I was excited to finally get a job for the summer. At 16 with no work experience, getting even a cashier position was hard. I found the family on a website that staffed professional babysitters. I was to watch a 10-year-old boy named Dhaval. His parents were leaving for the weekend on a mini-vacation and wanted to spend time alone. I smiled graciously as Mrs. Desai opened the front door for me. The house was lovely and outstandingly beautiful. As I lived with my mom and younger brother in a three-bedroom apartment, the house was a mansion in my eyes.
“Good morning,” I said in my best professional manner.
Mr. Desai walked by me and outside with two large suitcases, for a cab waiting out front. Dhaval, the 10-year-old, was sitting on the couch playing on his tablet. Mrs. Desai kissed him on the head.
“Dhaval, you’ll be good for your babysitter, right?” Dhaval moved away from her kiss as if it was poisonous.
“Yes!” He responded irritated. She then turned to me.
“Come, I’ll show you around the house,” she gleefully whispered.
“Over here is the kitchen and we left you a hundred in case you want take out. Feel free to cook. Dhaval loves pancakes in the morning with six slices of bacon. His room is upstairs, the one of the right. His bed time is nine prompt. He knows what to do.”
“Understood!” I responded with a serious demeanor this time. Mrs. Desai looked down at her feet for a moment and took me to the kitchen. “Now, there is one thing I neglected to mention. We’re a new family in this neighborhood, as you know. Dhaval has a form of sleep terrors. There’s a painting in his room that must be covered at night.”
“Okay, sure,” I said curiously. “Why?”
“Dhaval claims the woman in the picture talks to him at night. Not talk, more like, scares him. He literally believes the picture of alive.”
“Can I see it?”
We walked upstairs to his bedroom and facing his bed was a medium size photo of a woman with a black veil covering her face. It was creepy as hell.
“Why don’t you just take it down?”
Her face tightened as if in her own disbelief. “We tried. We’ve called every wall specialist in the town. No one can remove it. It’s like permanently sealed. We don’t want to damage the wall so a third specialist is to come and try to take it down on Monday.”
We walked back down stairs.
“If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call. You have both my husband and my number in your phone?”
Mr. Desai came back into the house and with Mrs. Desai gave their son one last kiss before walking out. The door closed slowly behind her and the sound of the taxi outside driving away made the house seem that much emptier.
“Hi, Dhaval, my name’s Rhea!”
Dhaval looked up from his tablet once and then looked back down.
“Do you want to play a game?”
“No,” he replied coldly.
I took out my book and sat across from him until dinner time came. I ordered pizza for both of us. Kids like pizza, so I figured it would be a good choice. I popped in the movie Zootopia and when bedtime came, he was already starting his routine. When he was in his bed, I noticed him looking anxiously at the woman with the veil.
I sat down next to him. “Your mom told me you’re scared of that painting…why?”
“She watches me. If it’s not covered, that’s when she’ll come.”
I stared at the woman with the veil. She was eerie looking. Why did someone paint this? The boy was right. I felt her looking at me, even though her face was covered, and it was just painting.
“Alright Dhaval, I’ll be sleeping in the guest room. Just yell for me, if you need anything.”
“Okay…wait!” He screamed. “Cover it up!”
“Oh right, sorry!” I picked up the carefully folded black blanket and covered up the ugly picture.
“Goodnight,” I said softly.
I was sleeping soundly in the comfortable bed of expensive sheets and a thousand-dollar mattress when Dhaval screamed. I ran into his room and immediately turned on the light. The blanket was off the painting. He was inconsolable.
“What happened?” I probed.
“It came off. She tried to come out!” He yelled.
“Dhaval, calm down, it’s just a picture. It’s not real.”
“It changed! Look!” he pointed.
I stared at the painting and in my disbelief, the veil had moved slightly, as if the face was about to reveal itself. I put the blanket back over the picture.
“Can I sleep with you tonight?” He whined.
I paused, because I knew that would be highly inappropriate. He was so scared. I couldn’t say no.
“How about I sleep in here tonight, and if she comes out, I’ll protect you?”
“Okay…” he mumbled.
I climbed into his bed and turned off the light.
It was the creaking of the floor this time that woke me up. Dhaval was sound asleep. There was no one else in this house but us, so I was confused and a little half terrified. I glanced quickly at the painting. The blanket was still covering it. A sigh of relief washed over me. I felt embarrassed that I even considered being scared of a picture. I fell back into the pillow and closed my eyes. A moment later, I heard the blanket fall to the floor.
I had never felt my heart beat that fast. I was scared. Dhaval was still sleeping. I gathered my courage and looked over at the painting. The woman with the veil was still there. I got back up and quickly covered it again. I lied back down in the bed. I closed my eyes.
The sound of the blanket falling off again, and this time, Dhaval was wide awake staring at the picture. I followed his gaze and unbelievably, the woman with the veil was gone.
We both jumped out of the bed this time.
“I told you!” He screamed.
Creaking from the hallway made us both jump. Someone was outside the door.
I grabbed Dhaval and we both went into the closet and locked it. Dhaval’s bedroom door slowly opened and heavy footsteps walked around the room. We heard Dhaval’s blanket get ripped off the bed and thrown to the floor. The footsteps walked around the room and then made their way to the closet. Just when we thought it is about to be opened, the footsteps disappeared all together.
After 20 minutes, I got the courage to open the closet door. Nothing stirred in the room. I held him tightly to my side and glanced at the closed door. I tried to turn the knob, but it was locked from the outside.
What the fuck! I did not sign up for this!
Dhaval ran to the corner of the room. I looked behind us and saw a black mist flow out of the painting. It took the form of a human figure. I grabbed his desk lamp in protection, but I knew damn well this is some supernatural bullshit.
The black figure soon turned into the woman.
“Close your eyes, Dhaval!”
“What do you want? What do you want?” I yell.
Although her face was covered, I could still feel her eyes.
Just when I think she was about to hurt us, we heard a crashing sound downstairs and voices. Someone was rummaging in the living room and kitchen. More footsteps and then as quick as we heard it, they were gone.
The house alarm went off.
The black mist slowly crept back into the painting. I covered it and called the police.
When the cops arrived, they explained that two men were seen around the property and had broken in. Nothing of serious value was stolen. The police man said that the suspect’s footprints lead upstairs and asked where we hid when one of them entered the bedroom.
The footsteps in Dhaval’s room were the burglars. If the woman in the painting did not show herself, we would have still been sleeping or worst, left the room while the intruders were still in the house.
I uncovered the painting and the woman with the veil was right back where she was before. Dhaval’s parents came back and thanked me for keeping him safe.
After that experience, I had to know who she was. I researched the history of the property and the painting’s origins. The picture was painted in 1902. The woman in it was named Sufiyana Ghori. She had suffered disfiguring burns on her face and wore a veil so that people would not see her. Regardless, the painting saved our lives that night. I hear Dhaval isn’t afraid of her anymore, but he asked her to not leave the picture again
Next blog will be out soon.Desai Thoughts MEdia.
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