Ann stared down at the headstone. One night a year, Halloween night, she and the other unhappy spirits came out. It was their one night to visit, to haunt, or to make things right. If she could shed tears she would have. Instead she floated, a misty spirit, over the small grave. Ann tried to rub the dirt and mold off of the headstone, a useless task, her fingers went right through it.
The headstone had fallen over and cracked in half some time ago, but Juliana’s birth and death in 1858 seemed like yesterday, the pain had never subsided. Instead Ann knew she had allowed it to burrow and grow in her heart, thus she had never been able to move on. She had protected that bitterness, holding onto it, even 152 years later.
Ann remembered the difficult birth of baby Juliana, her small hands and feet, her milky brown eyes, and downy baby hair. Juliana had been her first and only child. She had only lived a few days before dying and Ann’s heart had been broken. She had given up living and some weeks later taken her own life, leaving behind her grieving husband, Ezekiel.
Before becoming a mother Ann had never known she would love her baby so much. She’d had no idea of the bond between mother and baby until she’d held little Juliana in her arms. There were so many things Ann regretted, but she now realized that she regretted taking her own life and never trying again, never having another baby. She also regretted leaving Ezekiel alone, as he had never remarried and known the happiness of a family. She had not felt this way until now. Why things had changed, now, this year, she did not know.
A light began to shine on the small, broken headstone. Ann looked up at it, marveling at its whiteness. She felt drawn to it; a desire to follow it up into the night sky. She could see a woman standing in the light, smiling at her. The recognition was instantaneous. It was Juliana---a grown-up Juliana---but her Juliana!
She placed the mirror on the bed and looked into it. Nothing. How she missed her reflection! Looking down at her body she knew she fit in okay. Her clothes came from The Gap; her flats were from Dillard's. She looked like every other college student in town, just a college student who didn't have a reflection.
There were times she regretted giving up her human life. Never growing older had it benefits, but when her younger brother finally passed away 15 years ago at age 87, she was left alone in the world. Her brother had been her friend, her rock, and her last living relative.
Their father died first. She had been only 10 when he'd passed from a heart attack and could barely remember him. Their mother had gone to work to support them, placing much of her brother's raising on her young shoulders. She'd had a time or two when she felt overwhelmed, but for the most part she'd been happy to help her mother raise her little brother. Mother died when she was a late teen, leaving the two siblings without another relative to turn to.
It was 1924 when she was turned. She'd sacrificed herself to save her brother from HIM. She'd pushed her brother away, yelling at him to run, sacrificing herself so that he could survive. At that moment she had thought death was at hand and hadn't realized the monster before her might keep her alive and make her in his image. She still shuddered at the memory.
Over the years she had flowed in and out of her brother's physical life, not wanting to arouse the suspicions of his neighbors or friends. They'd kept in contact mostly through letters and phone calls. Even 15 years after his death she missed him with an ache that hurt her heart.
She picked up the mirror from her bed and hung it back on the wall. It was time to go.
Thinking she heard a strange noise, Ani walked from her bedroom to the back door. She had recently bought the old house. It was in near perfect condition, had character and was close to her job downtown, yet the neighborhood still had a suburban feel.
Her back door was a Dutch door, split in the middle, allowing both the top and bottom halves of the door to open independently. It was made of solid oak and stained a dark brown. Four small window panes in the top half of the door allowed light in and Ani to see out. The back yard was fenced and private; an oasis in the city, but she was always cautious and kept her doors locked.
“Why is that door open?” she muttered to herself as she crossed the family room to close it. Not noticing anything out of place Ani went on with her morning – emptying the dishwasher, fixing a lunch to take to work, and eating breakfast.
Before leaving for work she ran back to her bathroom to brush her teeth and check her outfit one more time. As she walked back through the family room to gather her things and leave, she stopped. The top half of the Dutch door was open again!
“What the . . .?” Ani’s puzzled expression changed to horror as the top half swung shut and locked her in.
Photo courtesy of Willow @ http://magpietales.blogspot.com/ I couldn't help creating a Halloweenish theme with this week's Magpie! I love Halloween and spooky stories. Hope you enjoyed this one. :o)
Steve's Aunt Hannah & Uncle Oral painted this beautiful plate for us as a wedding gift. I LOVE it! It holds the center space in my china hutch and makes me happy every time I see it. Steve and I were lucky enough to be married in the Pine Valley Chapel almost 3 years ago. (His mom was the R.S. President and we got special permission to have our wedding there.)
Every time I walk into the chapel I wonder about the early pioneers to Pine Valley. Who were the people who built this gorgeous little chapel? Who sat in the pews, who lived their lives in this place? What were their hopes and dreams?
I've done a little research on them preparing for this and the previous Pine Valley poem. I found out they sacrificed a great deal to build a life here. They had joy and they had sorrows. I am grateful for them and can't wait to meet them all someday. :o) This poem is dedicated to them.
My friend Tara asked for some Pine Valley poetry. After reading over my Pop's lengthy Pine Valley historical information and reminiscing about weekends spent there (not to mention the awesome wedding Steve and I had in the chapel there), I came up with this one.
Around a bend in the road
lies an emerald valley.
Untouched by the busyness of day-to-day
traffic and smog and tall buildings.
Sheltered by tall mountains,
fed by streams,
Wind breezes gently,
grasses wave in the air.
A white picket fence marks the beginning
of a pioneer community,
Shaped by the men and women who milled
the trees, plowed the land, and built their homes.
The wooden chapel stands as a monument
to their sacrifices, their struggles, their successes,