Today I have on my site, a dear friend, Vinay Leo R. The one who writes wonderful and moving narratives, the one who can sense even a slight change in the mood of a friend, the one who rhymes without reasons and the bookworm with musings. More than a random blogger whom I met thanks to the very active blogging community we have on Facebook, we bonded very well through many blogging challenges. To add the cherry on top, we discovered that we had similar tastes in a lot of things and became very close friends in a matter of few months. I totally admire his story telling skills and have been forever asking him to write for me and my readers. Today he is finally here on Ishithaa, narrating a story.
There had been a crack on the third stair from the top, for as far back as Kyle could remember. It would creak under his weight as he went upstairs or came downstairs from his bedroom, which was in the attic. His bed surrounded by memories, his and others’. But what intrigued him most was the third stair. He never counted how many stairs lay below it. It was easier to count three. And every time it creaked, he’d wonder why that stair, and if it’d break, taking his leg with it. His father told him the story that night at dinner.
“We o’Haras have mostly lived off the sea. Fishermen, traders… my grandfather told me there were even some pirate ancestors. One of them, Samuel, was the first mate to Barnaby, a ruthless man if there ever was one. No trade ship that crossed his vessel would be spared of pillaging. If his orders were not met, they’d feel the bite of his sword, a long silver one that he had crafted from the finest smith in the land. One time, they came upon a treasure. Gold coins, and priceless gems. A small chest it was, but priceless. Even the chest was worth a lot. Samuel saw that Barnaby wasn’t going to split the goods, as was agreed earlier between the two of them. When they pulled in to shore, Samuel snuck away with the chest, and came here. He ran up the stairs, into the attic and hid the chest somewhere. He made his way down, when he saw Barnaby standing on the third stair from the top. His sword swung, slicing Samuel’s throat, just as the old stair cracked, making Barnaby lose his balance and tumble down. His own sword pierced him as he tumbled, and he was dead by the time he hit bottom. Every step on the staircase has been replaced when they’ve cracked or creaked, but no o’Hara has ever replaced the third stair, for they say it’s haunted by the two ghosts.”
A cold breeze picked up and rushed through the window just as his father finished the story, making the two of them shiver. As he went back up to his room after dinner, he felt a chill as he heard the creak.
“You’re thirteen, Kyle. You’re too old to believe in ghosts and ghouls and Santa Claus. Get a hold of yourself. Imagine what Audrey would say if she came to know. You’re not a coward. You’re not a coward,” he told himself as he got ready for bed.
But he still gave a shout when the stair creaked the next morning, and gave way. To his surprise, his feet didn’t sink into the stair. He felt something holding him up. Looking down, a shiver went through him. There, in the hollow third stair, was a chest, a small one. He lifted it up. It was heavy. Slowly moving back up into the attic, he set it down on the bed. He took a hairpin from his mother’s old jewelry box, and tried till the lock gave way.
He gasped, as he opened it and saw gold coins, rubies and emeralds shining at him. His dad had been in financial problems, he knew, and this could solve them all, make their future. He couldn’t wait to tell his dad. He closed the chest, and carefully put it under his bed. And making sure he didn’t step on the third stair, he bounded down, his heart beating faster with excitement.
His dad had not returned from work when Kyle came back from school. But that was normal. He left early and worked late, to support Kyle after his mother’s death. Throwing his bag on the couch, he bounded up the stairs once again, and to his bed. Reaching under it, he pulled out the chest, and opened it.
It was empty; empty except for the note, two coins and two rubies. “You found my treasure. Thanks! Hadn’t known it was right under my feet all these years. Here’s some of it for you. Take Audrey out for a great dinner, son! — B.”
He stumbled out of the attic, and holding tightly on to the railing, made his way down.
“You’re dreaming, Kyle. Maybe the whole day was a dream. Pinch yourself. There’s no such thing as a ghost,” he mumbled.
He stepped down, but for the first time, he heard no creak. Looking down, he saw that the crack was gone. A new wooden plank sat there, and another note.
“Don’t need this crack anymore. Here’s a brand new stair for you. — B.”
No one heard Kyle’s scream as he stood, ashen faced, on the third stair.