Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sunday Spookies: Loss Stronger Than Death

The sun warmed the backs of the young couple as they stood side by side in front of the priest.  They held hands and stole quick glances and shy smiles as they listened to the priest's advise about a long and prosperous marriage.  Soon he reached the most symbolic part of this sacred ceremony and the two exchanged their I do's.  Then the groom leaned close and stole a quick put passionate kiss.  They pulled away smiling.  Neither had ever felt so elated in their entire lives.  He bent down and swept his new bride up into his arms and held her tight as he walked them both back down the isle made by the makeshift benches.
Their friends and family greeted them both warmly and hugs and kisses were freely given.  A reception of sorts was held at the local camp center where all of the miners meals were served.  It was a joyous occasion that ended all to quickly.
The young couple moved into one of the camp houses.  But they were lucky enough to have one that had its own kitchen and a separate bedroom.  They were so happy and knew that they would live happily ever after.
The husband went to the mines every morning.  His wife would wake before he did and lovingly prepare his breakfast, then go in and gently wake her sleeping husband with a soft kiss on his cheek.
"Get up my love," she would tell him every morning.  He would rouse himself with a smile on his face and love in his eyes.  They were truly in love.
While he ate his breakfast of fried potatoes and eggs she would make and pack him a lunch, along with a few candles.
"It's just in case you get lost."  She would tell him when he chided her for wasting precious light.  "I want you always to return to me.  I couldn't bear to live without you."
"Oh," he would say casually. "You would forget me within the month!"
She would swat at him and look deeply offended.  He would laugh and swat her on the behind.  They would both giggle and he would sweep her into an embrace and say, "You know I will always come back, I will never leave you alone." 
They lived in their little bubble of happiness for quite a while.  But then as often happens she began to long for a child.  Her womb had still not been filled and she found herself looking on all the young pregnant women in the mining camp with envy. 
One night after she had had a particularly bad day after spending the entire day washing clothes down at the small ravine with three other women, all of whom had children or were pregnant.  When her husband came home she lashed out at him about everything that he did.  After yelling back at his wife he left in a fury.  So furious was he that he left without shoes or coat.
His wife, after cooling down and thinking more rationally realized what she had done.  She ran out of the door trying to find her husband.  She looked everywhere but could not find him.  She started to ask her neighbors if she had seen him.  They all shook their heads and shut their doors.  Finally she approached the entrance to the mining portal where her husband was working.
All the men near the tunnel turned and stared at her with shocked expressions.  Others made signs to ward off bad omens.  Women were never supposed to approach the mines.  It was said that anytime a woman came close to the mine disaster struck.  Women were banned from all mining shafts and even the offices of the mines.
The woman tried to ask several men if they had seen her husband, the men turned away from her and pretended as if she wasn't there.  The closer she got to the mine the more desperate she became.
Suddenly she spotted her neighbor, she ran and clung to his shirt in desperation, "Please, have you seen my husband?"
"Get off me woman, you know you should't be her'.  I say yer husban', he wen' to the tunnels, now go home.  'Ill be home soon."
"Thank you." She said with feeling.
But rather than going home she slowly made her way to the end of the small canyon road that led to the mines portal.  She found a large stone that sat warming itself in the last of the fading sunlight.
She made herself comfortable and began her long wait.  She waited and waited.   And soon she fell into a fitful sleep upon the hard stone.
Some hours later she was awakened by the sound of panic.  As she opened her eyes she looked around her as men were sprinting down the canyon road.  As they passed she yelled to the first few "What's happened?  Is everything alright, why is everyone running?"
One man turned and pointed at her with hate in his eyes, "This is all your fault lassie, you came to when you knew it would only cause trouble.  Now because of you there's been a cave in and men are lost in the tunnels!"  He screamed at her.
Thoroughly shaken by this man's tirade she shrank back down onto the boulder and waited as dozens of men fled past her.  She waited and watched for her husband to come.
She waited, and she waited until the men quit coming.  Soon rescue personnel returned and clambered up the mountainside.  Then she waited, and she waited.
After much time had passed several men on stretchers were brought carefully and slowly down the rocky road.  She recognized one of the men as her neighbor.  She ran to him and held his hand.
"Are you ok?"  She asked in earnest.  He gingerly shook his head yes.
"Did you see my husband, did you see John?"
"Yes,"  he croaked with a lung full of black coal dust.  "He's still in there.  They'll find him."  And then he was carried off.
The wife returned to her post and waited and waited.  The night turned to day and still she waited.
Day began to darken into twilight and a kind woman from the camp brought her something to eat.  She thanked the women and continued to wait.
She waited night and day for a week in the hopes that her husband would walk down from the mountain and take her in his arms and tell her that he loved her and that he forgave her.
After that first week people began to stop bringing her food and water, soon they forgot about the poor young widow that continually sat at the bottom of the road with the hopes of glimpsing her lost husband.
After two weeks the mine officially declared her husband dead, but still she waited.
Slowly she began to waste away, becoming more gaunt with every passing day.  She sat minding her vigil for two straight months.  Never speaking, never taking her eyes from the road.
One day the miner's as they were changing shifts found her lying on the sun warmed boulder.  But her frail thin body was cold as death when a kind man tried to rouse her.
It is said that she still wanders the canyon in her white wedding gown in the dark of night and that if you sit quietly in the old abandoned buildings you can hear the white lady desperatly calling for her beloved husband.


Mimi said...

This is a beautifiul, sad story, Heidi. I kept thinking "if only she hadn't said the harsh words", but that's what we do sometimes, isn't it,?
Thanks for your visit to mine, re the ball, it was a cyber ball, but wonderful, I put the link at the Willow bit in that post if you want to go have a look. 250 people were there, and what fun we had!

Hootin Anni said...

Oh my gosh....this is scary, poignant and a reality check if I ever read one! Excellent.

Popping in this morning to tell you I posted your lovely award you sent my way. Thanks again Heidi.

kayerj said...

great rewrite of a scary local legend. I think I like your version best out of all I've heard.

Tabitha Blue said...

Wow, great writing... and what an intense story! It's a good reminder to look at how we treat our husbands :)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

This is a very intense story, Heidi....very interesting stuff. I'm gathering you wrote's a great one and very hard hitting.

Hootin Anni said...


There is an award for you on my Tuesday Blog....[scroll down to the last's yours!!]

Have a TERRORific Tuesday!

Janae S said...

Well done! I like your version of the white lady!