a ghost story…..
The woman passed her hand through her gray hair, her fingers sliding down the strands until they reached a knot. Her head bended slightly to the right, under the weight of her thin and wrinkled arm. She fixed her eyes on a spot on the wall, the inert covering of the dark room. Small points of light were dancing there, like the eyes of a wolf – a dark hunter, captured by the moon, an unfaithful lover. And she could see those eyes laughing at her old and crippled body, at her loneliness made even more depressing by the creaking sound of the rocking chair. Sometimes, she put her hand to her throat, stifled and astonished, unable to hear her own voice, begging the persistent fever to grant her just a few more days of life. And her soul descended into a deep pit of echoes, her long dress of thick black material was caught under the legs of the chair, muffling the only sound that kept her in the world of the living, as though that old house, with many sparsely furnished rooms, could be associated with the living. For her it was a mortuary chamber without luxury, jewels or eyes of precious stones reflecting the twilight, idol of the dead. But the wolf that was staring at her, bodiless and featureless, hid, in its entrails of imaginary animal, a young lover. A man who people said had never existed but whose touch she still kept in her bosom. That was when she placed her fingers between her breasts and felt a palpitation, the thin skin covering her bones, exuding bitterness, the taste of pain. And the beads of sweat continued to moisten her body, making it tremble when they were touched by the cold wind blewing in from the garden as though they knew they had not much time left. But, for her, the seconds were counted by the creak of the floorboards, laments for the old and bitter company with so gloomy instincts that they perturbed even poor Anne sleeping downstairs. The girl complained about her sleeplessness and nightmares, and the old woman could hear her breathing in the night, as loud and frightening as that of an animal. Sometimes she heard that same sound when Anne brought her tea after dusk. She did not need to turn her head, just felt a cold air behind her ear and, when she could finally see Anne approaching, she encountered that youthful figure, a lean face, thin lips and a frail body, standing in the shadow of her bedside candle – a girl with the features of a child. But during those days when the past filled Jane’s veins with such guilt, that she could not even move, the girl had the shape of a nun, carrying close to her breast a shadowy rosary that the old woman could never touch to ask for absolution.
And, then, the face of a wolf came over Anne’s expressionless features and the woman would lose all desire for her company. With trembling hands, Jane pushed the cup away, her large dress wrapping her body that withered day after day, as if to still keep some warmth in that skeleton. But she felt no warm and, on this night, she did not need to stir herself since Anne had not yet opened the door. She threw her hands back, imagining a silvery brilliance on the window sill, an absurd desire on a moonless night. And a chill compressed her joints, the frozen hands of a man intent on seducing her again.
Jane gazed into the surrounding emptiness, her life after death. She searched for him, but no one was there.
Anne passed her hand across her bony knee, raised her dress, revealing a paler skin where the candlelight could not reach, a colour of flower petals that threatened to fall in the despair of autumn. It was when skins lost the sun colour, the warmth absorbed by the cold earth. Her bare, white feet showed the veins and purple nails. She believed that the hands of the dead could touch the floor, begging for warmth, looking for the dim light from the eyes of the living. And she was afraid that they could see her frail figure, suck her from that world, tearing her skin. She was still searching for some flesh on her limbs, imagining them already crystallized on the hard bedstead. The bed was placed in a corner of the room, reached by neither sun nor moonlight. And, in the morning, if someone opened the door would find her rolled up in her sheets, a misshapen mummy waiting in vain for a golden ray, a touch of colour on the sealed tomb of a poor queen, the brazen objects waiting for some shine.
Darkness now enveloped her eyes, reached the door and the ceiling, met the black in Jane’s dress, the old woman living upstairs. Anne knew the chair would rock alone in the night, as if invisible hands controlled it from a distance. She would go to Jane’s room only after dusk, when the wolves came out. And she would make the sign of the cross when she heard that far away cry. The call of the animal that the woman imagined dressed Anne’s fair skin with a golden fur mantle. The lover searching for Jane’s body, a glitter of fire in her eyes.
to be continued….