House of Shadows ...Trying to Romance a Ghost
makes me conceive how dark I have become…
Shakespeare said conscience makes cowards of us all, but I think taking time to reflect on anything makes us doubt our original perceptions.
And I was certainly full of qualms that next morning as I sipped my coffee in the bright May sunlight. The idea of contacting Blythe Summers’ spirit seemed as absurd as participating in a séance.
I had already told Stella the play of light in the house was unique, and was chagrined to think my over-active imagination had run away on me. Really—how foolish of me to think such a thing—mistaking a shadow for a real person! I put the thought out of my head and focused on more mundane matters, like searching for gardening services.
By noon, however, I was thoroughly bored. Strangely, the process of interviewing prospective gardeners can weigh on the soul and be quite depressing—who knew?
I poured a glass of lemonade and wandered out into the gardens, inhaling the citron scent of budding leaves and imagining the barren branches blossoming into a leafy canopy overhead.
I sauntered down the garden toward the ravine and stumbled over some brickwork overgrown by grass. I put down my lemonade on a nearby low brick wall and looked more closely at the turf beneath my feet. I could discern the faint outlines of some sort of brickwork design.
I wanted to cut back the grass to get a better look at the pattern, and seeing there was a garden shed nearby, I checked inside and found an old push-style lawnmower I could use.
I wheeled the machine back to the area and ran it over the faint design feature I wanted to see. Sure enough, there was a distinct circular pattern of interlocking bricks. I now was eager to see the whole pattern, so began mowing in earnest, and finally, when I was through, I could see the obvious shape of a garden maze. I was delighted.
I recognized the design as a turf maze, a pattern similar to ones I saw in Europe in the great cathedrals. I recalled the tour guide saying penitents would often follow the twisting paths, crawling on their hands and knees as a type of penance to expiate sins.
It crossed my mind to wonder what sins Blythe Summer might be trying to expunge.
I retrieved my glass of lemonade, took a sip and studied the pattern in the lawn. Out of idle curiosity, I began following a path through the maze. I found it quite relaxing and peaceful.
I naturally fell into a rhythm, stopping at certain points, and then continuing along my little pilgrimage. When I completed the circuit, I felt refreshed—not cleansed, I told myself, but definitely more peaceful and relaxed.
I returned to the house, entering through the patio doors and placed my empty lemonade glass on the island counter. As I turned to go into the parlor, I was shocked to see a woman standing in the dining room, staring at me.
“Who are you?” she asked, as if I were intruding in her home.
“I’m Theo Wesley, the owner. And who are you and what are you doing in my house?”
“You shouldn’t be here,” she said and turned to go.
It was then that I recognized her as Blythe Summer. I don’t know what I was expecting—a ghost, a transparent wraith, a shade perhaps, but certainly not a flesh and blood young woman in a lovely yellow blouse.
“No, wait—please, Blythe—don’t go.”
She stopped, her eyes wide, as she looked at me curiously.
“I don’t know you.”
“Can’t you just stay a moment and talk?” The words were out of me before I could censor them.
“Why would I talk to you?”
“Because I love your poems—I always have from the first moment I read them.”
“All of them, but especially the poems of spring. I read your Segues—they led me here.”
She paused reflecting on that for a moment. “Are you the intruder who surprised me the other day?”
“Yes, but actually, I think I was more surprised than you—and I’m not an intruder. I purchased this house.”
“I find that hard to believe,” she said haughtily. “I haven’t offered Sombra for sale.”
“Look, Miss Summers, I know you must find this weird, but I’m living in a different time from you. I think I’ve stumbled on some method that allows our paths to cross somehow.”
She snickered sarcastically, “Oh, you certainly are amusing. And what time do you claim to be from?”
She wasn’t buying what I was selling. I’d hate to be a Fuller Brush man in the Thirties knocking on her door.
“I’m from the 21st century—80 years or more in your future.”
“I see.” A smile darkened her mouth. “That might explain the curious outfit you’re wearing.”
I looked down at my Hawaiian shirt, belted beige cargo shorts and sandals.
I colored and grinned at her ruefully, “The Gary Cooper look is not fashionable in the future.”
“And why should I believe you, Mr. Wesley? Really, this is a most preposterous story.”
An idea hit me. I reached into my pocket and extracted my iPhone. “Here’s proof. Do you have devices like this in the 1930’s?” I asked smugly.
She pixilated, and slowly dissolved right before my eyes.