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by aryan

I was eight when I first met Pranjal. My family had rented a cabin for a weekend in the forests of Southern Goa, isolated from the mainland city. The trip to Goa was a nightmare, with my parents arguing over the pettiest things throughout. However, I was excited to go there nonetheless. I admired the beautiful weather from the car window as we drove to our cabin from the airport. The streets were crowded with merchants selling their merchandise, tourists taking pictures, and locals going about their day. As we drove, the streets began to fade from view, a wide expanse of dense trees surrounding us.

We stopped next to a giant wooden house that stood on the bank of a small river. It was beautiful and rustic, surrounded by the serene sounds of nature.

We entered the cabin, suitcases in hand. My mother rushed me to a room and told me to unpack, slamming the door behind me. I was halfway through my clothes when I heard my dad begin to scream. My mother matched him with a shriek of her own.

As I heard my parents argue, I wondered why they bothered to go on a vacation to begin with. They didn’t get along. They did things for the sake of doing things. It took the fun out of most things. The shouting subsided after a while. I distinctly remember my ears ringing for an hour after.

After a while, my dad suggested we go out for a walk and enjoy the scenery. As if nothing had happened. My mother obeyed without question.

It was a beautiful summer evening, with the rays of the sun shining in a warm golden blush. I held my mother’s hand as we crunched over twigs, enjoying the sunset. The evening felt oddly cold. I pulled my jacket closer and looked around. It was calm and peaceful. We walked in silence, while a breeze flew past us.

As we walked, I gave my mother a smile. She didn’t smile back. She had a strained look on her face, as if she was being forced to hold a scream in. I left her hand and ran ahead.

“Don’t go too far, Raj,” called out my father. I wanted to defy him, though, so I ran far. I heard them scream behind me; however, that was nothing out of the ordinary. I ran and ran until I could no longer, the screams subsiding. I didn't know where I was going, but running felt good. After a while, I stopped by a tree and leaned against it, catching my breath.

I looked around. The sun was setting, and the forest was getting darker. I was surrounded by trees, with little light peeking through the canopies. All of a sudden, I saw a shadow move in the darkness. Startled, I frantically looked around. That’s when I saw her.

A tiny figure stood behind a birch tree. I walked closer to it. She was holding a lavender in her hands. She wore a pretty pink dress, her brown hair tied back in a ponytail.

“Hi,” I said. She waved. “What’s your name?” I asked. She turned her head to the side. Etched upon her skin was a tattoo in black ink that read “PRANJAL.”

“Can you not speak, Pranjal?” I asked. She shook her head. Poor soul, I thought.

She then pointed deeper into the forest and began walking, motioning me to follow her.

We walked past a bed of lavenders, as Pranjal guided me into the forest. Clouds had begun to cover the sky as the day turned to night, but Pranjal kept walking, and so did I. We walked for twenty minutes or so. Light drizzle had begun, the trees becoming denser and denser. Pranjal would take abrupt turns, as if she didn’t know where she was going herself. I didn’t question it.

Finally, Pranjal stopped next to a cave. She looked back at me and pointed inside. The entrance was covered with moss, as water splashed around it. She seemed to sense my discomfort, so she walked in first. I followed her in.

It was a small cave, rounded in structure. There was room for three people to sit in, with a torch lighting the cave up.

“Where are we?” I asked as I sat. She shook her head, as if she didn’t know herself.

“Who are you?” She continued to stare at me, with a blank expression on her face. “Why won’t you…” I trailed off. I’d forgotten she couldn’t talk. Yet, she still could’ve signaled me something. She didn’t seem interested in conversation, so I just chose to stare at her.

I wondered why she’d brought me here to begin with. I wondered why I'd followed a complete stranger into a forest in a place I was unfamiliar with. Pranjal had an eerie look to her. I looked away, as we sat in complete silence.

I sat there for hours, listening to the torch crackle in the rain. Pranjal’s eyes were practically digging a hole into me, but I avoided eye contact. It was nice, though. It was peaceful. It was a hell of a lot better than home. Pranjal’s presence felt comforting, although she was hard to look at.

The warmth of the cave and the comfort of my environment led me to eventually doze off. The last thing I remember from that night was Pranjal’s look just before I slept. It was blank and expressionless, but I’d grown used to it.

I woke up the next morning on a hospital bed. I was tied to all these machines. I saw my parents towering over me, their faces filled with worry. My mother had a splotchy face, as if she’d been crying for a while. My dad looked disheveled, with watery and red eyes.

My mother rushed in for a hug, but I pushed her away. I saw Pranjal standing outside the room I was in.

“PRANJAL,” I shouted. She waved, this time with a smile on her face. Seeing her smile made me happy, and I tried to walk to her. My dad held me back, though.

Anger flared through me as I attempted to push my dad away. Nurses huddled all around me, one with a syringe in hand. As my body went numb, I saw Pranjal point towards the exit. I knew what to do.

I’m 17 now. After my night at the hospital, Pranjal continued to visit me. I would see her outside my school, outside my windows, always too far for me to reach. But she’d let me approach her eventually. Pranjal had grown too. But she had the same look on her face.

Men in white suits would come and try to feed me tablets. I’d never eat them, though. Pranjal told me she didn’t like them. That made me dislike them as well.

She would take me places, and I’d go. I’d come back just to get my mother to stop crying, but I’d leave soon enough again. My father was no longer around, but I could honestly care less. Pranjal and I had plans to explore the world together. As long as I have her with me, I'll have all that I'll ever need.

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35 Reviews

Points: 3120
Reviews: 35

Wed May 22, 2024 6:41 am
AnotherCrowInRow wrote a review...

I really enjoyed your story from beginning to end. I like how we see the narrator's view of Goe at the beginning - the descriptions of the scenery and the new home, though brief, set the mood nicely. I also like the stark contrast between Goe's calmness and narrators parents' discontent. I like that we don't know why they're actually arguing - we only see how the narrator perceives it, and that the parents understand each other less and less. And I also like the slightly odd twist brought about by meeting Pranjal. I didn't quite see the ending coming. But even at the end, I appreciate that not everything is told straight -- we just have to figure things out. It was good story, but maybe check some little grammatical errors.

Random avatar
aryan says...

alright man thanks for the feedback!

AnotherCrowInRow says...

you are welcome!

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19 Reviews

Points: 1713
Reviews: 19

Tue May 21, 2024 5:27 pm
khushi17bansal wrote a review...


Dropping in for a quick review here! I would like to start out by saying that I really enjoyed reading your story. I love how refreshing and original it is, I certainly didn't see that twist in the end coming!

However there are a few grammatical errors here like,

However, I was excited to go there nonetheless.

Here, you don't need both 'However' and 'nonetheless' their essentially the same, so any one will do.

As we drove, the streets began to fade from view, a wide expanse of dense trees surrounding us.

I feel like this sentence would flow better if there was a 'began'. "As we drove, the streets began to fade from view, a wide expanse of dense trees began surrounding us."

Also, here,

Pranjal told me she didn’t like them. That made me dislike them as well.

I do believe you motioned that Pranjal couldn't speak, so I'm a little confused as to how she told Raj she didn't like the tablets. This seems just like a small little oversight, so don't worry about it.

Overall, I really like how you have written the story, I especially enjoyed how in the beginning you have alternated Raj's parents fights and their reactions with scenic beauty of Goa. I feel like it draws an amazing contrast and really puts things in perspective.

Like I said I love how refreshing your story feels, the fact that Pranjal couldn't speak and was always expressionless adds a really nice turn to the story. The dark twist the story eventually takes is something I immensely enjoyed.

However, I do feel like the story could be improved and given just a touch more depth. Perhaps if you added some detail about why Raj was in the hospital, why there were men trying to feed him tablets, where were he and Pranjal going in their absence, maybe a little more about Pranjal herself, it would really just elevate the story to a whole different level.

Nonetheless, you have managed to write a very lovely story, absolutely charged with emotion!

Everything expressed is my opinion, accept or reject whatever you want.

Take care!


(Also, Welcome to YWS!!!😀)

Random avatar
aryan says...

thanks for the feedback man! I'll definitely take it into consideration the next time i write something.

Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.
— Homer Simpson