Chapter 3

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I'm stepping down the cliff. I don't know what drives me there or why I am carrying a shovel, but I descend sure-footed, determined. I begin to dig, just where the girl had fallen. I dig and dig and dig, unaware of what I am looking for... Until I see a human hand. I keep on digging, shovelling the dust away, unveiling the body; my daughter's body.

I woke up screaming.

My eyes darted toward Tala. She was sitting on the bed, staring at me as I panted. Ironically, I was the one waking up terrified every night. I exhaled, my panic subsiding on seeing her alive and well.

"Don't worry, love." I said. "It's going to be okay."

"You killed mom." She said, looking me in the eyes. My heart skipped a beat.

"Tala, what are you talking about?"

"You buried her down that cliff. I know." She said.

"Sweetheart, who told you this nonsense?" My throat was going dry. "Was it that woman?"

"I saw you."

"This's so wrong. It certainly was a dream." I said. "Just a bad dream."

I hadn't realized earlier, but Tala's nightmares along with mine started only after that girl had first showed up. She was tampering with our minds. What's in it for her? I reached over to hug her, she cringed, and it evoked my anger.

"What the hell are you doing?!" I yelled, addressing the void. "What do you want from us?"

Tala sat up, crying, and I stormed out to the yard, wandering about like a hungry predator seeking its prey.

"Where the hell are you?" I screamed. "Show yourself! I don't fear ghosts!"

"I'm here." Her voice came calm right behind me. When I turned to look at her, she was sitting on Tala's swing, smiling.

"Stay away from my daughter! I warn you!" I yelled, panting. Her smile widened.

"She's been a heavy burden. Hasn't she?"

"This's nonsense! What  you're mouthing right now is utter nonesense!" I exclaimed. "What on earth are you trying to accomplish?"

"What are you trying? Shall we ask?" She said.

"Protecting my daughter! I have seen what you've done there! You won't succeed in tampering with her mind!"

"But I already have." The swing slowly moved back and forth. "I'm doing you a favour."

I burst out laughing.

"Ever since you adopted her, you've been suffering. I'm here to help you put that weight off your shoulders."

"You're insane!" She got off the swing, and started walking around toward my door.

"But I'm right. She's always been a hitch, and now she will cease to be."

"No!" I screamed, running into the house, unable to contain the anger welling inside my chest.

Inside the bedroom, everything was orange. EVERYTHING! The walls, the ceiling, the windows... And Tala's wide eyes.

"I was wrong." Said Tala, holding the girl's hand. "My mother is alive."

"We can still be a family." She muttered.



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