Tag Archives: ghosts

A Grandfather, A Son, and Two Not-So-Holy Ghosts (by Sherrie Hansen)

Although my Wildflowers of Scotland books are contemporary, I always find a way to weave in a wee bit of history… an old kirk with architectural and religious artifacts gone missing, a sunken Spanish galleon filled with gold that was never recovered, a castle with a melancholy history all its own, or the Isle of Skye’s magical Fairy Glen. In GOLDEN ROD, I incorporated a touch of history via a 500-year-old castle that was cursed by a traveling minister when the owners refused his blessing, preferring to wait for the prayers of a Catholic priest.  At least, that’s what legend holds, and it would seem the legends are true, since no eldest son has ever inherited Lachlan Castle – not once in 500 years.

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From GOLDEN ROD:

A traveling Protestant minister who liked to speak in rhymes leveled the curse when the MacKenzie clan refused his blessing, preferring to wait until a Catholic priest could dedicate the newly built edifice.

Oh Lachlan, ye’re on shifting sand.

Nae eldest son shall have a hand

In furth’ring hist’ry on this land.

In the history of the castle, no eldest son has succeeded his father as heir of Lachlan Castle.

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All kinds of tragedies have transpired as a result of the minister’s curse, including ghosts Laird Valan MacKenzie and Lady Rosemary being stranded at Lachlan for over 500 years.

A ghost dressed in full Highland attire roams the castle and grounds at Lachlan, on the shores of Loch Carron. A favorite of locals, Laird Valan MacKenzie so desperately wanted a son to pass the castle on to that he may have taken his wife’s life when she bore him nothing but daughters. Laird Valan’s version of the event was that his wife tripped and fell to her death despite his best efforts to save her. Many a guest has seen Laird Valan’s kilt, plaid, and sporran. Legend has it that Valan will haunt the castle until an ancient curse is broken.

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I won’t ask if you believe in ghosts because it doesn’t matter. GOLDEN ROD is a work of fiction, so all I’m asking you to do is to suspend your disbelief while you’re reading the book. But whatever our beliefs, I think we all have thoughts on the subject of ghosts. Some of us are afraid of them, or would be afraid to stay in a place that’s haunted by ghosts. Others are fascinated or even intrigued by ghostly happenings and seek out places that are reputedly haunted. What about you? Maybe you’ve had your hair stand on end when you’ve been seated around a campfire listening to ghost stories. How do you react to the subject of ghosts?

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A ghost, known as the “Blue Lady” also frequents Lachlan Castle, on Loch Carron. She is thought to be the wife of Laird Valan MacKenzie, and mother to their five daughters. Her husband allegedly pushed her from a fourth floor window so he could take a new wife who might bear him a son. The ghost of Lady Rosemary MacKenzie, who ironically, was discovered to have been pregnant with a son at the time of her death, is said to have scratched the words, The Son You Always Wanted, upside down on the window sill outside the bedroom window where she fell. The inscription can still be seen there today. It is reported that the “Blue Lady” leaves the scent of rosemary and bluebells wherever she goes. Because her own life ended so tragically, legend holds that the “Blue Lady” will haunt the castle until a Lachlan love story ends with a happily-ever-after ending. Unfortunately, due to an old curse, the dreams of many a castle resident have ended tragically, perpetuating the haunting of the castle by Lady Rosemary.

BlueBelle 2016 

I grew up watching tales of Casper the Friendly Ghost,  the classic Christmas Carol, and even Ghostbusters, so I’ve always been comfortable with the concept of ghosts. In church, we heard about the Holy Ghost, a comforting presence who is always with us. When I bought a house in St. Ansgar, Iowa and turned it into a B&B and tea house, locals told me about a friendly ghost who rescued the century old floor plans from the dump and returned them to the house when they were accidentally thrown away, among other adventures. So in one form or another, I’ve always accepted that ghosts are real.

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In GOLDEN ROD, Rod MacKenzie has felt the presence of Laird Valan and Lady Rosemary since he was young, but never had a direct encounter with them – until Katelyn O’Neal arrives from America and stirs things up.

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Katelyn thinks the whole thing is a crock, and is convinced there has to be some sort of logical, scientific explanation for the odd things that are happening to her.

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Laird Valan and Lady Rosemary, the ghostly duo from GOLDEN ROD, have very distinctive personalities and a sometimes quirky sense of humor. As Laird Valan and Lady Rosemary get more and more desperate to break the 500-year-old curse so they can rest in peace, the stakes grow higher.

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Once Rod discovers what they’re up to, he’s more than happy to comply, or at least humor them, except that Katelyn’s niece is dying, and if he has to choose who to help, a dying twelve year old or a pair of ghosts who’ve already been dead for five hundred years, the choice is clear. Except that nothing is clear – and Laird Valan and Lady Rosemary will do anything to change history and break the curse that binds them.

Golden Rod

You’ll have to read GOLDEN ROD to learn how the story ends. In the meantime, I hope the ghosts that may haunt you are friendly ones.  Here are the Buy Links for GOLDEN ROD at Amazon:
Kindle: http://a.co/3zRGCpF
Paperback: http://a.co/8oJpv4Q

Ghosts - blur of blue

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If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words by Sherrie Hansen

An almost full moon reflected off a pond hugged by beds of flowers in blues, yellows and violets of various heights. In the center, a fountain trickled down the neck and breasts of a stone statue of a woman with full hips and voluptuous curves. The scene was framed by walls of stone and brick etched with pink climbing roses and lavender wisteria. This is what they were going to destroy? (from GOLDEN ROD by Sherrie Hansen)

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As Mark and I head off on another trip to indulge our love affair with Great Britain and research settings of future books, I’m anticipating the release of GOLDEN ROD, the book inspired by last year’s journey to Scotland.

One of the things I most love about writing is the chance to scope out new locations – and with them, the likeable qualities and legends that give the place its charm. When we get home, my pleasure is doubled when I get to sit down with my thoughts, reminisce about our experiences, and craft a story with word pictures about the places we’ve seen.

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Although Rod MacKenzie’s exquisite walled garden and the unique castle pictured on the front cover of GOLDEN ROD are fictional in the sense that they’re not located along the shores of Loch Carron, many of the other spots mentioned in the book are as real as you and me. In the text below, I’m going to share a snippet from GOLDEN ROD followed by a photo of the real life image that inspired it. Craigievar Castle, Leith Hall Garden and Crarae Garden, which I magically transported to the Lochcarron and the Wester Ross area of Western Scotland, are actually located to the east in Aberdeenshire and Argyll. Enjoy!

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The blue waters of Loch Carron disappeared, then reappeared. The road widened. Katelyn glanced out the window and caught sight of a rusty old gate surrounding a cemetery. The stones were all but covered with moldy-looking splotches of who knew what and some sort of green slime that looked straight from the pages of a horror flick.

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A few blocks later, a large white building appeared. The huge black letters on its side wall spelled LOCHCA, followed by an R dangling precariously from what looked to be one nail, and a tenuous RON. Which is exactly what she wished she’d done the second she set foot in Scotland – run. Rod might have fanciful – make that delusional – images of the town where he’d been raised, but all she could see was a place that needed a good PR person to improve and update its sad, sorry, broken down image.

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The town was comprised of a long row of houses on one side, with a sidewalk, a greenbelt, and the lake on the other.

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Rod pulled into a parking spot and came around to open the door for her. The sign on the front of the whitewashed building with blue trim and a slate roof said Waterside Café, Tearoom Takeaway. There were round picnic tables with bright blue umbrellas over the top in front. Rod straddled the bench of one, and motioned for her to have a seat.

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“Ye can go in and look at the menu board on the wall if ye like, or wait. They’ll bring ye a menu in a minute.”

“You don’t need one?”

“Nae. They know what I want.”

“How could they?”

“I’m a regular.”

“And you have the same thing every time?”

“For lunch, Stornoway Black Pudding Stack. It’s layered with apples and Stilton cheese. Pure dead brilliant.”

GR Blog - Stornoway

 “M’Lady? M’Lady? Are ye here?” Valan MacKenzie stood at the window where his wife had fallen to her death 500 years earlier and started to sing her favorite song in the hope she would come to him.

When bluebells start to bloom each spring, I’ll come to ye. My love I’ll bring.

My heart for ye, it always breaks. But sadness will nae overtake.

For hope lives on in each new day. My love for ye will find its way.

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Rod was holding two large china plates. “I took the liberty of getting some essentials since ye were asleep when we reached the grocery. I thought ye’d enjoy trying a full Scottish breakfast – eggs, bacon, sausages, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast. I skipped the haggis and the black pudding on yer plate since ye seemed a bit squeamish about them yesterday, but the rest should be-”

Her stomach had started to roil at the word eggs. It wasn’t that she disliked eggs, but the thought of eating such a huge breakfast when she was stressed out and in an unfamiliar place and it wasn’t even breakfast time where she was from…

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They walked through the laburnum archway he and his da had planted a decade earlier. The slender yellow fronds were just starting to fade.

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A minute later, Katelyn came flouncing down the steps of the blue and white house where Colin’s office was located. He’d never met anyone – man or woman – with so much attitude.

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The taller one smiled. “Is Sea Worthy booked for the rest of the afternoon or are you free? We were hoping to see Kilt Rock and Portree from the sea.”

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“Do ye like fish? I’ve two nicely smoked haddock filets that I picked up in Portree this afternoon. My mother used to make something called Haddock Mornay. It’s been years, but I think I can remember how to make the sauce.”

Katelyn looked up and smiled faintly. Aye, the lass was warming up to him awright.

“My mum would make a roux and then stir a wee bit of garlic salt and some buttery, soft white Cheddar from the Isle of Arran into the cream. If ye’re a fan of fish, the taste of the Mornay sauce, o’er a bit of mash, is pure dead brilliant.”

GR Blog - Haddock Mornay

Rod tried to put Katelyn out of his mind as he walked back to the cottage. The deep, mossy scents of the forest floor, the sun-warmed pine needles, and the last remnants of the bluebells filled his nostrils with the familiar scents he loved so much. He could have spent all evening in the woods.

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Katelyn twirled slowly, not willing to miss a single degree of the panorama spread out in front of her. “Thank you so much for bringing me here. I can’t imagine a place more beautiful than this one.” She peeked through the lacey fronds of Scotch pines and Douglas firs that stretched from blue waters to bluer skies.

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Rod put one arm around her shoulder and pointed with the other. “See the big white house on the other side of the loch? That’s Stromeferry, where my grandpa’s ferry used to operate.”

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Katelyn looked past the feathery fir trees and the hillside covered in bluebells, and the buttercups in bloom, and caught a glimpse of the sky. Moody, grey, towering clouds cast shadows into each valley, every fold of the hillside, turning sunshine to gloom. She felt as unsettled as a changeling, which she might as well believe in now that she’d met a pair of ghosts and God.

She could have stood with her neck arched, looking up at the roiling clouds, forever. It wasn’t because they were beautiful, or even captivating. They were on the move, ever-changing. They were frighteningly unpredictable. They were out of control, so various and sundry that one couldn’t be sure what was going to happen from minute to minute say nothing about tomorrow. Just like her life.

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I hope you’ll read GOLDEN ROD when it comes out next month! Although you’ll see a few familiar faces from my first four Wildflowers of Scotland novels, it’s not necessary to read any of them to enjoy GOLDEN ROD.

The only way Katelyn O’Neal can save her niece’s life is to ruin Rod Mackenzie’s. One 600-year-old Scottish castle. A rightful heir. A legal heir. Two desperate ghosts. GOLDEN ROD by Sherrie Hansen. Coming from Indigo Sea Press in June 2017.

Golden Rod Front Cover Final

Sherrie Hansen’s Bio:
Twenty-five years ago, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn.  Sherrie has also lived in Colorado Springs, CO, Augsburg, Germany, Wheaton, IL, and Bar Harbor, Maine. She grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota. After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now share homes in 2 different towns, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Golden Rod” is Sherrie’s tenth book to be published by Indigo Sea Press.

Links:

http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenAuthor
http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/
http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com
https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2870454.Sherrie_Hansen

https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/

Wildflowers of Scotland Novels by Sherrie Hansen (3)

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Golden-Haired, Most Fair, Prince Rod of Lachlan by Sherrie Hansen

If Prince Rod of Lachlan sounds like something straight from the pages of a fairy tale, you’re right.

Golden Rod painting

When Katelyn O’Neal, a reluctant “princess” from Minnesota, inherits a castle from a great uncle she met only once, she views the whole ordeal as a huge bother, except that selling the castle to a rich developer will pay for a very expensive, experimental cancer treatment for her 12 year old niece, Kacie.

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Rod MacKenzie, the illegitimate but rightful heir to Lachlan, has used his own time and money to take care of the castle and its magnificent gardens for years – despite the fact that his grandfather wrote him out of his will. Rod would love to live happily ever after in the land of his ancestors even though he’s always known it was an impossibility.

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Add Laird Valan MacKenzie and the lovely Lady Rosemary, a pair of 500 year old ghosts who are bound to the castle by age-old curses, and would do anything to escape the place, and you have GOLDEN ROD, a two-week romp through a lifetime of legends that turns everything upside down.

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Lachlan – a centuries old castle on Loch Carron in Scotland. Kacie – a twelve year old girl whose dying wish is to see it. Laird Valan and Lady Rosemary – 500 year old ghosts who desperately want to escape it. Golden-Haired, Most Fair, Prince Rod MacKenzie – the rightful heir who loves Lachlan and its gardens even though he will never inherit.  Katelyn O’Neal – the legal heir who unwitting sold the castle to a low life scum at a high price.

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GOLDEN ROD, a Wildflowers of Scotland novel by Sherrie Hansen – coming from Indigo Sea Press in June 2017.

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Taking real life and blending memories into a story… by S. M. Senden

Taking real life stories/incidences and blending them into a story…
People often ask ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ It is a question common enough to all writers. For me, there is always some nugget of truth in what I write. I have been dubbed as the protector, guardian and repository of the family memories ever since I was a child. Those pieces of information have made their ways into the many stories I have written. Here is an example of what I mean.

There is a scene in Clara’s Wish about the young man, Bergin Halverson, being invited into a big time poker game in Omaha and winning lots of cash. This may sound a little far fetched, but it was exactly what happened to my Grandfather in the early 1920’s.

When I was about twenty-three, one rare night my Grandfather, Father and I sat around the kitchen table drinking shots of whiskey and my Grandfather began to talk. I don’t remember how it happened, he was not much of a drinker, and I barley touched the stuff, and it was not the usual cocktail my parents enjoyed. However, the whiskey, the night, the company created a once in a lifetime event for us all. Usually a reticent man, it was wonderful to hear my Grandfather relate tales about his life before he got married in 1924 and settled down.

What I learned that night was that my Grandfather’s life, before marriage, was right out of an adventure book. In some ways his life experiences took up where Mark Twain left off. He was a ‘River Rat’ where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers came together in St. Charles, Missouri. He was one of ten children and grew up on the family farm. He told a story about snow coming in their room in winter, and sparrows, that he called chippies, that would be there in spring.

The best of his tales was about a poker game.

He was a young man in his early twenties, and liked a game of craps or poker with his St. Charles friends. One evening he met someone from a big poker game in St Louis. Grandfather was invited. They probably saw a young man that would be an easy mark, and they would fleece him of his hard earned cash and send him back across the river and never think about him again. But fate had a different hand to deal.

Grandfather was made welcome, and began to play cards. It was not that he was so a great poker player, but the cards are fickle, and have a mind of their own. Just ask any gambler about Lady Luck! They played late into the evening. My Grandfather kept winning. In fact, he won enough cash that night to go on a shopping spree the next few days. He bought some clothes and had three suits custom made; he bought a new car and a few other items. One of which were brass knuckles. He wanted to be prepared in case the guys at the game got a little touchy when he went back the next weekend.

Grandfather was smart enough to go back to the poker game, and though he was still pulling winning hands, he threw them away, and managed to lose three hundred dollars to the men in the room. He also agreed never to return to their game again.

This story about the poker game was too good not to include in Clara’s Wish. It fit with the direction of the story, and was a way to honor and preserve the recollections of my Grandfather’s experiences.

Though my Grandfather is no longer alive, I still have the brass knuckles, and the memories of that night when I learned so much about the reticent man who was my grandfather.

To read Clara’s Wish, go the Second Wind Publishing  and order your copy today! From the reviews that have been coming in, you will not be disappointed.

Clara’s Wish is a page-turner! I did not put it down till I was finished. January 31, 2013 By If I like it, I want to tell you. From Amazon

Clara’s Wish blends old-fashioned real Midwestern history with thoughtful and fascinating psychological profiles. Sweet-and-sourness-of-life dramas, truthful character assessments, soul-enlightening judgments, criminal motivators. All people portrayed in this book, from fine upstanding characters and horrible criminals, all get the lush language treatment from S M Senden. Reading her words, I became one with the character’s sensory experience. Very, very EVOCATIVE. Also, very spooky! I recommend!

Comments from C. Major about CLARA’S WISH ~
Your book is awesome, just finished it. I really liked it, started this morning and didn’t put down till just now when I finished it. Really keeps you wanting to read more. Thanks again!!!

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Old Dead “Friends”

I’ve spent a lot of my life fixating upon dead heroes, which means, as we turn into October, I’m entering my favorite other-worldly season.  (Maybe “hero” isn’t quite the word, but “famous historical personalities” is unwieldy.)  Richard III came into my life early, just pre-teen, via a discarded paperback, “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey, fished from a wastebasket in the lounge of a 1950’s Barbados hotel.  For some reason, this mystery story about a man whose chosen motto was “Loyalty Binds Me” and whose reputation had been blackened, started an obsessive fire in my brain which is, even 50-some years later, burning hotter than ever.

Richard started life in 1452, which is a long time ago—560 years at Fotheringay Castle, now nothing more than a heap of earth by the River Nene where the original motte and bailey stood. As you can see from the picture, 500+ years doesn’t leave much behind! He was born on October 2, which makes him a Libra. If the Tudor spin doctors are to be believed, he was a seriously out of balance child of this supremely balanced heavenly sign. If the skeleton just recovered proves to be the King, it appears that he had a deformity at birth, a severe scoliosis, which would have caused his right shoulder to be carried high.  He only lived for thirty-two years, but he (or his distorted shadow) has left a large mark on World consciousness via Shakespeare’s blood-and-thunder melodrama.

I’ve been flailing around in the flesh more than twice as long as this particular dead hero, but have made not a jot of difference to the greater world.  Still, King Richard, his fair wife, Anne Neville, and others of the bloody Plantagenet cousinage have been talking, loving, cutting off heads and battling in my imagination since childhood. When the recent excavation in that Leicester car park came up with those bones–scoliosis, battle wounds, and all—it started the whole royal panoply, complete with banners and drums, parading through my mind.   More than that, some days it comes seeping out, a moving picture of antique glory superimposed over the ordinariness of daily life. I feel closer to these semi-imaginary long dead than I do to my neighbors. After all, these royal shadows have been with me from childhood. I’ve imagined them while standing on tropical beaches, Cornish cliffs, and all the way to this present slough of suburban senior citizenship.

Roan Rose, my new Second Wind novel, grew from a long time dedication to this old, old story, one which has been fictionalized a great many times already. Still, I “owed” Richard and Anne a book,  even despite the recent big name debut of something similar. In my novel, the fall of the House of York is seen through the unusual lens of “downstairs” eyes. The narrator, Rose, begins her association with Anne Neville while they are both children. Although Rose loves and is loved in return, she can never be more to Anne and her royal cousin (eventually, husband, Richard) than a “common woman,”  a servant. She alone of their triangle of affection will endure to tell of the end of an ancient dynasty and of the dusty survival of a peasant. The price she pays for her loyalty to master and mistress is high.

I can hardly bear to let her go. I’m sure a lot of other writers out there will understand this reluctance to end my “visits” to a much loved creation.

~~Juliet Waldron

http://www.julietwaldron.com

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Ghosts!

Casper-Friendly-Ghost-1I have to admit, I love a good ghost story. Regardless of how many nights I may lay awake terrified, I just can’t get enough of them. In fact, I’ve even been known to go in search of ghosts and spirits from time to time-I need my own stories to tell, after all. I have a few, but the one that impacted me the most involves a close friend and a Ouija board. Since my hubby has always refused to play Ouija with me, I decided to invite a friend over who would, on a night when hubby had to work.

We lit candles, took the appropriate “protection” measures and then settled in to start asking our questions. I should mention that at the time, we lived on the 5th floor of a pre-war building in Harlem-we don’t get these kinds of stories now that we live in a new building. But I digress…

It didn’t take long for a spirit to come through, and it became evident after a while that we were dealing with a child. Since we don’t communicate in the same way a confused spirit might, there was a great deal of confusion on both ends of the Ouija. But my impression was that the child had died in that apartment-or building, at least- and was looking for his family. The encounter nearly broke my heart and both my friend and I were bawling by the end of it, thanks to the repeated “mama mama mama” that the spirit kept spelling out. I’m getting a little choked up just thinking about it now.

Needless to say, while it may have been a “fun” thing to believe in ghosts up until that night, I’ve never doubted the existence of spirits since then.

What about you? Are you a believer? And do you have any good ghost stories for me?

Jerrica Knight-Catania is the author of A Gentleman Never Tells, soon to be published by Second Wind Publishing.

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All Fade Away

All Fade Away

She brought the cold in with her, wrapped around her like a cloak against the elements. She left a trail of fog in her wake as she approached the counter. Droplets of cold fell from her dress as she settled upon a stool, carefully arranging her skirt about her like a debutante of old. She glanced slowly from left to right, as if she were lost and looking for some familiar landmark.
“Can I help you, Miss?” the man behind the counter asked. “You look a little lost.”
She leveled a hollow gaze upon him. “I am not lost,” she said, her voice low, a harmony of perfect notes singing a melody of old.
The man frowned at her odd demeanor. “Can I get you anything?” he asked. “Something to eat? Something hot to drink, at least? A coffee?”
“I have no money,” she told him. “But perhaps I could tell you a story.”
“What kind of story?”
She smiled then; an eerie quirk of her lips that did not extend to her hollow eyes. She sat forward, bringing herself closer to the man. A burst of cold came with her.
“Would you like to hear a ghost story?”
“I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“That’s why they call it a story,” she said with an odd twist to her lips that mimicked a smile.
“Sure, why not. Seems appropriate tonight, don’t you think? All Hallows Eve.” He chuckled with false bravado. “Go ahead. Tell me a ghost story.”
She settled into the task with an eerie smile.
“Once, many years ago, there was a girl who was the pride of her family,” she began. As she spoke, her voice livened with enthusiasm for her subject. “She was a pretty, pretty girl and people from far and wide came to see her, to witness her beauty for themselves. Her parents, who were very poor, put her on display for profit. Her beauty was her only talent. When she opened her mouth, however, ugliness dropped out, so her parents cautioned her not to speak to anyone who came to see her. This only added to her allure. People who came to see her golden hair and perfect features were even more fascinated by her apparent inability to speak. ‘Imagine someone so beautiful,’ they said, ‘who cannot express gratitude for her praise.’”
As the story unfolded, the man behind the counter poured a cup of coffee and placed it before her. It turned to ice when she touched the cup. Neither of them noticed.
“Then one day, the inevitable happened,” she continued, excitement building in her voice. “She found her heart, her one true love. A man beyond compare with a gentle soul and impeccable manners. He could have anyone he wanted, but he chose her. They planned a life together. But, alas, it was not to be…”
The cold intensified around her, became almost a living thing, stirring the tendrils of gold that rested upon her shoulders.
“She was not on an equal level with him, you see, and his family would not allow her to join their ranks. He pled, they said no. He threatened to disobey them, they cut off his inheritance. He could not live below his usual standard, though he did try, for a time. Eventually, he went back to them, groveling, on his knees. He was not cut out to be a common man, you see. He agreed to do whatever his parents deemed proper to get back in their good standing. They told him to denounce her. When he told her what he’d done, she wept rivers of sorrow. ‘What will I do without you?’ she cried. “You will go on,’ he told her. ‘No, without you, it will all fade away.’
“Of course, he tried to convince her that this was not so, but he could not. For once, her beauty had failed her and she was inconsolable. Always, in the past, she’d used her beauty to get whatever she wanted, as her parents had taught her. She became very spoiled. She expected to get whatever she wanted. Always in the past, her beauty was enough to achieve her dreams. Never before had anyone dared to say no to her. So she was quite devastated when her beauty failed her and she couldn’t get him.
“She lost her mind. He tried to console her. She couldn’t be consoled. She wanted forever. He wouldn’t give her today. So she had to sit back and watch as he married another.”
She shuddered then, shaking off puffs of cool air into the restaurant behind her. The man behind the counter answered her shudder with one of his own. The air stilled about them, as if holding its breath in anticipation of her next words.
“But he continued to see her,” she went on, “behind his parents’ backs, behind his wife’s back. She tried to get him to leave his wife for her. He wouldn’t. She became despondent. He tried to love her. His love wasn’t enough. She became enraged. How dare he do this to her? He wouldn’t leave his wife, wouldn’t defy his parents. He wouldn’t choose her over them. She began to fade away. She wouldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. Her beauty deserted her.
“Her parents feared for her. There was talk of sending her away. She knew where they intended to send her. She couldn’t let that happen. She stole away in the night without a cent to her name. She went looking for him. She found him in a restaurant much like this…” She waved an arm around in a ballet-like motion, stirring up a cloud of cold. “…He was dining with a woman who was not his wife. She was also not a woman of class, but one of those. Still, it cut her deep to see him with this creature. Her heart shattered at his feet.
“In a rage, she picked up a knife from his table and plunged it into his heart, right there, in front of all those witnesses. They could only watch in horror. As did he. With his last remaining breaths, he asked, ‘Why, Amelia? Why did you do this?’ ‘You took my heart and broke it,’ she said, ‘now I take yours. Without our hearts beating as one, we are nothing. All fade away.’ He gave her a strange look. ‘I am dying…and you speak in riddles.’ She twisted the knife into his chest as she chanted, ‘All fade away, all fade away…’
“When he died at her hand, she left him with his mistress, whose screams tore through the night. But Amelia paid her no mind. She met her own death in the path of a truck, right out front, her words still filling the air. ‘All fade away.’”
The man behind the counter shook the solemnity from his shoulders. “That’s a great story,” he pronounced, a note of skepticism in his deep voice. “But I don’t see how it’s a ghost story.”
She slipped from her stool to stand before him, a smirk curling her lips. “I didn’t tell you the best part,” she said, leaning close for emphasis. “Every year, on the anniversary of her passing, she returns to the scene of her betrayal. To live again, for a moment or two…” She lifted a shoulder in a delicate shrug. “Perhaps to see a different end to her story…” Sadness emanated from her as a phantom scream rent the air behind them. “But not tonight,” she concluded as she backed away from the man at the counter, toward the entrance.
Her form began to shimmer, the definition of her perfect features becoming hazy. She continued to smirk as her form melted into the solid wood of the door, passing through it like a wisp of fog. The sound of her voice echoed into the night as her figure dissolved into nothing.
“All fade away…”

Happy Halloween from Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul

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