I had a strange dream last night. Frost covered my arms; I was cold, shivering, despite the room being warm. Although the bedside lamp cast a eerie glow around the room, I had no memory of touching the switch. Even though my daughter died in Andalucia, over fifteen-hundred miles from our home, I sense her presence.
Loneliness, or so friends and family claim, is bad for the soul. Am I lonely? How is it possible to suffer from loneliness when I’m never alone?
Visitors oft mention the wonderful aroma as they enter my tiny cottage. I opened the dressing table drawer and gently removed the bottle of French perfume favoured by Elisabeth. Memories rise as the scent permeates throughout my home.
Venturing outdoors on a cold winter’s day was difficult. Ice decorated the fruit trees and lawn. The pain when I slipped on a patch of black ice was excruciating. Jarrad’s chauffeur gently grasped my arm, and supported me as I clambered into the limousine.
Tiredness overcame me when I returned to my cottage in a village nestled in a valley between two Yorkshire cities. I crawled, wearily, into bed, turned off the light and fell asleep.
Absentmindedly, I glanced into the shadowy recesses in my tiny living room. Do ghosts take form at will, I thought? Doubtful, the logical side of my brain claimed. When my daughter dropped into her favourite leather chair, Joseph yapped excitedly, clambering onto the chair arm.
I froze; Betti’s hackles rose; she snarled, her lip curled revealing sharp fangs. Ears laid back against her neck, my beautiful Podenco cross circled around the room. Peaches cowered, whimpering as she scrambled under my settee.
Strange, I thought. This doesn’t usually happen when Elisabeth visits so why are the dogs upset.
I reached for my cane and headed into the kitchen. A glance at Joseph revealed he was content. Sleeping peacefully, or so I thought. Peaches and Betti’s howls echoed around my home. Bereft, I raced into the living room and knelt beside my precious JRT. Sobbing, I carried his cold tiny body into the kitchen and fetched a plain wooden box out of the garage. His favourite toys, rug and pillow were set inside the box with his collar and lead. Carefully, I placed a sheet of tinted glass over the box. I’m old now, in my sixties, and not fit enough to dig a grave, even a small grave.
Tears trickling down my cheeks, I lay my beloved companion to rest surrounded by beautiful aromatic flowers. “So weary,” I murmured breathlessly.
Elisabeth’s voice echoed once more around my home, “Mom, he’s coming.”
“Who is coming, Elisabeth?”
“Disobedience in my world isn’t tolerated, and there’s no doubt that warning you is an act of disobedience. You must protect yourself and Joseph.” My eyes opened wide when a dagger with an beautiful bone hilt and blade appeared beside me. “Demons are dangerous, Mom, use the dagger. It’s the only way to stop him.”
Blood pooled around Elisabeth’s chair when my dagger found its target. A scream of fury echoed around the living room, then all was silent. Elisabeth and my unknown visitor vanished.
A mournful howl echoed around the cottage. “Joseph,” I sobbed. As I opened the back door, Joseph raced into the living room seeking refuge under the dining table.
“It was an illusion, Mom. Draego won’t visit again.”
My eyes closed as Draego’s voice echoed around the cottage, “Not in this life, Esme, but you can’t prevent me from visiting you in the afterlife.”
“Maybe not, but I can.” Without further ado, the demon retreated.
Elisabeth’s husky voice echoed around my home, “Mother, I was strong in life, but I’m stronger in death.”
As her perfume drifted around the living room, Joseph leapt onto the settee, curled up into a ball and fell asleep by my side.
“Yes,” I muttered. “Time to put pen to paper, after all, everyone loves a ghost story.”