The Girl in the Red Dress

Ankit is 25 years old. He lives in a town in the hills and has dreams of making it big in the city. He finished his computer engineering and works for a local start-up. He isn’t making much headway and was feeling frustrated with his condition. But things were about to change, forever.

It all started with an email for an interview from Compu-Tech, one of the top software firms in the country doing cutting edge technology work in the field of mobile applications. Over two rounds of video conferencing and a personal interview with the vice president of the firm, Ankit was offered the post of a senior programmer, heading a team of 12 programmers.

Ankit could have never said no to an opportunity to work in the big city, with a company working on advanced technologies. With blessings of his parents and the determination to make it big, he arrived in the city. The company gave him accommodation for 2 weeks, in which he had to look for his own abode.

Ankit did not want to live in a shared apartment nor as a paying guest. And in his salary he could afford to rent an apartment on his own. Through his network of friends and help from colleagues, he got in touch with Sohanbhai, a local real estate agent who helped the newly employed in the city find houses.

“Whats your budget?” Asked Sohanbhai over the phone. “Budget I will manage, if the place is nice and if I could move in immediately” confirmed Ankit. “Yes, there is one which was vacated last month, a couple got divorced and moved out. Well furnished and ready to be occupied. Give me a day or two and I will fix up something” Assured Sohanbhai.

One week later Ankit moved into his rented apartment at Crimson High on the 13th floor, flat no. 1306.

A one bedroom apartment with a fully functional kitchen with all the appliances, a well decorated living area and a well furnished bedroom – a double bed with a side table, a wooden cupboard, a dressing table and a writing table with a chair.

The day he moved in, he had a sleepless night. He got up groggy and had a severe headache. He blamed it on lack of familiarity. A week later, he was sleep deprived and disturbed. He slept late and got up often at night, something in the room was not right, he feared. He thought over it and realized a red hue that he saw in his dreams was what kept him awake.

A week later was the first time, he saw her. A flash appeared in his half sleepy eyes, a young girl wearing a shimmering red gown sitting in the corner on top of the cupboard, in his bedroom. It just came and disappeared. But he was sure he saw her. He got up with a shudder. He was drenched in sweat and was breathing heavily. He could not move, frozen with fear he lay in the bed for sometime. Then slowly he moved his hands and switched on the light but still could not muster enough courage to turn around and see the corner above the cupboard. A few moments later, thoughts started to appear in his now very alert but timorous mind – Am I dreaming? Or just a thought? Did I actually see it? Was someone indeed there or just my tired sleepless brain making up stories? After some terrifying moments he turned around, and as he had thought, there was no one in the corner on top of the cupboard. Ankit spent the rest of the night keeping the lights on, just tossing and turning in bed. He was too scared to sleep and dream of the girl in the red dress.

Ankit spent an anxious next day. That evening he went out with colleagues for a drink. He arrived late and in an inebriated state, his way of fighting his fear. He crashed in his bed and got up thanking for a dreamless night but with an ugly hangover.

Two nights later Ankit saw the girl in the red dress, again. Sitting in the corner on top of the cupboard, in his bedroom. This time he had a clear look. She was wearing a red dress and black stilettos shoes. She was young, slender, had broad shoulders, very smooth skin, dark black hair falling on her shoulders, her hair was open and covering her face, but he could see her deep black almond shaped eyes through the curls and she wore a red lipstick and was smiling back at Ankit. Ankit got up flustered. He found himself in the same state as couple of days ago after the dream. Drenched in sweat, heavy breathing, fear and this time additionally he was shivering. He knew it was just a nightmare but he needed some time to get his senses back. He switched on the lights and later with a lot of courage turned around and there was no one in the room, except for himself, at least that’s what he thought.

Ankit spent the next few days and nights filled with anxiety. It was showing on his work, he was missing deadlines. He was now sleeping in the living room, assuming the change in place may enable some sleep. But the dreams were now a regular feature of his slumber followed by his waking up sweating and breathing heavily. He was now avoiding spending much time in the bedroom. Somehow the dreams did not seem as scary now, but just disturbing.

The following Sunday Sohanbhai dropped in unannounced.

“Hello Ankit, sorry to disturb you on a Sunday but I was just passing by and thought I will just say a hello and check if everything is okay with you” said Sohanbhai in a pleasant tone. Ankit was almost about to tell his dream about the girl in the red dress, but decided against it. “Yeah all ok. Slowly getting used to” Ankit said in an indifferent tone. After some other pleasantries, which Ankit found too burdensome, Sohanbhai said “Ankit I want to make a small request”. Ankit knew now was the real reason for the unannounced entry. “Yes. Please”. “The earlier occupants claim to have forgotten a few things here and have requested you to return it, if you find them” Continued Sohanbhai. “I am sure there is nothing left here, I cleaned the whole place before moving in” dismissed Ankit

“They are specifically looking for a red walking stick with a black handle”

Suddenly all of Ankit’s senses were stirring. ‘A red walking stick with a black handle’ he repeated in his mind and the thought sent a shudder through his body. Is this something to do with my dreams? Why would someone come back looking for a walking stick? But he knew his dreams were somehow related to this stick. Ankit collected himself and tried to reply calmly. “Haven’t found anything like that yet, but will let you know if I find it” Ankit said conclusively and Sohanbhai left.

The anxiety, the sweating and the heavy breathing returned. Sweat beads were forming on his forehead. He wanted to run away, but how long will I run? And how often will I get drunk? he thought. He decided he had to face his fears. He knew intuitively where to look for the stick. His heart was racing and lips quivering. He placed the chair in front of the cupboard. His heart was pounding, his stomach was churning and he felt as if he would throw up. With sweat dripping from his brow, he climbed the chair. And glanced in the corner on top of the cupboard, the place where he had seen the girl in the red dress sitting. And there it was, with trembling hands he grasped the stick and pulled it in one stroke.

Ankit got off the stool and sat on his bed clenching the stick in his fist. His breathing was still heavy and sweating had not ceased. His heart continued to pound and his throat was parched. The stick was heavier than what it appeared. It was not made of any wood or any metal. ‘It’s probably made of some kind of a stone’ thought Ankit. He noticed that the stick was red and radiant and shimmering. It had a dark black handle just as the color of the girl’s hair and the pointed end, like the girl’s heels. He moved his one hand on the stick, while still clenching with the other.

And poof…

A girl just appeared from the toe end of the stick. The girl was the one Ankit had been seeing. She was wearing the same shimmering red dress and the black pointed heeled shoes. Ankit was flabbergasted. He wanted to scream but couldn’t utter a word, his voice was buried in his parched throat. He wanted to run but his body was frozen. He couldn’t even bat an eyelid. Ankit almost fainted. He hoped this was just a dream and he would soon wake up. But it wasn’t.

“Why are you so scared?” finally the girl asked

Ankit was maimed. But that was the most mellifluous sound he had ever heard.

“What took you so long to find me? Why did you not come searching for me earlier? I then had to send Sohanbhai to make you look for me. Relax Ankit I am not going to hurt you. If I wanted to, I would have much earlier”.

The sweet voice was like music to his ears and was beginning to show effect. Ankit gulped.

“W…Wh…Who are you” Spurted Ankit

She gave a radiant smile.

“Wh…Wh… What do you want”

Her smile broadened. “I am lady luck and I will come to change your fortunes”

“I will be with you soon, but you need to love me. Take care of me. Respect me, treat me right and make me a partner in your journey. Will you? The earlier couple did not trust me, and started crediting their success, fame and fortune to themselves and all failures to each other. They started quarrelling and fighting and see where they are today. You have the right to say no, Ankit. So take your time and decide if you want to take this journey with me”

“Yes … but…”

And poof… even before Ankit could reply she was gone.

Ankit’s heart was still pounding. ‘Did that conversation actually happen?’ ‘Am I imagining?’ He was relieved that the girl had gone but too shocked to believe it actually happened. He tried to rub the stick a few more times- different ways, different hands but nothing happened.

He was completely exhausted and crashed on the bed and fell asleep immediately. He slept like he had not slept in years. He got up a few hours later feeling better and fresh and the first thought was ‘did all that really happen or was it another dream?’ He saw the stick lying near him on the bed and knew it was for real. He just did not want to think of it at all now.

It was evening by then and Ankit went out and had a quick bite at a fast food deli near-by. After his meal he called his mother.

“Hey mom”

“How are you son? You sounding a little low” Mothers just know

“Mom would you come and stay with me for a few days?”

“But how can I just leave like that? So many things are lined up at work and home”

“I am feeling lonely. Please mom”

“Okay let me see, I will do something” assured his mother

Ankit hung up and went home. The red stick was lying on the bed exactly where he had left it. He picked the stick and put it in the cupboard and slept in the living area. He had sound sleep and got up rejuvenated. He was greeted by his mother’s good morning sms and confirming that she was arriving by the late night flight.

The next morning at Ankit’s home was chaotic. His mother though had arrived late at night, got up early and started doing what mothers do best – cleaning up and setting things in order. She started with the kitchen and was now in the living room. Ankit got ready in a hurry and left promising to come early and share long interesting stories of the city.

Ankit did come back early that evening and his mother had prepared his favorite dinner. After dinner mother-son sat down talking about his work, life in the city, people in the city, his ambitions, things back at home, his old friends, her work, her friends, life in the hills and many other things. At last his mom asked “So what made you lonely Ankit?” Ankit was not sure if he should narrate the story of the girl in the red dress, it seemed settled for now. “How long do you plan to stay mom?” Ankit tried to change the topic. “I had planned to stay for three days, but if you wish I will stay longer”. Ankit did not reply. His mother then got an envelope and told Ankit cheekily “I do have a permanent solution for your loneliness” and handed over a photograph to Ankit.

“Who is she mom?”

“She is Radhika, she has finished her MBBS and doing her internship in the civic hospital here”

Ankit saw the photograph and was shocked to see Radhika. She was the girl in the red dress. Though, here she was wearing a red saree. The same face, same hair, same everything about her. This was surreal for Ankit. ‘How was this possible?’ And then it dawned to him that destiny wanted him to meet his lady luck and get a kick-start in his life.

“Her phone number is at the back of the photograph if you wish to call” winked his mother leaving Ankit alone with the photograph.

He just smiled and nodded, he knew his fortunes were about to change. Lady luck was about to come in his life but it was up to him to woo her and keep her happy ever after.


Life is full of supernatural events and this story captures that truth. I liked the way you told it, making it believable by your matter of fact narration.

Some things to work on:

Your story needs to capture your characters and scenes in a way that the reader can see and easily imagine them. For example what makes a room 'a well decorated living area and a well furnished bedroom...'? These are not specific and so I can not imagine the room.

We know Ankit was 25 years old and that he is a computer engineer but what does he sound and look like?

I really liked this line, 'his voice was buried in his parched throat.' That is very nice description.

This is the underlying theme of this story, that is if you take credit for someone else's work things will not go well. The earlier couple did not trust me, and started crediting their success, fame and fortune to themselves and all failures to each other. They started quarrelling and fighting and see where they are today."

This is a good theme but how does that apply to Ankit? Has he done this also and is this why he is lonely .... Is this what your story is about or is it about something else?  Again, I liked the pace of the story and the was imaginative.