Highly Commended Story - Senior Category
“The Pangs of Guilt” by Sanskriti Dev, Amity International School, Gurugram, Haryana, India, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2018.
Fifteen-year-old Sanskriti Dev loves reading books, especially when the books have a plot worth spending her time on. Her hobbies are playing the piano, dancing and writing. She learns German, apart from English, and wishes to be able to speak at least four different languages. Her dream is to travel the world. She wants to become a diplomat and represent her country, India, and its traditions abroad.
The Pangs of Guilt
“Rebecca Woodwords was found dead in the parking lot of her apartment. The key witness, her own sister, Brittany, has been attending counselling sessions since then. The two sisters were having dinner together on the 5th of April, when something urged Rebecca to jump off the balcony – ”
“Ugh. I know, Miss Cadler, I do. You have to stop reading this news repeatedly to me. I’m tired.” Brittany gestured for Lesley Cadler, her counsellor, to stop.
Lesley clapped her hands. “I’m tired too, Brittany. Why aren’t you telling me how your sister died?!”
“She died because of a prank, OKAY!?” Brittany banged her hands on the table.
“A prank? What kind?”
“I was acting as if I wanted to kill her. Then I turned my back to her and started cleaning a knife to make the prank seem real, but… but after that, I just heard a scream. Becky jumped off the balcony.” Brittany had glassy eyes. She was about to tear up.
“Rebecca didn’t want her very own sibling to kill her. She thought jumping off the balcony was far better!!! Such a nice girl.” Lesley had praise and sympathy for Rebecca in her eyes.
Brittany felt uncomfortable. She had been jealous of Rebecca all her life. She was the pretty one, the intelligent one, the courteous one…
“I have to go. The Police Department informed me to reach at two for further investigation.”
Brittany collapsed on her bed, exhausted. She changed and brushed, washed her face and lay down gloomily on her bed, scrolling through her phone.
“Huh?!?” Brittany opened her eyes and glanced at the table clock. It was 2:59 am.
She rubbed her eyes and got out of her bed. Her room was cold…in June. This was odd, as Brittany didn’t use air conditioners.
She rubbed her temple and padded softly through her entire apartment. At last, she reached the portal of Rebecca’s room. She hesitantly turned the knob to open the door.
Cold air cut through Brittany like sharp knives. Brittany gasped and clutched her neck in trepidation. She gulped nervously and looked around the room.
A shadow caught her eyes. It was the shadow of a night lamp placed in the corner of the room. But, the shadow was changing. It was changing into…a definite figure. The figure of a woman. Brittany stepped back and hurriedly closed the door.
After that incident, Brittany got weird texts on her phone from an unknown number, saying, Tell them the truth, Brit.
Brittany got home to papers lying here and there in her room. They said, I warn you.
She got scared and then, Brittany spent most of the time outside her apartment.
One day, Brittany was having a gala time with her friends at a lavish restaurant.
After the party, she was waiting for a taxi, when a lady came and stood beside her, glancing at her watch every now and then.
Brittany greeted her.
After some gossiping and small talk, the lady said, “I hired a new driver today.”
“Oh really!? What’s his name? I too want a driver.”
“Actually, it’s a she. Rebecca Waller is her name.”
Brittany smiled. “I guess I’ll walk home. See you around.”
Brittany was walking on an isolated road. Suddenly, a car passed her at a slow speed. She watched it as it turned around, and something hit her. The car did…along with a realization.
There was no one in the car.
“She’s coming back.”
Brittany slowly opened her eyes. She blinked many times, so as to recall the incidents happened, how she ended up in a hospital.
Alas, it struck her.
Brittany started kicking her legs and screaming for help. The nurses rushed and gave her an anesthetic. She calmed down, but her mind was buzzing.
After a while, the nurses took their leave. Brittany was breathing calmly, until…
She jerked her eyes open.
“Brit…What did you do?” Whispered a figure in the corner of the room. Brittany perfectly knew who that was.
“I’m so sorry Becky. It was just because of my jealousy. I’d never think of even hurting you!”
The figure in the corner faded away slowly.
Brittany sighed with relief. Rebecca had forgiven her.
“Still…You took my life from me. What’s the harm in doing Tit for Tat?”
Nurses came rushing in Brittany’s ward, due to the loud screams heard. But it was too late; she had a heart attack.
There was no spirit haunting Brittany, it was the guilt that pricked her like thorns. She was so drowned in guilt, that she started imagining things. People like Brittany never take the blame on themselves. She knew that she was going to die because of her guilt, but even then, was she taking the blame?
Brittany brought death upon herself.