In Death’s Keeping

Veritas lux mea

SLENDER AND SLIGHT IS ELIZA. Born of sign Capricorn that she needed solace in quiet ways and does wander alone in places that people rarely frequent. For might a suitor draw towards a presumption? One so innocent and vulnerable needing another affection to cherish. Oh, Eliza, whose radiance shone beyond her form, illuminated by the moon’s arc across night sky. There are events fated to take place in a life so young and naive of experience.

Entranced was Darius young poet and Piscean that soon besotted wooed such a grace with words and deeds, casting spells of joy in both lovers hearts. In the great vast firmament do signs reveal a synastry for Eliza and Darius, star struck when two families unite? Would not the ancients comply that both luminaries alongside Mars and Venus foretell lovers, but observe and take note, withholding and keeping in shadow Saturn’s sorrowful influence on each life mapped at birth?

Each shall devote their love long through eternity even though promised until death does us part. Sweethearts to pronounce before the altar they are husband and wife, sealed and bound by custom, ring and kiss.

Too brief a year for newlyweds and spring had arrived then passed on with little sunlight and icy winds to nip back tender shoots. Summer suppressed by grey laden days and deep lows that bring rains. Autumn giving way too long a winter and misery. Born from January chill consumption and death, a thief in the night and a widow alone, and lost forever is young love. Saturn came out from the shadows.

A family cemetery whose plots draped with misty cobwebby veils. Where the remains of a fence all splinter and bone does no longer protect from the encroaching unhallowed ground. ‘Tis a place unloved those final resting tombs of the family Lunanoir. Buried deep in solitude and abandoned beneath clods of heavy sod. No parent, no widow or widower, no betrothed shall bear standing at these graves in deep contemplation weeping amongst this gloom of ancestral woe, save but one, Eliza.

Four seasons long grieving and lamentable song lain over lover’s grave, she gives her soul to be with her Darius. He now six deep and clothed in oak and Eliza behind black and sorrow weeping day and night. Retreat from family and life confined in a north facing sparsely furnished room, lit by small fire and bedside lantern. She comes and goes fleeting as a memory, and the family Lunanoir, yielded to accept her malady of the mind and never is she spoken of in conversation, never more.

This late hour on All Hallows’ Eve Eliza upon lover’s grave reciting from her troubled heart sorrowful prose. Swearing allegiance, promising her soul yet once more and no different on the evening’s new moon. Upon midnight at the toll of cemetery bell when uttering last of words enters a stranger, withered and buckled appearing out of the night shadows; calls out for forgiveness and acceptance at startling a troubled widow. He comes with a proposition, a passage beyond to take her where lover now remains in a place called limbo. His master has taken pity and caught the cry from a heart deep like a water well. This stranger has brought a revelation to Eliza’s graveside vigil.

In wooded thicket dense and complex weaving through intricate maze-crazed paths following and meandering amongst the briar and nettle. Eliza keeps near to the buckled-back stranger. The darkness grows and spreads close and reaches far in this place while upon the night air old corruption remains. Eliza with good reason to turn and look sideward and check back at trodden track. For she felt things were watching and worse, stalking drawing nearer.

Then a twinkling through the woven mass of wood. The guiding stranger makes fast onto a clearing and a pathway entered through a modest wooden gate. In view is the manor house, hidden from the mortal world. A house of faded wear, lantern lit from every window. Eliza is a figure alone approaching the grand front door seeking along its path as to the whereabouts of the stranger leading her to this old edifice in the woods.

Eliza stands before the grand door surprised when opened by a long since dead relative in faded velvet and cloth, dusty chalky white. Step forth across a threshold gestured to move beyond and not noticing the others out at the side of the spacious hallway and staircase. For her sights misty and dewy fixed upon her lover radiant in centre reaching out with open arms to embrace and seek solace.

The ensemble stands and marvels at this union witnessing a joining together. Coveted with joy, sadness no more, and Eliza seeking this moment to last an eternity. Tempting they are for her to move embrace and kiss those lips so denied when in his final sleep. Yearning is she for his embrace. She cannot resist and takes one final glance of the others smiling and willing her to fulfil that passion. Yet then, in the corner of her eye, at the front door where greeted, did she spy a demon? Upon facing it, no, but smiling Uncle Hathaway who had died when she had turned twelve.

For she can wait no longer rushing to Darius’s open arms that close around her and embrace his bride.

Then a voice familiar, loud and pleading from outside the front door not to kiss dead lips for she will become the Devil’s bride! Unable to cross the threshold is the spirit of Darius. See that your real love stands outside and that he tells the Devil, Eliza gave her soul to me, I am Darius, so go Old Deceiver by the rites of this place you have no command over the soul of Eliza! She has not taken you to her heart now be gone!

In slumber, Darius will wait until Eliza embraces death’s repose and they lie together beneath a wild briar rose.

story by John Riley

The Ghostly World Fictional Ghost Stories

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