Naflafiwrimo Day 9: Responsibility

This story is a version of a ‘classic’ ghost story formula. It’s a bit long; I think I’ll write a much shorter version of it some time.



Emily’s parents realise they’re not going to find a babysitter to replace Sandra by the time they have to leave for the party. They’ve called up everyone they can think of but without success.

‘We could always skip the party,’ Emily’s father says.

‘But it’s Monica’s fortieth and she’s put on a big spread,’ her mother replies. ‘I saw her yesterday and she went on and on about it. I don’t think we can miss it.’

Emily’s father thinks. ‘Well, she’s not really a baby any more, is she?’ They talk it over for a while and make up their minds. ‘She has Rover for protection, just in case,’ he says. They go up to Emily’s room, where she’s playing with her dolls.

‘Emily,’ they say, ‘we know you’re getting to be a big girl now, so we’ve decided we’re going to let you do something very adult. We’re going to give you responsibility. You know what that means, don’t you? You’re going to have to look after yourself tonight until we get back.’ They give Emily a list of things she has to remember to do. ‘Tick each one off before you go to bed,’ they tell her.

They read it through with her, sat on her bed:

  1. Feed Rover
  2. Let Rover out the back
  3. Lock the doors
  4. Shut the downstairs windows
  5. Turn off the lights
  6. Tuck yourself into bed xxx

Soon Emily is left alone. The house is very big and very empty and very quiet. She goes down to the sitting room and turns on the television. She watches cartoons for a while when she hears a noise, the sound of something moving in the hallway. She peeks over the back of the sofa to the door, mouth open, face pale.

Rover walks into the room. Emily breathes a sigh of relief. Rover joins her in front of the television and she feels safer, though not safe enough to leave the comforting noise of the TV to go play in her bedroom, where it will be quiet and she’ll know the house is empty.

After a while she feeds Rover, then opens the back door. Rover leaps out and disappears in the darkness in the direction of his kennel. Emily closes and locks the door.

She’s alone now.

She goes back to the TV but it’s late and her parents will be back soon. She had better be in bed by then.

Emily looks at the list and crosses out numbers one and two, then she turns off the TV and the sitting room light. She checks the back door and turns out the kitchen light. She goes to the front door and opens it.

The driveway is clear and there is no sign of her parents yet.

She locks the door, puts the key in the drawer and turns on the light over the stairs before turning off the hallway light. At the top of the stairs she turns on the hallway light before turning off the stairway one.

She brushes her teeth and listens. When she stops scrubbing she hears nothing. The house is quiet and empty and she’s alone. She goes to her bedroom and now the house is dark, too; the only light is the one in her room, shining into the garden like a beacon. She looks out but can’t see Rover’s kennel, which is at the far end. He’ll keep her safe though, her parents said.

She draws her curtains and takes her torch from a drawer.

She checks inside her wardrobe: just her shoes and clothes.

Next she checks under her bed, shining the light into all the corners.

Nothing there.

She gets into her pyjamas and then folds back her duvet so she can dive in.

Then she stands by the light switch. Only three steps to her bed. Has she finished the list? Rover’s fed and outside, the doors are locked and lights are out.

She turns out the  light, takes three big steps and jumps into bed, keeping her feet away from under the bed, just in case. She turns off the torch and settles in bed. Her parents will be back soon. She lies under the covers, breathing loudly, and listens and the house is all quiet and locked and dark and empty and a voice says, ‘Now we can play together, Emily.’



About lemonmachine

I am Kieren McCallum, a third-year English Literature student at UEA, Norwich. View all posts by lemonmachine

8 responses to “Naflafiwrimo Day 9: Responsibility

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