I can’t imagine being soulless, in fact the very thought scared me, there wasn’t very many things that had, so why was I bothered by this?
Sitting in my living room, I realized that I hadn’t been told her name or anything about her life. The only remembrance of her was this picture that hung above the mantel. She was a vision, beautiful, with ivory skin and eyes that shone like brilliant jewels. I was envious of her.
“I see you have met our Elizabeth, beautiful is she not?”
Grandfather, a walking encyclopedia had just entered.
“Yes she is, very beautiful…who was she?”
With a sigh he continued, “She was my Great, Great, Great Aunt. Obviously I had never met her, but was told many stories of her tragic, short life.” He sat down in his lounging chair, dressed in his robe and slippers looking pensive.
“Tragic? You look troubled Grandfather, why?” I knelt down at his feet. Something in the way he looked just then concerned me.
“I’m alright Catherine, it’s just that what was done to her…it was unspeakable, truly a heinous crime.”
I couldn’t imagine what had gone down, especially when it happened before he was born, but whatever it was must have been truly horrific. My skin prickled at the thought and I stared back at him-was that a tear I just saw or had I just imagined it?
“I’m sorry if I have upset you Grandfather.”
“Catherine nothing you could say or do would upset me…you must think I’m an old fool. Here I am, a grown man, and I’m getting all emotional over someone I had never met, but It does bother me greatly. After all, she was family.”
I wasn’t sure if I should ask how she died, not wanting to troubled him further, but I wanted to know more and as it was, he continued.
“It was a very long time ago. Our heritage dates back to England. She lived in Berkshire. Back then, as you well know, modern medicines weren’t as evolved as they are now and so many people died needlessly because of it…she had taken ill.”
“What did she have?”
“Consumption…she was only in her twenties when it happened and from what I was told she endured much pain. It was late Fall when she finally died and being contagious, was buried that same night. There was no funeral per say, just a quick burial.”
He took this time to pause and reflect before continuing on and it had looked as though he had aged slightly in those few minutes of our conversation. Thinking how odd that was, I had to look harder at his face, making sure I wasn’t seeing things. It was rather dark in the room and I thought that maybe the lights were playing with my eyes…they weren’t. I hadn’t noticed just then, but my Grandfather, sensing my confusion alerted me back to present time. I blushed.
“Catherine, why are you staring at me thusly?”
“Oh, sorry, it’s just…never mind, I guess I’m just tired.”
His puzzled gaze pierced through me as if to say, “I know what you are thinking.”
“Anyway, her brother, Paul, went to visit her grave a few days later. She always loved flowers, any kind and so he wanted to place some on her grave, but when he got there she was gone-someone dug her up. Her coffin was desecrated and her body...missing. The only thing that was left was her shroud. Paul went crazy. He didn’t know who would have done such a thing, it was incomprehensible and set him on the path of madness to which he took his own life.”
I understood the sorrow that they must have had, losing someone to an illness and then on top of that,someone steals the body. It must have been truly heart wrenching, but what I didn’t understand is the way my Grandfather was handling it. It was as if it had recently happened, in this century, when in actuality, it took place before he was born. A slow, but steady uneasiness crept up my spine, rendering me chilled and …
A warning cloud settled on his features as he gazed intently at me and I, being made to feel very much the prey inched myself away from him.
“Catherine you seem…scared. Is everything alright?” He said smoothly, with no expression on his face.
Awkwardly, I cleared my throat. “Um, sure…great, why do you ask?”
His eyes were icy and unresponsive as he approached me.
“Catherine, come now, let us be honest with each other. You know something don’t you?”
I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. With every moment that passed by, he would age in front of me. Not in a fast way mind you, it was ever so faint like, but the difference was there. This not only puzzled me but scared the hell out of me as well. I didn’t understand what was happening or why and why now, why not any other time? What was so special about right now? I was trying to think of anything that I could connect it to, but was coming up blank.
“Do you Catherine know what day it is? You must otherwise you wouldn’t be backing away from me. Please stop…” His eyes that once seemed kind and gentle were now dark,and hard like bits of stone…cold.
“Stop I said!” He said the words with the certainty of a man who could no longer deal patiently with me.
I froze in my spot, too scared to get up and run for the door like I had wanted to just then, but I couldn’t, literally. His gazed was so fierce, so strong that it was as if some power held me there.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I only know that you’re scaring me. I thought you loved me.”
“Who said I didn’t? Catherine, I’m your Grandfather, I love you as if you were my own child, but now tell me, what day is it?” He asked again, and this time his voice had changed, it was friendlier, but I was on to him.
“I don’t know, why not clue me in…Grandfather.” My voice was shakier than I would have liked, but I said it in a firm tone.
There was a trace of laughter in his voice, “Just like her too, pity.”
I lifted my chin, meeting his icy gaze straight on.
“I see your defiance and it’s very admirable of you, but also very foolish, not to mention rude. I can see you refuse to answer my question and so I’ll tell you. Today is the day she died.”
“So, what do you what me to do? Grieve with you?” I know I sounded a bit disrespectful, but my gut feeling told me that something was up and that something wasn’t good.
“No, but celebrate with me...and her.”
The surprise siphoned the blood from my face and I started, realized he was not what I thought. Just then, I creak was heard behind me and I turned swiftly toward it.
There on the staircase was this woman, dressed in a billowy gown of ivory. So light and translucent that I could see her body underneath it, supple and pale. Her thick dark hair hung in long graceful curves over her shoulders and her face was austere, her manner, haughty as she descended down to meet us.
“Catherine, this is Elizabeth…meet your maker of darkness.”