Hide And Seek

Marli sits in the dark, her knees drawn up to her chin, her breath coming in short sharp bursts. She is certain he can hear her heart beating; it’s hammering so loudly that her ears are reverberating. Her chest aches from where her knees are squeezed in tight by her arms. She makes herself as small and unnoticeable as possible.

“I know where you are.”

Marli squeezes her legs a little tighter, and stifles a gasp. The closet is cramped and musty, and her back is starting to ache from sitting too long in this position. She daren’t move so much as a toe. She’s terrified that even that little shuffle will alert him to where she is.

“I can hear you breathing.”

It’s dark as midnight except for the single beam of light shining in through the keyhole. The key nestles between her hand and her leg, embossing perfect clones of itself onto her skin.

‘If I lose the key, I can have another one made from the marks on my palm and calf,’ she thinks sardonically.

“You can’t hide forever, you know.”

He is just the other side of the door now. Marli slows her heart, focuses on the silence, blends into it.

Then even the thin sliver of light is gone.

She hears a key fitted into the lock.

Her heart races.

It turns.

She gasps.

The door opens.

She screams.

“I found you, at last! Right, my turn to hide, your turn to seek” her brother shouts with glee. They had played this silly game of hide and seek since they were very little. And now, as adults, they got no less joy from the game.

©Asha Rajan

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