Ghost story

This story is a work of fiction. I visited an Elizabethan house and let my imagination take over.

There is a grave in the church yard behind this house. In Memory of Emily Chalkhill of Chalkhill Manor House who Departed this Life August the 12th 1743. Aged 23 years. Her epitaph reads:

‘My friends who passeth by;
Look to the side of the court yard way;
Here upon the season so jolly;
He taketh my life by immature folly;
To Heaven I was prematurely called;
A life unlived – I curse you still’.

I’m hiding behind the third panel on the right hand side of the door. You can’t see me but I feel you sense me. You’re glancing uneasily in my direction as Helen tells you the story of my mistress Emily Chalkhill. She’s a pretty accurate tour guide, I’ll give her that. She embellishes the story her, misses bits out there; but still. Perhaps you’re psychic – you’re staring at the wall now, looking puzzled. Making you feel uncomfortable, am I?

I miss Emily, she was my best friend. I didn’t choose to work here, but as the daughter of a farmer I knew there would be no dowry and I’d reached the marriageable age of twelve so chose this over father marrying me off against my wishes. ‘Believe me Sarah’, my mother advised, ‘girls of our class have no choice. It’s a good position in a reputable house’. Emily was twenty one. She had no family of her own so we quickly became close.

The party celebrating the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ had been in full swing since 7 pm and some of the merry makers were drunk. You know, spoiling for a fight. This wasn’t the first time – they’d been known to wassail until the cock crowed several times that long hot summer. Tormenting the strange hermit over the lane because he lived alone and rumour had it he’d killed his brother. He made us uneasy and seemed cold and unfriendly, but Emily and I would never have bullied him like they did.

We watched out of the window – the one you’re looking out of now. Things had got out of control. We flew down the stairs with the coach man and into the courtyard below. There was much shouting and arguing – the mob were chanting, making fun of Mr. Sullivan, battering on his front door, provoking him, until like a trapped animal he retaliated...

What happened next was nasty, violent and brutal. His front door gave way with their last almighty shove. Mr. Sullivan flew out in a terrible rage with a roar, brandishing his 32” barrel grouse gun, shooting wildly into the crowd.

Mr poor, dear, Emily! She took the full force of the blast in her pretty face. ‘I curse you Will Sullivan’ she cried as she slumped to the floor, her body writhing with spasms of pain. We looked on in horror as her life’s blood ebbed away.

Emily’s grave lies in the churchyard – just to the left of the window – there, see? Are you sure you’re not psychic? You have that puzzled look on your face again as you glance my way whilst the rest of your group crane their necks, peering through the window as Helen points towards her grave.

William Sullivan literally got away with murder although he was clearly provoked. He pleaded diminished responsibility under extreme provocation and escaped the death penalty. He was placed under house arrest and lived peacefully in his farmhouse until his death fifteen years later in 1758. Buried anonymously in the churchyard. Call that justice?

I’m so lonely without Emily. You see, unlike me, she didn’t return here after her death. You mortals think that ghosts don’t know they’re dead and are unable to move on. That’s not true. I chose to stay. Waiting. Waiting for Emily to return.

Your tour group are moving on – don’t linger, they’ll notice. Stop staring at me like that. Ghosts are like mortals. Sometimes we sense you. Sometimes we don’t. It’s the same for you. I can sense you all right. Maybe you do have the gift after all.

You’re all wrong about the face in the window though. The one Helen’s told you is Emily looking out of the back bedroom? That’s me. Watching. Puzzling. Waiting. Willing Emily back so we can plan our retaliation, serve the justice that William’s ghost deserves. The anguish and heartache manifests and grows exponentially within my spirit. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century. Will’s lurking there, in the graveyard. I can hear him. I can sense him. I can frighten him. I’m still waiting. Waiting for Emily. Planning my revenge. Our revenge. I can bide my time.

After all, I have forever...
I’m hiding behind the third panel on the right hand side of the door...

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