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Updated: Jun 6

By Niharika Parmar

Another ache seared through my lower abdomen and I clutched my baby bump. I held onto the car door with gritted teeth and clenched eyes. I sucked in a breath.

1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6..

I counted in my head. The contraction eased, and I exhaled.

‘Hold on, Honey. We’re nearly there.’

I nodded and leaned my head on the glass. ‘This is just starting and I already feel drained.’ I closed my eyes.

‘Don’t worry, you’ll do great. Just think of our baby gi-’

A blaring horn deafened me and my body flew up. Just as another contraction hit, I was tumbled, tossed, and bashed on every part. I screamed and screamed as fear overpowered the unbearable pain.

Everything stilled and surroundings turned bleary as chilled water began filling the car. Something warm and thick flowed in to my eyes and I shut them. Everything in my surrounding enhanced; my husband’s screams, his fists banging on the glass, distant sirens.

The cold seeped inside my skin and gave a delusional relief.

‘Wake up! Don’t fall asleep!’

The temptation was strong, and I didn’t resist.


Beep beep beep

There is it again. I checked my pockets. Not my phone. I scanned the deserted, dark corridor with my flashlight. Nothing. The sound had been following me ever since the accident five years ago. I survived, but lost everything.

The stuffy and decrepit building felt familiar, just like all the other abandoned ones I had been to. The peculiar smell of the place irked me, yet my urge to fill the void inside me won again. Bear it a bit longer.

What I searched in these haunted houses? I had no clue, just that the eerie, sad energy lingering in such surroundings felt familiar to me.

My therapist had one answer to all the drastic changes that I exhibited. PTSD. I accepted, yet when the sessions became repetitive with no progress, I set myself free. And here I was seeking comfort in a place that normal people stayed away from.

Beep beep beep

I stopped. Children’s ward. My flash light illuminated the sign, and I rushed inside. Little beds lined the walls with dirty, torn mattresses and a toy cabinet lay toppled on the side. An old book on the play table on the left side of the room caught my eye. Something squished below my feet—a teddy bear with one missing eye.

I looked back and my heart stilled—a little figure was now seated on the table. I approached and took an awkward seat on the little chair.

‘Are these yours?’ I pointed at the yellowed photo album.

The little girl’s black almond eyes focused on me. Her translucent form shimmered, and the air hummed with warmth.

She is happy.

She nodded once, and her shoulder-length black locks flowed like sea kelp. Her gaze shifted to the hand-drawn rainbow in the photograph.

‘I drew this…’ Her voice, though innocent, sounded as if I was hearing an echo under water.

‘Can I look?’

She nodded again.

Elation bubbled inside me, but turned in to a shiver as I heard an eerie giggle. A toddler floated past her with a bat in hand. Giggling, it smashed an equipment placed on the table. The pieces crashed and joined the rubble on the floor. I cringed and pulled the album towards me, careful neither to disturb the quiet little girl nor catch the toddler’s attention or stir any other entity.

Beep beep beep

I flipped the page. Another photograph of the girl’s drawing. I flipped again; another photograph, then another. I frowned. Only this? Where are her photos? Or of her parents? It kept going, making me confused.

My hand halted at the last photo. Breath stuck in my throat, eyes bulged and my mind exploded, trying to comprehend what my eyes saw. My lungs burned for oxygen as I gasped for another breath. I squinted and clutched my throat.

Mama and me, written below the picture. It was a picture of the little girl with her mother. The mother was me.

‘Are you alright, Mama?’ The girl chimed staring at me.

I gasped again, understanding clouded with more confusion.

‘I waited so long for you.’ The girl extended her arms in a hug.

I stared at the picture. Is this her past? Or my future?

She was smiling now. Who is she?

Am I dreaming? Why can’t I remember?

Beep beep beep

I looked up and screamed. The toddler stood in front of me. He smiled, razor-sharp teeth on display, and swung the bat.

Everything went black.


Beep beep beep beep beep

‘Hurry… call the do...’

‘… inform the family.’

Ugh, shut up...

The noises got louder, and the pain hammered my skull. I shouldn’t have stayed there for so long. That toddler sure had some strength. I groaned and opened my eyes.

‘Can you hear me?’ A blurred face appeared in my sight. I blinked, squinted, and a pudgy face appeared. Nurse.

‘How many fingers are these?’ She held two fingers.

My lips moved and pouted, but my throat grated like sandpaper. I tried to move, yet didn’t feel my limbs.

‘It’s okay, it’ll take time. You’ve been unconscious for so long it’s natural,’ she said and placed a straw on my lips.

I drank, my throat eased. ‘How long?’

Her smile turned sympathetic. ‘Five years. You were in a comma.’


Her voice dulled as my brain reeled. How? Is this a joke? I stared as her lips moved and eyebrows creased. Doesn’t look like it. Must be a dream then…


My eyes widened. He’s alive. ‘I thought you…’

He kissed my forehead. ‘I had lost all hope that you’ll wake up-’ he wipes his eyes ‘-but Abigail, she kept telling me that her mama will come home one day.’


He turns to the door. ‘Come in, sweetheart.’

A little girl runs in. The little girl from the abandoned hospital.

‘Mama! I waited so long for you.’

By Niharika Parmar


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