The Little Sister

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Inspired by 2NE1's 'It Hurts' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilumpvJMi9k

A tale of four mysterious sisters and the man that came from the rain.

Submitted: December 02, 2011

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Submitted: December 02, 2011

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There once stood a graveyard at the edge of our town, forever cloaked beneath grey skies and a thick layer of mist and fog. I remember it clearly from the times I was still a child. In the middle of the graveyard stood a large forbidding house with its high brick walls and towering spires. From before I could even remember, the house in the graveyard had fallen into complete disrepute, a mere shadow of its former glory (if such a glorious moment ever existed). The tiles on the roof were now faded and worn from the battering of harsh rains and winds, the once clean brick walls were now covered in ivy and the overgrown weeds in the yard gave passer-bys a feeling of great foreboding. No one ever went near the house in the graveyard anymore.  

When I was a child of about seven or eight, I passed by the graveyard one evening and took a sneaky peek at the house in the graveyard, as all curious little children would do. Some said the house had been abandoned for years, while others insisted that someone still lived within it, for there sometimes was light shining through a window or smoke issuing from the chimneys. No one ever saw anyone enter or leave the house though, and no one ever dared knock on the front door to check. As my eyes met the unwelcoming façade of the house, I thought I saw a shadow of a person flicker across the large window on the top floor. For a good minute or so my eyes remained fixated upon the shadow in the window. And then I blinked, and the shadow was gone. Terrified as a child would have been upon encountering a ghost, I had run as fast as my little feet could carry me, not stopping until I had reached the safe confines of my own room. While a part of me was terrified about what I thought I had seen, another part was burgeoning with the curiosity that was characteristic of young naïve children. There was something about the house that seemed to be aching to tell a story. And the shadow in the window. Even though I could not make out a face, it struck me with a sense of forlornness and heartache.

According to the elders in the village, the house in the graveyard had not always been that way. Story had it that the house was traditionally owned by the keeper of the graves, a role that was once revered and respected in society. The last keeper of the graves was a eccentric old priest who lived there with his four beautiful young daughters. As the years went by, hardly anyone remembered much of the old priest and his daughters anymore, and their story faded into a mere urban legend of our sleepy suburban town. When I first brought my story of the shadow in the window to Grandma Melinda, the ninety year old matriarch of our little town, she had patted me on the head and smiled wistfully, her eyes reflecting a sorrow that I had never seen before. Sitting me down on the swing on her front porch, she began to tell a tale that no one ever knew.

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When Melinda was still a child, she often heard the townsfolk talking about the four sisters from the house in the graveyard. They were so beautiful, they said, more beautiful than any the town had ever seen before. Perhaps with their father dead and gone, they said, the sisters could finally get a normal life away from the dreariness of the local graveyard. Rumour had it they practiced witchcraft, they said, perhaps we had best keep our children away from that place. People feared the unfamiliar, and to the townsfolk, the sisters were the epitome of the unfamiliar. While they envied the mysterious elegance and beauty of the girls, the townsfolk secretly feared their presence in the neighbourhood because they knew nothing of who they were and what they were like. Their father, the old grave keeper, was a fiercely traditional man who kept to himself and hardly appeared in public. Likewise, he kept his four daughters locked within the safe boundaries of their massive house where he could always keep an eye on them and protect them from the wandering eyes of young men who lusted after their ethereal beauty. No one in town had ever seen the girls more than once, and most had never even seen them at all. Word of their beauty spread like wildfire, yet few could actually claim witness to the truth of such rumours. Upon the death of the old grave keeper, rumours were rife in town that the four girls would finally be making their long-awaited entrance into society, and many eagerly anticipated the day they would finally lay eyes upon such legendary beauty. The day never came. The townsfolk waited for days, which became weeks, and then became months, but they never so much as got a glimpse of any of the four sisters. Soon the rumours began taking on a different swing and malicious words about their eccentric behaviour and suspicions about witchcraft overshadowed the original tales of their mysterious beauty. As time passed, anticipation grew into weariness, weariness grew into fear, and fear grew into hate. Children were warned time and time again to avoid the graveyard and even the adults walked hastily by with their heads bowed and their hands clenched in prayer.

Despite her age, Melinda was not one to be cowed by baseless fear. She had grown up listening to the stories about the four sisters in the graveyard, and she longed to see for herself which parts of the stories were true and which were merely fabricated lies. One fine day, when her parents were out at work, the young Melinda left her house and walked two kilometres to the graveyard at the corner of town. And then she did the unthinkable, she knocked on the front door of the house in the graveyard. First there was silence, then the door slowly but surely creaked open, its hinges groaning under the stress that it had not experienced in far too long. That day, Melinda encountered the four sisters of legend. They were more beautiful than she had ever imagined, and all at once she knew which rumours were true and which were not. She had to admit that by normal standards, the sisters were vaguely eccentric and bizarre characters. During her time in the house (and she was there much more frequently than her parents would have liked to know of), the three older sisters barely spoke a word to her, preferring instead to act as though she did not exist. The youngest sister was her favourite. With her thick frizzy locks of hair that were reminiscent of Rapunzel’s own tragic curls, she was never anything but warm and hospitable to the young intruder. Perhaps it was because Melinda seemed like the younger sister she never had. The house in the graveyard became her second home, and the sisters became her family away from home. There was no witchcraft or magic in this place, the jealous townsfolk had merely been blinded by malice and hate after being spurned by the four girls. What there was, was love. Having lived with each other all their lives, the sisters were tied to one another by invisible bonds of sisterly love and friendship that emanated from their very souls. Sometimes Melinda felt as though she could feel a tinge of that magical bond, and she could not control the yearning in her heart for just a slight taste of what it would feel like to have such a strong bond to someone else.

For Melinda and the four sisters, everything changed the day he arrived. He arrived one stormy day in July, with his fashionably coiffed dark hair dripping with rain and his impeccable black suit outlining his lanky figure. That was the second and last time anyone ever knocked on the door of the house in the graveyard. He was a traveler, he said, who needed a shelter from the storm in this unfamiliar town. Despite their fearsome reputations, the sisters were in reality but young gullible girls with no experience of the shady dealings of the world outside. They let him in. His stay in the house was meant to be brief, but from a day it became a week, and a week became a month. There was something about this man that Melinda did not like. Perhaps it was the way he smiled like a car salesman who wanted to cheat you of your hard-earned money. Perhaps it was the way he fingered the silver cross that hung around his neck that reeked of guilt. Perhaps it was because the sisters used to be her own little secret and now she had to share them with someone else. He charmed them all with his glib tongue and gentlemanly ways, and none more so than the little sister of the four. With each passing day, her radiance grew and with it her immense beauty. Soon it became obvious to them all that something was changing in their little sister. She was falling in love.

On her birthday that year, the young man threw her her very first birthday party. There were cake and candles and presents, everything a young girl could have wanted on her birthday. There were smiles all around and hugs and kisses. The once dreary house lit up with a warmth that had long left its walls and the eccentricity of the household was replaced by a sense of normalcy. On that day, he gave her a golden locket. It was shaped like a heart, with intricate carvings on its surface that hinted at superb craftsmanship. Melinda also prepared a present for that occasion, a hand-sewn purse that had taken her over a week to complete. While the little sister smiled appreciatively and ruffled her hair affectionately upon receiving the little purse, Melinda knew that deep down the present she most valued would always be that golden locket. Melinda never found out what was on the inside of that locket, for the little sister kept it ever so private and close to her heart. But what was once her greatest joy would soon prove to be her greatest heartache.

They say happiness never lasts long, and in the life of the little sister it only lasted a short two weeks before her glass bubble was shattered into a million pieces. He left, without so much as a word or a letter of goodbye. She cried for days after, tears flowing down her soft cheeks as she gazed forlornly at the locket he gave her. It was not long later that they found out the reason behind his abrupt departure, the fanfare in town was much too loud to be suppressed. As it turned out, the young man was no traveling stranger. He had come to town for a reason, and that reason was to marry the lovely daughter of town mayor, whom he had been engaged to for years. The only truth in the story of his arrival was the part about seeking shelter from the storm. The four sisters were never meant to be a part of his story, but his chance encounter with their stunning beauty captivated him and left him spellbound. In order to delay his departure from their home, he spun a web of lies that fooled them all, a vicious web that trapped the heart of an innocent young girl that he lusted after but never truly loved. He did not belong in their world, and sooner or later he had to return to the world that was rightfully his. The sisters were never the same after that day. The little sister locked herself up in her own world of make-believe, one where he still loved her and never left her. She would sit all alone in the room on the top floor, reliving again and again the day of her last birthday, where he had given her that cursed locket and the happiest day of her life, before he took it all away. Even while tears were not flowing from her eyes, she never smiled again. It broke Melinda’s heart to know that she had all but lost the only older sister she had ever known, and that she was likely never to find her again. And if it broke even Melinda’s heart to see her like this, it completely shattered that of her three sisters. For the sisters were connected by a far more complicated bond than anyone could have imagined, and when one sister’s heart was breaking, the others could do nothing but share in her pain. From that day onwards, the house became even more grey and desolate than it had ever been, and it was as if laughter had never filled those hallways.

Before long, Melinda could no longer bring herself to visit the house in the graveyard, for no feelings remained in that place except despair and pain. Dust and cobwebs were allowed to run amok and sorrow filled every nook and cranny. As she grew older, her memories of the four sisters and their unfortunate encounter with the callous young man began to fade into the background of an ordinary teenage life. She never saw the four sisters again.

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The day after I heard Grandma Melinda’s story, I could not resist making a trip back to the house in the graveyard. As I looked up at the window on the top floor, I was certain I saw a flicker of candle glow and the subtle hints of a shadow through the dust-encrusted glass panels. If the sisters still lived within the house, they must be well over a hundred years old today, yet the lithe movements of the shadow in the window spoke of youth impossible for that of a centenarian. Perhaps the townsfolk were right after all, and there was a certain magic and witchery in this place. Even if that were so, I could feel none of it. Instead, all I felt was a deep sorrow and longing, as though the house, and the girl who once lived within it, were still there waiting. Waiting for the day her love would come back to her.

 


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