Aug 17, 2012

Flash Me Friday

Moving On

At fifteen, Nora Haverton was the epitome of cool, from her black dyed hair down to her platform Goth boots. Nothing phased her. Not even the news that she was expected to spend the next two months with her grandmother.

When she was little, she loved to visit her grandmother in her big, old, Victorian house. It was stuffed full of antiques and collectibles - there was always something new to see. The library was incredible. There was supposed to be a ghost too, but she'd never seen it and could never get her grandmother to talk about it.

The first couple of nights Nora had trouble sleeping. The pink rosebud wallpaper in her bedroom was fine when she was seven, but now it sort of creeped her out. Maybe she could talk her grandmother into letting her redecorate. At the very least she could hang black lace curtains on the windows.

The next night she was awakened by a thump, like the sound of something falling. Nora sat up in bed and listened hard. Grandmother, she never liked to be called gran, was pretty old, maybe she should check on her just to make sure she hadn't fallen out of bed and broken her hip or something. She'd heard that happened to old people some times.

Grandmother's bedroom door was locked, but Nora pressed her ear to the door and was reassured by the sound of snoring. She grinned. It was a good thing the old lady was so hard of hearing, those snores were loud enough they'd keep waking her up.

As she turned and made her way back towards her own room, she was startled to see a vague white shape at the end of the hall. It started moving towards her and she took a step back. She could hear it murmuring, something about a book, as it drew closer.

Nora's back was pressed to the wall as it slowly turned towards her. Her mouth opened but nothing came out. She couldn't even breathe. The shape was vaguely woman-like, but where its face should have been was nothing but a ragged, dark hole.

Cool demeanor abandoned, Nora huddled on the floor beside the upstairs railing, face covered by her arms. Small whimpers escaped as she shivered, still not able to make a proper sound. There was a splintering noise, then a loud thump, as though something fell through the railing to land on the tiles below.

Nora was galvanized into action. She jumped up and ran to her grandmother’s room, pounding on the door until her grandmother let her in.

"Nora, what on earth? You're pale as a ghost child."

"Ghost!" Nora said. "Ghost! There really is a ghost!"

Her grandmother drew her over to the bed where they sat down.

"Grandmother, I saw--I saw--"

"Yes, dear, I know." Her grandmother patted her hand. "You saw Lillian."

"Her name is Lillian?" Nora's voice cracked.

Her grandmother sighed. "She's your great, great, Aunt Lillian, to be precise."

Nora gaped at her.

"This house was originally hers, you know. She was a bit of an odd duck, and when she was getting on in years she became somewhat of a recluse. Though she couldn't abide to have anyone around her, not even a maid to clean the house, she had several cats to keep her company."

"Is that why she's haunting the place?" Nora asked, calming down in the face of her grandmother's straightforwardness.

"Well, the story is that one night she was having trouble sleeping and got up to go down to the library to get her favourite book. She didn't think to take a light with her and just before she reached the stairs she tripped over one of her cats and fell through the railing. Her back broke in the fall and they believe she died instantly."

"What happened to her face?"

"As I said, she lived alone except for her cats. And . . . well . . . the cats got . . . hungry."

Nora sat there with a puzzled look on her face, but then she digested this last bit of information. "Ew! Grandmother! That's totally gross!"

Her grandmother shrugged. "It's the reason I don't have any cats, dear. Now, did you want to stay in here tonight?"

"No thanks." The cool Nora was back. "I'll be fine now. I was just a little startled before."

Nora was actually a little embarrassed at her reaction to the ghost. She enjoyed the paranormal, she'd just never had to deal with it face to face before. So to speak. As she drifted off to sleep she pondered the reason the spirit was still attached to the earthly plain. If she could figure that out, maybe she could help the ghost move on.

"It's the book!" she said suddenly at supper a few days later.

"I beg your pardon dear?"

"That's what Lillian's looking for. Grandmother, do you know what Lillian's favourite book was?"

"I believe it was the leather-bound edition of Wuthering Heights, the one kept in the glass case in the library."

"Do you mind if I borrow it?" Nora asked eagerly.

"Of course not. What on earth are you up to?"

"I think I've figured out how to help Lillian move on."

That night Nora waited patiently on one of the elaborate horse-hair chairs lining the upper hallway. It was almost two in the morning before Lillian made her appearance. As the apparition drew closer, Nora could hear her muttering about a book.

"Is this what you're looking for?" she asked, holding out the slim volume.

The ghost of Lillian stopped and turned to her. This time she had a face; she looked eerily like Nora's grandmother. She smiled. "Why thank you child. I've been looking everywhere for this."

She took the book from Nora, then vanished. The book dropped to the floor.

The ghost of Lillian was never seen again.

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