The wind appeared to whisper words as Lady Evelyn walked up a familiar cobblestone road. Her destination was in sight, the home where she’d grown up. Light spilled through one of the windows; she remembered it had been the parlor where her father used to sit and read.
It had been years since she came here, but she could not bring herself to feel more than deja vu. Little excited her these days. Hopefully in this familiar place, she would find puzzles to pass the time.
It was a handsome house with red shutters. Two rocking chairs sat abandoned on a frosty deck. Though candles had been placed on the windowsills in form of protection, she was not a dark entity to be scared off by superstition.
She slipped through the door with no great effort and looked up at a familiar crystal chandelier; to her right, a winding staircase inched to the second floor. Her feet made no sound as she made her way to her father’s parlor.
Inside, two people spoke in quiet voices. The first was a child. “What a cold night, Grandfather.”
“I know, Abigail.” There was a sigh. “The fire should warm you soon enough.”
Evelyn peered into the parlor, where the fireplace had indeed been lit. She saw by its glow that two armchairs had been occupied, one by a girl of eight or nine. Across from her, a feeble old man hugged himself against the draft.
There was sadness in their eyes. It was strong enough to shock a ghost.
Her wandering eyes stopped on a portrait hanging over the mantle. It was a painting of herself at the age of sixteen, three years before she breathed her last. She’d been in the forest for so long that her own face startled her.
In the painting her dark hair was braided, woven into the same style she wore now. Her blue eyes peered from the depths of the painting, an uncanny likeness. She wore a blue dress much like the one she’d been buried in.
Abigail spoke, voice oddly hushed. “It always feels like that painting is watching me, Grandfather.”
Evelyn wondered if her presence could be sensed by the living in this house.
“Souls often haunt objects. It lets them catch a glimpse of the living.”
“Will you tell me how she died?” asked the girl.
“It’s a grim story, dear.”
“I’m old enough.”
There was a long pause, and he sighed. “Very well. I don’t like how your mother protects you from everything.” He looked into the fire for a moment, reminiscing. Then he clasped his hands and began.
“Eighty years ago, the city was struck by a plague.”
To Be Continued…