In a woods, there is a lady who lingers. This is her story (v1 - version 2+3 to be posted)
|In a small village somewhere in Yorkshire, England there is a wood known as Creepy Hollow. Surrounding this copse, is a farm, several houses built with Yorkshire stone, and a church dating back to the twelve century. If you follow the dirt path at the back of the houses, you will find yourself at the dividing point leading to several villages. If you follow the path to the church and graveyard, you will come across an A road. Most days you can pass the woods and nothing out of the ordinary will happen to catch your attention. Not unless she wants you to see her will you be given a glimpse of who she is. Her tale is full of horror. Her past one of hate and deceit.
All we know about her is that she was a lady born and she was young when she married a man two score and ten. Not for love, but for food and shelter. To harbour herself from the cold bitter winter nights after the death of her parents. Although she never smiled, she was content with the life she had forged herself. The years slipped by. Then one summer she found herself with child.
As mentioned, before she was surrounded by hate and deceit. And there was none who hate her more than her cousin. Soon rumours began to be whispered and neighbours would shiver. Doubt was cast upon the sire of her child. Who this lover could be, was never revealed and the rumours never ceased, spreading like a tower made of dominos. Soon the ears of her husband scorned and twitched and no longer was she safe in her own home. At the breakfast table he would watch her. Loathing seeping from his gaze. Snide comments thrown at her. All of this aided by a man who was supposed to love her like a sister. A cousin who had shared her home in his childhood. Nothing was denied him and in him she trusted.
Days turned to weeks and soon silence was her only companion. One day as she sat before a roaring fire, her husband came to see her. For a while, he stayed by the door. Watching as she worked her needlepoint. It did not take long before sensed his presences was made aware and she bestowed on him a sad smile. As she rose from her seat, he strolled further into the room. Behind him was a servant, and in his hand was a carpetbag. The woman’s gaze flittered from the carpetbag to the man.
‘I can no longer have you living in my house. Not now your condition is starting to show.’
The woman ran her hand over her stomach. Her knees wobbled and sure she was about to fall, she gripped the back of the sofa, and watched as her cousin entered the room. He looked at her, then he looked at her husband. ‘The carriage is out front.’
The old man gave a nod and turned to his wife. ‘I’ve made plans for you to spend time at the local convent. Once the child is born. Only then can you return.’
No matter how hard she protested her innocence, her husband refused to listen. She looked at her cousin. Her composure fell into place as she breathed deep and walked from the room.
Although it was late summer, a storm thundered through the skies and with one last goodbye, she climbed into the carriage. From her seat, she looked at the sky. Watching the dark night grow bright with lightening. Her journey did not take long and once at the convent, she was led down several passages. When she reached her room, there was only space for a tiny bed and a stand with a plain white bowl on it. Only as the door closed, did she sink on to the bed and let her tears fall. The babe in her stomach gave a kick and she smiled. She knew the truth and once the child was born, her innocence would be confirmed.
Her life in this cloister was one of loneliness. The days were slow, her food meagre. Although she was given leave to walk the grounds, her freedom was lost. Weeks turned to months and not once did her husband visit. Each day the baby grew stronger and she bore her new life with dignity. Once a week she would pen a letter to her husband and although he never replied she never let this break soul.
Christmas came and passed without a visit. Her days passed by and she could smell the sweet air of freedom. Silently she saw in the new year, full of hope for her and the babe beneath her breast. As she sat by the window, watching the starless night, there was a knock on her door. Mother Superior stood before her. In her hand was a letter. With fingers which shook, the lady accepted the letter and upon reading the contents she fell onto her bed. For the news was sad. Her husband was dead. Dying in his sleep. His body buried the day before New Year’s Eve. The letter also went onto reveal she no longer had a home, but the convent. That all her belonging and those of her deceased husband, now belonged to her cousin. She did not look up as the door closed silently. After Mother Superior left the room, her baby kicked and she wept.
The days passed in pain for her and silently she mourned her husband. Vengeance she promised her unborn child would be theirs. As she counted the days. She knew soon her child would be born.
With a smile she looked out of the window. The sky was dark, then once again thunder rolled as lightening lit the skies. A knock on her door had her turning and she smiled as a young novice entered the room. With a hand that trembled, she accepted the letter given to her and in the low candlelight, she read the note. Slipping on a cloak as the clock struck ten, she slipped out of her room and through a door hidden behind the screen she found herself in the woods. As the rain fell, she followed the path. To the old oak she went to meet the author of her note. Rain came down and she huddled into her body. Her clothes sticking to her damp flesh. In the distance she heard a church bell chime. For over an hour she waited but her visitor never arrived. With a heavy sigh, she turned back to the convent. As she turned, she tumbled. Her hand clutched her stomach as she rolled down the rain-soaked slope of the hill. As her eyes closed, she prayed for her child. When she came to halt, through the whistle of the wind, she heard the stomp of feet as whoever it was who pushed her, ran.
Pain pulled at her lower back and heat warmed her thighs. Her sobs were lost. Her screams for help echoing around her. No one came.
When she woke, the sun caressed her flesh and the ground beneath her was soft. As she rolled over she found herself in her bed. When she opened her eyes, she was greeted with innocent brown ones of the novice.
“Where’s my babe?’ She asked.
‘Dead.’ Was the reply.
The lady closed her eye as tears gathered and slipped down her cheek. ‘No. I heard him cry.’
Again, the novice shook her head. ‘Your babe died. We buried him this morn.’
For days the lady lay in her bed. Begging for her child. Refusing to eat and from the storm a chill set in. Within the week she was dead.
If you see a lady in the woods. They will tell you she will never sleep until she finds the child taken from her. Although she harms no one. Her wails can be heard in the rustle of the trees as the leaves canopy the paths. If there is lightening, she can be seen, wrapped in a cloak of green. If she sees you with a child, she is before you. Her head bent low as she sniffs the babe’s scent. Then, with another wail, she is gone.
This is the first of three stories to be written about the same subject.
This Story is all tell and no show
The next two stories will be an expansion from two different perspectives}