I come early from work that day to play with my daughter. She has been playing all alone nowadays ever since her mother started her new business, now she is out of town often on business trips.
I open the door with the key that I have, and enter my home, eagerly awaiting to see my daughter and hug her.
But she doesn’t seem to be around watching TV. I will check her drawing board. That’s where, nowadays, she writes up something and sticks it up there for me or my wife to read, in case she wants to tell something to us when she isn’t around She would write something like “I am going to so and so friend’s house”, “going to the children’s park to play”, etc. or more recently “I am playing jigsaw puzzle in my room, please do not disturb.”
Let’s see what she has written today. I read the note in the yellow coloured sticky note.
“I am playing jigsaw puzzle in my room, please do not disturb.”
“Oh, again the same thing.” I wonder.
Nowadays, she has got an increasing fascination towards jigsaw puzzles. But her latest jigsaw puzzle was a bit eerie. The first time, I saw that puzzle, I got so shocked. It was the image of a human skull, a very scary one indeed. But I feel ridiculous that she doesn’t feel afraid looking at the image of a human skull. I was always scared of ghosts, black magic and all these negative things. But I didn’t want my daughter to be like me, I wanted her to be bold. So I didn’t let her know that I was afraid looking at it.
But even if I look at it now, I will be afraid. I always had this strange feeling that somehow the image was real, it felt so real.But I was happy that my daughter wasn’t afraid, at least.
Then, I got suspicious of her. Nowadays, she was spending excessive time alone. And we do have an unsupervised laptop in there. Maybe, she was looking at something without our knowledge.
I mean, it’s quite normal at this age. She’s a teenager and there’s always this curiosity at this age. But I also want to know if she is safe.
So, I had this curiosity to look at what she was doing, in secret. I knew it was unethical, but sometimes curiosity and a child’s safety gets the better of you. So I gathered the courage, went near the door of her room, I looked through the keyhole of her room, to check what was she doing. It was very unethical, but I have no choice.
I noticed that she was only fixing her jigsaw puzzles. So, I got relieved and felt a little guilty. Then I saw what she was doing. By the time, I come daily, she almost finishes her jigsaw puzzle and showed the fixed puzzle to me. But today, since I came in early, she was still fixing the same.
By now, I had started admiring her play, as any father would. I was enjoying how she fixed the puzzle, how she calculated which piece to pick up first and where to fix them.
As soon as she completed her jigsaw, I saw the light in the room went off.
“What happened?” I wondered as I started hearing my daughter’s voice.
“How are you today?” she said.
“I’m also fine. It’s so boring without you nowadays.” she said after a pause.
“Yeah, daddy will be home in another half an hour. Will we be back by then?”
“Ok, let’s go.” she said.
“What? Who the hell she is talking to?” I wondered, as I heard no other voice.
But I got furious that something was going seriously wrong and pulled the door open, to see the lights getting on automatically.
“Baby. What are you doing?”
“Daddy?” my daughter got shocked. “Huh.. Hmm.. It’s no… nothing dad. I am just playing.”
I went inside and I saw the image of the human skull. As usual, it felt so real and I got frightened a bit.
“Baby, were you talking something? With whom were you talking?”
“It’s ok, my girl. Relax. If you don’t want to tell me, it’s fine.” I hugged her.
She got relaxed, and told me “Dad, it’s just my imaginary world. I just go into an imaginary world after completing the puzzle. It’s generally very dark out there. You will see a lot of such skulls on the floor, the entire area is spooky. But I love it.”
I got scared hearing that. I didn’t want to hear anymore but I was bit happy that she was imagining about ghosts and skulls without getting afraid.
“It’s Ok, my girl, let’s go out and play. Daddy came home early to play with you.”
“So sweet of you, daddy. Let’s go.” she said, smiling and we both went outside and started playing.
I still had mild suspicion in her narrative. How come the light could automatically get stopped and started. I kept on wondering while we left the room.
I started happily playing with my daughter, thinking about the happenings and trying to make sense.
Meanwhile, inside the room:
On locking the door, the light went off automatically. Slowly, eyes started appearing on the skull, and then the skin started appearing. Moments later, a full human being came out of the jigsaw puzzle. And it was smiling.
Dear readers, please feel free to comment/critique my stories. It would be of immense help. In case you already don’t know, I am writing this as part of the A to Z short story challenge
Here are the other stories that I have written as part of this challenge :
Please do take your time to read and drop in your comments. Thanks.