I stare hard at the house next door through my window. It was almost midnight and a single light is shining in one of the windows of the house next door.
Ordinarily, it would have been normal...if that house was not abandoned, the roof and windows broken, weeds growing out in the garden. No one has occupied in that house for a long time--more than a decade. And yet, at midnight, a single light is shining from the window of that house.
Now wide awake, I grab the binoculars from the bedside table and and stare outside. I could hear the crickets chirping in the night, stars dotted on the darkened sky. I focus my binoculars on the abandoned house that suddenly seemed to be alive.
The light was coming from the room upstairs. I focus on the brightly lit room. I couldn't see any furniture or anything except I could faintly make out the color of the walls--beige in color.
A woman appeared in front of the window.
I gasped, dropping the binoculars with a thud, my hand covering the mouth. Did I just see someone standing by the window? Or was it my sheer imagination? With shaking hands, I grab my binoculars again, and focus again.
The woman was still standing by the window and she was knocking on the window frantically, as if trying to break the window. Can she see me? I slowly back away from the window, afraid of being caught. Then I see that she was screaming. Her face looking frightened. I froze, again. Should I wake my parents? I couldn't hear the girl screaming from across but it seemed to me that she was screaming--for help.
What the hell is this girl doing in an abandoned house.
I was about to wake my parents up when suddenly, the lights have gone off. The woman is gone too. The house is now in complete darkness.
With a pang of fear, I put my binoculars away and went back to bed, wondering if I actually imagined a woman standing by the window of the abandoned house, asking for help.
Once upon a time, the house was once occupied by a happy family of four. A husband, a wife and two children, one of them presumably about my age. The house was big with a beautiful garden filled with bougainvillea grown on pots, a huge mango tree and papaya tree and perfectly trimmed grass. The window frames were made of polished wood, the windows sparkling clean, the walls painted in stark white.
But an event changed the life of that family forever.
A gossipy neighbour told us that the husband found the wife cheating behind him with another man, murdered both the wife and the man and buried both of them in the garden. He and his two children fled the house immediately after that. But no one knows what really happened and the house was left abandoned for years, the roof started breaking, the paintings on the walls peeling, windows breaking , the flower pots all dying and the garden overgrown with weeds that it may have become a haven to rats and snakes. And ever since then, no one has lived in that house. Rumors circulated around that the wife and her lover was haunting the house that no one was living in the house. A neighbor swore that every night, she would hear a woman crying and when she looked outside, there was no one crying and she assumed it might be the wife, who was murdered who was crying.
Either way, no one knows what really happened to the family and these were all rumors, yet the house remained unoccupied for a decade.
But tonight, I saw a woman at the window, and I wonder if I imagined the whole thing or if I actually saw the ghost of the wife who was murdered a decade ago.
While at work, I couldn't stop thinking about the woman at the abandoned house and hardly listened to the conversation among the colleagues.
"Did you hear another girl went missing?" Harshi, asked sounding excited and frightened both.
"Yeah--she was working at the Finance Company. She was apparently last seen getting off the Uber car in front of her boarding house. Apparently the driver swore he saw the girl going into the boarding house but her roommates were saying that she never returned back to the house," Mansika was saying, shrugging. "The driver and roommates were speaking the truth apparently,"
"My mother is not allowing me to go anywhere alone--no late works for me otherwise she said she would personally come and complain to the HR," Harshi was saying.
I looked at the news on my mobile phone. A curly haired girl was smiling at the camera, posing in front of a water fountain. The picture seemed to have taken from a Facebook and she looked happy in the picture. Disha Weerasinghe was last seen getting off the Uber car and entering into the boarding house. But she was never seen leaving the house and her roommates swore she never came into the house. The CCTV cameras on the streets had proved that Uber driver was telling the truth.
I shake my head as I put the phone away and focus on my work.
I get off from my Staff Van and then walk down the graveled path towards my house. I decided to take a longer route as I could see the front part of the abandoned house. Out house only faced the back of the abandoned house so I have to go around our housing scheme to get to the front part.
I finally reached the front part of the house and just stood there, staring at the house. Indeed, the house looked like a replica of a haunted house. The walls that were used to be white now blackened with mold and fungi growing around. Dead mango tree leaves scattered around the garden with weeds and grasses so tall that I could bet it would reach my knees. There might be rats and snakes to probably. The gates seemed rusted and a rusted chain circulated around the gate, closing the two firmly together. But the padlock...it looked new.
If everything in the house looked old and decaying, the padlock should look old and rusty. But instead, the padlock looked brand new. And I also noticed that the path to the garage was cleared, devoid of mango leaves.
Someone is living in the house.
Suddenly feeling nervous, I walk fast as I could, back home.