Lady and the starsMature

In west Cumbria, under a cloak of night a woman sat alone. Her eyes closed her breathing mediated she sat upon a knoll in the centre of vast pastures and fields facing towards open mountains and lakes and calmly kept her eyes closed to feel an unearthly sensation. Evelyn Greenway had made herself well known in the near by towns as an insane widower at mid fifties. People had heard stories of her fanatical love of anything astral brought on after the passing of her husband. A woman who kept herself to herself, and never veered into the towns unless it was to the chemist or butchers, she grew her own produce at a small cottage and paid her taxes with the money left to her from her husband or what change people paid her for a reading. Rumour was Evelyn could see a spirits aura, and read deeper still into where said spirit had explored, in what forms it manifest and how it was led by fate through its journey to date.

            Of course, when tourists heard this they thought briefly about the novelty of having a local witch. Those of the near by towns had no care what so ever and no intention of crossing paths with her. When she was seen in the town she was avoided by many, even the few who didn’t distrust her didn’t care to greet her – she was not the most polite of characters to those of the towns.

            A car pulled up along a narrow road that made its way into the mountains. Charlotte Bryce, writer of fantasy and fiction, inspirer of people opened the door and took a moment to take in the sky on this crisp cold late February night. She crossed her arms on the hood of the car and stared up at a menagerie of stars and stellar bodies. A zoo of light and beauty spread out across a sky that stretched so vast and high it was hard to contemplate just how deep it really was. She often lost herself amongst these marvels of the world, noticing just how close two of the stars appeared to be, and then trying to calculate just how long it would take to bridge the gap from one to another. This method of thinking put her in her place in the universe, but now after meeting Dr. Kennedy she had started to look beyond the darkness and the stars, beyond what she could see to what she couldn’t. Oh well, a cold February night was no time to think over such things when she was given orders to find this mystic hermit of Cumbria. She climbed back into the car and drove onwards, if only she’d stayed one moment longer she’d have seen one star glaze earths highest points and lead her to said mystic in a blaze of silent light and beauty.

 

            Following the big bang; the scientific genesis of the universe that’s cascading mechanics eventually led to the evolution of galaxies, stars, black holes and planets, only then lending to the creation of life that took much time to don intelligence and rise from the primordial ooze – such a description should give pause to the notion that the whole mechanics of creation is a very nauseous and energetic process. In another words, everything is always moving, reacting and developing to an unforeseeable future guided by the roads of fate. This way of thinking was in the back of the minds of scientists like Dr. Kennedy, and had been passed on to his new recruits Charlotte, Morgan, Pandora and Martian. As a lover of these ideas Charlotte could think of nothing else until she lit up the small cottage residence of the hermit Greenway. On sight of the small bungalow, hidden behind rose bushes and reaches of ivy that tangled white washed walls and a small wooden hold for firewood Charlotte’s mind stopped thinking about the ever moving world and focused on trying to think of a way to persuade Mrs Greenway to leave her cottage for a place in the Kennedy estate. She had an arsenal of tactics and notions up her sleeve, given to her by Dr Kennedy. Including a curios lime green bank card that had been issued to the four before hand – this bank card apparently linked to the Army of 40’s own personal account which Dr. Kennedy’s illusive business and also Charlotte’s own writing was to fund until more could be found to help manage it.      

            She left the car armed with a flash light to guide her way to the front gate. With a creek and forceful push it opened, dragging gravel with it as it moved. She sneaked along the path shinning light on an empty vegetable garden, already ploughed and ready for new seeds to be sowed. A few weeds had been piled up in a rustic wheel barrow at the side. Charlotte stepped up to the door and gently knocked. With no answer and no lights on she looked through the window, having assumed that everyone would still be up at around 9pm. She looked through the glass into a hallway and used the torch to light the way, only managing to catch glare on the frosted glass. She knocked again but once more had no response.

            Turning away she pulled a mobile phone from her pocket and thumbed through her contacts until she found M. Leblanc highlighted – as Dr. Kennedy’s newly appointed assistant and ambassador, she had agreed to be first point of call for all operators present and future. Charlotte held the phone to her reddened ear that became numb in the cold and listened to the dialling of the numbers. Her eyes wandered to the sky where she saw a few streaks of shooting stars cross by, lasting nothing more than a second and moving at such great speed  as they burnt down from the size of a car to something as large as a pea, she was completely distracted until she heard Morgan’s voice.

 “Hello?” she asked. 

 “I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now, I’m currently busy. Leave a message after the tone and I’ll get back to you a.s.a.p.” said the answer machine with Morgan’s formal voice. 

 “Morgan, I’m having trouble finding this lady. I think I’m at the right place but there’s no one here so I’m going to find a lodge in town for the night. Call me when you can please, take care.” Charlotte closed the phone and slid it into the pocket of her jeans. Her light lifted and caught sight of someone walking down the path she’d driven along, but seen no one. She was a tall woman, dressed with a blue body warmer, thick jeans and hefty walking boots to keep the heat at bay though she still looked very cold. Running ahead of her was a border collie, very excitably running towards the flashing light, covered in mud from head to toe with a streak of black between body eyes.

 “Evelyn Greenway?” Charlotte asked, speaking with a very nervous tone, the countryside was not her element.

 “Sorry, who’re you?” asked the woman as she approached and caught the flash of the torch in her eyes.

 “My names Charlotte Bryce.” She smiled, “I’m looking for Evelyn Greenway.”

 “Eve?” thought the old woman, whose curly hair was greying and dull, “She’ll be up in the hills at this time I should think.”

 “Do you know her?”

 “My names Sable.” She said with a firm look as she approached, “She’ll be down in about and hour I’d have thought. She goes to the hills a lot, her way of escaping the man-made world I guess.”

 “Oh right, you know her well then?”

 “I’m just a friend of hers from the town. I’ve known her since she moved here.”

 “She moved here?” asked Charlotte.

 Sable nodded, “What do you want with Eve?”

 “I’m trying to find her; I was told she can read people auras and such?”

 “You’re not another of those jokers are you?” asked Sable, “Please, just leave the woman alone. She’s been through enough as it is without you people messing with her.”   

 “No,” cried Charlotte, “I’m sorry, I’m trying to find her on behalf of someone.”

 “On behalf of who? She’s not behind on bills again is she?”

 “No,” Charlotte smiled, “Nothing like that, we’re just interested in what she can do.”

 “Right,” thought Sable, giving Charlotte a long hard look that didn’t seem all too kindly, “Well she’ll be some time, especially on a night like this with all the stars out.”

 “She likes the stars?”

 “Well who doesn’t. They are some of gods more spectacular creations.” thought Sable.

 “Indeed,” Charlotte agreed, watching the shooting stars fall from the heavens.

 “So long as you promise you’re not here to provoke her, I think I can help find her for you. Rather than you freezing out here.” She thought, looking over Charlotte’s city wear.  

 “I’d appreciate that,” she smiled, “If you don’t mind that is.”

 “No, I often pass her while I’m walking.” She thought, “Follow me, but be prepared to mess up your nice jeans.”

 Charlotte laughed and closed the gate behind her, keeping close to Sable as both carried torches to lead the way through the Cumbrian Mountains, “Do you live near by then?” Charlotte asked.

 “I live down in town, my father used to own one of these farms before he died leaving me and my husband to inherit it.”

 Charlotte nodded, “We sold the house to a nice couple from the midlands. I think they’re setting it up for some conservation thing now, but I guess that’s all the rage nowadays.” She said in monotone while Charlotte laughed and agreed.  

 “So what interest do you have in Evelyn then?” asked Sable, climbing over a sty and landing in a pool of icy water.

 “Well, my employer is trying to find people with talents like hers.”

 “Talents you say?” she asked.

 “He’s got some peculiar theories he wants to test.”

 “A psychologist?” asked Sable, “We’ve had one of them up here before, a local student. He didn’t come to many conclusions though.”

 “Really?”

 “Nope, she’s completely sane. Well, there’s nothing majorly wrong with her; just a fear of the main towns and a complete hatred towards the cities. In fairness that’s not my place anymore either.”

 “Hatred?” Charlotte asked, “How harsh.”

 “Well, I’ll tell you this so you can avoid it while talking to her. She was born in Swansea and lived around Bridgend in south Wales until she married her childhood sweetheart and moved to Cardiff. Unfortunately, as is the way of the world the city isn’t as safe a place as many would hope, her husband was mugged and murdered. She was left alone then after her mother and brother died in the same year. She still has kids but they disbanded great distances, another flaw of the twenty-first century, the poor woman became quite alone.”

 “My gosh,” thought Charlotte, “That’s horrid.”

 “A right load of sour luck,” thought Sable, “Well we can only move on, no mater how difficult it feels. Though in fairness she moved on in a much different way to everyone else, other than moving up here she became a complete recluse. She used to do readings for people, nothing like telling them their future - more like telling them their past. She could give you dates you were born and died, the type of person you were. Some said she even told them what family they’d belonged to. She never really could tell you where you came from though or what name you had. She was usually very vague; then other things started to come to mind – she’d say things like ‘I feel the moon moving into the seventh house’ and all sorts of jargon. She could predict shooting stars, completely surprised me when she spotted one before it even appeared in the sky last year when we were out for a walk.”   

 “So she knew where the heavenly bodies were?”

 “Well, according to her she could feel the planets and where they were. She knew exactly what was going where, how it would get there and when. Even before astrologists broadcast it, she knew three years in advance there was a meteor going to be knocked towards earth,” thought Sable, “Friends got a little worried about it when she started leaving her house on nights like this for hours at a time, we thought she’d make herself very ill. And she did a few times.”

 “Well,” Charlotte thought, “Hopefully she’ll be able to come back with me, we can keep her healthy.”

 “You’re not putting her in a hospital or anything are you?” Sable asked, stopping dead in her tracks as she adopted a more forceful, almost offended tone.

 “No,” Charlotte said, trying to calm her, “No, I didn’t mean it like that. I mean we have somewhere safe and warm for her to do that.”

 “I don’t like the sound of this.” thought Sable, “I’m not taking you up to see Eve if you’re going to take her away to some testing ground. I’ve heard all too much about that sort of thing on the news recently.”

 “No, its nothing like that.” Said Charlotte, “We just want to understand more about her and what she does.”

 Sable shook her head, “I’m sorry miss; I care about my friend too much to let you take her from her norm.”

 “What do you mean?” Charlotte asked, “She’ll be safe with us.”

 “She’s perfectly safe here now,” said Sable, “You take her away from here, you could completely confuse her. I know she’s not crazy right now but taking her out of these mountains, from the stars may tilt her over the edge.”

 “That’s not what we want to do.”

 “Then leave her here,” she said, blowing on a dog whistle that made no noise otherwise to call back her pet, “Come on, I’ll walk you back to your car.”

 “You’re not taking me any further?” Charlotte asked.

 “I’m sorry; I just don’t want to risk loosing my friend again.”

 Charlotte groaned, “I’m sorry, I really need to speak to her.”

 “Then you’ll have to find her. Bare in mind it’s a very cold night.”

 “So you won’t help?” she asked, watching Sable turn her back and walk down the road with her faithful border collie covered in mud by her side, wagging its tale while its eyes lit bright like white saucers in the light of the torch.

 “I’m hoping you’d have the sense to leave these mountains and go back to your warm car.”

 “Well, I’m sorry to disagree with you but I need to find Mrs Greenway.”

 “Then good luck to you my dear. Just stick to the path, these valleys can be as dangerous as your city at times; especially on a cold night like this.”  

 “Thank you for your help so far. I know it doesn’t mean much but I swear I won’t let anyone harm your friend.”

 “I’m sure you won’t.” said Sable, “That is if you can find her.”

            Sable walked towards the darkness down the countryside path void of trees only open pastures and fields in both directions climbing up the hillsides. Charlotte turned back to the dark and open path that extended far into the valleys where the winds blew gently down the furrows like the breath of a ghostly force. Composing herself, Charlotte did up her coat and huddled together; wiping one hand under her numb red nose and brushing a tear form her sensitive eyes. She walked on ahead with the light to guide her, following tire tracks left in the mud and avoiding pools of frozen water that collected in the tracks. She followed the stone wall and looked into the empty fields, not even sheep nor cattle were present to soften this uninhabited valleys cold demeanour. While wandering along the farm road in darkness Charlotte could only get her mind to work upon ideas of how the darkened city different from the darkened countryside, if only to calm her weary head about exploring through one with experience of exploring through the other.

            Point one, Charlotte thought; well both were equally as dark. However the city had many more places for the evils it brewed to hide; more corridors and alleys for its hundreds of eyes to peer from while one would walk down its streets. At least this cold valley had no hiding places but behind the walls and in the distance – then again at least the city had scattered lighting, all she had was soft starlight …

            Anyway, point two, the countryside had no people! That’s right; people sourced much terror in the hearts. After all it’s only people who murder, rape and attack other people. And while in the city there were many hundreds of these people waiting in the corridors to strike – but again, in complete darkness who knew just how many people were out there watching and waiting for her to get sufficient distance away from Sable.

            Er, point three … think of a point three. Well, the city has more motivations for evils, more incentive to turn a spirit sour. The countryside is a peaceful tranquil place where people get on with one another – wait, this is the twenty first century, no one gets on with anyone anymore… thus there might as well be just as much motivation to spawn the urban evils outside of urban areas.

            Forget point four, the previous three just sparked paranoia in her delicate over analytical mind. Let it be known that this is the curse of creativity and a mind that hunts for inspiration. Said mind is build and bred and wired to think and muse upon every possible idea it can, a mind so busy thinking will inevitably come across ideas it wishes it hadn’t thought up. And then such ideas will not go away until they’ve run their course … Charlotte’s mind was now hexed by her own creativity, she could only think upon the idea that there were a pair of eyes lurking behind the walls she walked past. She shuffled into the centre of the road and huddled together, staring directly ahead. Thinking she’d let her sides down she glanced one way, then another to check all was safe. An open valley like this, while carrying a flash light that glowed as bright as the stars above would easily attract attention. She turned and shone the light up the hillsides into the fields to search for anything or anyone she could but saw nothing. What if it was avoiding the light? Her torch would only illuminate small circles of grass but something could very easily be standing outside of the area.            

            Charlotte kept to herself once again, this time compact and as tight as possible with her hand across her chest her back hunched and her body a mix of cold and fearful shivers.

 “God I wish I didn’t think so hard on things,” she though to herself, “Then again I guess I wouldn’t be a writer.” She laughed.

            In the distance she heard a crack, so faint and quiet it could have just been a gear turning in her own mind that she’d managed to hear outside of her own head. Suddenly she turned and stared down the path, and form the darkness darted a blackened silhouette that ran at her with speed and struck her into the shadows – 

 

            Hearing the waning groans of a world beneath her damped clothes Evelyn swayed with no breeze, so relaxed and at peace as the stars shone overhead and moved in the sky while the planet rolled beneath them. She took in a deep breath and felt the universe expand in her own lungs. Her mind was swimming in the notion that the galaxy was spinning and she was lost for words in a state of tranquillity so strong nothing could wake her, not even the scream of a woman in the distance. A deep groan carried by the winds sounded to her as though the earth itself was singing to the stars – singing out to neighbours in the cosmos, singing out to neighbours in the darkness so far away. The planets were singing to one another over stretches so vast they’d never be able to span. Evelyn opened her eyes slowly and sighed a deep breath gently rising, still feeling dizzy from riding the planet while it swam frictionless through the deepest darkest ocean known.

 

            A twitter of birds sang from Charlotte’s phone while she stared at the shadows that played with her mind. Having realised there really wasn’t anyone there, only her own imagination making her think there was. She slowly reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone to see the name M. Leblanc highlighted and flashing with a phone symbol next to it.

 “Morgan?”  She cried down the phone.

 “Charlotte,” said a voice, “I’m very sorry I didn’t answer. Pandora was showing me how to make paella. Is everything alright?”

 “Er,” she said, looking around the countryside and taking a few deep breaths while leaning over the phone, “I think so.”

 “You think so? What’s wrong? What’s happened?”

 “Nothing, I’m just building up a phobia of the countryside.”

 “Did you find Mrs Greenway?”

 “Well, sort of. I found her house then one of her friends led me into the mountains and left me.”

 “Alright,” thought Morgan at a loss, “- He just left you?”

 “She,” corrected Charlotte, “And yes, she led me down a countryside road and left me when I told her we were trying to find Mrs Greenway.”

 “Why did she leave you?”

 “I think she was trying to protect her. Apparently this woman’s a bit odd and fragile after the death of her husband. She can see people’s pasts and feel the world moving.”

 “Right,” thought Morgan, though she didn’t sound wholly convinced, “One second.”

            Morgan ran from the kitchen of the main building in the Kennedy estate leaving Pandora with a wok and walked through the lounge where Martian sat in comfort watching the giant wide screen television, she ran down the hallway to the front door.

 “Sorry, reception here isn’t brilliant.” She said.

 “In fairness I’m in Cumbria.” Charlotte agreed, “I don’t like this at all.”

 “I agree, this Dr. Kennedy is a peculiar man. He’s been in his study for some time now. Though he’s introduced me to his head biologist Dr. Copeland. Seems like a nice enough man, even if he acts and stands as though he’s been rogered by an iron pole.” She thought.

 “I mean I don’t like this place,” said Charlotte.

 “Charlotte – if you don’t mind me calling you that, that is.”

 “Of course not.” She laughed, feeling a little more relaxed.

 “Don’t panic, you’re in a dark countryside hours from anyone else -”

 “That’s not helping.” Charlotte said quietly as she turned around.

 “There is no one there.”

 “ARH!” she screamed down the phone.

 “Charlotte?” cried Morgan.

 There was a stumble down the phone as it hit the floor, then came back to Charlotte’s hand again as she lifted it, “I think I’ve found her.” She sighed.

 “Oh thank god. I thought something had happened to you.” replied Morgan.

 “No,” she laughed, “I’ll talk to you later. Take care.”

 “Bye, bye.” She said, closing the conversation and heading back in doors while Charlotte was left standing in front of a thin old woman wearing black highlighted by florescent colours with wiry grey hair under a hood and a scarf wrapped around her neck. A pair of glasses balanced on a ridge in her nose while she looked curiously at Charlotte.

 “I’m sorry.” She said in a very friendly tone a slight welsh accent imposing on odd words, “Are you alright? I didn’t mean to scare you.”  

 “I’m ok,” laughed Charlotte, “Just easily frightened is all.”

 “Oh good,” nodded the woman, “What are you looking for up here?”

 “Evelyn Greenway. You’re not her are you?”

 She nodded, “That’s me.”

 “Do you mind if I talk to you for a brief time Mrs Greenway.”

 “Widow Greenway,” she corrected, “And that’s quite alright, I’d be happy to talk. However I’d prefer it back at my home, rather than out here in the cold dark.”

 “Thank you,” Charlotte agreed, “I think that’s for the best.” 

            They walked back down the path both sharing an interest in the stars of the sky. While Charlotte remained bemused Evelyn taught her a few of the constellations. They crossed the sty and neared her home, just as they stood by the gateway Evelyn paused and stared upwards with a small smile crossing her aged wrinkles.

 “Are you alright?” Charlotte asked.

 “Wait a moment,” she said, “Look towards Orian’s belt. The star at the left”

            Charlotte stood at the gate and stared at the sky, she saw nothing at all. Suddenly a flicker and bright flash that lasted moments across the sky – twice as long as all other shooting stars that had ended much earlier in the night.

 “How did you know that?” she asked, quite impressed by that talent.

 “I can feel the cosmos moving.” She said with a smile, “I know where everything out there is, and where it’s going.”

 “So you can predict the future?” Charlotte asked.

 “Oh no, the future is distorted by all this mess people create.” Laughed Evelyn, “I can see what happens up there, nothing quite as exciting I assure you. Shall we go inside?”

            Charlotte pushed the gate open and Evelyn walked to her door with the keys on a chain attached to her purse. She opened the door to a short hallway that divided two halves of the house. One half fitted with a kitchen, bathroom and pantry; and the other with a cosy seating room, bedroom and small conservatory that led to the back garden where an outhouse and greenhouse were both standing beside one another. The house was very comfortable and warming, with a low ceiling and rafters much like many old cottages of the countryside, and furnished with tartan seats cream painted walls and pictures Evelyn at a younger age with her late husband and four children.

 “Take a seat please, would you like a drink or some food?”

 “I don’t won’t to impose.” said Charlotte.

 “No, no.” she smiled, “It’s completely fine. No trouble at all.” 

 “Would you mind if I talked to you for a little while?” Charlotte asked, “I just need to ask you a few things about your well known talents.”

 “My talents.” Laughed Evelyn as she left to the kitchen, “How do you know about those?”

 “It’s the rumour in the towns.”

 “Oh, my readings,” she smiled, entering the room again without her coat and scarf, she settled in a seat and took off her shoes, “Would you like me to tell you a bit about your past?”

 “Well,” Charlotte thought, “I’m not sure about that,”

 “Come now, it takes five minutes. Just keep calm and I’ll ask you a few questions. Tea will be ready by the time we’re finished.”

 Charlotte laughed, “Alright then, for the sake of tea I think I can spare five minutes.”

 “Then we can get down to your formal business over tea.” She smiled with a warm look to her.

 “Alright,” Charlotte nodded.

 “What is it you do miss…?”

 “Oh, my name’s Charlotte Bryce. I’m a writer.”

 “I do think I have one of your books here, I used to read it to my grandson.”

 “Grandson?” she asked.

 “Oh yes, they’re all long gone now. My eldest son Tristan moved to America for his job with his wife and son. My daughters are speckled across the country in all places now; all living their own lives turning up here Christmas and so forth.”

 “Oh how nice.”

 “Well they keep to themselves and I keep to myself,” she said, “It’s just the way it works these days. Anyway you say you’re a writer, fiction isn’t it?”

 Charlotte nodded as she held out her hand when Evelyn reached for it, “Fantasy mostly, with some other bits on the side.” She said.

 “Well, that’s a good sign of someone who’s travelled broadly.”

 “I’m not that well travelled.”

 “I mean through death dear. Your spirit has been to a lot of places.”

 “Really?” she laughed while Evelyn took her hand and felt he lines.

 “You’ve done a lot of things in your past lives; you’ve had a good impact on many other souls.”

 “Really?” she asked with a smile, feeling an acknowledged warmth inside her.

 “Yes,” Evelyn nodded with conviction, “I believe you’ve inspired the hearts of many good men and women to follow. Even though you yourself have never actually managed to live to their age and see them do such good things.”

 “Well that is what I should do as a writer I suppose.”

 “It is your spiritual duty to the world. As an artist you must work to inspire and enlighten others, always push the boundaries and shed light upon real issues, help others understand so that they might be able to work to adjust and amend things.”

 “If only artists these days actually thought the way you think.” Laughed Charlotte.

 “Well, they might not consciously think it; but there’s something in their spirit telling them to do it. Spiritual speech is so much deeper than conscious or subconscious thought. The spirit and the body are completely separate things though they impact one another significantly.”

 “I feel like I’ve already been taught this,” she laughed, “Evelyn?”

 “Yes?” she asked.

 “I have a proposition for you.”

 “Wait a moment,” she said, placing her hand against her ear to hear the kettle whistling.

 Charlotte laughed and fell back in the chair, “You can tell when tea’s ready too? My god that’s amazing!”

 Evelyn slapped her knee playfully, “That is the power of a true god, I’ve just got good timing my dear.”

 Feeling completely at ease in Evelyn’s company Charlotte could barely see why people thought so badly of this woman. She seemed so welcoming, if not a little eccentric. She arrived again with tea and cakes and sat them on the table, “Sorry my dear I didn’t finish your reading.”

 “Was there more?” she asked.

 “Your spirit has lived a far, far greater life than you can image. And the deeper I read the more I can see. Such as the prospect of a soulmate.”

 “A soul mate?” Charlotte asked, “Is he handsome?”

 “That’s beside the point,” Evelyn said, “He, she or it was there to give you strength and love.” 

 “See, I’m trying to find myself a man with those qualities but I think I’m failing.”

 “Never give up; your soulmate takes numerous forms. I think most people spend a lot of their natural lives wasting time hoping to find it, when they should care more about just making new spiritual acquaintances and helping others in their stride. Fate will lead us to our soulmate wherever it may be, just wait and see.”

 “I’ll hold you to that,” thought Charlotte quickly sipping some tea, “Well to be blunt, I wanted to ask if you’d care to come back to meet my employer.”

 “Employer? I’m afraid I’m beyond retirement now my dear.”

 “The job at hand,” she thought, trying to find some words, “It’s not something you’d expect to be honest.”

 “What do you mean my dear? You’re waffling.”

 “Well, my employer has a great interest in the spirit world and the way things work beyond our own world. That’s why we came after you, you can supposedly feel the world revolving, and see where spirits have been. He is devoted to meeting you and others like you.”

 “Devoted,” she laughed, trying not to spill her tea, “My dear I’m just a simple old welsh lady. Most people think I’m insane.”

 “So I’ve heard.” She laughed, “I’m sorry to be so rude and I know you’d hate to leave this place, especially to somewhere nearer the city.” Charlotte suddenly realised what she said and went quiet.

 “Who told you that?” she asked.

 “Oh, your friend,” thought Charlotte, trying not to sound too suspicious as she talked, “she walked me along the path where I met you.”

 “My friend?” asked Evelyn, “What was her name did you say?”

 “Sable.” Said Charlotte, watching Evelyn’s face suddenly go pale, the smile faded as she pursed her lips and looked into the tea before settling it on the tray.

 “I’m sorry, are you alright?” she asked, worrying whether she caused this frail woman distress.

 “You couldn’t have seen Sable,”

 “She was with a dog, a border collie.”

 Distraught, Evelyn covered her mouth and wiped a few tears from her eyes, “I knew I felt something else in you.”

 “I’m sorry?” asked Charlotte, “What?”

 “I will meet your employer.” She said with a feverish nod, “I believe what he believes, there’s a great deal more to this world than meets the eye. A great deal more.”

 “I’m sorry? I don’t understand.” said Charlotte, trying to calm the elderly lady as she stood up.

 “My dear, you have seen a ghost.”

 “A ghost?” asked Charlotte, almost laughing, “What?”

 “An impression on our world, The Sable you saw was a phantom.”

 “That can’t be.” Thought Charlotte, “She was real, she led me along the path to where I found you.”

 “Sables been dead for several years,” Evelyn said, shaking her head, “She died walking through the mountains, she slipped trying to rescue her dog and broke her ankle then froze in the night.”  

 Charlotte remained silent, “…No she didn’t.”

 “Her husband moved away from the village not long after, but when he was leaving the dog escaped into the hills and no ones seen it since, apart from when people claim to have seen her.”

 “It is a border collie, a black streak running between its eyes? Its feet covered in mud?”

 “Yes.” Charlotte nodded, “Like every other border collie.”

            Evelyn walked to a shelf and picked up a scrap book, she opened it to one of the last pages where there was a picture of Sable sitting in Evelyn’s living room with the dog at her feet, wearing the same clothes as she had been – a blue body warmer, thick jeans and large boots.

 “This was her the day she came to my house, before she went into the hills and met her end.”

 Charlotte paused and looked away for a moment, “Alright,” she thought, keeping calm.

 Evelyn closed the book, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 “No,” thought Charlotte, “its fine, I’m just a bit – well, I’ll be fine.”

 Evelyn put her hand on Charlottes shoulder and looked into her eyes, “I can see it in your eyes; you’ve seen a spirit with no body. Our eyes are windows to your soul, they change slightly when things like this happen.”

 “Right,” thought Charlotte, “Well, if you want we’ll leave right now. My car is outside.”

 “How long will we be gone for?”

 “A day at least, unless you want to stay.” she said, having difficulty looking up at Evelyn at this point.

 “Right, would you mind if we left tomorrow morning? I’d like to gather a few things together.”

 “Alright,” thought Charlotte, “I’ll give you my phone number and come by tomorrow morning.”

 “You don’t want to stay here?”

 “I’d, I’d rather find a place in town.” She said, trying to compose herself.

 “Of course,” thought Evelyn, “I’m sorry.”

 Charlotte wrote down her number and quickly turned for the door, “Thank you for your hospitality by the way. And for your compliance.”

 “That’s quite alright,” she replied, “Will you be ok my dear?”

 “I just need a little rest.” She said, “I’ll be fine.”

 “Good, don’t be afraid. Sable would never hurt someone. She just thinks she’s doing what’s right, I might be all she has left around here.”

 Charlotte nodded and walked to her car, Evelyn watched her climb in, “I’ll be ready early tomorrow morning!” she cried, getting little but a distraught nod from Charlotte.

 Charlotte closed the door and drove off leaving Evelyn at the doorway; she could hear the earth of Cumbria groan underfoot, the bare trees sway in the winds, “I have to go.” She said quietly, “Sable, I’m sorry to leave you. But this might be my destiny.”

            The car drove slowly down the country road, the headlights lightning up bare branches and signs as she came to a solid tarmac road that led back to the town. A muddy trail of prints made its way across the floor to the side of the road where Charlotte looked and saw both Sable and her dog at the roadside. The dog’s tail kept wagging while Sable tilted her head with a mournful expression. Charlotte stared back at her unrelenting, feeling much more secure now

 “I’m sorry,” she mouthed to Sable through the glass, “Be at peace.”

The ghost rolled her head and turned to the trees, then climbed through, disappearing as a silhouette that faded into the scrub. The dog stared up at Charlotte and tilted its head. Then turned back sharply, alerted by a sound Charlotte could not hear. It ran after her bounding into the twigs and bushes, flushing out a few birds chasing after its mistress’ into the Cumbrian Mountains again.

            Charlotte turned back and stared down the road as she came towards the town, she could feel the uneasy sickness of the world still spinning, but now it brought her peace in knowing the moment had passed. She was away from the ghosts, and hopefully the ghosts would move on. 

The End

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