Two to Tango by Sangeetha & Mithila

At Beyond the Box, we are constantly thinking of ideas to give something unique, refreshing as well as challenging to our community of writers. Two to Tango is one such endeavour to encourage the participants to work along with another writer as a team and bring about a creative synergy. 40+ teams participated in Season 3 of this one-of-its-kind contest and the winners were chosen by prolific author Kanchana Banerjee. Below prompt was given to the writers and they were asked to narrate the same story from two different points of view. 

Prompt – Write a fictional story in which a book reveals a secret. Feel free to creatively interpret the prompt in any genre of your choice. 

The 2nd Runners-Up in the adults’ category were Sangeetha Kamath Prabhu & Mithila Peshwe (Team 13). Enjoy their story!

Perching her dark shades upon her forehead, Penny looked up at the barren townhouse. She held off a shudder as the tendrils of the past inched closer, threatening her resolve.

Penny opened the rusty door and hauled the empty packing boxes inside the house. Pulling her scarf up her nose, she waded through the dusty, moldy rooms of her childhood home, sorting through the splintered furniture and random keepsakes. The realtor would arrive tomorrow to take the keys. By evening, she finally reached the attic. The unhinged door, akin to its last occupant, evoked unbidden memories – the screams, hysterical laughter, wailing cries, the blood, and the-

Anguish and a burning rage coursed through her tired form, for this place and the person who had dented her childhood.

Her mother!

Bolstering her resolve, Penny stepped inside. There would be no trouble cleaning this room. Nothing it held, could be of any value to her. She grabbed the threadbare curtains, yellowed, the poinsettias on it fading into oblivion. The sheets, lamps, candles, and small mirror all went in next, savagely dumped into the boxes.

Penny pulled the last drawer, but it refused to budge. With pent-up frustration, she yanked it with all her might until it came right off.

A black object thumped at her feet. A little diary…

She opened its frayed pages. A delicate, slanting writing greeted her eyes.


7th May’89

“Over the rainbow, skies are always blue
Happy little Bluebirds fly there, I’ll wish upon a star for you..”

Penny looked content as I hummed this lullaby. She seemed to know that she was safe in my arms. Fluttering her eyelids, she fell asleep; her tiny fingers clutching the frills of my blouse.

24th Jul’89

Edgar was in a foul mood. At dinner, he swiped the plate off the table and hollered nasty words when I refused to quit my well-paying job. He even accused me of infidelity and doubted Penny was his child. Even Rover whimpered and crouched under the table…


2nd Sep’89

My Penny, how much I love her. I was chastised severely for mixing nuts with her porridge. Would I do that to my allergic child?

Rover growled when Edgar stormed menacingly towards me…

Why was Edgar sneaking around the baby food with eyes flitting around, lest someone sees him?

17th Oct’89

Things are getting out of hand. Am I going insane? Edgar says he will send me to an asylum. Penny almost drowned in the bathtub!! Edgar was in time to pull her out…

I swear I didn’t put her in there and leave the tap on. Edgar says I’m losing it.

No I’m not crazy…

I never bathe Penny in the large tub…

Rover snarls a lot these days at Edgar with teeth bared… does he see what I see too?

29th Oct’89

I’m not allowed anywhere near Penny. My heart breaks. I want to hold her, feel her soft skin and curls on my face. Penny…mama loves you so much.



It’s been months. Haven’t written in my diary. Medication heavy. Sleep they say… Penny looks at me like I’m a stranger.

My child…

Rover snuggles up to me every night.

My only comfort…

Rover’s incessant barking woke me up last night. Edgar was in my room cornered against a wall.

Rover was on his hind legs trying to tear the flesh off Edgar’s face…

Rover so aggressive? Protecting me…from?


Can’t be…

No…I didn’t do it..

Woke up…dagger in my hand…blood…

Rover dead…stabbed…

I never…

Rover! Penny remembered the blood, his limp form lying immobile right at the foot of the bed she sat on right now. How she had bawled for days over his passing. What if everything she had known was a twisted lie? What if her mother was never…?
She read on.


Penny hates me…pushed me away.

Edgar lied to her!


Must leave bad man, bad place…

Will send angels to protect you, my baby.

Daddy…don’t trust…

Hiding diary…find it, Penny.

My beloved mother’s silk stole beckons me…


Penny crumpled, sobbing uncontrollably.  

“MAMA!” A gut-wrenching cry emerged from her core, echoing within the hollow attic. She lay there long after, facing the rafters, the silent moonlight, a sentinel to her broken heart.

Two weeks later

Her father’s words rang in her ears as Penny made her way to the newly scrubbed and painted attic.

“Never loved the wretched woman. Was too plain, too homely for my tastes. She did it to herself. You have no proof for anything otherwise.” He had turned his head away. She had left him lying in his own misery, shackled to his bed at the senior’s home. Karma had ensured justice.

Penny looked up as a sunbeam kissed her teary face.


Author’s Notes:

Sangeetha Kamath: The Mother’s Diary

Mithila Peshwe: Penny

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