Here is the second installment of “Spring Spirit,” a short story about a ghost, a curse, and a misguided desire to help others. Click here to read part one. There is a link to the conclusion at the end of part 2.
copyright Emily Livingstone, 2016
Spring Spirit, part 2
Dahlia watched as the gray woman took to her stolen life with gusto—sold Dahlia’s possessions, bought new clothes, took men home to Dahlia’s upstairs bedroom. She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself, but Dahlia got few hints about who she might have been before or what had gotten her into this situation. With little ability to affect the physical realm, Dahlia started to explore outside her home, searching for the key to her escape.
There was an old cemetery a block away from her house. The house itself dated from the Victorian period, and Dahlia thought the gray woman might have come from then. Her dress had been torn, but had the structured corset of that time.
She did see spirits wandering here and there among the stones and trees. A few looked at her curiously, but most seemed lost in their own thoughts.
When she found a section of the graveyard with graves from the right time, she started looking around. A woman in a purple Victorian gown caught her eye and made a beeline for her.
“Here for a visit?” she asked, taking in Dahlia’s modern attire. “I’m certain I don’t know you.”
Dahlia sighed. “I’m hoping you can help me. I’m in trouble. You don’t know me, but I’m hoping you might know the woman who got me into this mess.”
“I’m Isabella,” the woman said, gesturing gracefully to the tombstone in front of them with the assurance of a well-practiced hostess: Isabella Walters, Beloved Wife and Mother, 1832-1881.
Dahlia told her story and Isabella listened.
“And where is the house?” she asked, narrowing her eyes. She started nodding as Dahlia described it.
“Laura Hutchinson,” she said. “Thought she was better than everyone else. Invited Henry and me over just to put on airs. She tortured that husband of hers—always nagging at him and bringing down his confidence. She was a tyrant to every servant in the house.” Isabella leaned in confidentially. “And that’s what did her in, in the end. The maid had been studying witchcraft, people said, and cursed her. Laura was out in the garden—that was the one thing she seemed to genuinely enjoy, they say—always brightened a little when the crocuses came up in Spring—and she pricked her finger on a thorn. Shouldn’t have caused any trouble, but she falls ill, and can’t be cured. Later—when it was too late, you understand, they found strange symbols drawn on the wall in the maid’s room and books no respectable woman would read.”
Dahlia frowned. “This must be the same woman, but how do I reverse the curse? How do I get my life back?”
Isabella shrugged. “No one really knew what the curse was exactly. No one was going to read those blasphemous books. I’m not sure you can undo the curse.”
Dahlia clutched the woman’s wrist, and the woman looked alarmed. “So you’re saying I’m stuck like this? And she gets to just keep on living my life?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying.” The woman leaned in again with a whisper. “I’ve been wandering around here for some time, as you might suppose. I’ve learned a few things—general things about the way these things work. I’ve no idea how to undo the specific curse, but I think I know how you get back in the flesh.”
“Get someone else to do what you so foolishly did. Then that person will take your place, and you can go back to the world of the living.”
“But I don’t see how Laura would do it—she’d know it was a trick.”
“Oh, not Laura, dear. I agree that would be quite impossible. You’ll have to find someone gullible and well-intentioned, like yourself. I’m sorry, dear—but you must see you’ve been rather stupid.”
Dahlia sat down and leaned against the tombstone. Tears came to her ghostly cheeks.
“I can’t do this to someone else.”
“Then I suspect you’re stuck, dear. Give Laura my regards. Perhaps she’ll come see my stone—hers is rather shabby in comparison. I think her husband took pleasure in its plainness.”
Dahlia thanked her and left the cemetery. She had a lot to think about.
Click here to read part 3.