Want FREE books and FREE Amazon gift cards?
Each day we announce via email a book that is either FREE or on a temporary sale at a great discount price. These are not your average free books. These are incredible insider deals on well-rated books. OnlineBookClub.org is where tomorrow's bestsellers are born. We also give away over $1,000 per month of free Amazon gift cards in free daily giveaways, exclusively to those signed up to these announcements! Hurry, sign up free now:
By Karolina Blaha-Black
“Dear Mother,” she pleaded. “I haven’t heard from him for months. I don’t want him to be dead, please, let it not be so. War is a necessary thing, but I want us to be together again. Please return him to me at all costs.”
Mary broke off into a desperate sob. Without him, she felt alone and lost. They were supposed to get married… and she waited for so long! Mary wiped her eyes on the corner of her apron and called the servant to start making dinner. The girl, noticing that she had cried, gave her an understanding look and hurried off downstairs. All the servants loved the lady of this small Maryland farm and her love for Edgar was well-known to them all. They only hoped that he’s going to come back alive from the warfront.
It took a while for Mary to compose herself, and then she decided to check on her ailing mother. She left the room, quietly closing the door behind her, and followed the servant downstairs. In the deserted room the framed picture of Virgin Mary swung once, twice and fell on the floor, shattering to pieces.
The next morning Mary was shopping in town. She sent her servant, Cecilia, to the butcher’s to buy beef and also to the bakery to buy baked goods. While the girl was shopping, Mary chatted happily on the sidewalk with the ladies of the town, happy to be relieved of her daily struggles with reality. As the snow started to fall, conversations ceased and the ladies went to their homes. Mary stepped onto her carriage, waiting for Cecilia to come back with their supplies.
All of a sudden, a man, dressed like a soldier, came to her carriage and looked up at her sitting at the passenger seat.
“Do you still remember me, Mary?” he asked.
“Allan! Of course I remember you!” she exclaimed, happy to see a familiar face. Allan and Edgar have been friends forever, fighting together at the warfront. After exchanging a few necessary niceties, Mary was eager to know about Edgar.
“That’s why I’m here,” answered Allan. “He’s injured and needs your help. You must come with me immediately.”
“Now?” Mary said. “But I can’t just leave, my mother is sick. Is Edgar not well taken care of?”
“No. He’s injured and is hiding in an old chapel in the cemetery. The country is full of Rebels. I was able to slip by, just to let you know. You must come with me and bring him home to safety. It is his wedding wish.”
A wedding wish! Mary’s heart skipped a beat. That’s what she’s been hoping for all these years! Her prayer has been answered and they are finally going to get married.
“Send Cecilia back with the carriage,” Allan urged, pointing at the servant, who has returned from her errands. “You’ll be back in a day or two. Besides, I have a faster means of transport-we need to travel light and fast.”
He pointed to two jet black horses, standing under the snow-capped trees, neighing and ready to go.
“But it’s starting to snow heavily,” Mary still opposed. “You could come to the farm until the weather gets better and then we could be on our way.”
“We can’t wait,” his voice took on a stricter tone. “He’s hurt and we’ll be there in no time if you hurry. Besides, I came all this way just for you.”
The two horses flew like arrows across the snowy Maryland countryside. The heavy wind and snow has subsided. Bundled up in her coat with Cecilia’s red wool shawl over her head, the journey was actually quite pleasant. She enjoyed the fast run. Her side-saddle was comfortable and her horse had a smooth stride. They rushed through the countryside and the snow on the treetops sparkled. She trusted Allan. Him and Edgar have been friends since childhood, and she knew that Edgar trusted Allan with his life.
All of a sudden, the horses stopped as if on command- it almost threw her out of the saddle. They stood on one spot, shaking and neighing unhappily, as if something kept them from going further. Allan turned in his saddle and gave Mary a severe look, as if punishing a small child for something she wasn’t supposed to do.
“What’s wrong with the horses?” Mary asked, perplexed.
“We’re getting closer, and I told you we need to travel light. The horses won’t go on if they have to carry a heavy load. What do you have in your sack?”
“Medicines for Edgar, my Bible and my rosary,” she said.
“Throw it all away,” he said. “That will just keep us.”
“But isn’t Edgar injured? He’ll need these medicines,” Mary said, confused.
“No need for medicines,” retorted Allan. “I have no time to explain things to your right now. Everything in good time.”
Mary couldn’t imagine how one sackfull could be such a burden, but she obeyed and threw the sack into the snow with regret. It landed in the deep white snow with a thud. They urged their horses to go on, but the animals just stood there covered in sweat, their eyes wide with unexplainable fear. Allan turned around again, and this time his tone was close to angry.
“You never learn, do you? What’s keeping us from going now?”
“I don’t know,” Mary said, confused. “I don’t carry anything else.”
Allan looked at her chest and pointed at something. “That,” he said. “That golden cross. Throw it away. It’s keeping the horses from going further.”
“Never,” said Mary, feeling that now is the time to stand her ground. “My father gave this to me. It’s the only memory I have of him.”
Allan looked at her. In his eyes there was anger, but also fear. He said quietly and menacingly, “Do you want to get married? Do you want to help your future husband? It is your duty as a future wife to obey his wedding wish. Now throw that away, or I will let you stay here by yourself and sooner or later the wolves will get you.”
Mary bit her lips. She wasn’t used to this kind of treatment and Edgar will definitely hear of this. With regret, she threw the cross into the snow and they were on their way. The horses now ran so fast that she couldn’t see anything at all for the wind and snow in her face. Her hair under the shawl had started to freeze. She glanced at Allan riding in front of her-she didn’t see any indication that he was cold, in fact, this person didn’t even act and seem like the Allan she used to know. And along with her doubts, fear came creeping its way into her heart.
Just when she thought that she’ll freeze to death they came to a dead stop in front of an old cemetery. Some of the gravestones had fallen over, some stood covered with snow, like broken teeth grasping at a morsel of food. There was an old chapel in the middle of the cemetery. The place gave Mary the chills, especially because it was now close to midnight.
“Come with me,” said Allan. Mary followed him reluctantly through the creaky iron gate into the cemetery and to the chapel. The thought of Edgar gave her hope and helped her to conquer the fear rising in her. She dragged her feet through the heavy snow, barely keeping up with Allan’s quick pace.
“Edgar’s inside,” said Allan. “Go in, I still have to take care of the horses. Edgar will be very glad to see you,” he added with a smirk. He opened the heavy wooden door and pushed her in, none too gently.
Mary looked around. The inside of the chapel was cold and dark, and it took her a while to get her eyes adjusted to the darkness. She saw plain wooden benches with ethereal bodies of soldiers on them, covered with a military cloth. Mary watched with horror as the five soldiers got up and stretched their limbs. She stood with her back to the door, unable to move. One of the soldiers came closer to her. It was Edgar in his uniform, a bloody stain where his heart used to be. The ghostly apparition extended his hands as if in an embrace.
“Mary dear,” he said. “You came after all. We’ll get married now like I promised you. We’ll have a great life.”
Mary shrieked and the other soldiers came out of the dusk, floating and staggering toward her. Some had eyes missing, legs torn off, or had other injuries, their faces crippled by death.
“Leave me alone Edgar, go rest in peace,” Mary whispered.
“Oh no, my dear,” he said with an ugly laughter. “You are mine. Isn’t this what you wished for? Us to be together again? ”
Mary found the strength to turn around and pound on the door with her fists.
“Allan! Allan help me, let me out! Allan, please!”
The door flew open and the ethereal form of Allan stood there, holding two ghostly black horses by their reins. A bullet hole wound was gaping in the middle of his forehead where he had been shot. He grabbed Mary’s arm and flung her into Edgar’s embrace. She gasped, feeling the ghost’s cold substance on her skin, sucking the life out of her.
“You were always a good friend, Allan,” said Edgar. “Would you mind being my first man?”
Mary shrieked again as Edgar pulled her close to him to kiss her. She knew that Edgar’s kiss meant death, but her limbs no longer listened to her, she didn’t have the strength to fight back. The other ghost soldiers drew closer in anticipation. Suddenly she heard a rooster crow in the distance, and the ghost soldiers disappeared, slowly dissipated into the darkness of the old chapel. Mary fainted.
“You are safe now, honey. What happened to you? We found you here in the chapel all alone, laying on the floor senseless.”
Mary listened quietly to the soft voice of the woman leaning over her. Around the woman, a throng of people from a nearby small town was standing and talking in low, concerned voices. Mary was happy that she’s still alive. She’ll return home as soon as she gets well enough to travel. And she will also make sure that she’s careful what she wishes for from now on.
- A. Beauchamp.
The plot was simple and easy to understand, which only enhances the effect of your writing. Either that, or I really just missed this kind of writing after going through several of the 100K word-count fiestas that I keep seeing in the bookstores. Regardless of my personal bias, this was well-written.
- A. Beauchamp.