A frog tried abysmally to tear the quilt of nocturnal silence with a barely noticeable croak. The moon, a sickly yellow crescent, shifted towards its darker side and the inky clouds bullied the stars into surrendering their light.
The garden was isolated. Sleeping foliage was abandoned by the moths that crowded at the lamp posts throwing golden light over the sandy ground. The light flickered occasionally. A single set of swings stood in the middle on the garden, the paint peeling away from the metal poles and exposing cold surface beneath. The ground under the swing seats dipped a little and some grit had lodged itself between the tense lock of the chains holding the swing.
Maya was alone. She’d passed the swings earlier in the afternoon when her mother drove into her grand mom’s villa and she’d waited the rest of the day to get consent from her mother to go out and play. Now, finally, she was out, and the garden was just seven steps away. She watched the moths covering the light, making the garden look darker than it would’ve been otherwise, and she thought them to be unusually thick and opaque.
She stood at the threshold. There was no one in the garden, and she smiled. As she approached the empty swing, her glance went towards the shadows. She looked at the swing again and then again at the shadow.
The shadow was alive. The swing oscillated, and the shadow of a girl was seated on the swing. But the swing was still. By now, Maya had reached it halfway, and she stopped in her steps. She was afraid.
She took steps backwards, unable to look away from the shadow. The girl in the shadow slowed down. The moths had layered over each other, the light was now a dim glow. Maya’s heart was caught in her throat. Her pace quickened, but she still didn’t turn away. The shadow girl stopped the swing and got up. Maya saw nobody around, only the shadow moved. And it moved towards her.
Frightened, she turned on her heel and ran out the garden, the shadow following fast behind her.