A Gothic romance with a touch of haunting.
Night after night, I listen to your plaintive cries. I never thought that my attempt to bring you back to me would lead to so much suffering. And it is my fault; I know that now.
Harry and Monica could not really refuse me, could they, not when they were in my employment. They must be absolved from all guilt. I know that they hear your pain as you roam the hallway, calling to me.
They'd warned me not to do it, but still I insisted on bringing down that board from the attic. I've no idea who put it there, but I guess it was some distant relative of mine. There is no doubting that it is old. Apart from the dust and the cobwebs that have covered its surface, it is elaborate in its design, unlike the more modern spirit boards which seem to be much plainer.
Should I get Monica to give it a polish first, I'd asked myself. Somehow that did not seem fitting, so instead I tore up one of my own gowns and rubbed the board with piece after piece. It did not take long for the rags to come away clean, and not a bit of polish had I used.
I had made my plans alone, only mentioning what we would be doing to Harry and Monica when I had sorted everything out in my mind. I had worked out the perfect setting, or at least what I thought would be ideal. More important than that was the timing, I was certain. I had never heard the cries during the hours of daylight. Dusk would be best.
Harry helped me set it up and in the setting sun we gathered together and sat around the board. I ignored the reluctance I could see on their faces and instead bustled about the room. I brought a candle to the table and lit it, then set down a small upturned glass in the center of the board.
I'd spoken firmly, as though I had known what I was talking about. "Place one finger on the glass. Do not attempt to control its movement, but make sure to keep your finger on the glass. Whatever happens, stay calm. Nothing can hurt you while you stay in place."
I remember clearly how I asked if anyone was there. The first time I spoke my nervousness was clear in my voice. No spirit was going to answer that. I knew I had to find a bit of confidence and surety, and the next time I asked, the glass moved.
I had felt an overwhelming desire to look at both Harry and Monica, but I dared not break my concentration. After it reached the word 'Yes', the glass moved back towards the center. I wonder now what would have happened if I had not continued with the question: "Andrew, is that you?"
I had heard Monica's sharp intake of breath but had not met her eyes. Instead I had felt a mixture of horror and excitement as the glass slipped back to 'Yes.' It had to have been Andrew! The love of my life and he was back.
There was so much I still wanted to say to him but before I had a chance to speak again the glass propelled itself with force from the board and shattered into a million fragments as it hit the wall. The candle, too, had chosen that moment to extinguish itself and we had been left to sit in the gloom of evening with our shock making us shiver as much as the dip in the temperature did.
We had not spoken as I turned on the lights. Monica had set to work clearing up the shards of glass and Harry, without so much as a word, took up the board and whisked it away from me. Perhaps he thought that from that moment on I would not be able to leave it alone.
As it turned out I would have had no more need of the board for in that moment I had invited you back into my life. Each night, since then, your cries have filled the hallways at night.
Was there a way for me to send you back? I could not stand to hear your pain; I never dreamed that you would still be experiencing the agonies that led to your death. Would I need an exorcist? No, they were for devils, demons, malicious spirits, not for someone that I had loved so much that I could not bear to lose.
From that thought came the idea of chains. I had called and you had answered; you were chained to me now as much as I had been chained to you by love in life. Did you remember, I wondered, about how we had said they were unbreakable? I knew then what I would have to do to set you free.
I waited for your moans to reach my ears, to tear at my heart, then I climbed from my bed. It was chilly and my white nightgown did not offer much warmth, but it wasn't from the cold that I found myself shivering. As quietly as I could, I opened my bedroom door. No other eyes could share this moment.
I had not expected you to appear so substantial. So real! You looked just as you had before death had stolen you from me. The nearer we got to each other, the fewer signs of the sickness that had made you suffer so remained. When you opened your arms to me, I felt the last of my resistance melt. I threw myself forward and I felt you return my embrace.
The chains seemed to emerge from nowhere, wrapping themselves around you and me. They were strong; even should I have tried to break free, I would have been unable to escape the bonds. They were, as we had once said, unbreakable, and were now holding us together in an eternal embrace.