The Blue Lady, Conclusion


bluelady

The city was struck by a plague. The old man spoke these words in such a matter-of-fact tone, and little Abigail accepted them without so much as a question. They made no sense to the ghost listening in, though. Evelyn couldn’t remember a plague.

“You probably visited the hospital they built to treat the illness,” he continued. “They built it too late—by then, many people had already perished.”

The fire danced in the hearth, as if nodding in agreement. The spirit dared take a step closer, self-conscious for the first time in years. She saw Abigail shiver a little, wrapping herself up in a blanket.

Outside the window, a heavy breeze rattled the trees, making the floorboards creak. It was not a new sound—the house had always been drafty—but its familiarity made Evelyn feel oddly out-of-place.

“There was something wrong with the water that year,” the man continued. “It poisoned many people who lived in this city. Lady Evelyn was one of the first to perish. Her death was blamed on a witch believed to live in the forest, one who was jealous of the young girl’s beauty. That portrait has been on the mantle ever since.”

“Do you think she’s still here?” asked Abigail, as the spirit took a step away from them and the warmth of the fire.

Her grandfather smiled, looking more lively than he had at the beginning of the conversation. “I know she is, but not for long. Today is the anniversary of her death.”

When he uttered those words, the Blue Lady felt her bond vanish. For the first time, she realized she was free like the wind, no longer gripped by the impulse to roam in search of attention. She took another step back, puzzled—what was happening?

“Is she unhappy?” the young girl asked.

Her grandfather’s smile held. “I think she’s free.”

She’s free. The Blue Lady found herself vanishing into the familiar space of the house, fading into the fibers of the wallpaper, melting into the floorboards. She allowed herself to be carried off by memories, absorbed by the comforting truth.

“I think it’s time to put that portrait away,” said the old man, several seconds later. Despite his old, aching body, he got to his feet and reached up for the portrait on the mantle.

Abigail watched her grandfather carefully remove the portrait from its spot, putting an end to eighty years of mournful display. She gazed at the wall, hugging herself tightly with the wool blanket, and whispered to the ghost she knew was no longer there.

“Happy birthday, Lady Evelyn.”

The End

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The Blue Lady, Part II


bluelady

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…

The Blue Lady, Part I


bluelady

It was that time of the night when insect voices rose in chorus over branches in the breeze. Some said the sighs of a miserable woman could be heard, always a little heavier than the wind. Few came to this part of the forest—only those with hearts of steel dared to camp here.

If only they would visit more often. The Blue Lady got so very lonely with nothing to haunt but owls in trees.

Her long, silky robe made no sound on the ground, though sometimes by chance it would move in time with the rustling foliage. It was clear material, shiny like it had been the day she bought it; sometimes she could still smell the dye.

A silken sleeve slid off her arm as she waved off a firefly. It darted out of her way, scuttling into the night. Nothing could stand between her and her goal; she had chosen to make a change in her life—erm, afterlife.

Evelyn, the Blue Lady, was headed back to the house where her life had ended. She found no comfort in the cold forest, so empty of humans to interact with. She would lurk in the shadows of her old chamber, basking in the familiarity of those cerulean walls.

If she was doomed to roam this earth for all eternity, she wanted to spend it in the place she’d once called home. She felt no sense of belonging here with the trees and birds; they were so full of life that she was a trespasser, but she wouldn’t be for much longer.

Lady Evelyn would return to her home. She had tended to it all her life, hosting parties in the parlors she so lovingly designed. She might only be a spirit now; however, that house had been her home. She chose to wait out eternity in the place that had seen her laugh and cry until her last day.

It was the first choice Evelyn had made since her death. Nothing could get in her way, and thankfully little could slow a ghost in movement.

Her blue cloak made an invisible trail. She walked, head up, determined—dying to go back home.

To Be Continued…