The Uncanny Reflection

The Uncanny Reflection

The wind was howling that night. The wooden window panels were clashing against each other with a loud bang. The flower vase crashed on the ground at the stroke of windy squall. Its smashed pieces spread across the white marbled floor. Chhaya stopped snoring and woke up from her sleep with a loud yelp. 

“What’s that in my dream?” she screamed as a chill passed down her spine. 

Chhaya hastily sat and huddled up at the far corner of the bed. She stretched her hand to switch on the light but a frosty fabric seemed to brush off against her sweating palm. She gave out a muffled cry of fear. 

She was the sole occupant of the house. She had outlived others with her graying hairs. She was a woman in her forties. It had been ages since her parents were gone and simply trapped in the photo frames that hang right above her head on the damp yellow wall. The photo cases often swayed and produced screeching sound in the dead of the night. 

Although that stormy night the snapshots remained awfully quiet. Only a weird light shone on her mother’s wide eyes as the flashes of lightning appeared in the dark black sky. 

Chhaya shuddered as she gazed at the dreary contour lines on the wall opposite her bed. The curvy outlines moved to and fro like a shadow of a woman in silk saree. Chhaya gathered her hands and feet near her body. She wanted to shout but only a low sniffle came out of her clattering teeth. 

Drops of icy sweat appeared on her forehead as she saw the shadow, the hazy figure, move again on the wall. 

“Mom? Is it you?” Chhaya finally spoke in a low tone. 

Hissing sound of the breeze answered in consent.  

Chhaya dashed out of the bed and rushed to the wall on the opposite side. She was no more afraid of the turbulent night or the unnatural reflection. She moved her fingers lightly on the wall. “Mom, you’ve finally come to take me. I’ve been waiting for you so long,” she spoke with a deep sigh of relief. 

A flash of lightning with an earsplitting thunder appeared across the sky. It lighted up the pitch-dark room. In that sudden brightness Chhaya saw the shadow tip-toeing out of the wall. It was gone in a split second. “Please don’t go,” Chhaya pleaded. 

The noisy wind didn’t respond back with a whisper. 

Suddenly Chhaya turned quiet. Her eyes fell on the pink curtain that was set on motion by the wind. The draped piece of cloth was moving back and forth on the front door by the wall. Its dancing reflection fell on the wall before her.

Chhaya stood fixated at the spot by the wall. She hoped her mother would come back again and call her in hushed tone, “Chhaya”. 

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Glossary
Chhaya: Shadow 
(In this story Chhaya is the name of the female protagonist.)
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10 thoughts on “The Uncanny Reflection

  1. A beautifully narrated captivating story about the eternal relationship between mother and daughter. Indeed every daughter is the Chhaya(Shadow) of her mother, the light-giver.

  2. Hi Lagnajita,

    First of all, a clever choice of name. Chhaya – Indeed a shadow.

    Your fiction started off well. I liked the spooky descriptions, and the end brought a lump to my throat. I too miss my mother, you see.

    However, some pointers

    1. In the first para, I feel you can avoid gerunds.
    // The wind howled that night. The wooden window panels clashed against each other//

    2. The flower vase crashed on the ground at the stroke of windy squall.
    // The flower vase crashed to the ground as a strong gust of wind blew //

    3. a chill passed down her spine.
    // went down her spine //

    4. She had outlived others with her graying hairs. She was a woman in her forties
    // How about rephrasing it? A woman in her 40s need not have grey hairs, unless its genetic or she is under stress//

    5. Hissing sound of the breeze answered in consent
    // The hissing sound //
    Or maybe // The breeze hissed, almost in consent //

    A couple of rounds of editing, and you would know your areas of improvement.

    Prompt adherance – I would say it is acceptable

    Keep sharing.

    1. Hi Narayani. Thanks for reading my story and commenting on it. I will try to edit the story following your advice. I am glad that you liked my story.

  3. HI, Very descriptive, makes the read interesting.

    However use of uncommon words or little heavy diction to describe a common situation takes the readers mind away from the narrative.

    Eg The flower vase crashed on the ground at the stroke of windy squall

    The flower vase crashed because of the strong winds.
    Or the wind blew so strong that the flower base fell and crashed.

    Keeping it simple makes the reading easy and more gripping.

  4. Congratulations on sending in the first submission for this month’s QT.

    I liked the setting, and the descriptions. The delivery however can be improved. Somehow in the end, it didn’t really have the hair-standing effect which you had set the ground for.

    Narayani has already shared a few useful pointers. Adding to it –
    You may wish to look at varying sentence length to add a bit of curiosity. There are quite a number of sentences with – and, but – using too many of these to increase sentence length impacts the pace of reading.

    stroke of windy squall – a windy

    Chhaya hastily sat and huddled up at the far corner of the bed – ‘in the far corner’

    Chhaya stood fixated at the spot by the wall – should be ‘on’ the spot

    There are a couple of punctuation errors as well.

    “Please don’t go,” pleaded Chaya – Do you think we can rephrase this as ‘Please don’t leave me again / here alone

    I didn’t quite get the sentiment you are trying to convey here – The noisy wind didn’t respond back with a whisper. Noisy wind, whisper?

    But, overall, a good attempt. Please try to edit your stories a couple of times, and you will see them shine! Looking forward to read more from you…

    1. Hi Chandra. Thank you so much for reading my story and giving me some valuable advice. I will try to edit the story according to your suggestions.

  5. A very gripping story. Although, I kind of felt it was open ended. Could have offered more clarity. The story was more of a description of the chilly scary night.

    1. Hi Lavanya. Thanks for reading my story. It is indeed an open ended story. I am glad that you liked it.

  6. Hi Srilatha. Thank you so much for commenting on my story. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I will try to make necessary improvements in my next story.

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