Conquering a Demon

“Shhhh, careful!”, fearful, Jule hissed from behind us. “You shouldn’t have come with us. I knew you’d be scared and put up a fuss”, I scowled at her.

“Both of you be quiet, this isn’t the time for you to fight!”

We tiptoed around the table, past the long corridor and were able, to silently cross Aunt M’s bedroom. Even though I mocked Jule, in my heart of hearts, fear ruled. My mouth was as dry as the loaf Aunt M gives us for breakfast. I tugged hard at Moddy’s shirt.

“What?”, annoyed, he turned to look at me. “Aunt M might wake up anytime, it’s almost three.”

“Oh she won’t! Now keep quiet or go back, and I’ll do this on my own.”

I was too scared but I couldn’t let him unlock the cupboard alone. So I followed him with a silent groan. Not that I wanted to see my demon, but Moddy said it’d be the size of a lemon, since it fit into that little cupboard. Jule held on to my hand tight, and both of us with all our might, followed our leader closely.

Jule and I met Moddy last year during Christmas. He visits his grandma’s house every now and then, which is a few houses away from ours. This time, he came here to spend his summer holidays. “I don’t like you playing with him”, Aunt M says always. But we naturally reunited. We invited him over for lunch last week, little did we know an adventure he’d seek. No sooner had he entered the kitchen than the tiny marble cupboard made his eyes glisten. There wasn’t much else to evoke curiosity, but the little cupboard with flowers on it was exceptionally pretty.

It was forbidden too. Aunt M always kept it locked, and the keys dangled from an unreachable peg on the wall. We weren’t supposed to go near it at all. It contained an ugly demon, locked up by Aunt, who would otherwise get out to hunt, little kids like us.

But Moddy did not seem convinced at all. “How can it hunt if it’s tiny enough to fit into a cupboard so small? Lies!”, he said. Although his words seemed wise, Jule and I never tried going near it, until he wanted to see how the demon fits. “No! You’re not supposed to see it. It looks terrifying. It has long canines, and only one eye. Has red hands and black fangs.”, I tried explaining. But Moddy was a headstrong kid. A little older to us, he was eight. Jule and I were young and naive. I was seven and she was five.

So we stood on the floor, eager but tense, glancing at the door every now and then. Moddy dragged a chair and climbed with ease. Within a moment he had the keys. Jule and I covered our faces, planning to flee before the demon chases. But as soon as the cupboard was unlocked, all three of us were surprised and shocked.

There was a row of large glass jars. One was full of raisin tarts. The others contained colourful treats, jellies and cookies and all kinds of sweets. “Here’s your demon”, Moddy smiled evilly, and started off the task of emptying them speedily.

And with my mouthful of red-blue fiends, I wondered if it was a coincidence that Aunt M wasn’t quite fond of our friend.

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The treasure I never found

I had always looked at the staircase and wondered what could be behind it. The staircase didn’t seem to be in the middle of the space. I am sure they attached it to a wall with screws, a half-window half-wall. The window covered with a translucent piece of bright yellow tin. You couldn’t move the staircase, and so couldn’t reach the half wall. The railings had a lot of gap in between, but you still couldn’t see the half window. There was a translucent tin sheet on its journey of opacity. The stairs spiralled down, to a place I still don’t know. They removed their shoes at the landing. I was certain of a dark room which the stairs led to, its windows covered with tinted glass. Tinted glass windows was not too important, but the bathroom was a large dark hall with black flooring, tinted windows and a tub in the middle of it. I never peeped in to check if the tub had water, I was scared. The room had hidden treasures. Not hidden, they were all placed in the open darkness of the room. I wanted to climb down, but I never did. I don’t remember why. I didn’t tell anyone about my truth, not because they’d laugh, for I didn’t think they would laugh. I climbed up and down the stairs. The railings were covered in cobwebs. They weren’t fresh spider-webs glistening in the sun. There was no sun at the bottom of the stairs, nor at the top. The stairs were red, not a bright red. The railings were black, neither shiny, nor faded. They existed in their shade of black, like most railings do. And they were beautifully carved. Or not. Maybe they were just ordinary. The shoes- they were mostly sandals, old, wearable at home. I can’t remember if there was a bulb hanging from the top, a dim yellow bulb…I think I want to sit on the steps. Dust on the stairs, it is an old building nevertheless. And worn out cobwebs on the railings. I can draw shapes on the dust. I should have just climbed downstairs. I wasn’t scared whatsoever. I wanted to wait, to grow up to know if I would still believe in treasures and go look for them down the spiralled…no, it wouldn’t be a skeleton still. If only I had known that I would lose it all, lose my staircase! If only I had known, I would have climbed down. I’ll probably never know ever if the stairs led to hidden treasures stored in the open, it’s a road that crumbles behind you as you move forward. But God, I would love to know what was behind the staircase, maybe the tin has rusted, and falling off, and I can see without dismantling the staircase. Otherwise, storing it would be a problem, I cannot twist it more than it already is, and you can’t fold it either. Someone has to hold it the entire time I look out through the half window, and it’s too heavy for one person. What if I want to look out of the window the next day again? The ice cream vendor sells a different flavour everyday. The half window probably has intricately designed grilles and I can’t put my hand out. It is unlikely though, because I’ve never seen convincing silhouettes through the tin. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find faint scratches on the floor from where they have dragged the vessels out.

Scribble Series #7

I smell the familiar air,

Heavy with fried fish and coriander,

But also with sausages from the nearby fast food centre.

I can feel fresh sunlight.

Heating up the parapet like olden times.

But no one stands on the terrace drying long hair anymore.

The silence is still heavy,

Lingering at noon time among brick houses,

Silently broken by an old man,

Pushing his cycle cart forward,

Only coloured syrup replaced by branded ice-cream.