A Request in C-Sharp Minor

Submitted into Contest #206 in response to: Start your story with a character seeing something terrifying.... view prompt


Horror Sad Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

Warning: Death and Supernatural Elements

Milo gulped, eyes fixated on a single point in the dark corner of his room. He blinked aggressively and rubbed his eyes with his tiny fists, hoping he was hallucinating. In all truth, the nature of what Milo saw was nothing new. But the shape of the horror in front of him was far too personal. 

Moonlight streamed in through a small window near Milo’s head, providing cold, distant illumination. The puppy shaped night light which should have been providing a comforting orange glow, was as dark as the rest of the room. 

Following the usual routine, Milo pinched himself to verify that he was awake, and not stuck in some cruel nightmare. The seven-year-old didn’t need to look down at his arm to see the red spot blooming on his skin. He felt the pain as sharp and grounding as ever. 

Milo kept his eyes fixed on the form by his door. Once a joyful and welcoming figure had turned into a bad dream. 

“Taya?” Milo whispered. His eyes told him that the girl looking back at him was his sister, but his soul woefully disagreed. After all, it was impossible. Taya had fallen into a coma nine months ago and the chances of her waking were little to none. 

“Come play with me.” The girl said. 

Milo grimaced at the tone. Every syllable was pronounced exactly like his sister, but each word was laced with a feeling of wrongness. The kindness and familiarity of her voice had been stripped away. 

“Alright,” Milo said gently. “I’ll play with you.” After all, this wasn’t the first curse he had encountered. Night after night, a new ghostly figure would appear in his room, each with a different request. Night after night, Milo would comply with the request and the curse would disappear, never to return. This had been happening to Milo for as long as he could remember, but it was never someone he knew. 

Milo slid off of his bed and padded over to the girl, reaching out his hand. Taya took it and spread her lips in an imitation of a smile. Milo did his best not to grimace at the face. It was a bad mockery of the brilliant smile his sister used to wear. 

Taya’s hand was cold, but Milo held it anyway as they left his bedroom and entered the living room. They passed by a lamp that Milo reached over to flick on. An orange light washed over the room, revealing a grand piano sitting proudly in the corner. Milo turned to look at Taya, noticing a pained expression on her features. 

“What’s wrong?” Milo asked, squeezing the girl's hand. 

The moment the words left the boy's mouth, Taya’s face returned to its neutral state. 

“Nothing. Let’s go play, shall we?” 

Milo nodded in agreement and the two children slid onto the piano bench. Taya lifted the cover and ran her fingers along the keys almost reverently. Milo watched the girl's side profile, noticing her furrowed brows and her downturned lips.  

This isn’t right. Milo thought. The one thing that never failed to cheer up Taya was playing the piano. Milo reached out and placed a warm hand on Taya’s cold arm. The girl flinched, turning her wide eyes towards Milo. That was the first time Milo had gotten a good look at his sister's eyes. Her irises had lost all of their deep brown pigment. They were white. His sister's eyes were completely white. Milo did his best to remain calm as he played a chord gently. 

“What do you want to play?” He asked. 

“We know how to play Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, right?” Taya asked softly, words laced with hope. 

Milo nodded and smiled. “Yeah, we know how to play that.” 

The siblings rested their fingers on the keys and began to play. The minor key filled the room with a melancholy whisper. Milo took the lower notes while Taya played the higher keys. Milo glanced over at his sister while he played. She was concentrated, with her lips pursed and eyes closed, but her pale fingers fluttered across the keys beautifully. The song progressed to a solemn wail as the dynamic increased to a forte. Milo glanced down at Taya's feet as she pumped the pedals. She had always been in charge due to her younger brother's lack of height. Milo stretched his legs out as far as they could go and noticed he could nearly reach them. 

Taya missed a note, but they both played on, fully immersed in the music. The notes brought memories swirling back into Milo’s head. It was hard to decide which to choose to fall back into. Milo was about to let himself be overtaken by the memory of Taya’s first piano recital, but he was jolted back to reality by the music stopping. 

Milo looked to his sister, who was already looking right back at him. Eyes pale but piercing. 

“Why did you come visit me tonight?” Milo asked, hands trembling on the keys. 

“I think you know why.” Taya replied. “What’s the common factor in all of the apparitions that come to visit you?” 

Milo looked away and tapped on a black key. He swallowed hard before answering. 

“You’re dead…aren’t you.” 

Taya nodded. “I guess I am. I can’t say how, though. You probably know better than me.” 

Milo refused to look at his sister, practically forcing his tears back into his tear ducts. “You’ve been in a coma for nine months. I guess…I guess you finally decided it was time to let go. Finally be at peace. You deserve it, you know? To finally be at rest.” 

A hollow giggle from Taya drew Milo’s eyes back to her. “Ah, I guess that makes sense. But you know, the whole time I was in that coma, I wanted one thing. I wanted to play a duet with you one last time. I guess my prayers were answered.” Taya gave Milo a wry smile. “Thank you for accepting my final request.” 

Milo’s bottom lip trembled as he finally allowed tears to fill his eyes. “It’s not supposed to be you,” he said, voice wavering. “I’ve brought thousands of souls to rest but…I don't want it to be you.” Milo wiped his nose with his sleeve. “Can we play one more song?” He asked, positioning himself to begin. 

Taya sighed and shook her head. “No, it’s time for me to go, but look at you!” She smiled proudly. “You’re almost tall enough to reach the pedals. You don’t need me anymore.” 

At those words, Milo’s face crumpled and he pulled his sister into a hug. The arms that wrapped around him were cold and thin, but it was still his sister. 

“Milo, everything is gonna be okay, I promise. I’m going to be okay too. I’ve let go. I think it’s time you move on as well.” 

Milo squeezed his eyes shut and hugged his sister even tighter, relishing in the feeling of a final embrace. But soon, the hand rubbing up and down his back was gone, as was the palm carding through his black hair.

When Milo opened his eyes, his sister was gone. He frantically scanned the room in search of the pale figure, but she was nowhere to be found. 

The creak of a door opening drew Milo’s gaze to the right. A tall figure with a familiar shock of blonde hair stumbled through the hallway, yawning. Milo sniffed and leapt off of the piano bench, running towards the man. The boy harshly collided with the older man's legs and immediately wrapped around them. 

“Whoa…bud.” The man picked up Milo and held him close. “It happened again, didn’t it?” 

Milo nodded and wordlessly buried his tearstained face into his guardian's neck. 

“You can tell me all about it in the morning, yeah?” The man pressed a kiss to the top of Milo’s head and flicked off the lamp. “You’re getting better at piano by the way. Sounds like you can reach the pedals! We should celebrate.” 

Milo let his eyes fall shut and allowed his thoughts to drift away to the familiar comfort of mindless chatter. 

He should really get some sleep. 

After all, there would be another request to fulfill the next night.

July 13, 2023 04:11

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Robin Owens
12:58 Jul 20, 2023

This was a lovely read! The sibling relationship is so sweet. What a heavy burden Milo has every night, which almost creates a greater understanding in him of his sister's coma. The lines: "We know how to play..." and "Yeah, we know how to play that," were SO touching. The "we" almost made me cry.


Kara Heisler
18:58 Jul 20, 2023

Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked those lines about Taya wondering if they knew how to play the song :)


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J. D. Lair
21:39 Jul 15, 2023

Yes, this was sad, but also sweet. I expected it to go much darker than it did and was pleasantly surprised with how it went. Loved the names too! :)


Kara Heisler
19:56 Jul 17, 2023

Thank you so much! To be honest, I was kind of debating adding darker elements to the story to add more horror, but I decided to keep it a bit tamer. :)


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