled.
She had a feeling that the ghost wasn't as excited as her about the plan.
Khushi eyes glistened as she spoke about her interpretation of his current situation. It made sense to Arnav. He was equally delighted about it till she concluded with, "you'll be free; you can leave."
For a moment, he became unresponsive. How long had he wanted to leave, to be free and now that they had started on this path, he felt hesitant.
Because of the human girl? Did he feel hesitant to leave because of her? He shook his head.
Of course not! That'd be silly. Moreover this was just guesswork. Thought what she said made sense, it might not even be feasible. Still, they finally had some base to work on.
"How do we find out more about my life? I have no recollection of the past - just a few vague memories," Arnav said.
Khushi pursed her lips, her brows crinkled in thought, before she spoke, "This house! Why do you think you are trapped here? Maybe you used to live here? Maybe you were a tenant here. We could ask Garima Aunty about past tenants."
He scoffed, "Those flashes that I have, show me a white house - a big mansion. I don't think I lived in this pigeonhole. No offence."
"Why, thank you!" she grumbled. "I'll still check in with Garima Aunty. Just so we are sure." Khushi put a reminder on her phone. "In case I forget," she explained, more so to herself.
She checked the time on her phone, "I have to go. We'll pick up our conversation in the evening." She picked up her bag from a chair and the house keys from a dish, near the entrance.
Before exiting she turned around, "Do you get bored? Since you don't have anything to do and can't leave the house."
Arnav put his finger against his lips and thought. Till a few days ago, he didn't feel many emotions that an average human felt. He had never thought if he was bored. Time moved differently for him in the dark room where he was waiting and even here.
"Anyway," she chimed in, "I was planning of buying a TV when I get my salary."
She had told him earlier that she was barely getting by with the amount she had expended as rent and security deposit and in fixing the house. Yet, she wanted to buy a TV, for him, because she thought he was bored.
The gesture touched him, "Thank you."
She gave a small smile and chirped, "I'll see you later," and walked out, closing the door behind her.
True to her word she bought a TV during the weekend. She had completed 1 month in her new house and had splurged a little for the occasion, she announced without any prodding from Arnav.
That night she brewed a cup of tea and opened a packet of chips as she slumped on the couch and switched on the TV.
"What do you want to watch?" she asked, holding the remote and navigating through the programme list, "Maybe a movie... lets see... O, there's a horror one. Come and watch," she patted the seat next to her.
Arnav quietly slid next to her. The movie was about a family of 6 moving in a huge house in a secluded area. They were being haunted by a poltergeist. Khushi seemed quite engrossed in the movie.
"That's what you did too," Khushi stated at a scene where the poltergeist turned off the light to scare the kids.
In another scene, the spirit in the movie made the tap water run red. Khushi bit her fingernail clearly enjoying the scene, "Can you do that?" Without waiting for his response she added, "That looks so cool. And scary."
He noticed in many of the jump-scares scenes - where the music would go silent and the ghost would suddenly appear along with a loud background music, Khushi would shriek and cover her eyes.
Arnav snorted a soft giggle.
"What's funny?" she turned to her right to face the space where he sat.
"You." He replied, a smile playing on his lips, "This made up movie ghost scares you so much and when I tried in reality, you hardly took notice. You were so oblivious."
She smiled, biting her lower lip and teased him, "Maybe you are bad at your job."
He laughed again, his breathe almost catching in his throat as he looked her at. She was directly facing him, albeit her eyes were on his neck. She still didn't know he was taller than her and she assumed his face was on her line of sight.
A playful smile tugged at the corner of lips. Arnav slightly moved closer, as if being pulled by her. Khushi lips trembled, as the distance between them decreased.
There was a slight change in the air around Khushi and she knew he was closer than before; maybe not directly ahead of her, but close. She was feeling cold at him being in her vicinity. She gazed at the space, moving her eyes.
A curiosity bubbled in her mind. She didn't know how he looked, how old was he, she'd never stopped to think. Slowly, she lifted her hand, and brought it closer to him.
The tips of her finger made contact with cold skin. She had assumed it would be his face; it was his neck. He was taller than her then, taller than she's pictured him. She trailed her fingers up his neck to his chin.
She heard a soft gasp escape his lips. She paused, waiting for his reaction, maybe he would move away; maybe he'd tell her not to touch him. When he didn't respond, she lightly trailed her fingers to the right, barely touching his lips, as her fingers made away to his cheek.
Her eyes followed her fingers and with each upward movement. Her breath had become ragged.
She paused as she gently caressed his cheek his skin was getting less and less cold. He wasn't icy anymore, like he was the 1st time. It was a strange sensation.
A few moments later, Khushi's fingers were grasping air underneath. He had vanished.
Sunday morning was awkward for Arnav and, as far as he could sense, for the girl too. She'd been playing with the tea bag in her now cold tea, eyes fixed on a news channel, but he knew her mind was elsewhere. He could tell she was thinking about last night, when she touched his face. The thought of her fingers on his face made him tremble he felt things that he hadn't felt in a long time, emotions that he didn't remember. When it became too much for him, he'd quietly slid away.
Arnav heard her clear her throat; she was prepping herself to talk to him. She began with her usual opening line, "Are you there?"
He realized she'd only called him by his name twice, the first time they spoke and on his insistence. He, on the other hand, had never called her name aloud. In his mind she was, sometimes Khushi, sometimes the girl and at times the human. He wondered what she called him in her mind - the ghost?
She cleared her throat again, and spoke uncertainly, "If you are angry about last night, I am sorry. I didn't want to make you uncomfortable. I was just..." she quirked an eyebrow, "-curious."
"I am not angry," he replied.
Her terse face eased at his response. She continued, "It's just I have never seen you, I know nothing about you and we've been living together for a month. I had never wondered much before, but last night, I don't know what came over me... I just..." she trailed off.
"I understand," he nodded, assuring her. She was simply intrigued. Unlike him who'd have a surge of emotions pulsing through his veins. He felt embarrassed and simultaneously relieved that she couldn't see his flushed face.
There was a lull in the room. "Okay," her voice was back to normal, "I am glad we cleared that out."
"O, I forget to tell you," she added immediately, "I spoke to Garima Aunty about previous tenants. She told me this floor was made 7 years back and they had rented it out ever since. I really prodded her about all the people who had lived here. I made her pull out old records rent agreements. She was quite suspicious and annoyed."
"No person by the name of Arnav lived here," Khushi concluded. "You can wipe that I-told-you-so grin off your face."
A laugh spilled from his throat and he shook his head. She had correctly assumed that he was going to say I-told-you-so.
"So, we'll have to look harder to trace your details," she stated.
"Don't worry, we'll get you out of here." Her optimism was back, he noted. She picked up her teacup and washed it in the sink, humming a tune to herself. A smile crept across his lips as he watched her.
How could her doing something as mundane as washing a cup and humming a song make him smile? What affect was she having on him?
Edited by ErisedWitch45 - 2 years ago
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