My Entry for the Weird Tales Contest. Is it madness or is it love beyond the grave?
The first spell struck me three nights after Henry had died. I saw a vision of my beloved in the suit he'd worn to the ball the night he had passed. My screams drew everyone to my bedroom and they had to sedate me. My family assumed it was just my typical madness, and in my mind it was the ravages of grief, but as it turns out, we were none of us right.
In the time after Henry's untimely death beneath the hooves of an ill mannered horse, I passed my days in my small attic studio painting canvas after canvas, comforted by the confinement. I shed my gowns and stopped going to parties, embarrassing my mother terribly by becoming absent on the social scene. In her mind, since Henry was not my husband he did not deserve my grief. She wanted me to accept one of the other men courting me. She wanted grandchildren.
I wanted children. But not if they weren't Henry's.
So days became months as I worked away wearing my brother's old clothes, spattered with paint. I refused to change for dinner, so my mother made me eat in the kitchen with the servants. It didn't matter to me.
Because I still saw Henry. Every day.
He sat in the corner of my studio while I painted. For the first month, he was a glimmer in the corner of my eye, barely there.
I thought of the children we would have had and painted friendly frogs and irritated owls. I conceived of stories I would have told them, and thought perhaps I'd write a book. The apparition in the corner seemed to grow stronger when I had this thought; positivity flowed from it. I began to talk to myself aloud, trying to ignore the knowledge that I spoke for it as well.
After a time, the appartition grew more solid. It wasn't quite there, but it wasn't not there, either. I told it how much I missed Henry, how badly I wanted him back, that I wanted his children, and that life without him was a bitter fog. I cried and felt its warmth.
One day, after a storm of sobs, I looked up to see the apparition had solidified and come forward. My Henry stood before me, holding out his hands. I could only gape, afraid to touch him lest my hands find nothing there. “I'm right here, love. I never left.” His strong, solid hand reached out and stroked my cheek, and I felt it. I knew he probably wasn't real, that my insanity had probably grown from bouts of nerves and hysteria to hallucinations, but I didn't care. I could feel him. My Henry. If this was madness, I hoped I'd never know sanity again.
We made love, then, with abandon. I didn't care who heard me. They'd think it was just more of my raving, and my family kept distant during my episodes.
He kissed me hard before he finished, and promised that I would have our child.
Afterward, we lay in each other's arms. I said not a word, afraid to break the spell, and fell asleep curled against his muscled chest, my leg wrapped around his.
Henry and I speak every day while I paint. We make love in the afternoons. My belly swells with each passing day. My family is mystified by my condition. I told them the truth, but they think it delusion. It matters not what they think. It matters not that they see a crazy pregnant woman alone in an attic. I see a life with my Henry.