First Rewrite/Second Draft: THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931 (*In It's Entirety*)
As it was with the Prologue, the second draft/first rewrite of THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931 offers alot more detail that may assist better in reading the future installments of the first draft. So here it is in it's entirety.
And after I get some sustenance, I'll be getting the next chapter of the first draft Book 1 up.
Also, I posted some unedited, in no particular order excerpts from Book 2! Check them out here if you haven't yet.
THE TIME IN BETWEEN
Kimimela was wrenched from her sleep.She sat up in bed, pressing her palms against
the cool sheets that were spread over the goose feathered mattress as she tried
to calm her now rapid breathing and heartrate.She let out a breath and pushed back a few strands of her hair that were
matted to her face by the beads of sweat across on her forehead.Kimimela had seen them again, having seen the
two young women repeatedly over the passed three months after she had gone to
As Kimimela’s nerves began to calm, she turned her gaze over
to her husband, Jonathan, who lay asleep in bed next to her.His bare chest moved with the rhythm of his
breathing.A small smile played across
Kimimela’s lips.Watching her husband in
a peaceful sleep was enough to take away any fear she had after awaking
from…whatever it was that was occurring while she slept.
“I don’t know what I would do without you right now,” she
whispered to Jonathan.Just seeing him
was enough to make any darkness in her world appear brighter.She thought of waking him.It would be nice to have him holding her
right now and feeling his lips on her hair.There were a few nights in the beginning of those last three months when
she did wake him because the dreams (or
were they simply dreams?) were so vivid and terrifying.Of course, Jonathan would take her into his
arms without asking any questions as she came down from her near catatonic
state of anxiety that followed the dreams.He would sit with her through the night, too worried about her to fall
back asleep even if he had to get up early for work or some other business that
needed tending to. There were also some
nights when Jonathan’s comforting would turn into a lot more, which would
definitely take away any initial fear or anxiety she felt.
Kimimela wanted so much to hear Jonathan’s voice comforting
her at that moment and to have him bring her close to him.But she hesitated when she remembered how his
worrying for her had escalated when they had discovered her pregnancy a month
I can’t keep doing
this to him, she thought.We’re going to have plenty of sleepless
nights when the little one comes.
Kimimela placed a hand on her stomach, which was still flat
as she hadn’t begun to show yet.According to her symptoms, she was about three months along, being two
months when she and Jonathan knew for sure.
these…dreams...started probably at around the time we conceived…
Kimimela made the decision to not wake Jonathan that time.
“Just sleep peacefully tonight, my love,” she whispered as
she brought her fingertips to stroke the side of his face.Jonathan stirred, but did not awaken and at
that moment, that was something that Kimimela was relieved for.They had been married for a little over a
year at that time and the child that Kimimela was currently carrying would be
their first.Kimimela turned her head
and looked toward the window at the waxing moon that peered in through the
small opening in the curtains.She sat
thinking of the last two years since she had met Jonathan.He had given her so many firsts.He had been the first boy she truly fell in
love with, the first to kiss her, the first to intimately touch her, and—after
they had gotten married—the first to be with her as a lover.Images of their wedding night began to flood
back to her:the first time seeing
Jonathan naked and having him look at her without clothing with the combination
of love and lust in his eyes, him touching and kissing her body…
Kimimela looked back down toward the hand on her stomach,
thinking of how just on the other side, a child was growing.One that was half of her and half of
Jonathan.She remembered her first time
meeting Jonathan and seeing him ride Samson along her favorite secluded
trail.Kimimela had ventured out by
herself that day, something she did often despite her father’s warnings of wandering
alone on the frontier.She had
discovered that area one day during the spring of her thirteenth year.The second she had taken that first step onto
that small pocket of a wooded trail, she felt home, like she was supposed to be
there and once she had found that special area, she wanted to return everyday.The trail delighted her and she fell in love
with the peace and serenity it offered.It was her escape from her village and from the world, becoming her
private and special place.She was the
only one who knew of it and she had never seen so much as another human
footprint upon the path.Which was why
she was shocked and slightly dismayed on that day in June of 1844 when she saw
someone coming toward her, down the trail on a large, black horse.
Two days prior to 1844’s Summer Solstice, Kimimela had gone
out on as she would have any other day.There was something different about the air and the Earth’s energy that
morning and it was strong enough to give her skin chills, despite the warm,
late summer afternoon.She didn’t know
why, but she felt as though something was urging her to the trail, practically
hurrying her along.Kimimela had arrived
at the trail, feeling as happy to see it as ever, though it seemed different
that day.The feelings she had puzzeled
her, but she chose to keep her mind on the fact that she was here, at her
special place, where nothing could go wrong or hurt her.
Kimimela had entered the trail, walking slowly and taking in
her surroundings.She began singing to
herself, a Sioux love song that she knew from her village.The choice of song was unexpected and surprised
her, but she went with it, singing as the breeze moved through the thick
strands of her hair.She had stopped
short as her small state of paradise was intererrupted by her noticing that she
was not alone on the trail.She froze at
the site of the black horse and the strong young man who rode it.That was the first time that Jonathan and
Kimimela had laid eyes on one another.She remembered taking in his slightly suntanned skin that was fairer
than hers and his thick, wavy, dark brown hair that ended just above his shirt
collar.But what really caught Kimimela
were his grayish-blue eyes.They were
the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen on anyone.
Kimimela stood planted on the trail, watching as Jonathan
brought his horse to a halt.Despite finding
him to be incredibly handsome, she felt angry with him for invading her
beautiful place.Then she was
frightened.She had never been this
close to a white man before and her first impulse had been to run away, back to
her village.But she remained planted as
her legs failed to move.
Kimimela had tried hard to keep her body from shaking as she
refused to show this young white man any fear.Even if his intention was to hurt or kill her, she wouldn’t back down
without some form of a fighting chance.She knew that some whitefolk did treat American natives with kindness
while others did not.She had stood,
hoping and praying to all spirits that this young man was among the former.
As she watched Jonathan dismount Samson, her stomach seemed
to be doing somersaults and when he began walking toward her, she felt as
thought it were plunging down to her knees.Kimimela stood, trying to keep her breathing as calm and still as she
could.And then she got a better look at
his eyes.It was his eyes that captivated her that day.Part of that was because she had never known
anyone with eyes of the same color or even anything similar.Unlike her father and some of the other men
in her village, Kimimela had never interacted with anyone outside of her
village until that first afternoon with Jonathan Blake.
Aside from their fascinating color, Kimimela noticed
something else about the young man’s eyes.There was a gentlness and warmth that was reflected.He was not regarding her as someone who had
wanted to do her harm.Kimimela looked
up into them and felt as though she were peering right into Jonathan’s
soul.She could tell he was very open
and was the type to wear his heart on his sleeve.A very genuine person with a big, open
heart.This put her at ease and she
could also hear the elements humming around her as though they were also trying
to assure her that she needn’t worry about this young man.But when Jonathan had gotten close enough to
be able to speak to her, Kimimela’s initial fear took over, causing her to flee
the trail and return to her village as quickly as her legs would carry her.
One could say that Kimimela had also fallen in love with
Jonathan that first day, but that wouldn’t prevent her from staying put in her
village over the next two days.She
walked around in a state of confusion as she was unable to erase her meeting
with Jonathan from her mind.She could
feel her strong feelings for the young man growing the more she thought about
him which led to feelings of shame.Then, she would be ashamed for feeling ashamed in the first place.Kimimela couldn’t deny that the idea of
falling for a white man scared her.What
if others in her village found out?What
if her father found out?How would they
all react?Would she be austrocized?Kimimela’s father, Howahkan, respected man in
their village.He was a medicine man and
known for being very reasonable.But it
was still expected for his daughter to eventually marry a young brave, whether
he would be someone from her village and tribe or another.Kimimela had heard of instances where a
member of a native tribe would marry a white man or woman.Sometimes those instances would turn out well
and, at times, not so well.Even so, it
was strongly encouraged to marry within the tribe or at least the race.
Kimimela had gone for those two days without telling anyone
of her encounter with Jonathan.She even
kept it from her best friend, Chante, and actually managed to elude her
all-too-curious little sister, Mapiyah.Barely
a second went by without Jonathan being on Kimimela’s mind.She could tell that Chante and Mapiyah both
noticed that something was weighing heavily on Kimimela.Kimimela found ways to elude them, but she
knew she couldn’t do that for long.
There was part of Kimimela that was angry with Jonathan for
invading what she saw as being her own special place and angry that she met him
and angry that she was going through all of this anxiety in the first
place.She wondered if he had returned
to the trail, searching for her again.Part of her wanted to return and see if he had as part of her did want
to see him again.But it also saddened
her to think that she may have lost her favorite place.Kimimela lay awake that night with images of
Jonathan on his horse playing though her mind.She saw his grayish-blue eyes, regarding her in a way that made her
unafraid of being with him.She was
unable to control her fascination with him and the gentleness in his eyes was
enough to make her heart melt.Then
something else occurred to her.She
remembered how he hadn’t persued her when she ran from him.There had been plenty of opportunity for him
to do her harm if that had been his intention.Kimimela also felt slightly disappointed that he hadn’t tried to run
That following morning, Kimimela could feel the Earth’s
elements reacting urgently around her.
Go back to the trail, they
were telling her and that was all they would say.And that evening, she decided to make an
attempt at returning to her beloved trail.She couldn’t deny hoping to being led to cross paths again with the
young man, but there was half of her hoping that he would not return and she
would just be able to return to the life she knew in her village.Kimimela thought of how complicated things could
possibly become if she and the young man were to end up taking a mutual liking
to one another.But in the end, she
decided to follow where the elements were taking her.And as childish as it probably seemed,
Kimimela considered the trail to be her place and if her own father couldn’t
prevent her from being there, she certainly wasn’t going to let some young man
she hardly knew do it either.As far as
Kimimela was concerned, she had been there first.
Would you never be
able to share it, though? the elements had asked her.It then hit Kimimela that she was
sixteen.Her days of being a child were
drawing to a close and marriage would be something not too far on the horizon
for her.Her older brother, Chayton had
just gotten married to a woman from another village.Kimimela knew that once Chayton had a wife,
she and her twin brother, Sunkwa, weren’t too far behind.
Kimimela’s heart pounded as she returned to the wooded trail,
entering it with her light steps barely making a sound.Her parents had been right to give her a name
that meant ‘butterfly’ in the Sioux language as she had a soft but swift
movement to her and this was especially true anytime she was running.Kimimela valued the freedom she felt when
exploring the open plains and the many hidden jems of the Illinois-Iowa
Territory border (a past-time that she
would soon find she had in common with Jonathan).
Kimimela wouldn’t need to venture too far into the trail
before she would see the same young man coming toward her on his horse
again.Her steps ceased and her heart
beat faster as she saw the large, black horse coming toward her.It was as though they had entered the trail
at the same time from the opposite ends.Kimimela stood watching, this time determined to resist the impulse she had
to run away.She mustered every ounce of
courage in her being and as they had only three days ago, the elements urged
her along.Kimimela continued to walk up
the trail toward him.As they got closer
to one another, she could see that his eyes were fixated on her with that same
warm, gentle, expression combined with some anticipation and relief.
They stopped within inches of one another and Kimimela was
close enough to pet his horse.By that
time, her heart had been pounding so hard she thought it was going to burst out
of her chest.Then, Jonathan smiled
warmly at her and she remembered his words to her that day:
“Please don’t run from
me, love.I’m a man of honor and I mean
you no harm.”
Kimimela had been caught off guard by the sudden term of
endearment.After all, this was only
their second time meeting and they didn’t know each other.At all.But there was another trait of his that deepened her infatuation with
him and made her stay that time.His
Irish brogue.Hearing his voice had the
same affect on her that his eyes had.The gentility that was so prominent in both was enough to tell her that
he really was an honest man of his word.
Kimimela had drawn in a breath.She knew enough English to be able to
communicate with him and she would hear herself telling him her name.Then she would learn his name.Jonathan.They didn’t say much to one another that day, but simply spent that late
afternoon walking together—with Samson trailing behind Jonathan—and took in one
another’s company.Samson had also taken
very well to Kimimela and allowed her to pet him a few times that day.She could feel Jonathan’s eyes on her,
regarding her soft treatment toward the five-year-old horse he had received on
his thirteenth birthday when the black stallion was only a colt of a couple
months.Kimimela had learned that
Jonathan had cared for the stallion as it grew up on the Blakes’ property with
the other animals.
That second time meeting would be enough for Jonathan and
Kimimela to return the following day and almost every day after that.They would meet up with one another during
the weekdays after Jonathan would be done with work.On Saturdays, the two would choose a time during
the day depending on the day’s schedules and on Sundays, their meeting time would
always be sometime after the Blakes were finished with Sunday Mass.Following their meetings together, Jonathan
would always see Kimimela back to her village while maintaining a safe enough
distance where he was out of site from anyone.He would always make sure that Kimimela had entered her village before returning
home for the evening.
Over the course of those following two months, Jonathan and
Kimimela would grow to enjoy the company of one another more than anyone
else’s.Jonathan had held Kimimela’s
hand as they walked the trail together on the third day they had met (after
Jonathan had very bashfully asked for her permission to do so).During that first month, Kimimela also began
to ride Samson with Jonathan.She would
sit in front of him, resting her back against his chest.His arms would be around her as he held onto the
reigns and it would be after one of those rides, before they parted ways for that
mid-July evening, that Jonathan would kiss Kimimela for the first time.
Jonathan had dismounted Samson and then made sure that she
was safely off, as he had always done when Kimimela began riding Samson.They had stood facing one another in an area
near her village as they told one another goodnight and made plans to see
eachother the following day.Their
goodbye seemed to last longer than usual this time and Kimimela saw that
Jonathan’s eyes were more intense than they had been before.Kimimela stood as if hypnotized while
Jonathan slowly brought a hand up to the side of her face, lightly stroking it
before bringing it down to cup her chin.She nearly lost all breath in her body when she saw Jonathan’s face tilt
ever-so-slightly and move in closer to hers.She wondered if she would be waking from a wonderful dream as Jonathan
brushed her lips with his.The kiss
itself was rather chaste, but it was enough to make Kimimela’s body quiver and
leave her yearning for more.She then
felt his mouth brush her earlobe before he whispered, “I love you.I’m falling so deeply in love with you, Kimimela.Each time I see you it’s more than the last.”
For a moment, Kimimela found herself unable to move, her
limbs frozen to her side.But then, as
though a touch of warm sunlight had come to melt the last layers of ice from a
stem that had been unable to move, Kimimela responded to Jonathan’s kiss and
declaration of love by embracing him, wrapping her arms around his firm
“I love you too, Jonathan,” she had said.
A surprised and relieved Jonathan brought his arms to hold
Kimimela before lifting her chin again to give her a more passionate kiss, to
which Kimimela responded with great enthusiasm.
That first kiss would evolve into embraces that were even
more heated, lighting the flame of desire inside of Kimimela that no one else
ever had.There were times she could
feel Jonathan becoming aroused behind the material of his trousers and she
would feel a rush toward her lower abdomen as he would gently nip at her lower
lip with his teeth before trailing his own lips along the side of her face and down
to her neck.As his hands roamed her
back and hips, Kimimela would feel sensations that would almost be her undoing if
Jonathan didn’t stop.And neither ever
There was one afternoon when they almost gave into one
another.Jonathan had been kissing her
deeply, his tongue exploring the inside of her mouth and she had gotten to
returning the act to him.It was the
most intense they had ever been with eachother and it had gotten to where their
bodies were molding into one another so much that it was only their clothing
that prevented Jonathan from entering Kimimela that very moment.They both had wanted to remove their clothes
and give themselves to one another and Jonathan had responded to that by
unbuttoning the top half of his shirt, giving Kimimela a small glimpse at the
muscle definition in his chest.She
responded by pressing her lips to the exposed area of his body and heard him
cry out in response.He had brought a
hand to cup her breast when she saw the eyes of her father, brothers, and late
mother in her mind.That was when she
begged Jonathan to stop, which he did despite what he was feeling at that
“What’s the matter, love?” he had asked her.
“My family…” was all she needed to say for Jonathan to
understand and come out from the animalistic lust he was feeling.
The only barrier that stood between the relationship of
Jonathan and Kimimela coming to full blossom was that of not knowing how either
of their families would react to their relationship and fear of the worst.The possibility of their families forbidding
them to see one another weighed heavily on Jonathan and Kimimela.Jonathan had also told Kimimela that she had
been right to stop him from going any further with her that day.
“I would never be able to forgive myself if I caused you any
disgrace with your father and those in your village,” he had told her.
There had been a moment when their fear had caused them to
consider running away together to avoid having to face any potential issues
with their families.But Jonathan and
Kimimela both had close ties family ties and both wanted their relationship
blessed by them.They had both decided
to inform their families and leave running away to be together as a last
resort.Either way, they were going to
be with eachother.Fate had brought them
both to the person who was supposed to be their mate through life.They both felt it and were not about to be
torn apart.In their meetings together, Jonathan
and Kimimela began trying to come up with how they would approach their
families.They had a couple ideas, but
it would turn out that none of them would be used.
It was late August of that summer of 1844 and Jonathan had
been taking Kimimela out on Samson.They
had been a little more daring that afternoon, venturing away from the secluded trail,
but still taking care to make sure they weren’t seen by anyone.Little did they know that Jonathan’s thirteen-year-old
sister, Frankie, and fifteen-year-old brother, Brendan, had gone out to search
for their older brother.Brendan and
Frankie had decided that they needed Jonathan’s help with fixing something that
had broken in Isaiah’s treehouse.It
would take more searching than Brendan and Frankie would have thought, but the
two siblings would find Jonathan at the edge of the secluded trail.They would also be shocked to find their
older brother in a passionate liplock with a native girl as Samson stood tied to
the side of a tree.
Brendan and Frankie had fled back to the house to wait for
Jonathan and bombarded their older brother with questions and accusations when
he returned home.Knowing that it was
only a matter of time before their parents knew the truth, Jonathan begged his
two younger siblings to let him be the one to tell them the news.
“Are you in love with that Indian girl?” Frankie had
demanded, trotting behind Jonathan as he retreated to the washroom before
dinner that night.
“Can you say that a little louder?I don’t think everybody in town heard you,”
“Well are you?Do you
think you’re going to marry her?” Frankie asked, dropping her voice down to a
“Right now, that is none of your business,” Jonathan had
replied as she shut the door in the face of his younger sister, leaving her to
huff and toss her dark braids as she marched down to the dinner table.
Jonathan’s stomach was in knots as he sat down with the rest
of the family that evening.After his
father asked the blessing, Frankie didn’t care to waste any time before she sweetly
asked her brother, “Jonathan, don’t you have something to tell mum and dad?”
Jonathan felt his heart stop as he tried to maintain control
over the situation.He heard Frankie let
out a yelp when Brendan kicked her under the table.
“Brendan, don’t kick your sister,” Emma scolded.
“But mum,” Brendan protested.
“Brendan, it’s alright,” Jonathan said then he drew in a
breath.“Actually…I do have something to
tell you all…”
Jonathan watched Charles, Emma, and the two youngest Blakes,
Isaiah and Rachel, turned their attention toward Jonathan.He drew in a breath.It was now or never.
“I’ve met a girl,” Jonathan finally said.“Someone I care for very much.”
Emma joyfully dropped her fork to her plate and said,
“Indeed,” Charles replied with a smile, raising his glass
toward his son.“Where did you meet her
and when do we get to meet the lucky lass?”
“Well…” Jonathan began slowly, but before he was able to
even consider what he was going to say next, Frankie interrupted him.
“You’d have to go to one of the Indian villages to meet
her,” she chirped.“Brendan and I saw
them kissing just—OW!”Frankie let out
another yelp as Brendan kicked her under the table for the second time.
“Brendan!” Emma exclaimed.“One more time and you’re going to your room.”
“But mum!” Brendan began to protest, but backed down when
Emma gave him one of her stern looks.“Yes,
mum,” Brendan muttered and continued eating his meal in silence.
Emma turned to look at Jonathan who sat staring at his
plate, hearing his blood rushing in his ears and feeling as though the entire
world had just been pulled out from under him.
“Jonathan…” Emma gently implored him.
“Son, is what Frankie just said true?” Charles asked
frowning at Jonathan from the head of the table.
“Actually, I’d like to be excused if I may,” Jonathan said as
he angrily dropped his napkin onto his plate and got up from his seat.
“Jonathan!” Emma called, but her oldest child had already
stormed out of the dining area and was on his way up the stairs to his bedroom.
“Nice going,” Brendan said to Frankie as they heard
Jonathan’s door close and rest of the family was left in a stunned silence.
Later that evening, Emma ascended the stairs, carrying
Jonathan’s dinner on a tray.She knocked
on his bedroom door and opened it to find her son seated in a chair by the
window, staring out to the night sky.
“You barely touched your dinner,” Emma said.“Of course, we wouldn’t want you to go
Jonathan murmured a ‘thanks’ and Emma set the tray down on her
son’s nightstand.She then sat down on
the bed to face him.Mother and son were
silent as Jonathan continued to stare out the window.
“So what is her name?” Emma asked.
Jonathan looked at his mother and gave her a small, sad
smile before answering, “Kimimela.It
means ‘butterfly’ in the Sioux language.That’s what tribe she is from.But her grandmother was Ojibwe.”
“I see,” Emma said.“How old is she?”
“Sixteen,” Jonathan said as he turned back to face the
Emma nodded and said, “Does her family know?”
Jonathan shook his head.Emma sensed her son’s growing sadness and touched his arm with a
comforting hand.“Tell me how you met
Jonathan turned back to her.“I was riding Samson and saw her walking along a trail two months
ago.She was kind to Samson and he took
well to her.She’s a sweet, beautiful
girl.We’ve seen eachother almost
“And you love her?” Emma asked.
Jonathan nodded before saying, “Very much.I’ve never felt this way toward anyone.And I was planning to tell you and dad.But, as you saw, Frankie took it upon herself
to tell you first.”
Emma watched her son roll his eyes as he spoke Frankie’s
name.“You’re sister loves you,
Jonathan,” she said.“Remember when she
began walking and wouldn’t stop following you around?”
“Well, she still hasn’t stopped,” Jonathan said and Emma
chuckled.“I know, mum,” he
continued.“I love her too.I just wish she would have let me tell you.I was trying to wait for a moment when I
could sit you and dad down.”
“Why?Do you not
think we’d approve?”
Jonathan shrugged. “To be honest, I don’t know.I mean I would hope so.A lot of people wouldn’t take very kindly to
that sort of thing, you know?”
Emma paused, taking in her son’s troubled expression before
saying, “Well, I can’t speak for any of our other friends, but your dad and I
would love to meet her.”
Emma nodded, “He and I talked after everyone was excused
from dinner and we both decided that we would love for you to bring her by.”
“You mean that?” Jonathan asked, still in a state of slight
“Jonathan,” Emma began, “perhaps you were too young to
remember.After all, you and Brendan
were still practically babies when we came over from Ireland.But your father faced a lot of discrimination
against him when he was looking for work to support us.There are still a lot of Irishfolk coming
over who still face much of that.In the
cities, many put signs in their windows stating that Irish need not apply.James Livingston was the first person to take
a chance on your father and he also faced a lot of criticism for hiring an
Irishman, your father, straight off the boat.”
“That is right,” Jonathan said.“I’d forgotten about how dad had come to work
for Mr. Livingston.”
“So believe it or not,” Emma continued, “we understand how
it is to be the focus of prejudiced views.”
“Besides,” Emma said, “your father and I do want to meet the
young woman who has stolen our eldest son’s heart.”
“Thank you,” Jonathan said as a relieved smile.
“I love you, Jonathan.”
“I love you too, mum.”
Emma embraced her son and said, “Now eat your dinner before
it gets cold again.”
“I will,” Jonathan promised.After a pause, he said, “Well, now I’m going to have to tell Kimimela
that you all know about us.And I suppose that means I’m also going
to have to jump the hurdle of meeting her father soon.But I guess I did know that this day had to
Emma began to reply to her son, but was interrupted by a
knock at the door.
“May I come in?” a timid voice asked from the other
side.It was Frankie.
“Talk to your sister,” Emma said.
“I will,” Jonathan said.And then he called to the door, “Yes, come in, Frankie.”
The door opened slowly and Frankie slowly peered her head in.Emma left her two children, reminding Frankie
to brush her teeth before turning in to bed.
After Emma shut the door, Frankie stood by the door staring
at her brother.
“It’s alright, Frankie,” Jonathan said as he patted the area
of his bed that his mother just sat on.Frankie walked over to the bed.She was dressed in her nightgown with her hair in their usual long, dark
braids.She regarded Jonathan with her
large, blue eyes and she had a light sprinkle of freckles across her nose and
cheeks.Frankie sat on the bed and
stared at the floor.
“Please don’t hate me,” were the first words to come from
the thirteen-year-old’s mouth.
“You never have to worry about that, Frankie,” Jonathan
Frankie turned her eyes upward to look at him.“You mean that?”
Jonathan couldn’t help laughing a little when he said, “Of
“I’m sorry,” Frankie said.
“Hey, we all mess up,” Jonathan replied.
“I want to meet her,” Frankie said.“She seems…interesting.Plus, I’ve never met an actual Indian
“Well, she’s not much different from you or I,” Jonathan
said.“Her family just has some
different customs from ours.”
“She’s very pretty,” Frankie said.
Jonathan smiled and nodded in agreement. “She is.Thank you.”
“I didn’t mean to blurt it out to mum and dad.But I was very happy for you.Honest!But I’m also worried about you.Not everyone likes the Indians.I’ve heard some people say things.Bad things.”
“I know,” Jonathan said, “and I appreciate your concern for
“But I know that there are also people who don’t mind them.So maybe those will be the ones who won’t
mind if you marry that girl.I just want
you to be happy, Jonathan.You’re my
brother and I love you.I don’t want
people saying bad things about you.”
Jonathan looked at Frankie and said, “I love you too,
Frankie.I don’t want people saying bad
things about me either and especially not of Kimimela.But, people are going to talk no matter what
and we can’t live our lives worrying about what other people think.Because when you do that, you’ll never be happy.You understand what I’m saying?”
Then, Jonathan remembered something his mother had told him
earlier and said, “You know Mr. Livingston?”
“Well, you weren’t even born when this happened.But when dad, mum, Brendan, and myself came
here from Ireland,
nobody but Mr. Livingston wanted to hire dad.”
“But dad’s such a hard worker!” Frankie said, frowning.
“He is,” Jonathan said, “but you know how you said that some
people don’t like the Indians?Well,
some people didn’t like us Irish either and still don’t.”
“Why?” Frankie asked.
Jonathan shrugged.“Who knows.But there were people
in Mr. Livingston’s circle who didn’t like that he gave dad work.Now, what would have happened if Mr. Livingston
had listened to them?”
A far away look formed in Frankie’s eyes.“I think I understand what you are saying,”
“Frankie, I know that Kimimela and I are going to have
challenges and she does too.But we’re
not going to allow that to prevent ourselves from being with eachother.I love her and she loves me.And sometimes, you have to take risks to be
with the one you love.”
Frankie nodded, understanding, and said, “So how do you say
Jonathan smiled, “Kimimela.”
“Kimimela,” Frankie repeated.“I’ll have to remember that for when she
comes to visit.What does her name
There was a silent pause before Frankie said, “Have you met
her family yet?”
“Well, I hope they like you.I’m sure they will.”
“I hope so, too,” Jonathan replied as a wave of realization
washed over him that meeting Kimimela’s father was looming only a small
distance ahead of him.
Before heading to bed, Frankie hugged Jonathan and said, “I
love you.I hope you and Kimimela will
be very happy.Actually, I know you
“Thanks, Frankie,” Jonathan said, returning his sister’s
embrace.“I love you, too.”
When Frankie exited the room, Jonathan began to eat the food
that his mother brought for him as he thought of what lay ahead for him and
Kimimela.And for some reason, it made
him remember something else.
Jonathan would tell Kimimela all of what had occurred with
his family that following day along with something else.Jonathan would tell her of what he saw on
that first day that he turned onto the trail.The day that the Earth would turn on it’s axis during that summer of
1844.The experience he had while,
unbeknownst to him, Nicolae Ganoush, James Livingston, Samual Livingston, and
Hector de Fuentes were having theirs.Kimimela didn’t quite understand what any of Jonathan’s vision had to do
with their relationship and neither did Jonathan, though they would come to
understand years later when their youngest child, a daughter named Willow,
would turn two.
In the meantime, Kimimela was thrilled with the fact that
Jonathan’s family was willing to meet her, but she still had to inform her
father and before any meeting could be set up between Kimimela and the Blakes,
Howahkan had to give his approval.
Like his father before him, Howahkan was highly regarded and
respected as their village’s medicine man.Howahkan’s wife—the mother of Kimimela and her siblings—had passed on
three years prior.Kimimela had sat down
with her father that night after dinner.He seemed to express interest when Kimimela mentioned that she had met a
young man she had grown quite fond of.It seemed to be going well until Howahkan questioned his daughter of the
identiy of the young brave who had captured his daughter’s heart, Kimimela had
burst into tears.A puzzeled Howahkan
tried to get her to calm down and tell him what could possibly be wrong.His concern for his daughter led him to
having a vision of a pair of grayish-blue eyes.It was then he immediately understood what was going on.
Howahkan was silent as his daughters sobs began to quiet
“What’s this young man’s name?” he finally asked her.
Kimimela hesitated.She knew by her father’s tone that he had figured out what was going
on.She answered, “Jonathan.Jonathan Blake.”
Howahkan sat in silence again.He did have reservations about his daughter
being with a white man.But he could see
how troubled his daughter was and could tell that Kimimela obviously cared for
this young man.Howahkan then informed his
daughter that he would be willing to meet Jonathan, but couldn’t make
The meeting between Howahkan and Jonathan was set for that
following Sunday evening after dinner.Charles
had offered to accompany his son, but Jonathan had insisted that it was best he
go alone.Kimimela met Jonathan at the
entrance of her village.She was accompanied
by her older brother, Chayton, who was Jonathan’s age, and her twin brother, Sunkwa.She watched, her heart picking up it’s pace,
as she saw Jonathan approaching the village on Samson.
Jonathan and Kimimela gave one another brief, loving glances
as Jonathan dismounted Samson.Chayton
looked from his sister to Jonathan before politely greeting Kimimela’s love
interest.Sunkwa also greeted Jonathan
and Jonathan returned the greeting.Sunkwa took care of getting Samson settled in and Jonathan seemed
relieved of the fact that Samson seemed to take to Kimimela’s twin brother
rather well.Chayton then beckoned for
Jonathan to follow him.Jonathan gave
Kimimela a nervous, but hopeful, smile before he began to walk beside
Chayton.Kimimela returned his smile and
could only stand and watch as her brother took the man she loved to the hut
where Howahkan waited. Jonathan turned
his head back to look at her, his lips turning up in a reassuring smile before
he would mouth ‘I love you’ to her.Kimimela felt tears burn in her eyes as Jonathan disappeared toward the
hut.She knew that her father was a fair
man, but the meeting between him and Jonathan still had potential to go either
way.She barely noticed that her little
sister, Mahpiya, had come to stand beside her.
Kimimela’s best friend, Chante, waited with Kimimela and
Mahpiya a few feet away from the hut that Howahkan and Jonathan were in.Nearly an hour had passed and Kimimela was
become more anxious with each minute that would pass.Chante tried to reassure her friend by
telling her that Howahkan would likely have been done with Jonathan much sooner
if he disapproved.Kimimela kept her
eyes on the hut as she hoped that her friend was right.Finally, the door to the hut opened and
Kimimela began to feel the world around her spinning and her legs threatened to
cave in beneath her.But Chante grabbed
her arm, stabling her as she watched with anticipation as her father and
Jonathan emerged.Kimimela saw Jonathan,
he wore a smile, beaming from ear to ear.She then looked at her father, whose expression was that of someone
pleased.Kimimela stood in
disbelief.Could it be true?Did her father give his approval or was she
just simply seeing what she wanted to?Kimimela’s question was answered when Jonathan ran toward her and
scooped her up in a joyful embraced.She
could see her father, watching them.Howahkan and Kimimela caught one another’s gaze and he nodded to his
daughter, confirming that he did, in fact, give his approval.Kimimela returned Jonathan’s embrace and
neither of them cared if they were making spectacles of themselves in front of
the other villagers.Howahkan stood,
watching his daughter and the man she loved.Seeing her this happy, he knew that he made the right choice and he
found Jonathan to be a good man.
Jonathan and Kimimela had gone for a walk together later
after Jonathan had promised Howahkan that he would have his daughter back at a
decent time.They had gone to the trail
that they met on, where Jonathan gave her a full, passionate kiss.A weight had been lifted from them and they
both felt free to openly love eachother.As the sun set in the west, Jonathan made a formal marriage proposal to
Kimimela.Elated, Kimimela accepted,
watching as Jonathan slipped what he called the Claddagh ring onto the ring
finger of her left hand while still down on one knee.After returning home, Jonathan told his
relieved and joyous family the news of Kimimela’s father’s approval along with
his recent betrothal to her.
That following Friday evening, Kimimela had gone to meet the
rest of the Blake family.Charles and
Emma made it a point to be very open and welcoming toward her as was Brendan.Frankie was sheepish, but Kimimela was able
to put the younger girl at ease and the two them got on well.Jonathan’s youngest siblings, eleven-year-old
Isaiah and seven-year-old Rachel, were friendly but regarded Jonathan’s new
fiancée curiously.On the Sunday night
of that same weekend, Howahkan, Chayton, Sunkwa, and Mahpiya had gone to have
dinner at the Blakes’ house.Sunkwa and
Brendan ended up becoming friends that night and Isaiah tagged along when
Brendan took Sunkwa out to the barn where the family’s horses were kept.Rachel and Mahpiya were the same age and went
off to play together.Both families had
given their blessing over the union of Jonathan and Kimimela and it meant a lot
to them to see their families getting on as well as they were.
The wedding was set for April of 1845 and the intention was
to combine the Sioux and Ojibwe traditions of Kimimela’s family with the
Catholic faith practiced by the Blakes.Another
hurdle that had to be jumped over was Kimimela needing to accept the Catholic
faith as her own.It was difficult for
her as she held the Ojibwe and Sioux traditions she had grown up with.But Jonathan put her at ease when he
suggested that they resolve it by her becoming affiliated with the church, but
that he wouldn’t have any problems with her keeping what she had grown up
with.Any children they had would be
taught both faiths.
The wedding day of Jonathan and Kimimela approached quickly
and it was also the day Kimimela had met James Livingston of New
heard a lot about the Livingston family and knew that he
one of the Blakes’ closest friends along with being among the founders of the
small New York town, Plains.James had attended with his wife, Samantha, whom
Kimimela found to be a very lovely and refined lady.James’s three sons, Jesse, Samuel, and
Lawrence, where also in attendance.Jesse Livingston was the same age as Chayton and Jonathan.Jonathan was thrilled to see his childhood
friend who had also brought his new fiancée, Heather.Jonathan, Kimimela, and the rest of the Blake
family would attend Jesse and Heather’s wedding the following year.
As Jonathan and Jesse had, Brendan Blake and Samuel
Livingston had also played together as boys and Sunkwa quickly joined their
group at the wedding.Isaiah and
Lawrence were also the same age and grateful to have eachother so they wouldn’t
have to hang around with the girls.It
was noticed that Frankie had taken a liking to Samuel and she wasn’t shy when
it came to showing it.Samuel, on the
other hand, seemed less than thrilled and the entire scenario amused Brendan
and Sunkwa.The wedding was a nice sized
event and seemed to go off without any problems between the Blakes’ friends and
those from Kimimela’s family and village.
Kimimela learned that James Livingston was a stern but
generous man as he showed his generousity in the wedding gift he had given to
Jonathan and Kimimela.James had given
the newly married couple the remaining amount of money they needed to build
their new home on the property that Jonathan’s father had set aside for them.This eliminated the need to take out a loan
with the bank for the remaining amount, which was a burden that Jonathan and
Kimimela anticipated facing.They knew
that some in the banking system would not react well to them as a married couple.James had relieved them of that potential
burden along with allowing Jonathan and Kimimela’s house to be finished in time
for the winter that year.
As wonderful as their wedding day had been, it was the
wedding night that Jonathan and Kimimela anticipated.Charles had gotten a room for his son and new
wife at one of the more elegant hotels in the town to stay at over the first
three days of their married life.Memories
of the wedding night came back on Kimimela again as she sat in bed next to
Jonathan asleep beside her.She
remembered his eyes on her as the last shred of her clothing had been removed
and the way her heart pounded in her chest as she looked at Jonathan’s
unclothed body for the first time.She
remembered them moving together on top of the bed and their skin to skin
contact.She remembered the way Jonathan
had stimulated the most sensitive areas of her body, getting her ready for the
consummation of their union.She remembered
the gentle way he entered her, causing her only a brief pinch of pain before he
would begin to slowly thrust and gradually pick up pace.The climax was unlike anything she had ever
experienced and having that moment with Jonathan made it all the more
Following the three days spent in the hotel, Jonathan and
Kimimela would live for a short time with the Blakes as the final installments
where being put in their new house.While
Kimimela loved Jonathan’s family, she and Jonathan were happy to be able to
officially move into their new home.They were especially grateful for the house when Kimimela was found out
to be pregnant.
Hard to believe it’s
been over two years already since we met, Kimimela thought as she quietly
got out of bed and went to the window.She pushed the curtain aside and looke out at the flat grounds that
stretched out beneath the night sky.She
could see Charles and Emma’s house far across the field.The house was dark and highlighted by the
light from the moon.Kimimela was
grateful to live not only close to Charles, Emma, and the rest of the Blake
family, but also to the village she grew up in.Kimimela was also glad to have Jonathan with her on nights like this,
even if he was not awake.Just having
him near her gave her more than enough comfort.
Kimimela thought of those in her village and wondered if her
father or anyone else had shared her experience.Earlier that day, she had felt a low
vibration beneath the earth.She had
been hanging clothes to dry on the line when she felt it.Kimimela had stopped and closed her eyes to
see if the elements would show her anything.She had been taken across the ocean to a nighttime field.It was near a lake and the ground pulsed under
the moonlight as droplets of blood fell onto the grass.The blood was immediately absorbed into the
soil and a loud, otherworldly roar released into the air from beneath the earth
(the cause of the low vibration I felt?).
Kimimela would find out the source of the blood droplets
after she had gone to sleep that night. The dream would be a montage of scenes, each
barely lasting longer than a second.Kimimela would see a younger girl—maybe a couple years younger than she
was—slice her palm with a dagger, wearing a rather pained expression as the
blood seeped out of her palm.There was
an air of innocence to the girl, though she was undressed when she did this.There was also another presence with the
girl, though Kimimela couldn’t see who or what it was.
There was also another girl whom Kimimela saw.This other girl was a couple years older,
maybe around twenty and had a slightly darker coloring of hair and skin tone
than the girl who had been letting her blood onto the ground.The second girl was tall and had a very
graceful frame, where the first girl, the one spilling her blood onto the
ground, was shorter with a rounder face and fuller bosom.Both girls were equally beautiful, though in
Kimimela saw pieces of the life that the second young woman had
lived.She worked in a large, stone
castle as a house servant and had met a cruel and gruesome end. Kimimela could feel the pain and terror the
young woman experienced in her final moments.She saw the second young woman’s lover and husband, who had been brought
to the brink of madness when he found her in the state she was left in.Kimimela saw the bloodspill that the young
woman endured at the time of her death and the bloodspill her husband caused in
a rage of vengeance.Then she saw the
first girl again, this time in her village.Kimimela could hear the voices that spoke to the first girl, but
couldn’t quite make out what was being said.It was after that Kimimela had awoken.
Kimimela knew that it wasn’t all that uncommon for an
expecting woman to have strange dreams.According to the town doctor, odd dreams were about as common as unusual
food combination cravings and morning sickness.While the dreams began occurring at the time she and Jonathan coneived,
there was something about these dreams and the people she saw in them that made
her believe that there was more to them than a symptom of pregnancy.Kimimela let the curtain fall shut and made
her way back to the bed.She climbed
back in, under the covers and huddled close to Jonathan who, in his sleep, put
an arm around her and brought her close to him.Howahkan would be visiting them that morning and she planned to ask her
father his opinion of the dreams.With
that, Kimimela drifted to sleep.She
wouldn’t remember anything about the dream she would have this second time,
other than briefly seeing twin baby boys, one with dark hair and the other with
tufts of blond hair.She also saw a
young boy, no older than age ten or eleven, running out of a building and
screaming in terror.Kimimela wouldn’t
recall much, except that the boy resembled Jonathan.
The following morning, Howahkan paid Kimimela and Jonathan a
visit as promised.He came with some
herbs and medicines he had mixed together to aid his daughter through her
pregnancy.Charles and Emma had also
stopped over and the six of them ended up having an enjoyable visit with
Kimimela’s dreams hardly being a thought.
After Charles and Emma had left, Kimimela told her father
about what she had seen the night before, from the two young women to the
little boy who resembled Jonathan.Jonathan sat, holding Kimimela’s hand and listening intently.
“That sounds like someone making a blood oath to the
spirits,”Howahkan said after
Kimimela had told him about the young girl letting out her blood onto the soil.Kimimela noted the look of concern on her
father’s face as he made the statement.
After hearing the rest of what Kimimela had experienced,
Howakhan suggested that he smudge her and Jonathan’s house.Neither Jonathan nor Kimimela objected.Howahkan carried a burning cedar, sage, and
weatgrass bundle through the house reciting a prayer to cleanse and protect.Howahkan also prayed over the dreamcatcher
that Kimimela kept over her and Jonathan’s bed.He told Jonathan and Kimimela that he would be making one for the baby
when he or she arrived.Howakhan believed
that there were times when the dreamscape was more than events taking place
inside an individual’s head.They had
meanings and were not to be taken lightly.It was also possible for one’s soul to enter another plain and have the
ability to do things it couldn’t while in a physical body.
“Sleep is as close to
a physical death as one can get,” Howahkan had once told Kimimela.She would never forget her father’s eyes when
he left her and Jonathan that evening, simply telling her and Jonathan, “Be
Kimimela felt chilled and hugged her arms around her
body.Jonathan responded by wrapping his
arms around his wife as they bid Howahkan goodnight.They watched as the medicine man headed back
toward the village, cloaked in the red light of the sunset.Kimimela wondered about the women, the young
boy, and the two babies she had seen during her sleep the night before.Her father’s words of warning hit her again.
Chills crawled over her skin and that was one of the many
moments that she was grateful to have Jonathan with her.
Plains, NY, United
The Nathaniel Fleming Manor and Orphanage was opened to the
public in the summer of 1845, two months following the wedding of Jonathan and
Kimimela Blake.That was also when
Nicolae Ganoush was traipsing through Europe alone,
without his brother, and trusting no one.When the orphanage opened, Nicolae had been sitting in a pub near
Prussia, one of the few times he dared appear in public (this was also a year
prior to his fateful meeting with Teresa and almost a year after Sebastian had
disappeared).And that day, he just
really needed a drink.
Not many paid mind to the gypsy seated in a dark corner of
the pub as he drank down the quart of German beer that he had just enough money
for.It was good beer, Nicolae thought,
probably the best he ever had.He sat in
the darkest corner of the pub, observing the patrons and looking forward to
fall asleep as that was when Eloisa would come to him.
Nicolae couldn’t help being amused by a thought.What
would these people think if I were to tell them that I still have relations
with my dead wife’s ghost and that her ashes come everywhere with me?Sometimes, I even talk to her ashes.They’d probably think him mad, he
knew.They’d probably find the closest
asylum and put him in there.And you know what?That would be fine.I’d be perfectly alright with that.As long as I can still be with my Eloisa…she
is much more than just a ghost.
Nicolae sat thinking these things and sending the beer down
his throat and into the dark pit of his stomach.He could feel the dark liquid beginning to
seep into his veins and another thought occurred to him.He had heard news earlier that day of Lucinda
Alexanderescu getting married.
Oh, the poor
bastard…God bless you. Cheers to you and your lovely bride, Nicolae thought
as he gave the poor fool getting married to the late Dimitri’s younger sister a
small toast with his beer mug before sending more of the alcoholic beverage
down into his liver.At the very moment
that Cedric and Margaret Fleming opened their orphanage with James Livingston
present, Nicolae Ganoush sat in a pub, half a world away, looking at the
patrons who had no idea that they were so close to Dimitri Alexanderescu’s
killer.A killer who, at that moment,
had no regrets for what he had done.Nicolae would remember what Dimitri’s onyx-like eyes looked like when
the last drops of life drained from him.He would remember the almost insane rush of power he felt as he looked
over Dimitri’s lifeless body laying almost in pieces upon the bloodsoaked
sheets when Nicolae had was through with him.The blood turned the white sheets
red, as it ran over the entire king-sized bed…
Nicolae chuckled to himself.I really should write that down
and go down in history with all the great poets.
Nicolae took another swig of his beer, satisfied that he had
overpowered Dimitri and that he had made Anton Alexanderescu’s heir feel
fear.That he bled him of nearly every
drop in his body.Nicolae imagined that
they must have had quite a time piecing Dimitri’s torso and limbs together for
the funeral service.Dimitri’s funeral service…his glorious
funeral service.And what did they
intend to do with my sweet, gentle Eloisa who would never hurt anyone?Throw her to the scavengers like those others
likely did to my mother and father.That’s what they were going to do!
The thought angered Nicolae to the point of once again,
sending him close to the brink of insanity.Perhaps it would be better if I
just allowed my mind to just slowly go mad…
But his hand found the box that contained Eloisa’s remains
and he changed his mind.If he couldn’t
be with her in life, he would be with her in death.And that wouldn’t happen if they took him to
an asylum.They would take his personal
effects, including the box with his wife’s ashes.They would probably lock it away in a storage
room somewhere or just scatter them at their own discretion.And then when Nicolae died, they would bury
his body in a field with an unmarked grave.
Nicolae made a decision as he rose from his seat, leaving a
small tip for the bartender beside his empty glass.He slipped into the men’s washroom and drained
the liquid content from his system and into the porcelain bowl.Nicolae then walked passed the patrons and
out of the pub.As he walked out to the
sidewalk beneath the dark sky, he vaguely wondered if the mattress on which he
and Eloisa became man and wife still sat in the toolshed or if anyone had ever
At the moment that Nicolae made a decision that would go on
to shape the rest of his life, Cedric and Margaret Fleming officially opened
their orphanage and moved with their daughter, Maxine, into the upper quarters of
the main building, where they would live as they ran the business.The Flemings had sold the three story home in
which their son, Nathaniel, had passed away just shy of his twelvth birthday.The family was anticipating having a new
start and Cedric had put the inheritance his father had left him into the
project after putting aside what would be left to Maxine.With the help of their good friend, James
Livingston, the idea had been able to come into full fruition.
Before the orphanage was even a thought, Cedric and Margaret
had lived just outside the city of New York,
not too far from the Livingston’s home in the city.The Flemings had lived a quiet and relatively
happy life despite the fact that they were unable to have children.In 1830, they adopted a baby boy they named
Nathaniel Cedric and doted on the little boy as he grew.Four years later, they adopted another baby,
this one being a girl they named Maxine Rosalind.Cedric and Margaret would settle with their
two children near the city of New York
as James Livingston and other founders would begin building the town of Plains.Cedric and Margaret were considering
purchasing a piece of land out there after James had shown them the developing
town and the plot of land on which he was building his family’s holiday home.But the seemingly good fortune of the Flemings
took a downward turn when Nathaniel was stricken with a severe case of scarlet
fever.The boy would last a little over
a month before succumbing to the disease in the early spring of 1842 as Nicolae
and Eloisa were in the throws of their romantic relationship over in Romania.
Cedric tried his best to be strong for the grieving
Margaret.James and Samantha, of course,
tried to also reassure their friends that they could call on them whenever they
“We don’t care what time of night or day it is,” Samantha
There was one evening that early summer following
Nathanial’s death when Cedric had confided in James, telling him of how
Margaret seemed nealy incapable of living in the house that Nathaniel had died in.
“She can’t even walk passed his bedroom,” Cedric said,
sitting across from James on the back porch of the Livingston
home.Cedric also told James that he had
even caught little Maxine in her room talking to an imaginary playmate named
“And it hasn’t been only once that this happened,” Cedric
said.“I’ve caught her doing this three
James thought for a moment before answering.“Well Cedric, I hardly think that’s anything
to be concerned about at this moment,” James said, trying to reassure his
friend, “my guess is that it is merely Maxine’s way of coping with her brother
“Yes, I agree,” Cedric replied, “but I’m also afraid for
Margaret.And I feel terrible because
the first time I saw Maxine talking to this imaginary playmate, I scolded her,
forbidding her to ever do it again.The
look on my little girl’s face when I yelled at her…”Cedric’s voice trailed off as he swallowed
back the lump forming in his throat before saying, “The last thing I want is
for Maxine to feel cut off from her mother and I.Especially at this time.”
James looked at his friend and then turned his gaze out to
the field that stretched out behind their house, staring at the empty guest
house where he and Samantha had allowed the Blakes to live during their time in
New York.Even though, at that time,
it had been five years since Charles had been able to get his land out near the
it was still odd for James not seeing the Blake children outside, running
around and playing near the house.He
recalled his own three boys begging him and Samantha to allow them to run
across the yard to the guest house so they could play with Jonathan, Brendan,
and Isaiah.There had even been times
when Cedric and Margaret would bring little Nathaniel over and he would
normally tag along with Lawrence and Isaiah.Meanwhile, Frankie would come over and help Margaret with baby Maxine.James wistfully smiled at the memories before
turning back to Cedric.
“Well,” James began, “perhaps this imaginary playmate phase
just needs to run it’s course.Surely,
as time passes, she’ll grow out of it.In fact, such things are not uncommon at all for children.”
Cedric sighed before saying, “Yes, I know.But Margaret, my poor wife, she’s been so
terribly fragile as of late and if she were to hear Maxine…I mean…I told Maxine
to not do such things around her mother, and so far she’s listened.But I still…I feel…”
Cedric paused, his face reflecting a mind deep in thought
and trying to figure out how to form the sentences that would let James know
what he had been thinking.
“You feel what?” James inquired. “Go on.”
Finally, Cedric said, “I feel we need to sell the house.Margaret even said to me last night that
living in there has become almost unbearable for her.”
“I see,” James said, “well, where were you thinking of
“That’s what I wanted to speak with you about.You know how Margaret and I had been talking
of purchasing land out in Plains for a second home?”
“Well, I’ve been considering making a more permanent
arrangement instead of it just being a holiday or weekend home.I was wondering what type of land is
available at the moment out there.Of
course, I need to be mindful of how I would approach Margaret with the
idea.But I do feel it will help in all
of us being able to move on.Start
for a moment, recalling the stretches of land that were available for
purchase.That was when his thoughts
then fell upon the stretch of wooded area at the top of a hill.James couldn’t explain why, but he felt as
though that was the land to show Cedric.
“There is one plot in particular I can show you,” James
said, “It is still wooded, but it might be what you are looking for.I do need to venture out to Plains tomorrow
morning.If you think Margaret would be
well, you are more than welcome to accompany me.”
Cedric had gone with James that following morning while
Samantha stayed with Margaret and Maxine at the Fleming home.Samantha and Margaret had tea and brunch as Maxine
wandered about the house with her dolls, and play teaset before eventually
There was a moment during the visit when Samantha glimpsed
out the window that looked out to the backyard and saw Maxine seated on the
swing that hung from the branch of a large oak in the Fleming’s backyard.Samantha smiled at the site of the little
girl playing, but as she watched more closely, it appeared as though Maxine
were carrying a conversation with someone next to the swing, despite her being
the only one in the yard.
Samanth felt chills creep up her arm.Her husband had told her of Maxine’s having
an imaginary friend named “Nathaniel” and Cedric’s personal dilemma over
allowing Maxine to do such a thing.Having
had experience with children, Samantha knew that Maxine was not the only child
to ever have an imaginary friend.In
fact, when the Blakes had lived in their guest house, little Frankie talked to
her dolls as though they were real children.And why not?At the time, she was
the only girl among a group of six boys living on the same property and it was
obvious that Frankie felt left out a lot of the time.
So why should Maxine
be any different?James is right.This is simply her way of coping with her
Samantha watched the little girl for another minute before
joining Margaret in the other room and dismissed the incident as being a child
playing pretend games, as children often did.
Meanwhile in the developing town of Plains,
James had taken Cedric to see the land on top of the hill.Cedric immediately fell in love with the view
as one was able to see the land stretching out into the horizon.The vastness of the Appalachian
Mountains in the distance made Cedric temporarily forget his sorrow,
making him feel on top of the world.He
felt complete here.He felt happy.He immediately told James that he was
interested in the land, though he would have to discuss it with Margaret.James and Cedric spent the rest of the day
walking about the property as Cedric made tentative plans on which area of the
land they would clear out to build their new home on.James then took Cedric to see his own holiday
home and the library James had founded and overseen as it was built.To Cedric, it was the beginning of a new
life.He felt as though he belonged on
that property.That somehow, it was
meant for him, Margaret, and Maxine.
That following month, the clearing out of some of the brush
on the Fleming’s newly purchased land had begun and Cedric had shown James the
blueprints for the new home he was going to build.But everything would change when one
afternoon as James sat in his office at Livingston Publishing eating his lunch,
Cedric burst into the room, apologizing to James for the intrusion before
informing his friend that he had a slight change of plan for the property and a
wonderful idea.James frowned but
listened intently as Cedric told him of the plans to, instead, build an
orphanage at the top of the hill.
“Margaret, Maxine, and I would still live there, of course,”
Cedric said, “but we would live there as Margaret and I would run the
James sat back in his chair, unable to help feeling slightly
jarred by Cedric’s new idea.He had
never known Cedric to be frivolous, but James couldn’t help questioning his
“And you have discussed this with Margaret?” James asked.
“Yes,” Cedric said.
“And she is for it?”
James took a sip of his tea before saying to his friend,“Cedric, you know I trust your judgement
and competance.But I want you to be
certain that you and Margaret are set to run a business.You’ve seen how much work I do running
Livingston Publishing and even the Plains Library.”
“Yes, I know,” Cedric said, “but Margaret and I have
discussed it and while we know it will be a lot of work, I think it will help
all of us to do something in Nathanial’s memory.You see, the most wonderful
happiness Margaret and I found was through our two adopted children and if we
can bring that same happiness to other parents in Margaret’s and my situation,
as well as children as precious as Nathaniel and Maxine are to us, well…I think
Margaret and I have found purpose again.And there aren’t any orphanages in or close to the Plains area.”
James leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk and
studying his friend.He could see how
passionate and serious about this idea Cedric was, but he was talking of taking
on a rather hefty endeavor.
After a brief consideration, James said, “Well you know I
will help you in any way I can.If this
is what you really intend to do.But I
really think we should sit down and begin to carefully plan.The property is yours so you may do what you
wish with it.But there is much to do in
an endeavor such as the one you are speaking of.”
The plans for the orphanage began that following week and
were finalized by Christmas of 1842.Cedric and Margaret had called it their greatest Christmas present
ever.Construction began that following
spring and would be finished by early summer of 1844, right before Nicolae
would leave Romania
and Jonathan would have his first encounter with Kimimela.
Trees were cleared for the main building meant to house the
children and another building was to be for the dining hall, classrooms, and
living quarters for class instructors.A
small building was built halfway down the hill toward the entrance which would
serve as a security building.Other
rooms in the main building included a chapel on the second floor and the fifth
floor which was to be the living quarters of Cedric, Margaret, and Maxine
Fleming.Another area was cleared out to
serve as a play area with swings, a sliding board, and other things one would
expect to entertain a child.Cedric and
Margaret had chosen to name the establishment after their late son, Nathaniel.
The orphanage was at the top of the hill and could be seen
from a distance by the Plains residents.James had been pleased that he had helped Cedric and Margaret and the
incident that had occurred in room 410 had become a passing memory, though he
was still troubled by it.James would
try to not allow that to show.How could
he tell Samantha what he had seen?He
would keep it to himself, wanting to believe that it was nothing more than
evening shadows combined with working too hard.He would be relieved when the next two years would pass without
Over the following two years, Cedric and Margaret had managed
to successfully run their business and Maxine even seemed to adjust very well.According to Cedric, her imaginary playmate,
“Nathaniel”, had also become a distant memory.The Livingstons and the Flemings would all attend the wedding of
Jonathan and Kimimela Blake, leaving one of the board members of the orphanage
to run the business while they were away.In May of 1846, James and Samantha would also see their eldest, Jesse,
get married to his fiancée, Heather.It
would also be another chance to get together with the Blakes again.
Now on this late evening in July of 1846 while Nicolae had
his fateful encounter with Teresa, James sat in the library of his family’s
home in New York City reading a
letter from Charles Blake.Charles had happily
written James with the news of Kimimela’s pregnancy.I become a grandfather in a matter of a few
months, the letter had stated.James
smiled and shook his head.“I probably
won’t be too far behind you, old friend,” he said, thinking of the newly
married Jesse and Heather.
James looked up from the letter as memories of ten-year-old
Jonathan and Jesse running around playing boys’ games with Brendan and Samuel
in the yard out back filled his mind.Seems like only yesterday…how the time
James let out a heavy sigh as he folded the letter and
placed it under a paperweight on his desk.The paperweight had the Nathaniel Fleming Orphanage inscription in it
and was in the shape of the stone sign that sat at the bottom of the hill at
the entrance leading up to the property.The paperweights had been among the items given to the administrators
and others who had helped see the orphanage into fruition.
James stood up from his desk chair, rubbing his face with
Time to retire, he
Samantha had long since gone up to bed and James decided
that he would inform her of Charles’s news in the morning.James put out the lamps and exited the
library.The house was dark and quiet as
his wife and sons were all asleep and the servants were in their living quarters.James carried a small, lit candle as he
headed to the stairs that would take him to the master bedroom he and Samantha
shared.But as he began to ascend the
stairs, three small, sudden taps came from the other side of the front door,
nearly causing James to drop his candle.
Tap tap tap.
James took his pocketwatch out.
Twelve o’clock.Who the devil could that be at this hour?
James was returning his watch to his pocket when he heard
tap tap again.It was then an
image of the dark-haired girl he had seen in the room at the orphanage passed
through his mind.He shut the unpleasant
memory from his mind and headed toward the door.James pushed the drape of one of the windows
at the sides of the front door, peering out to see who was at his home at such
a late hour.But he couldn’t see anyone
and his front porch appeared to be empty.
Well, whatever they
needed, perhaps they’ll come calling again tomorrow, James thought.He began to turn back toward the steps when
he heard it again.
Tap tap tap.
James’s head snapped back around, looking back at the front
Tap tap tap.It was more
insistant this time.
James took swift steps toward the door.“Yes,” he said, “can I help you?”
There was a muffled sound from behind the door that sounded
like a voice.
“I’m sorry I can’t understand you,” James replied. “Who is
The muffled voice continued.James put his ear more close to the door.The more he listened, the more it sounded as
if the voice was saying ‘I’m cold.’
James pulled the curtain that covered the window to the
right of the front door, peering out again.But the voice had stopped and the porch still appeared to be empty.
James returned the curtain to covering the window.
BANG BANG BANG!!
The three light taps had been replaced by three harsh bangs,
causing the otherwise sturdy front door to rattle.James angrily stalked to the door, reaching
for the latch.
“What the HELL—“
James heard a soft voice behind him.He stopped and turned around to see his
youngest son, fourteen-year-old Lawrence, at the top of the stairs peering down
at him.The boy’s face was dimly lit by
the small oil lamp he carried.There was
something almost ghastly about the way the light of the lamp hit Lawrence’s
face.For some reason, this caused James
to remember that night in room 410 at the orphanage prior to it’s opening.He saw the dark-haired young woman again and
Maxine finding him in the room in the middle of some sort of anxiety
attack.The shadows cast across Lawrence’s
face by the light of the lamp made James remember the way Maxine’s eyes seemed
to glow by the light of her lamp and the sunset outside…
Stop.It’s only my son…and Maxine is nothing more
than a young girl.
James said collecting himself. “Please.Go back to bed.”
“Yes father,” Lawrence
James watched as his son turned to head back to his
bedroom.But the boy paused, turned back
to his father and said, “Is everything alright?”
James drew in a breath and replied, “Yes.Yes, Lawrence…now
please, go back to bed.”
But the boy looked back at his father.In the dim light, James could see tears
welling in the troubled eyes of his son.
James said, “what is it?”
The boy shook his head with his eyes shut tightly.“Nothing.”
“Son,” James said making his way up the stairs to Lawrence,
“please tell me.What is it?Do you feel ill?”
finally managed to say before bringing his hand to his eyes.James was next to his son on the steps and
managed to get the boy to sit down.Lawrence’s
quiet sobbing died down after a few minutes.
“Please don’t tell Jesse and Samuel,” Lawrence
said, his voice still wavering from the sobs.
James smiled at his son and said, “What, that you were
crying just now?”
“Don’t worry,” James responded, “it will be our secret.Now, what’s troubling you?”
“I had a dream,” Lawrence
began, “but it seemed so real that I actually went and looked into your and
mother’s room.I saw you weren’t there,
so I came to see if you were down here.”
“Well son, why don’t you tell me what happened?”
The hair on James’s arms would rise as Lawrence
would go on to explain what had frightened him so.“I saw you, father,” the boy began.“You were sitting at your desk in the library
reading a letter from Mr. Blake.”Lawrence
then paused before saying, “Jonathan and his wife are expecting a baby, aren’t
James could feel his heart nearly stopping at his son’s
inquiry.But he managed to collect
himself enough to utter out, “Yes…they are…but don’t tell anyone just yet.”
and continued.“Well, you put the letter
under the paperweight that Mr. Fleming gave you before you put out the lamps
and began to come upstairs.That was
voice trailed off and the boy’s eyes grew wide and filled with terror before he
choked out, “I saw you die, father.I
saw you answer the door to Nathanial Fleming.He was knocking on the door and when you opened it, he killed you!”
March of 1866
Since the ship’s maiden voyage in 1856 from a port in
Barcelona, Spain, La Suerte had taken
many Spanish, French, and Portuguese passengers across the ocean from Europe to
the Americas and the night of the Spring Equinox in 1866 was no different as
far as that went.This voyage had run a
smooth course since departing from a Spanish seaport and cut a clean path into
the ocean’s current, pushing the undertow aside as she trekked on through the
night.It would be another two weeks at
sea before the she would dock at a port in Canada and would arrive there on
schedule, so long as the weather remained in everyone’s favor.One of the shiphands up on deck was a young
man by the name of Liam.The
twenty-three year old red-haired Irishman stood at the bow of the ship, looking
out to the vast infinity surrounding him.He had spent many nights at sea since the age of sixteen and enjoyed
this night, despite its chill.There was
a shift in the air.Liam knew, as the
spring equinox was upon them.It was a
time during the year when veils between worlds were at their thinnest.
A misty, blue haze clouded the air ever so lightly.It was one of those nights when it seemed every
celestial body in the galactic universe was visible to those fortunate enough
to be awake on deck.Light rained down,
reflecting off the water which gave the Atlantic a glassy,
almost mirror-like appearance. The
shiphands of La Suerte’s nightcrew
worked on deck, keeping watch as the other passengers lay asleep in the lower
Liam had been a seeker of adventure from the time he was a
young boy.By the age of twelve, he was
a child of the streets and would live that way until right before his sixteenth
birthday.As an infant, Liam was brought
to an orphanage in Dublin.From what he had been told, his mother had
been a prostitute and his father was one of her fly by night clients.The only pieces of information about himself
that Liam was really certain of were his first name and date of birth.There was no surname or any other blood
relatives that he knew of.
Growing up, Liam had been a rambunctious child and did not
take to the rules at the orphanage very well (if he took to them at all).Getting into trouble was a constant for him
and he, as a result, never had luck in the adoption department.Prospective parents coming to the orphanage
were looking for good, obedient children and while Liam had been many things,
good and obedient was not in that equation.As he grew, he became more restless.In his young mind, Liam viewed the orphanage as being a life of
oppression.More than anything, he
wanted to live by his own rules and at the age of twelve, he ran away from the
wankers! Liam had thought as he happily fled on foot from the orphanage
into the night.He hadn’t considered the
possibility that the orphanage may put out a search for him and nor did he
care.All that was important to him at
that moment was that he was free.Free
to live as he chose.
Liam traveled throughout Ireland
during his early teenage years, working a variety of odd jobs that would often
earn him just enough money for a hot supper and a roof over his head for a single
night.The lifestyle offered little
stability, but Liam actually preferred it that way.
A couple weeks shy of turning sixteen, Liam had heard about
an opening for shiphands aboard the Emerald
Siren as he ate supper in a pub one night.Liam knew nothing about
being a shiphand at the time, but it piqued his interest.The more he found out about the position, the
more it sounded like an occupation he could thrive at.Liam had gone to see the captain of the Siren the following morning, only to
learn that the age limit was sixteen.Of
course, Liam had lied, telling the captain he was already sixteen.The captain didn’t believe him for a second
and finally, Liam relented and told the captain the truth of his age.But despite Liam’s age and lack of experience
on Liam’s end, the captain took a liking to the young man and his enthusiasm
for a life at sea and gave Liam one of the available jobs.
“You’re close enough,” the gruff sea captain told Liam when
the boy revealed his true age.And Liam
would turn sixteen on the first day he was aboard the Emerald Siren.He had been
terribly nervous but elated and was very quick to catch on learning his
required tasks.Liam thrived on the risk
of danger and the sense of freedom that came with the job.
It was now eight years since that first voyage and Liam had
advanced to a place he was truly happy at.He leaned on the bough’s railing, resting his chin on his folded
forearms and welcoming the salty sea breeze in his face.The churning of the ocean’s current pleased
his ears. It was peaceful nights such as this one that offered him moments to
allow his mind to wander.From his time
on the streets up until aquiring his first seaman job aboard the Emerald Siren, Liam hadn’t paid his
mother (or the orphanage) a whole lot of mind.To this day, he had no idea if either of his parents were alive or dead
or if they were even still in Ireland.He didn’t have knowledge of their identities
or of either of their families.He had
heard one particular story at the orphanage that his mother’s body had been
racked from syphilis when she had brought him in, thus rendering her unable to
properly care for him.But there had
never been any solid evidence to back that claim.It wasn’t until Liam’s twentieth birthday
that he would even begin to give his mother any thought.
Over the last three years, Liam would spend portions of his
nights thinking of how his mother could just abandon him.What kind of a mother could just give up her
child?Perhaps, like him, she didn’t
have family.Perhaps she felt that by
handing him over to the orphanage, she was giving him a chance at a better life
than what she could give him had she raised him herself.Or maybe she really was selfish in her
reasons for giving him up.Liam would
never know what was going through his mother’s head on that fateful night when
she left his life forever.But the one
thing he did know was that in spite of the circumstance, he did manage to pick
himself up and have a pretty good life.Maybe not a very conventional life and probably not one many people
would have chosen.But it was a life
that suited Liam well.Because of that,
he had been able to forgive his mother and let go of any anger and sadness he
had been carrying.
In the eight years since his first voyage, Liam had made
many friends from several different countries and cultures.He even picked up a little of the different
languages of the people he would encounter.The beautiful women he and his shipmates would often meet and take to
bed at the various ports were also nothing to compain about.Overall, Liam enjoyed living on the edge as a
fouled mouthed seaman.
1866 was Liam’s second year aboard La Suerte.On this voyage, there
was one female passenger in particular, a Spanish Romani, whom Liam had grown
very fond of.But this was not a
romantic attraction as little Stefania Akatsatov was only ten-years-old.Thoughout the course of this trip, Liam had
come to regard Stefania as a little sister he never had.Liam chuckled to himself as he recalled the
first night he and his shipmates had met the little girl.Stefania was pretty advanced for her young age
and warmed up to Liam and his friends rather quickly as they did to her.Stefania seemed to be able to get on just
fine among the hardened sailors despite her young age.And the things she would talk of…the stories
of her old Gitano village…
Liam’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted by his friend,
Enrique, informing him that the captain requested Liam’s assistance at one of
the masts.After that, Liam, Enrique,
and the other shiphands would have their nightly gathering.The gatherings were times for the shiphands
to relax and take a break from the tasks of the day and night. Liam told
Enrique that he would be right over.
There was a small box that sat at Liam’s feet.The box housed Felix, the little mouse that
Stefania had found on the ship and adopted as her pet.
“I’m sure she’ll be up soon,” Liam said to Felix as bent
down to pick up the box.He could hear
the mouse scampering around inside.
Liam took a final glance out to the horizon and carried
Stefania’s precious box as he went to the mast he was needed at.
Stefania was wide awake, her eyes open and staring up at the
ceiling as she lay in the lower quarters of the ship with her family.Her eight-year-old sister, Tatiana, lay to
the left of her while four-year-old Manuel was on her right.The rhythmic breathing of Tatiana and Manuel
was almost in tune with the rocking of the ship which was the cause of a tiny
smile spreading across Stefania’s lips.The
ten-year-old always tried to find pleasure in the small things and most of the
time, that was the only real pleasure she had.She was grateful for having met Liam and the other seamen on board their
ship.Liam made her smile and laugh and
he was taking care of Felix for her.Stefania’s tiny smile grew into a much wider one, almost to the point of
her having to suppress a giggle that threatened to escape.As always, she was excited to go up onto the
deck and see them all.
Stefania carefully moved little Manuel’s head from her
shoulder as she began to sit up.She
froze when the little boy stirred, but instead of waking, Manuel simply turned
over onto his side.Stefania let out a
small, relieved sigh and rose to sitting.She was facing the rest of the sleeping members of her family and she
felt her heart warm at the site of her parents.Stefania’s father, Luiz, lay on his back with his arm around her mother,
Teresa, who slept with her head on his shoulder.It was one of those few precious moments for
Stefania, one of those small, simple pleasures.Her parents appeared so relaxed and close with one another.This was the opposite of how they were with
each other while awake.Stefania, sighed
and forced herself to not think about that and instead focused on what was
happening at that moment.Other members
of the family were her two older brothers, sixteen-year-old Sebastian and
twelve-year-old Ferdinand.Sebastian and
Ferdinand slept to the right of Luiz and Teresa.Then to the right of Sebastian and Ferdinand was
Stefania’s fifteen-year-old sister, Anabel, who was beside her new husband,
twenty-year-old Vlad El-Attrache.
Stefania allowed her dark eyes to roam the lower level of
the ship, taking in all the other sleeping passengers.There were people of all ages and a few
different ethnicities.There were
Spanish, French, Portuguese, and even a little of Scottish and Irish.Some were Romani while others weren’t.Stefania and her family mainly kept to
themselves as most of the other passengers did, but Stefania liked to imagine
what some of the other people were like, what their lives were, and sometimes
make up stories about those things.It
helped her to pass time during the day and temporarily block out the tension in
her family that only heightened after little Olga had disappeared.
Stefania’s eyes fell back onto her parents and shifted over to
her father’s left, the side her mother wasn’t on.There it was.His bag.The bag he apparently had
since he was Ferdinand’s age. Luiz slept
with his left hand resting on the tan, canvas material.Stefania quietly stood and tiptoed over to the
bag.Taking care to not wake her father,
she peered inside.Sure enough, his box
was in there.
Almost every night since the family left their village in Spain,
Stefania would look into her father’s bag to see if the box was still there and
it always was.She didn’t know what was
inside of it.In fact, Stefania was the
only one of her siblings who really knew of her father’s box, despite the fact
that all the children would be present when Teresa would mention it in passing
during a fight as Luiz left the house to go drink at the tavern in their
village.After that, Stefania couldn’t
help her curiosity and the fascination she had with the square, wooden object.It seemed to make her father happy, yet sad
at the same time and it made her mother upset. What’s so special about a box—or what’s inside of it?
Stefania had found out about the box two years ago, one
night after she and her siblings had gone to bed.Luiz and Teresa were having yet another yelling
match and could easily be heard through the walls in the hut.Anabel, Stefania, and Tatiana were in their
cots trying to block out the sounds of their parents’ latest fight and it was
assumed that the boys were all doing the same in their room.
The girls’ bedroom was closer to their parents’ sleeping
area, so they were able to hear more of what was being said than their brothers
probably could.The girls were able to
hear a lot through the walls.They could
hear the words that Luiz and Teresa would hurl at one another during their
fights.Other times, they would hear
what sounding like their parents’ bed creaking rhythmically accompanied by a
lot of moaning (this was something Anabel understood better than the two
younger girls), but that was much fewer and far between.Usually, it was the fighting that the
Stefania had begun to put the pillow over her head in an
attempt to silence the shouting voices of her parents.But she paused when something caught her
attention.It was enough for her to want
to get out from her cot and move toward the door…
Stefania had tiptoed toward the door of the sleeping area,
ignoring the whispered protests coming from Anabel and Tatiana.There was a sudden silence in the hut as
Stefania opened the door a crack and peered out.She saw her father leave his and her mother’s
bedroom, heading to the front door in a state of anger.
“Where the hell are you going?!” Stefania heard her mother
yell out from inside their bedroom.There was a strain in Teresa’s voice indicating tears.
“None of your goddamn business!” Luiz yelled back.
Stefania flinched backward as Luiz slammed his fist on the
table on his way out, causing the table to rattle so hard that she was
surprised it didn’t break. The noise
brought two-year-old Manuel out from the bedroom he shared with Sebastian and Ferdinand.
“Manuel!” Stefania whispered as Sebastian and Ferdinand
appeared in the dark doorway of their sleeping area.The four of them watched as their father left
the hut, slamming the door behind him.Little
Manuel turned to Stefania.Confusion was
in the two-year-old’s eyes.
“Papa?” the little one asked, pointing toward the door.
Stefania stepped out to take hold of Manuel as their mother
ran out and, threw open the front door.Teresa screamed out to her husband in a mocking tone, “Why don’t you
take your damn box with you?!I’m sure
it will make everything all better!!”
Teresa slammed the door shut as she muttered, “I wish I
could just throw that piece of shit thing into the swamps.”
It was then that Teresa noticed her two eldest sons standing
in the doorway of their sleeping area.Manuel was slowly making his way toward his mother with Stefania
reaching to take hold of him.The four
of them watched as their mother’s face fell and body shook with the sobs that
threatened to break free.
“Will one of you please take the little one?” Teresa managed
to force out before running back into her bedroom.
Sebastian came out from the boys’ sleeping room and picked
“Papa…” Manuel said, the confusion still crossing over his
face as his older brother carried him back into their bedroom.
Stefania stood for another moment, staring at the front
door.She turned toward the closed door
of her parents’ bedroom.She could hear
her mother sobbing through the door.
Stefania turned to see Sebastian, gesturing with his head
toward the girls’ bedroom as he still held Manuel.With one last glance in the direction of her
parents’ bedroom, Stefania quickly returned to her bedroom where Anabel and
Tatiana still cowered in their cots.
The girls were silent as they listened to their mother’s
cries through the wall.Stefania sat up
again, thinking maybe she should go and see if her mother was alright.
“Stefania!” Anabel whispered with urgency in her voice.
As usual, Stefania ignored the overly cautious Anabel and
left the room.She got to the door of
her parent’s bedroom.She could still
hear her mother crying, though the cries were quieter now.Stefania pushed the door open slightly and
stuck her head into the room.The bedroom
of Luiz and Teresa was dark, save for a small candle that burned on the table
next to the ratty old bed they shared.Stefania also noticed bedding on the floor, indicating that someone had
been sleeping there.Stefania was only a
little girl and too young to understand many things that married adults did, but
it still troubled her to think that her parents could hate each other so much
that one of them would opt to sleeping on the floor instead of in the bed
together.And then there was her
mother.Teresa lay curled on the bed
crying into her pillow.
Stefania stepped in to the room, her stomach jumping with a
budding anxiety.She walked over to her
mother and carefully placed a hand on Teresa’s shoulder.Teresa looked up to see her young daughter in
front of her.
“Stefania, why aren’t you in bed?” Teresa asked.
“I wanted to see if you were alright, Mama,” Stefania said.
Teresa sat up and brushed away the tears that stained her
face with the sleeve of her blouse.
“I’ll be alright, Stef,” Teresa said gently, “please go back
Stefania turned and began walking back to the room she
shared with Anabel and Tatiana.But she
had only gotten to the doorway of her parent’s bedroom when she remembered
something she had heard earlier.She
turned back to her mother who was sitting on the edge of the bed and staring
blankly at the candle that flickered on the table by the bed.
“Mama…” Stefania said.
“Yes,” Teresa answered without taking her eyes from the
candle’s small flame.
“Why did you call Papa by another name?”
Teresa’s head snapped in the direction where Stefania
“What did you say?” Teresa asked.There was something about her mother’s tone
that made Stefania uneasy.
“I heard you call Papa by another name.You called him Nicolae.Why did you call him that?That isn’t his name, is it?”
In the shadows of the room, Teresa’s eyes glistened with the
tears that had fallen from her eyes moments ago.They appeared almost black, like two shiny
black onyx stones.Stefania stood with
her heart pounding as her mother regarded her with those eyes.For a second, it seemed as though Teresa’s face
had transformed into one that Stefania did not recognize.The shadows in the dim light of the candle
were dancing over her mother’s features, distorting them.Then as quickly as they appeared, the black onyx
eyes were gone and her broken down mother was who sat in front of her.
“No, Stefania,” Teresa said with her voice shaking, “you
might have just heard wrong.Or perhaps
I was so upset that maybe I did call him by the wrong name.”
Stefania watched as her mother forced a reassuring
smile.There was something far back in
Teresa’s eyes that told Stefania that there was more to everything than what
she was being told.But Stefania relented
and simply said, “Alright, Mama.”
Teresa drew in a breath and gave her daughter a satisfied
nod. “Very good baby,” Teresa said.“Now
please, go back to your room and go to sleep.I’m very tired.”
“Yes Mama,” Stefania said and turned to head back to her
As she shut the door, she caught a glimpse of her mother
sitting in the shadows facing the candle and it’s buring flame again.There was something about the scene that
disturbed little Stefania causing chills to prickle her scalp.She shut the door quickly and hurried back to
her room.Tatiana had already fallen
asleep but Anabel sat upright in her cot, a look of alarm on her face as
Stefania re-entered the room.Anabel
watched as her younger sister made her way silently back to her cot and climbed
back in, pulling the blanket up to her chin.
“Is Mama alright?” Stefania heard her sister ask.
“Yes,” Stefania answered simply.She lay with her back to her older
sister.She could hear Anabel lying back
down, the bedding of the older girl’s cot shifting as Anabel readjusted the
blankets as she made herself comfortable.
Stefania was still wide awake later when Anabel had fallen
asleep.She didn’t know what time it
was, but it felt as though many hours had passed.Stefania sat up when she heard the sounds of
someone coming in through the front door.The dim light of an oil lamp being lit appeared in through the bottom of
the door and Stefania could hear footsteps followed by the sound of a chair
scraping on the wood floor.Stefania
knew her father had returned home.She
could tell by the heaviness of the footsteps as his steps were often heavier
after he had been out getting drunk at the tavern.
Stefania looked over at her two sisters and neither had been
disturbed.She quietly got out of bed,
tiptoeing to the door, and opened it a crack. She could see her father sitting
at the small table (the same one he had taken his anger out on a few hours ago)
with an oil lamp in front of him.His
downward gaze was on an object that sat in front of him on the table.Stefania was unable to see what the object
was as her father’s arms were circled protectively around it.It appeared as though he were afraid that someone
was going to come by and take it from him.
Stefania pushed the door open a little more and as she did,
Luiz (or Nicolae?) looked up to see
his young daughter standing there staring at him.The girl took a step back, cowering by the
door and fearing her father’s reaction.Luiz had never physically hit Stefania, her siblings, or their mother,
but he to say he was intimidating when he was angry with someone was an understatement.Stefania froze, anticipating her father
hollering at her for being out of bed this late at night.But all he did this time was return his
daughter’s stare with sad, dark eyes.
The father and daughter regarded one another for a moment
before Stefania worked up the courage to slowly approach him.The closer Stefania got to her father, the
more she could see that he had been crying.It was the first time she had seen her father even remotely close to
tears and it would be another sixteen years before she would ever see such a
Stefania studied her father’s face for a moment before she
moved to crawl into her father’s lap and was surprised when he allowed her to
do so.As she settled herself, Stefania
could smell the alcohol her father had consumed.She leaned her head against her father’s
shoulder and he surprised her again by placing an arm around her.It was then that she was able to get a better
look at the object her father guarded.It was a box.A locked wooden
box.She wanted to ask him what was in
the box, but something in the back of her mind told her that doing so may not
be wise at this time.
Instead, she asked, “Are you alright, Papa?”Her father’s rough, calloused hands began
lightly stroking her hair.He was silent
for a moment and Stefania could feel the heavy sorrow that he carried with him.
The sorrow that was eating him alive.
“I haven’t been alright for a long, long time, Stefania…”
her father finally said, “it was all taken away…everything gets taken away…”
His voice trailed off.His speech was clear despite his not being sober.Luiz drank a lot but managed to hold his
alcohol rather well despite his lean build.
Stefania lifted her head to see her father staring at the
box.His face was aged and his black
hair was peppered with gray strands.Luiz appeared about ten years older than his thirty-seven years, though
he was still quite handsome and it was when the light of the oil lamp hit his
features at a certain angle that Stefania was able to see a ghost of the young
man her father had once been.She
wondered how her father had been when he was younger and if there was ever a
time when he and her mother loved each other.Stefania also wondered what her father meant by everything being taken
away.What made her father become the
way he was?
“Why?” she asked him, “what do you mean, papa?”
Luiz looked at his small, curious daughter.She thought he was going to give her an
answer, but seemed to change his mind and instead, closed his eyes, shook his
head slowly, and said, “Don’t concern yourself with that, Stefania.You best get back to bed.”
Stefania and her father shared another brief gaze and what
she saw in his eyes was enough to make her want to cry for him.
She swallowed back the lump that formed in her throat before
she said, “Yes, Papa.”
Stefania looked into her father’s eyes one more time before
giving him a tender kiss on his cheek.She could feel her father tense and heard him let out a soft gasp as she
put her arms around him.
“Goodnight, Papa,” Stefania said sadly and climbed down from
Luiz’s lap.She had wanted to finish
with ‘I love you’ but couldn’t bring her mouth to form the words.It then dawned on her that in her eight years
alive, she had never heard her father speak those words to her.
Stefania’s bare feet padded across the floor and before she
re-entered her bedroom, she looked back to where her father was.He sat, hunched over the box with his face in
his hands.Tears burned Stefania’s eyes
and she quickly entered her room, shutting the door behind her as the pain and
sorrow she saw in her father began to overwhelm her.The little girl dragged her small body back
into her cot and buried her face in her blanket as the tears spilled from her
Stefania now stood, two years, later on a ship, watching her
sleeping father, thinking of how this was the most peaceful she had seen
him.She loved her father and her mother.She wished her parents wouldn’t yell at one
another, her father wouldn’t hit walls and tables, her mother wouldn’t cry all the
time, and her parents always showed love to Stefania and her siblings.But Stefania was also bothered with the
thought of her father not even being who she had alwys known him to be.She always knew her father as a man named
Luiz.Everyone called him that.
I don’t care what
mother said…I know I heard her call you by another name…
The incident had somehow either slipped by her siblings or if
the others had heard, they chose to ignore and forget about it.But Stefania couldn’t ignore or forget and
the name burned itself into her memory:
Why did it bother her so?After all, it was just a name and whether his name was Luiz or Nicolae,
he was still her father.The father she
loved.But if Nicolae was his real name,
why did he change it?And why had her
mother looked into her eyes that night and lied to her, especially after
telling Stefania and her siblings to never tell lies…
And now little Olga is
gone…vanished without a trace…gone from us forever…right after I saw the
She shivered thinking about the shadowman and the terrible
memory of the morning ten month old Olga had vanished.
Stefania was five years old the first time she saw the
shadowman.She had seen it walking
around near door of her parents’ room in the hut.It had stopped, seeming to notice Stefania’s
ability to see it and in response, it vanished as though it had stepped behind
an invisible curtain.When Stefania had
run to tell her mother about what she had seen, she saw a fear in her mother’s
eyes that was never seen before or again after that.
“It was your imagination, Stefania,” Teresa told her
daughter before turning her attention back to making supper, “now do not speak
of that again.To me or to anyone.Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mama,” a puzzeled little Stefania said.
Stefania did as she was told, but always wondered why her
mother didn’t want her to speak of it.Stefania
would continue seeing the shadowman on occasion.She tried to ask it a few times who it was
and what it wanted, but the shadow figure would never answer her.She had seen the shadowman lurking in a corner
of her parents’ room by Olga’s cradle on the night before the little one would
disappear.There had also been a strange,
dark halo surrounding her baby sister’s cradle.Stefania remembered her frustration that night as she wanted to point
the halo out to everyone, but obliged to her mother’s stern warning.
The halo had had a hypnotic effect on Stefania, drawing her
toward the wooden object.As Stefania
stood before the cradle, unable to take her eyes away from it, the aura grew
darker, appearing as a thick, black smoke with a horrible stench that Stefania
did not recognize.
Stefania and Tatiana had awoken the following morning to
sound of their mother’s agonizing screams.The two girls had rushed into their parents’ room.Sebastian, Ferdinand, and Manuel were also
there.The children looked on in horror
as Teresa lay collapsed on top of the now empty cradle sobbing hysterically.Stefania turned her gaze toward her father,
who was standing silently over the cradle and looking at his wife with an unreadable
expression that Stefania couldn’t quite place, though she would understand
years later.Stefania also thought she
could hear her mother say “it’s all my fault” but she wasn’t entirely sure if
she had actually heard her mother say it or if she had misheard.
Sebastian and Ferdinand had immediately run of the hut and
next door to where Vlad and Anabel lived.Anabel came over to the hut while Vlad joined Sebastian and Ferdinand in
beginning a search party for Olga.
The entire village had been notified of Olga’s disappearance
by the late morning and the men had gone out in search of the baby while the
women came over to the hut look after Teresa.While Luiz did help search, his contribution seemed almost half-hearted
to Stefania.There was even a time she
had caught her father glaring at her mother.
Why won’t you comfort
mama? Stefania wondered, watching as her father seemed to distance himself
even more from her hurting mother.
The search for Olga was still happening as the evening fell
upon the village.Anabel and Stefania
ended up making supper for the family, though her father had gone out to the tavern
again.Teresa remained sitting with her
arms around the cradle and and her dark eyes staring at the floor.Stefania had fixed a plate for her mother,
setting it in front the cradle.Teresa thanked
her daughter but barely touched the food.Stefania was deeply troubled by all that was happening around her and it
wasn’t just Olga disappearing.It was
the way her baby sister seemed to vanish without so much of a trace.And there was something else; something that
Stefania felt.A shift in the air.Everything suddenly seemed so much darker,
gloomier as though a stormcloud had materialized over their hut and decided to
stay there.Stefania’s ten-year-old mind
tried to make sense of it all but the more she tried, the more confusing it all
The search for Olga would continue everyday over the next
week, but the little one would not be found.In an act of desperation, some of the men in the village had tried to
ask the Spanish officials for help.But
as far as the Spanish officials were concerned, they had better things to do
than search for a Gitano baby.
“I wouldn’t be
surprised if one of them had taken the little one,” Stefania overheard
someone in the village say about the officials and others outside of their
village.The simple and logical
explanation would be that someone had broken into the hut and took the
baby.But there wasn’t any sign of forced
entry and no one in the family had awoken from any sounds that might be
associated with a break in.Stefania
wanted to tell everyone about the shadowman and halo she had seen the night
before, but fear of how her family and the rest of her village would react
would keep the girl silent (it does seem
rather silly when you think about it, doesn’t it?).
Over the course of the next few days, Teresa had managed ressume
her tasks wife and mother, though her movement was slow and mechanical.During that time, Stefania looked after Tatiana
and Manuel.Anabel tried to help, but
seemed to be just as shaken as their mother.Anabel and mama are a lot alike…
Later that evening, when everyone else had gone outside
leaving Stefania alone in the hut, she ceased cleaning the dinner plates and went
over to the cradle.She stood at the
foot of it, staring down into it’s bed as though she were looking down into the
jaws of some ferocious, wild animal.
“Where’s Olga?” she demanded, as though she were expecting
it to answer.
The cradle sat with its bed now resembling a gaping maw,
ready to devour any unsuspecting creature that may venture too close to it.It remained silent, refusing to be
intimidated by a little girl and harbored the secret that danced around it
engulfed in a fog that no one would be able to see though.And the mysteries were far from over.
That following Saturday evening would release the looming
stormcloud onto Stefania and her siblings.In the early evening, Teresa had gone to get Anabel from the hut she
shared with Vlad, bringing her to sit in the girls’ bedroom with Stefania,
Tatiana, and little Manuel.It was there
that Teresa would reveal to them of plans to leave their village that very
“We’re Leaving?!” Anabel exclaimed with wide-eyes.
“Keep your voice quiet,” their mother hushed.
“But why,” Anabel asked, her voice much quieter, “where are
“It’s what your father wants,” Teresa answered. “He, Vlad,
and your brothers are already making the preparations.We will be going to a port to board a ship
for the Americas.America
or Canada.Whichever is available first.”
“But shouldn’t we stay and look for Olga?” Anabel
“You’re father wants to leave,” Teresa stated.
“But why?” Tatiana asked.
“Just do as he says,” Teresa responded, “take very little
with you.Only take what we need.And do not say a word to anyone.”
Teresa left the room before anyone else could question her
any further.The three sisters looked at
one another as though each were hoping that one of the others offered an answer
to what was going on.Little Manuel sat
on the floor, staring up at his sisters with round eyes.
Finally, Anabel spoke up.“Stefania, why don’t you help Tatiana and Manuel.I suppose I have to go pack for Vlad and
myself.I’ll try and come back as soon
as I can to help you.”
Stefania nodded and Anabel left the room.She heard her older sister leaving the hut
without saying anything to their mother.
The family left that night after midnight and took the most minimal amount of belongings
(the cradle was left behind).There was
still alarm and confusion over the abrupt and secretive nature of their
departure, but the family did as the patriarch told them to without question,
though it still seemed to the children of Luiz and Teresa that their mother
also knew more than she was telling them.
Stefania had given the cradle a final glance before departing
with her family.The wooden object stood
silent, taunting the little girl one last time.
As Stefania turned away to head outside where her family
waited, she heard a creak behind her.She turned toward the diretion it came from and ended up facing the
cradle the cradle again.It seemed
closer, as thought it had moved on its own, ever so slightly, closer to where
Stefania stood.As Stefania stood,
trying to come up with a logical reason for the cradle appearing to have moved
from its place, the temperature in the room dropped, prickling Stefania’s skin
with chills.That was when the cradle
began to rock.Back and forth.Back and forth.Side to side in a smooth, hypnotic movement.
A scream lodged itself in Stefania’s throat as her arm
reached to slam the door her parents’ old bedroom.She couldn’t get out of the hut that was no
longer her home quickly enough.As the
family quietly left their village, Stefania took one last look back at the
hut.Perhaps it was the moonlight, but
Stefania thought she could see a soft glow coming through one of the windows and
a dark figure moving around inside.
Stefania looked toward the stairwell leading up to the
ship’s deck.She felt suffocated by the
bad memories and needed to get out and away from her family for a while.She needed to get up to the deck and breathe
the salty sea air and see the ocean lit up under a blanket of stars.She needed to be around Liam and all of the
seamen up on deck.They would sing songs
and make her laugh.
Stefania tiptoed over to the stairwell and, when she got to
the bottom stp, ran up, eager to get away from the still looming stormcloud.
The air above was chilly, but it felt good to breathe in
after being down in the stuffy basement of the ship.Stefania had made a nighttime ritual of
wandering around their place of shelter late at night.She would wait until everyone was asleep and
then go on her adventures.Late night
was her favorite time to be awake.It
was a time she could have the world to herself and be free of any troubles with
her family or anything else.It was a
chance for her to be a little girl instead of the second mother to her siblings
she had become.
Stefania stood up on the deck, her face turned to the
sky.The blanket of stardust gave
everything the appearance of being a magical kingdom, a fairyland.She marveled at the blue glow the large moon
offered, illuminating her already bronzed skin.The sea air ruffled the wavy, black hair she had inherited from her
father.Stefania drank in her
surroundings listening to the sounds of the sea foam and the ocean’s currents
and welcoming them into her core.She
bounded over to the barrel of ale by the deck’s wall, jumping up to stand on
the barrel and look over the rail and out to the ocean that passed them by.
Stefania looked up to the sky again, seeing the
constellations Orion, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Sirius.One of the few times her father had spent any
amount time with her was during a starry night, two days following the
departure from their village.It was a
rare, happy moment for Stefania as he allowed her to sit on his knee while he
helped her see some of the star constellations that his own father had shown
him.Stefania could see the far off look
her father had as he briefly mentioned his own father, Stefania’s grandfather.
“What was his name?” she had asked.
Her father had looked down at her intently as though he were
deciding whether or not he should answer her question.After a few seconds of silence, he finally
Stefania felt as though thousands of needles pierced her
insides as she heard that answer.She
swallowed before saying, “He had your name, papa?”
Stefania felt her father tense up at her question.His eyes shifted away so Stefania was unable
to look into them.Stefania kept staring
intently at her father who continued to avoid her gaze.Finally, he looked at her and said,
“What happened to him?” Stefania asked.
She watched, almost frightened, as her father’s eyes
darkened.Was he going to holler at
her?Give her a swat?But he didn’t do either of those things.Instead, he answered, “He died.When I was a little boy.I was Tatiana’s age, in fact.”
Stefania tried to imagine her father as a little boy,
looking up to the sky with excitement as his father taught him about the
stars.The image she was able to conjur
very much opposed the stern and reserved man that he now was.Stefania took in her father’s sad expression.
“I’m sorry, papa,” she said.
Luiz shrugged, keeping his gaze straight ahead.“It happens,” he replied.Stefania was quiet after that as something
inside told her to not question her father any further.Instead she rested her head on his shoulder and
as he had done two years ago while he sat staring at his box, he placed an arm
around his daughter, a move that brought tears to sting the rims of her
eyes.Ever since that night two years
ago, a barrier seemed to break between Stefania and her father.While they far from had the ideal, loving
relationship of what would be expected between a father and daughter, she felt
as though he had somehow let her in somewhere he never allowed anyone to be.
Stefania had sat that way with her father until her mother
arrived to tell them that it was time for sleep.They were spending the night at a room in the
upstairs of a tavern and Stefania was sitting with her father on the balcony
that stuck out from their room.Stefania
obeyed her mother, sliding off of her father’s lap and heading back in toward
the area she was sharing with Tatiana and Manuel.What would happen next struck Stefania as
being stranger than any cryptic conversation her father would have with
her.After Stefania had left Luiz to
himself out on the balcony, her mother called to her and motioned for her to
step out into the hall.Stefania did as
Teresa told her, and they went out into the hall.
Stefania watched, bewildered as her mother shut the door
behind them.Then, Teresa turned to her
daughter.After having gave birth to
several children by her current age of thirty-three, Teresa had some extra
padding on her body that wasn’t there when she was younger, though she was far
from what one would consider being large.Her face was still fairly youthful, save for some lines around her eyes
and across her forehead.Her dark hair
still hung down to her waste with only a couple strands of gray
throughout.Teresa regarded her
daughter, crossing her arms over her full breasts, which were heavier as she
had still been nursing Olga at the time of the baby’s disappearance.Then, in a calm voice that chilled Stefania
for reasons she didn’t understand at the moment, Teresa asked, “What was your
father saying to you?”
The simple question caught Stefania off-guard.Why did her mother want to know?Why did she care?Stefania looked at the floor, frowning at her
“Stefania, don’t look away from me.I asked you a question.”
Stefania’s head snapped back up.The calmness of Teresa’s tone remained, but
her eyes told another story.There was
an urgency to them…and anger?
Stefania struggled to find her voice and then answere, “He
was showing me the constellations.Just
like his papa did with him.”
Teresa’s eyes narrowed as she took in what her daughter told
her.Then she said, “What else?”
“Nothing, mama,” Stefania stammered.She could feel her heart pound under her
mother’s dark gaze.Teresa seemed to be
looking through her daughter, trying to detect the smallest shred of
“Stefania, baby, you’re not being truthful with me,” Teresa
said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.
“But I am, mama,” Stefania said, maintaining her composure.
“I don’t think so,” Teresa replied.“Remember what we said about children who lie
to their parents?”
Stefania felt a sudden anger boil up inside of her.She wanted to scream, Then why don’t YOU tell the truth, mama!Tell me the real reason why you lied to me
about calling papa Nicolae!That
moment she had just spent with her father out on the balcony was enough to
convince Stefania even more that there was something to her mother’s name slip.
“I know your father blames me for what happened to Olga,”
Teresa said suddenly with her eyes flashing.“He blames me for everything.”
“What are you talking about, mama?”
“Just know that if he tells you anything about me, it’s a
lie.Remember that Stefania.Will you remember that?”
Stefania looked up at her mother, stunned and unable to
speak.She was jolted from that when
Teresa grabbed her roughly by the shoulders.“Answer me, Stefania!”
“Yes, Mama,” Stefania said.“I promise.”
Teresa studied her frightened daughter and loosened the grip
on Stefania’s shoulders.“Good girl,”
she said, returning to her calm tone.
Teresa and Stefania stood, gazing at one another, not as
though they were mother and daughter, but almost as rivals.Stefania had never felt more scared of her
mother than she had at that moment.Once
again, the shadows in the dimly lit hall played over Teresa’s features,
distorting them into a face that wasn’t hers.Finally, Stefania spoke up.
“May I go to bed now, Mama?” she asked.
Teresa regarded her daughter with eyes that seemed to darken
(and glisten).But she nodded, excusing her daughter from
Stefania had just put her hand on the knob when her mother
stopped her again.
Stefania turned to see her mother giving her an almost
knowing look.“Yes, Mama?”
“If you see your father with his box again, let me know.”
Stefania’s eyes widened as her mother gave her a small
“Goodnight, Mama,” Stefania said and quickly retreated back
into the room leaving Teresa standing in the hall.Luiz had stayed out on the balcony for a
little while longer before retreating into bed.Stefania had awoken, sometime in the early morning to her mother
re-entering the room.Perhaps it was the
moonlight still present in the sky, but when Stefania opened one of her eyes,
she could see that Teresa’s eyes appeared to almost be glowing.She also moved in a fashion that appeared to
almost be floating…
Stefania shook the terrifying memory from her mind, refusing
to believe that her mother’s glowing eyes and floating movement was anything
other than something of a dream.
After they had boarded the ship, Liam would show Stefania
even more star constellations and would also tell her the stories behind them
and the mythical creatures that made their liknesses.Liam would even tell Stefania to make up her
own story and tell it to him next time they would see one another and Liam
would also make up his own.Sometimes
they were silly and sometimes they were about magic and adventure.
Stefania wanted to share the stories with Tatiana and
Manuel.But she knew if she did, her
mother would want to know where she heard them.Stefania feared her parents would be angry with her if they found out
where she had been going at night since they had boarded the ship.Liam and the seamen had been her solace and
had shown her friendship that she never knew could exist.It gave her sense of hope that there were
good people in the world and it helped her with leaving behind the hard times
they had faced in Europe.It was when she met Liam that she was able to
finally confide in someone.She even
told him about the shadowman and the dark halo she had seen before Olga had
disappeared.Stefania wasn’t sure if
Liam actually believed her, but he did listen to what she had to say and didn’t
tell her to stop talking about it and that it was only her imagination the way
her mother had.
Stefania turned back toward the horizon they were leaving
behind.It was hard to fathom that far
beyond that was the Spanish seaport from which they begun their journey across
Stefania slipped her hand into her apron pocket, her hand
closing over the wooden rosary that had been given to her by a nun in a convent
they had stayed at after their departure from their village.She also had a small Bible in the bag she had
with her.The nun had taught her to
properly pray the Rosary and it had given Stefania a lot of comfort.Comfort she and her family greatly
Stefania’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of
laughter down at the other end of the ship.Her heart leapt with joy.
But her thoughts returned to Vlad and Anabel, asleep
together with the rest of the family in the lower quarters.The move had been difficult for Anabel.The move wasn’t easy for Stefania either and
she had to keep an eye on Tatiana who was also rather fragile.Then there was Vlad.Stefania didn’t have any reason to dislike Anabel’s
husband, but he seemed rather stern and serious for someone his age.He was certainly different from Liam and even
different from her father.Stefania had
known her father to be a stern man, but there was a cold demeanor to Vlad that
even Luiz (or Nicolae?) didn’t have.
The voices of Liam and some of the other seamen continued to
float back to where Stefania stood.She
remembered the first time she had met Liam.It was the evening she and her family were boarding the ship.Stefania had been observing her surroundings
as she walked holding Manuel’s hand.Her
eyes happened to fall onto Liam.He was
a very handsome man with red hair, emerald green eyes, and fair skin.She was fascinated by his looks which where
quite different from the Romani she had grown up with.
Liam had caught site of her staring at him as she walked
with her little brother to the entrance of the ship.Liam responded by giving the young girl a
smile and wink.Stefania quickly looked
away, embarrassed that she had been caught by him and fearing that her mother-and
possibly even Anabel-would harshly scold her for staring at this young man.But Liam would soon become one of Stefania’s
dearest and most unforgettable friends.
Stefania would speak for the first time to Liam that very
night after boarding the ship. She had been eager to go exploring around the
ship.The first time she had gone up to
the deck alone was so exhilarating for the little girl.
Stefania stood in awe
of the mast and sails and their enormous size.Everything was so much bigger at night than it had during the day.Stefania wandered around, taking in the salty
sea air for the first time.She jumped
up onto a barrel of ale to look out at the vast horizon.Excitement overcame fear as she looked out to
the where the ocean ended and the sky began.
She had been looking
out for about a minute of two when she felt a movement at her feet.Stefania looked down to see a small, white
mouse.It was looking up at her, it’s
nose and whiskers twitching, causing Stefania to laugh.She couldn’t remember the last time she
really laughed.She stooped down to pick
it up.The mouse hesitated before
deciding to take a chance and crawl into the little girl’s open hands.Stefania’s laughing continued as the mouse
ran up and along her arm.
“I’ll call you Felix,”
she told the animal.
The mouse found an
area on Stefania’s shoulder to perch on.Stefania resumed her exploring of the ship with her new companion.She
wandered toward the front bow of the ship when she heard voices talking and
laughing nearby.Male voices.Her
heart picked up it’s pace at the thought of strange, grown men nearby. Her first
impulse was to return to the ship’s lower quarters with her family.What if her mother and father would wake and
come looking for her? But once again, fascination and curiousity
Stefania followed the
voices to the front end of the ship and hid behind a mast as she beheld a group
of seamen sitting around the light of a lantern, enjoying the beautiful night
on the Atlantic.She noticed the handsome,
red-haired young man she had seen earlier among them.The men were all drinking ale and amusing one
another with conversation, jokes, and song.Stefania wanted to get a closer
look at them.She crept toward them,
taking care to remain cloaked in the shadows.Felix brought his nose to Stefania’s cheek.
“We have to be quiet,”
she whispered to the mouse and crept up a little closer.
She was so intent on keeping
her attention on the men that she did not see the box of citrus fruit in her
path.She tripped on the box, knocking
it over and spilling it’s content of limes and lemons onto the floor of the
deck.The incident had given Felix a fright, causing the little mouse to jump
from her shoulder.
cried getting down on all fours to chase after the mouse that scuttled amongst
the scattered fruit.But Stefania froze
when she realized that she had now given herself away.Feeling her blood racing and her breath
quicken, she was paralyzed with fear as the men had all ceased their banter and
turned their heads to see the small girl staring back at them.
Stefania feared what
the men would do to her and to Felix.But
then, they all began to smile at her and shout to her what sounded like greetings.She was able to understand those of them that
spoke Spanish (she was able to understand Spanish and the Romani language those
in her village had spoken).She then saw
the man with the red hair get up and walk toward the spilled box of fruit and
gently pick up Felix.Stefania stared up
at him in amazement as he brought the mouse back to her.He knelt down to her level with Felix
squirming in his hands and offered her a warm smile.
I think you lost this,
lass,” he said.
understand his words, but the warmth in his voice along with his kindness
toward Felix put her at ease.She smiled
back at him as he placed Felix back into her hands.The mouse crawled back up to it’s original
place on her shoulder.The other men began to beckon her to come
“You’re more than
welcome, lass,” the red-haired young man said.
Stefania looked to the
men and then to the young man who had helped Felix.She didn’t understand his language, but his
tone put her at ease.Stefania nodded
and slowly followed him back to the group where he made a place for her next to
“And what’s your name?”the
young man asked her after they had sat down.
Stefania had frowned
and shook her head, letting the young man know she didn’t understand him.She then
heard one of the Spanish seamen repeat the question in his native tongue.
“Stefania,”she answered slowly.
The men all gave her
warm smiles and greetings and the red-haired young man introduced himself as
Liam.Liam also surprised her by
speaking to her in Spanish.
“And what is your
friend’s name?” Liam had asked referring to the mouse on her shoulder.
“Felix,” she answered.
Stefania had been introduced to all of Liam’s friends that
night and it had been the first of many nights where she would sit up on the
deck with them. They would sometimes
give her ale and whiskey to stay warm, but always took care to only give
Stefania a few small sips.Stefania was
also fast to pick up a little of the English that Liam spoke.
Liam and his friends had become an extended family to Stefania
and they all had a soft spot for the little girl.They taught her many songs, most of them sea
shanties.Stefania’s favorite was a song
about figuring what to do about a drunken sailor.It always made her laugh when Liam and the
other men would sing it.Stefania also
learned a little of Liam’s reading and writing abilities and she wanted to
learn even more.Liam had an old book
about the myths and legends of the sea he had stolen from his orphanage when he
was a boy, not much older than Stefania.He also offered to keep Felix safe for her in his quarters until
nightfall when she would join them on deck.
Stefania sighed as she the thought of the ship arriving at
the Canadian port in what would be a short time.Her family would be starting over again in a
new country.What awaited them in Canada?She knew she would miss Liam and the other
seamen very much.Especially Liam.He was the best friend she ever had and they
had all been her only real friends.She
clutched her bible and rosary as she looked ahead in the direction that the
ship was taking them in.Having to leave
Liam and her other friends was not something she wanted to think about now with
everything else that loomed over her and her family.But her spirits were lifted when she heard a
familiar voice behind her.
Stefania turned around to see Liam standing there, giving
her his usual warm, friendly smile.
“Hello, Liam,” Stefania answered, returning the smile.
“We are all over on the other side of the ship if you want
to join us,” Liam told her in Spanish.
“Thank you,” Stefania said, “I will.Can we sing the Drunken Sailor song?”
“Most definitely,” Liam said with a smile, “so we’ll be
seeing you soon?Felix is rather anxious
to see you.”
Stefania nodded with enthusiasm.Liam winked at her and turned to walk back
over to the other end of the ship.
Stefania watched Liam walking back to where his comrades
were before turning her gaze back to the ocean.The rocking of the ship on the waters gave her a brief reminder of the
cradle.She was thankful that she and
her family were far away from that horrid object, but the nature of her
family’s departure still bothered her.And why hadn’t they at least stayed a little longer to search for Olga
before leaving?And then some of the
behaviors of her parents still bothered her.
Stefania placed both of her hands around her small Bible and
rosary.She then shut her eyes and said
a prayer of protection over her family, Liam, the other seamen, and Olga.When she was finished, Stefania crossed
herself, opened her eyes, and took one last look over the rail and into the
ocean’s depths.The marine underworld
stretched below the ship and embodied a mirage of secrets.The disappearance of Olga had become one of
the mysteries that would remain with Stefania and her family.The disappearance of her baby sister and
their sudden departure from the only home Stefania knew had taught the
ten-year-old that life was filled with uncertainties and one of those uncertainties
was the future of her family.But
Stefania was willing to forget that for a little while.She jumped down from the barrel and headed
over to where Liam, Felix, and the other seamen where to sing sea shanties and talk
of the constellations, the sea, its creatures, and the legends.It would get her through another night.
La Suerte was the
only stability for her passengers with the infinite unknown all around them, as
the waters of the sea, the world below the surface, and the sky that stretched
beyond the horizon with the ocean’s waters represented the unknown future they
were all headed toward.The vastness of
the ocean and the skies were synonymous with the limitless possibilities and
dangers that potentially awaited those aboard the ship.
Quebec, Montreal, Canada
Plains, NY 1867-1931
La Suerte had
reached the Canadian port in early April of 1866.Within the following month, Nicolae (or Luiz
as he was known to everyone), Teresa, their children, and son-in-law would be
settled among a cluster of small Rom villages off the coast.The house they lived in was only a slight
upgrade from the huts they had lived in back in Europe
(in both Romania
and Spain), but
it did provide a little more room for the family.
Nicolae lived in the house with Teresa and their children
Sebastian, Ferdinand, Stefania, Tatiana, and Manuel.Anabel and her husband Vlad lived in a smaller
house, next door.Within six months of
their settling in Quebec, Anabel
would discover that she was pregnant with her and Vlad’s first child.
As the months passed, the family prepared for the new
arrival.As for Nicolae, what would normally
be a time of joy for a prospective first-time grandfather turned into a time of
deep depression and loathing.He would
feign a smile when in the company of family and friends.The nights he would go to the local pub and
drink would often be mistaken by his peers for a celebratory instead of a man
drowning in sorrow. As Nicolae saw it,
everything was a lie.His life, his
marriage—which he saw as not only a lie but also a colossal and cruel joke—was
nothing short of a sham.With each
passing day, he found it increasingy difficult to pretend as though nothing was
There is a lot
wrong…more than anyone can ever know.
Nicolae had gotten to where he could barely stand to look at
Teresa.He had begun his marriage to
Teresa with a sense of responsibility and an obligation to do what was
honorable.He was confused over how he
had seen Eloisa during his first sexual encounter with Teresa and Eloisa seemed
to have left him after that.Nicolae had
never felt so alone and abandoned than he had at the realization that his
beloved first wife was no longer returning to him.During that time, Teresa had become a comfort
to him and while he knew he could never love her the way he had Eloisa, he felt
a responsibility to her, especially when he discovered that she was carrying
his child.Nicolae would continue having
relations with Teresa, though it would never be the same as it was with Eloisa.Anytime he was with Teresa, Nicolae would
hope that Eloisa would somehow appear beneath him.Somehow, Teresa would later find that out and
it would be then that Nicolae would discover the truth of who the woman
carrying his child really was and what she had done.
Teresa’s first pregnancy had been a difficult one and
instead of going to a seaport, they ended up settling in the Rom village in Spain
and lived there up until little Olga’s disappearance.While Nicolae did have love for the children,
he couldn’t help the fact that when he looked at them, he not only saw himself
but her.Teresa.The woman who had driven the final nail into
To him, the children were a taunting reminder of what could
and should have been and ended up not being. He had wanted very much to be a father to the
child he had made with Eloisa.Any child
they would have had together would have been a result of their union and
love.With Teresa, that was not the
case.His children with Teresa had each
been the result of deception and the dark truth that had been the cause of
their ending up together.But Nicolae
also felt a tremendous amount of guilt for the times he had resented his
children and now forthcoming grandchild.There was part of him that knew it wasn’t fair to take his anger at
Teresa out on them.They were children
and had no control over how they had come into the world.They hadn’t done anything wrong.They weren’t responsible for Teresa’s
actions.Nicolae sat thinking of all
these very things in the toolshed that was behind the small house near the
Canadian coast.It was close to midnight in March of 1867 and Anabel was in her
ninth month and was likely to give birth at anytime.
Nicolae listened to the rush of the ocean’s night tides in
not so far off distance.He listened to
the ocean that, a year ago, he had finally crossed after setting out from Romania
twenty-three years ago.He thought of
all he had lost in that time: first his parents, then his siblings, then
Eloisa, then Sebastian.Then in Spain,
he lost Eloisa for a second time before losing what last sense of pride and
freedom he had left.In many ways, he
never really left Romania,
or it never left him.
Nicolae had insisted on giving his eldest son the name of
his lost brother and his eldest daughter, his mother’s name.Even the name he had used over the passed two
decades, Luiz Akatsatov, had been his father’s first name and the surname had
it’s origins in Moldova, the birthplace of his mother.As for Eloisa, Nicolae’s love for her was
still strong even if she no longer loved him.He kept her ashes with him and intended on doing so until his
death.And his death, Nicolae decided,
would be that very night.
In the dim light of the shed, Nicolae turned his gaze upward
to where he had secured the noose he had knotted out of rope.His workshed provided just enough room for a
person his height to hang.He looked at
the stool underneath the noose as he clutched the box with Eloisa’s ashes
tightly.Nicolae had carried that box
with him since the age of nineteen and now at forty-two, it would all finally
end with him being with the only woman he could ever love, the only one who had
ever made him feel complete.
There was a cliff not too far from the house that dropped
down into a query of rocks by the ocean’s edge.Nicolae had considered this as an option, as he could jump from the
cliff holding Eloisa’s ashes.But the
more he thought about it, the more he felt the way he was doing it was the
better way to go.The workshed reminded
him of Eloisa and the nights they had snuck away to be together in the toolshed
back in their slave village in Romania.He wanted his final moments to be reliving
his time with Eloisa in anticipation of finally being able to be with her again
forever.Nicolae hoped that his eldest
son would be able to fulfill his final request of scattering his and Eloisa’s
ashes together on the Atlantic Ocean (something he had
written in the suicide note that he had in his pocket).
So long as Teresa
doesn’t sabatoge it…and who knows what she’s capable of.
The sweet, though mildly irritating girl he had met in Aragon,
Spain was gone,
though she was brilliant when it came to putting up a front for the
neighbors.Nicolae stared at the door,
thinking that perhaps his original idea of throwing himself off the cliff would
be the better way to go.He could just
leave his note, throw himself into the Atlantic as he held Eloisa’s ashes and
allow the seawater to fill his lungs until he was no longer on this plain.
A small chuckle escaped Nicolae.It was odd how he had left Romania
to escape slavery.Yet, here he was
still, in a way, a slave.He was not
Nicolae Ganoush to anyone but himself (and sometimes, not even himself).As far as those who knew him now were
concerned, Nicolae Ganoush, his family, his past, where he had come from, none
of it existed.
All a lie…
When Nicolae had killed Dimitri, Domn Anton Alexanderescu
had wanted Nicolae hanged.Hanged or
beheaded.Now, here he was, considering
dying in a method that the Domn would have liked to have seen him die.
Nicolae couldn’t help wondering at that moment what became
of the Domn and his wife, Elsa over the years.The last he had heard about the Alexanderescu family was when he was
passing through Prussia
and he had heard the news of Lucinda getting married to the son of a Hungarian
noble family.Nicolae hadn’t heard
anything about the Domn or Elsa passing away, though that didn’t mean it hadn’t
Trying to imagine Lucinda as a woman his age (only two years
younger than Nicolae was) with a husband, children, and possibly even
grandchildren proved quite difficult as all Nicolae thought of when he thought
of Lucinda (other than her piece of shit
brother) was the spoiled little brat who had gotten her hair pulled out by
none other than Eloisa.Yes, Nicolae did
remember his first time meeting Eloisa when they were still children rather
Nicolae closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the
wall holding the box containing the remains of Eloisa to his chest.An image of the two of them washed over him
with the sound of an incoming wave.They
were on the mattress inside the shed back in Romania.
Nicolae was seated with Eloisa in his
lap and her legs were wrapped around him.Both were naked and vulnerable.It was beautiful.Honest.There were no barriers between them, physical
or emotional as they clinged to one another.Nicolae’s head rested on Eloisa’s chest, hearing and feeling her
heartbeat before he turned to kiss the valley between her breasts.
At that moment, Nicolae lost it as the tears began to spill
from his eyes.All the sadness,
emotional pain, and anger that he harbored had finally burst through the walls
of the fortress he had built around him over the years.Eloisa had been Nicolae’s last real stability
and when she died, his brother Sebastian had kept from completely going over
the edge.But then Sebastian disappeared
and while Nicolae had been able to contain himself from going completely mad, everything
he had lived for was gone.All he had
left were the nights Eloisa had come to him while he slept and Teresa had taken
those away.The nights Nicolae had spent
with Eloisa after her death gradually grew more far between as he was close to Aragon.He would see Eloisa, but it was
different.She was different.It was almost as though she knew what was to
come.Now, it had been two decades since
he had seen Eloisa and over those last two decades, many were the late nights
when Nicolae would just sit with the box of her ashes hoping that somehow, that
would make her come to him.But it never
happened.He had lost her.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered as his body shook from his sobs,
“I’m so sorry…”
Nicolae even doubted that Eloisa would be waiting for him on
the other side (wherever that may be).He wondered about his parents and siblings.He didn’t even know which of his brothers and
sisters were still alive or which ones had passed on.And Sebastian.In Nicolae’s mind, Sebastian was still only
eleven years old as the boy was when he vanished.And then his youngest child, Olga, had
Just like Sebastian.
Over the years, Nicolae had tried to maybe find some form of
clue in the incident with the cloaked figure, the dark labyrinth with a demonic
version of Sebastian, and being taken to the year 1956.But the more he tried to get some reason and
logic out of it, the more confused he became.All he knew at that moment was that he wanted to see Eloisa and the rest
of the family he had lost.The family
that had been forgotten and never existed as far as the rest of the world was
The letter Nicolae had in his pocket explained everythinng
and while didn’t care if Teresa understood, he hoped his children would.
Nicolae’s crying had ceased and now he sat with his eyes
still shut, knowing that it was almost time.
Eloisa, my love.I’m coming.Please be there when I do…
As Nicolae began to relax, accepting his fate and what he
was going to do, he had the feeling that he was not alone in the workshed.He felt a presence entering the room and
sitting beside him.A familiar presence.
“Nicolae,” a voice whispered.
Nicolae froze, feeling his heart nearly stop at the familiar
voice.It can’t be…oh God, it can’t…He slowly opened his eyes and there she was, sitting beside him.He stared in disbelief.“Eloisa…”
“Yes, my love,” she said. “It’s me.”
Nicolae’s first impulse was to throw his arms around her and
never let go, but he stopped, remembering the times Teresa had deceived him.
“Please…it’s really you…?” Nicolae said, studying her face,
her eyes, for any sign that it was really her and not a glamour of Teresa’s.
“It is,” she said bringing her hand to touch the side of his
careworn face.There was something in
Eloisa’s touch that he had forgotten.Something that wasn’t there with Teresa, even when she was at her most
Nicolae looked into Eloisa’s eyes, heard her voice, felt her
touch, and it all came back to him.The
genuine nature of his first wife and the love that she had for him was all
still there and had never died.She was
here after all these years.He had
gotten older and physically aged, but she was still eighteen-years-old and as
beautiful as he remembered her.
As it had happened earlier, every emotion Nicolae had
harbored came out of him.He threw his
arms around Eloisa.She felt real!She was
real!He was really holding her again
and she was holding him.
“My Eloisa!” he sobbed into her shoulder.
“It’s alright, my Nicolae,” she soothed.“I’m here.”
“Oh God.My love, why
did you leave me?!”
Eloisa tightened her embrace around him.They sat that way, Eloisa holding Nicolae as
he shed his tears.He found comfort in
her the way he had back in Romania.They were reunited, holding one another for a
while longer before pulling apart and looking at each other, taking one another
in.Then a thought occurred to
Nicolae.“Am I dead?” he asked her.
“No,” Eloisa answered.Nicolae looked into Eloisa’s eyes.He noticed sadness in the way she looked at him.“Nicolae, what happened to you?” she asked.
Her question cut through him. “I got old,” he stammered.
Eloisa sighed and shook her head.“That’s not what I mean and you know it.”
Nicolae lowered his eyes to the floor, suddenly feeling
shame as he saw Eloisa look up at the noose.
“Why are you doing this to yourself?” Eloisa asked.
Nicolae was quiet for another moment.There was so much he wanted to say. “Eloisa…
can’t live without you,” he said, “I tried and I can’t do it anymore…please…just
let me come with you.After I lost my
family, you and Sebastian were all I had left.I have nothing here anymore.”
“What about your children?” Eloisa said.
Nicolae shook his head.“I don’t know.Whenever I look at
them, I’m reminded of what happened…of what Teresa did…especially after I told
her more than once to please respect my boundaries!And did she do that?No!She lied to me!What little I had
left she took away!”Nicolae paused,
trying to control the anger he felt brewing before he said, “I don’t even have
my name anymore.I hardly even know
what’s real and what isn’t.You know,
the other day I was thinking of my brothers and sisters and I couldn’t even
remember some of their names!It’s all
getting lost…all of it…”
Nicolae brought his hands to his face as more tears began to
spill out.Eloisa brought a comforting
hand to his shoulder as Nicolae continued, “And my daughter, Anabel, is about
to have a baby and the lies will continue.Another generation and the lies will continue.I often with that after Sebastian
disappeared…that I would have just gone back to Romania
and turned myself in.”
“But you didn’t,” Eloisa said.Nicolae turned his gaze back to her.
“Your children are beautiful,” Eloisa said, “just like their
father.Your granddaughter will be too.”
Eloisa nodded.“Yes.Anabel’s having a
girl.And they all need you.Whether or not you believe that.Or want to.”
just that…when I think of what could have been…I just…wish it were our children
and granddaughter instead of…”Nicolae’s
voice trailed off.
“Nicolae, you know I wanted that too,” Eloisa said.“A life with you was all I wanted.But Nicolae, the children are not to blame
for Teresa’s actions.I know you know
And Nicolae knew she was right.
“I couldn’t leave Teresa when I found out that she was
carrying my child…” Nicolae said.
“I wouldn’t have expected you to,” Eloisa said, “because
that’s not the man I fell in love with.”
“That night…Eloisa…I thought it was you!Honest to God I did!”
Nicolae let out a sigh of relief.“I was afraid you were angry with me for
“I know it wasn’t your fault.”
“Why did you leave?Twenty three years!”
Eloisa looked down and then intently back into Nicolae’s
eyes.Nicolae could see that she was
trying to find the right words to answering his question.
“Nicolae…there is far more to the world around us than any
of us know or realize.”She paused and
said with a hint of a tear in her voice, “If I could have come to you I would
have.I worry about you, Nicolae.I know you’re not in a good place and maybe
that’s partially my fault.Maybe I held
on too long to where it became impossible for you to move on and be happy
Nicolae shook his head, beginning to protest.Eloisa gently put her fingers to his lips as
she continued.“This may not be easy for
you to hear, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it through that night alive.”
Nicolae paused, unsure of whether or not he wanted to hear
what came next.But maybe knowing will help…maybe that was part of the problem…a
voice in the back of his mind told him.Nicolae braced himself and asked, “Eloisa, what happened that night?”
Eloisa lowered her eyes to the floor.Nicolae could tell that this wasn’t easy for
her either, but maybe it was what they both needed.
“After I was taken to the room Dimitri had wanted to keep me
in, I was tied to the bed.At his
orders, of course.I’ll spare you the
details of what he did to me and I don’t even want to name those actions either.But there was one thing that he wanted to do
that…well it was out of the question that I wasn’t going to allow him to do it.So I fought him and I don’t think I need to
say that he did not take that very well.”
Nicolae sat listening and was beginning to feel physically
ill over what Eloisa was telling him.He
remembered the first time he had tried to comfort Eloisa after Dimitri’s first
assault on her (and after the first time
I attempted to kill him).
began beating me.Torturing me.He kept telling me that this was an example
of any punishments I would receive if I defied him again.Then he wanted to do something that…I was
afraid would hurt the baby.I wasn’t
even thinking of any consequence at the time…I just blurted out for him to
please not hurt my baby…”Eloisa’s voice
trailed off and her eyes closed at the horrific memory.Nicolae placed his hands on her shoulders and
brought her close to him.Her head was
on his chest when she resumed telling him what had happened to her.
“I knew that after I said that…that it was all over.I could tell by the look in his eyes that he
was going to kill me.”
“I’ve never forgiven myself for failing to save you that
night,” Nicolae said.“For not being
able to get to you in time when I swore I would always protect you.”
Eloisa pulled away and looked back into his eyes.“Nicolae, you shouldn’t blame yourself.There was nothing you could have done.They had you restrained and it was the two of
us against several of the Domn’s guards.”
“You didn’t deserve what happened to you.Our child didn’t deserve it.”Then a thought occurred to Nicolae.
“Eloisa.Our child.Do you know what it was?Is he…or she with you?”
Eloisa gave him a sad smile.“She.”
Nicolae felt his heart begin to fill up with happiness at
finding out that Eloisa had been carrying his daughter.But that evaporated when he saw the look in
her eyes and he knew.Their daughter was
not with her.
“Why?” Nicolae asked.
“I don’t know,” Eloisa said.Then Nicolae remembered the state Eloisa was in when he found her and
forced the image from his mind.
“You were too good for what Dimitri wanted of you,” he
said.“And as for him, please tell me that
he’s roasting in the lowest level of hell right now.”
“I can’t,” Eloisa said.
“Well there has to be a way to find out what happened to our
daughter.There has to be some way the
three of us can be together again.”
Eloisa gave Nicolae a tentative glance before she said, “Nicolae,
I can only tell you have to continue to be here…”
“For just a while longer.”
don’t know if I can.”
“I know you can,” Eloisa said. “Nicolae, when I knew that I
wasn’t going to be making it out of the castle alive, my last thoughts were of
you.I prayed that if there was no hope
for me and our child, that you would at least be able to find happiness again,
wherever that would be.You have no idea
how badly it hurts me…” Eloisa’s voice choked off in a sob before she was able
to regain her composure and continue.“It hurts me deeply to see you in so much pain.It was hard for me to stay away too, as I’m
sure you know.It still is.I love you, Nicolae.And no matter how it may seem, I’m never far
“Eloisa,” Nicolae said, “I want so much to be with you.How can I continue on with Teresa?To say she’s crazy is an understatement.She’s…evil.”
“That’s why your children and granddaughter need you now.You’re stronger than you think.That is the Nicolae I fell in love with.I think that’s why you did continue on even
after all that has happened to you.”
Nicolae was silent as he took in Eloisa’s words.It was true.He had every chance in the world to end it and yet, here he was.There was also something in Eloisa’s tone that
made Nicolae think that she meant more than him just being a present father in
his children’s lives.Her eyes told him
Nicolae’s thoughts went to Andreas, his and Teresa’s first
son and child who had died shortly after birth.And then Olga, her disappearance still held so many unanswered questions
and somehow, Nicolae knew that it all came back to Teresa and what she had done
that moonlit night two decades ago.
“Nicolae,” Eloisa said, “one other thing I can tell you is
that when it is your time, I’ll be there.”
“Really?” Nicolae asked.
Nicolae thought of Eloisa’s words from earlier: There is far more to the world around us
than any of us know or realize.When
one looked at it that way, everything made a little more sense.Everything from Eloisa being with him even
after her death, the adventure with the cloaked figure, being taken to the year
1956 for a short time, even Sebastian’s disappearance made a little more sense
and a little easier to deal with, though not a whole lot.But what he did know was that he needed to
stop running away from it all.He needed
to be a father.He needed to be a
grandfather.Whatever Teresa had become,
he needed to be there to somehow counter that.There was a seriousness to Eloisa’s expression that told that him that
while she didn’t have all the answers, it was still imperitive that he listen
Nicolae looked into Eloisa’s eyes, gently taking her face in
his hands. “I love you, Eloisa.Only
“I love you too, Nicolae,” she said, “and you’re still as
handsome as you were when we were together back in Romania.”
“Well, I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor,” Nicolae
said with a small smirk.
“I mean it, Nicolae!”
Eloisa said with a laugh.How he missed
They were both silent then for a moment before Nicolae said,
Eloisa didn’t have to ask ‘what for.’She knew what he meant.She also knew it was time to leave him, but
not before saying, “Please look after your children.Promise me.”
“I will,” Nicolae said, “I promise.”He looked over Eloisa, taking in her supple,
graceful figure and recalling the nights with her over two decades ago.A feeling of love and desire stirred inside
of him, something he hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Eloisa…” he said.He
was hesitant, as he didn’t know how Eloisa would react to him propositioning
her in that way.They were part of two
different worlds now with Nicolae being significantly older and whether he
wanted to acknowledge it or not, he was currently still married to Teresa.
Try as he might, Nicolae found it impossible to fight what
he was feeling for Eloisa at that moment.He wanted her in his arms again in a skin to skin embrace.He wanted her soothing touch on the old
whiplashing scars that still covered his back and chest.He wanted to bring her to a state of blissful
ecstasy the way he had year ago.What he
wanted was to feel that love he had been without, one last time.
“Eloisa,” he began again, “I know I’m not the young man I
was when we were in Romania--”
“Yes you are,” she said before she leaned in and kissed him.Nicolae was taken by surprise before he began
to return her passionate gesture.To
Eloisa, he was still Nicolae, the
young man she fell in love with.Neither
of them needed to say another word to eachother and Eloisa allowed Nicolae to
bring his lips down to her neck and along her collarbone, welcoming every touch
from his trembling fingers and lips.
“Nicolae!” Eloisa cried, as she had done so many times in
the past and tightened her embrace around him.That cry had been both of their undoing, breaking down any lingering
hesitation that may have been left before completely succumbing to one another.After that, it was as though no time had ever
passed.For the first time in twenty
three years, Nicolae felt the same happiness he had known with Eloisa in Romania,
as though they had both been transported back to the toolshed that had been
their sanctuary, their Garden of Eden.
It wasn’t long before all clothing was cast aside and they
stopped for a moment to take one another in.Looking down at Eloisa’s naked form would alone have been enough to send
Nicolae to that wonderful plain of euphoria.He did feel a little self-concious of his own body, which had aged, but
had a good amount of lean muscle mass and agility despite years of
self-abuse.Nicolae still worried that Eloisa
would be disappointed or even repulsed once she had gotten a look at him, but
what he saw in her eyes was love.Love
accompanied with desire.
Nicolae closed his eyes as Eloisa lightly ran her fingers
over his chest.
“I’ve missed you so much,” he whispered and leaned down to
kiss her again, parting her lips with his tongue as he hungrily explored her
mouth before moving on to the rest of her body, worshipping it the way he had
the night he became her husband.Eloisa’s
cries echoed in his ears as they moved together on the wooden floor (amidst the
throws of ecstacy, Nicolae barely noticed that his knees didn’t agree with him
as they had two decades ago).He got her
ready for him, stimulating her in ways that he remembered her enjoying.When it was time, Nicolae slid into her
Eloisa with a slow, but smooth, thrust.A groan left his mouth as he also heard a pleasured moan from Eloisa.
Nicolae paused and looked down at the woman who had been his
world since he was eight-years-old.She
was looking back at him with tears filling her eyes.He took a moment to enjoy the feeling of
being inside her again.Eloisa wrapped
her legs around his waist, allowing him in as deep as he was able to go.She clutched his shoulders, her fingers
finding two of his scars.Nicolae began
to slowly move as he tried to steady his body from shaking.Eloisa moved with him as he gradually picked
up his pace as the ocean’s waves continued churning and splashing against the
As a fairly large tidal wave hit the rocks in the very query
that Nicolae that considered taking his life in with a loud crash, Nicolae hit
his climax, calling out the name of the only woman he had ever loved.
They lay on the floor of the shed in their aftermath, Nicolae
on his back with his arms around Eloisa, who lay with her head on his chest.Every so often, she would lift her head to
lightly brush one of his scars with her lips.
After a few more moments of lying like that, Eloisa picked
her head up and looked into Nicolae’s eyes.“I have to leave soon,” she said with a touch of regret in her voice.
Nicolae swallowed before bringing a hand up to cup the side
of her face.“I know,” he said.
“But we have many times like this to look forward to,” she
Nicolae smiled and lifted himself to kiss her forehead.For that moment, he really was that same
young man with Eloisa in Romania.
“I’d love to go swimming with you now in the ocean,” Nicolae
said.“There’s no one on the beach right
now, so we can go as we are.”
Nicolae flinched when he felt a cool liquid rush by,
enveloping him and Eloisa.He then
realized that they were now lying on the beach, underneath the starry sky.In the starlight, he could see Eloisa
grinning down at him.
“Hey,” he said, “did you…?
Eloisa’s grin widened until she let out a giggle.
“You really are too much,” Nicolae said as he brought
himself up to kiss her. The tides continued to flow in around Nicolae and
Eloisa as they gave one another an emotional farewell that would have to last
them for another ten years.Then, they
were back in the workshed, dressed and embracing for what would be the last
time that night.
“Just remember,” Eloisa said, “no matter how it may seem, I’m
never far from you.And we will be
together again when the time is right.That, I can promise you.”
“Please wait for me,” Nicolae said, not wanting to let her
They held their embrace for as long as they possibly could,
each one taking the other in and when they parted, Nicolae and Eloisa would
gaze into the other’s eyes before she would be gone.
His Eloisa was gone again, but this time, instead of feeling
empty, he felt complete and a sense of reassurance.Eloisa had returned to him briefly to once
again, give him what he needed.Nicolae
smiled at the realization and stood up.
We’ll be together when
the time is right.That, I can promise
you.I’m never far from you.Her words echoed back to him.
Nicolae looked once more at the stool and noose and removed
them from where he had placed them.He
unknotted the rope and carrying his box with Eloisa’s ashes, he walked back down
to the ocean’s shore and threw the rope into the ocean.He then sat with the box as he watched the
rope drift out to sea and smiled at what he had just experienced.It was then he remembered the suicide letter
he had in his pocket.Nicolae took it
out and unfolded it, reading over what he had written.He thought about tearing it up and throwing
it into the ocean with the rope, but decided to keep the letter.The truth was the truth and that he couldn’t
throw away.He wouldn’t throw it away,
though it would be almost another decade before he would break the truth, all
of it, to one of his children.
Nicolae still sat along the shore, with one hand on the box
of ashes and the other clutching the letter that held the truth, when the
sunrise began to show itself over the horizon.He wondered if there were sunrises where Eloisa was and if so, if she
was watching it the way he was.Nicolae
knew that there would come a day when he would be able to find out and that if
there were sunrises there, he and Eloisa had an eternity to share it.He wondered if there were rules in the
afterlife.Eloisa had felt like a flesh
and blood human being.Can a ghost
materialize themselves that way or do you get some kind of new physical body on
the other side?
Nicolae remembered the urgent warning in Eloisa’s eyes.He thought of Andreas and Olga and how he
hadn’t been able to protect them.He
thought of the daughter he would have had with Eloisa, had she lived.Nicolae had wanted to be a present father to
his and Eloisa’s child.He had spent
much of his childhood without parents and at the time he found out Eloisa was
pregnant, Nicolae had wanted to make sure that no child of his would ever feel
neglected.He and Eloisa were to share
the parenting responsibilities. But now, here he was, neglecting his
children.Nicolae knew that Eloisa was
right in that his children were not responsible for their mother’s actions and
with each year passing, leaving her alone with them would likely prove
There is far more to
the world around us than any of us know or realize.
The more he thought about it, the more it all began to hit
him and make complete sense.And knowing
that Eloisa wasn’t far from him and that he had an eternity of being with her
to look forward made the darkness in Nicolae brighten.The only thing that really bothered him now
was the whereabouts of his and Eloisa’s daughter and what it would take to
bring her to them.
As the sun’s rays began to rise, Nicolae tightened his grip
on the box and said, “Thank you, my love.I’m sure it won’t be too much longer before I’ll be seeing you again.”And he was right.
Over in the states, the year 1867 was two years post Civil
War and the country was still settling into the aftermath.Slavery had been abolished in the United
States, just soon after Romani slavery had
also met its end in Europe.In their village in Canada,
Anabel had given birth to a baby girl named Tsura, the first grandchild of
Nicolae and Teresa.Cedric and Margaret
Fleming had been successfully running Nathaniel Fleming Orphanage for over two
decades.The manor’s beautiful, Victorian
era buildings sat in the patch of clearing amidst the woodland at the top of
the hill, visible to the townfolk of Plains. Many of saw the Fleming’s property as a great
asset to the town and James Livingston continued to remain an active member of
the Board of Directors, keeping his promise of assisting Cedric and Margaret in
anyway he could, even after his retirement from running Livingston Publishing.
By now, James was in his early seventies and Samantha had
passed away five years earlier in 1862 at the age of sixty-two.She was enterred in a mausolieum that James
had built on a plot he had reserved for him and his family when the Plains
Cemetery had been established.Following Samantha’s passing, James had
decided that it was officially time to retire from running Livingston
Publishing, leaving it to his three sons, all of whom still lived in New
York with their wives and children.James’s second son, Samuel, had been the most
enthusiastic about inheriting the company and had been the one to take over
many of James’s tasks in running Livingston Publishing and the Library.Jesse, the eldest, had a better mind for
accounting and worked in the company’s accounting department and Lawrence was a
creative writer and even had a few of his own works published under the name
L.H. Livingston.Jesse and his wife
Heather were also expecting their first grandchild and the first
great-grandchild for James and his late wife.
The Livingstons had also kept in regular
touch with the Blakes over the years.Charles Blake had passed away at the age of 55 a little over a decade
ago.James, Samantha, and the rest of
the Livingston family had attended the wake and burial,
expressing his condolences to Emma, the Blake children and grandchildren.Charles and Emma had had ten grandchildren at
the time of Charles’s death.Five of
those children had belonged to Jonathan and Kimimela: their eldest son, Chaska,
was was nine and their second, a son named Charles (named after his
grandfather) was seven.Following them
was five-year-old Gerard and then two-year-old Maya.Kimimela held her youngest at the service,
three-month-old Willow.Kimimela was twenty-seven and Jonathan was
nearing thirty.Rachel, the youngest
child of Charles and Emma, was now nineteen and stood with her fiancé, knowing
that she would not have her father to walk her down the isle on her wedding
day.Kimimela’s family, including her
father, were also in attendance.
James Livingston had been one of a few individuals asked to
give a eulogy for Charles.In his
eulogy, James recalled the day Charles had come into his Publishing Company,
begging him for work as he had just arrived from Ireland
with his wife and two small boys.Despite the vocal doubts of those in James’s staff on hiring the
Irishman, James had ended up deciding to give Charles a chance and offer him a
month’s trial, which Charles had accepted with enthusiasm.
“Anyone who has a problem with the way I run my business is
free to seek employment elsewhere,”James
had said to the protesting members of his staff.After that, no one had argued, though Charles
wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms at first.
James didn’t quite know what it was about Charles that he initially
liked.Perhaps it was the fact that
Charles had two sons who were almost the exact ages of James’s own boys. But
James would never regret giving Charles a chance and he would soon learn that
the Irishman was one of the hardest workers he had ever seen.Any task Charles was given, he would give his
all to regardless of how minor the task at hand seemed.
When Charles’s month long trial was over, James had asked
him if was able to read.Charles said he
was only able to read a little, but would be willing to learn what he couldn’t
do.And he did so he could perform the
filing job James had offered him.
“Charles had been working for me for nearly a year,” James
continued.“One day, I pulled him aside
and asked him where he and his family had been living.I had heard that his wife, Emma, was carrying
little Frankie at the time.Charles
answered me saying that they were living in a hostile with many others who had
just come over.I went home that night,
and after discussing it with Samantha, I offered Charles and his family housing
in the guest house that sits in the back of my New York
think he thought I was joking at first because he gave me a very peculiar look
after I made the offer.He then asked me
how much rent would.I told him
none.He and his family could live there
while he saved his money for the land out west.First, Charles tried to politely refuse my offer, but then when I
reminded him that it would be much better living conditions for his wife and
children than a hostile.Well, Charles
insisted that I at least let him pay me some amount of rent.He said it wouldn’t be honest any other
way.At the time and for years, Charles
and I laughed about it, but it also told what kind of a man he was.A man of integrity.Something that he had passed on to his fine
sons and lovely daughter.”
James struggled to hold back his emotions when he concluded.“I was proud to Charles, both as a worker and
as a friend.He taught me that amidst of
all the scoundrels and con artists, there is also that man, that diamond in the
rough, who demonstrates his character with a sense of responsibility and
integrity.Men who value their work and
family.Men who are just good, honest
men who count their blessings everyday.The
world needs more like Charles.Let us
celebrate his life and take away from it…how we can be a person that everyone
should strive to be.”James finished by turning
to the body of his friend who was laid out in the casket and through the lump
that was rising in his throat said, “Godspeed, old friend.”
James had gone to Illinois
to say goodbye to his friend, a friend he would greatly miss.But it was Emma who also impressed him in the
way she held her family together during a most difficult time.James and Emma would continue the tradition
of letter writing that Charles and James originally had.They would write about what was happening in
their area, their children and grandchildren.James and Emma would find even more common ground with one another after
the death of James’s beloved Samantha.They
had both lost the person they loved and now lived in an empty house with all
their children grown and moved out.They
found communication with one another comforting.James found Emma to be a truly amazing woman,
reminding him in some ways of his Samantha.Now, James enjoyed a quiet, retired life, with his only work being the
occasional board meeting for the library and the Fleming orphanage.
The year 1867 would also be the thirteenth year of Maxine
Fleming being a classroom instructor there.Maxine had taken the position of an English instructor when she was 20
years old and seemed to thoroughly enjoy teaching the children had taken to
living in her dormroom rather well.She had
lived out the rest of her childhood in the upper living quarters of the main
building with her parents.At eighteen,
she became an assistant classroom instructor to Christian Andrews, who the
English instructor at that time.
Christian was a man in his early thirties, married, and with
two children.He lived off of the
property in a house with his family, but it was rumored among the orphanage
staff that Christian and Maxine had taken a liking to one another.Cedric and Margaret had had concerns about
this and expressed their objection to her becoming involved with a member of
the staff who was also married with a family.But as these things sometimes happen, the warnings went ignored.
It wasn’t long before Christian was responding to Maxine’s
charms and the two began seeing eachother before and after school hours, trying
to be as descreet as possible, and Christian telling his wife the old excuse of
having to work late.Of course, the
entire incident dismayed Cedric and Margaret.
“I raised to be a respectable young lady,” Margaret had told
her daughter, “not some married man’s mistress!”
“Mother, he’s not happy with his wife,” Maxine
protested.“He’s going to divorce
her.He told me he would!”
Christian had been Maxine’s first lover, so of course, the
young woman was smitten.
The love affair between Christian Andrews and Maxine Fleming
would carry on for over a year until they would all discover that Maxine was
pregnant.Cedric and Margaret loved
their daughter, but these were times when such an occurance would potentially
cause a scandal and possibly even ruin the family and the business.A deal between the Flemings and the Andrews
was secretly made for Christian’s family to take his and Maxine’s child.Christian’s wife would take on the façade of
being pregnant and Maxine would be sent to be with relatives until the child
Even James Livingston was unaware of it all until some time
after when Cedric had confided in him.Cedric
couldn’t help not feeling right about giving up his granddaughter to the
Andrews famly (who had moved up to Vermont
after the birth) even if it was for the better.He was concerned about the affect the ordeal had had on Maxine, but she
seemed to return from the incident rather well as she threw herself into her
studies in becoming an instructor, which she did excel at.But Maxine’s illegitimate pregnancy wouldn’t
be the only trouble that Cedric and Margaret’s orphanage would face.
The orphanage was, overall, a safe haven for children who
had become wards of the state and the Flemings had aided in many successful
adoptions.But every so often, there
would be a child who would go missing, never to be seen or heard from.While these occurances were very few and far
between, they were terribly disturbing and upsetting to Cedric and Margaret as
they strived to provide a safe haven for these children.
The other troubling thing was that according to testimonies
from some of the other children, the child in question would seem to have just
vanished.There one minute, and gone the
next. The authorities would work with
the Flemings in searching for the missing child and finding any possible
culprits.But the child in question would
never be returned, seen, or heard from again.
“Keep in mind that sometimes children do just run away,” a
detective had told Cedric and Margaret after one incident.
It was obvious he was merely trying to make the Flemings
feel better, but it wasn’t any use.Cedric and Margaret didn’t like the thought of any child missing whether
that child left at their own free will or against their will.
There had been one case when a shred of a bloody, piece of
clothing had been found in the woods not too far from the orphanage.Of course a police search was conducted, but
in those days, there was only so much the investigators were able to do and eventually
the case went cold.The police had
chalked it up to being an unfortunate child who had wandered into the woods and
likely came face to face with a hungry animal.
Cedric and Margaret would implement more security and the
following years would occur without incident until October 31, 1867 when Cedric and Margaret would
be found dead in their living quarters.
The coroner who had overseen the Flemings’ corpses had been
unable to find the cause of death and ended up pronouncing it as natural causes.Cedric and Margaret where well into their
sixties and such a thing was not uncommon.But one thing that the coroner had found—information that was also
withheld from the news periodicals—were the odd scratches on the bodies of
Margaret and Cedric.Cedric and Margaret
Fleming were buried in Plains Cemetery
alongside of their adopted son, Nathaniel, whose body they had had moved to
their purchased plot when they had set up residence in Plains.
The deaths of Cedric and Margaret would be very disturbing
to James.He had gone to see the
coroner, who was reluctant to tell him anything at first, but eventually broke
down and told James about the scratches.
“Animal scratches?” James had asked frowning.
The coroner shook his head and said, “Honestly, I couldn’t
even begin to tell you.I hadn’t seen
anything like them before in my years of doing what I do.”
Although it was against the code of ethics in his
profession, the coroner had given James his report on the Fleming deaths.Later that night, James sat in his study, comparing
the report given to the newspapers verses what the real report was.
I hadn’t seen anything
In that moment, James recalled the ordeal with seeing the
dark-haired girl fixing herself a noose that he had seen prior to the orphanage
opening, and then what his son, Lawrence, had told him about the dream he had
had about Nathaniel Fleming.
I saw Nathaniel
Fleming kill you!
The more James sat and thought about everything, the more
Charles Blake’s death also seemed to be more than what had been officially
reported.Charles had died falling from
the roof of a barn that he was repairing for his neighbor, Greg Jackson.While such things do happen and would normall
be an open and shut case, James vaguely recalled Emma mentioning that Greg’s
twelve-year-old son, Phillip, swore that he saw someone else up on the roof
with Charles in the minutes before his fall.He didn’t know who it was, the boy had said.He couldn’t even remember what the other man
had looked like.But, the Phillip had
added, he looked like he was floating and he was right behind Mr. Blake.No one else, including Phillip’s father, had
seen anyone else that day with Charles.Greg had also scolded his son for saying such things.
“The Blakes are going through enough without you making up
stories,” Greg had told him.
“I’m not making it up!” Phillip had protested.
“That is enough!” Greg exclaimed.“I don’t want you ever saying such a thing
And Phillip would obey his father.
Then there was little Willow Blake.Vanished.Gone at the age of two.
How could I have
forgotten…? James wondered to himself.The youngest child of Jonathan and Kimimela had disappeared ten years
ago, two years after Charles’s death.Kimimela had gone to wake her daughter in the morning only to find her
James remembered Emma’s distressed wire as she feared for
her little granddaughter.He had tried
to comfort Emma, telling her that everything would be alright and that he was
certain the girl would be found.But
even at that time, something made James uneasy about the incident.
When the police had questioned Jonathan and Kimimela, they
had asked if Willow—who had been
walking since the previous year—had any history with sleepwalking.Kimimela felt her stomach wrench at the
question, though she wouldn’t understand why.It was a simple enough question and fairly plausible.
Jonathan wore a grave expression as he slowly shook his head
and said, “No.No, I don’t think so.”
Kimimela’s father, Howahkan, had still been alive at the
time and he had gone to see his daughter and her husband.Howahkan was able to sense the little
girl.“She’s around here,” he had said
of his granddaughter.The conjoined
families had searched the area for the girl, only to come up empty despite
Howahkan’s being able to sense her presence.Later on after the other four children had gone up to bed, Howahkan had
asked Jonathan and Kimimela if there was anything that might have seemed out of
place prior to Willow’s disappearance.Kimimela frowned as she remembered something.Howahkan and Jonathan both regarded her
curiously as Kimimela recalled a few times in the last two weeks when she had
gone to get Willow out of bed.Willow
had been talking in full sentences for about as long as she had begun to walk. The little girl had told her mother several
times in the last two weeks that she had just been ‘in the clouds.’Kimimela didn’t think much of it until that
moment when the little girl was missing.
“That was what I saw the first day we spoke to eachother on
the trail.Remember?” Jonathan had
That was true.Before
he had turned onto the trail that day, Jonathan had seen clouds.Nothing but sky and clouds around him.
“Perhaps that was a warning,” Howahkan suggested.He had promised Jonathan and Kimimela that he
would continue trying to locate Willow.The following morning, Howahkan had passed
away.Another loss for Jonathan and
A headstone for little Willow
had been placed on the Blakes’ property in the area Charles had been buried
in.There was no grave for Willow
as there wasn’t a body found.Only a
stone that read:
“Our beautiful little angel”
James shook his head as he recalled the tragedies that had
befallen the Blakes, all in such a short period of time.He remembered the brief flash he had seen that
evening in 1844 in his holiday home.The
night before he would alter his Will to include the Blakes.He had seen her again.That same dark-haired girl.She had been playing the piano, a familiar
piece by the composer, Paganini.
As James turned his eyes back down to the documents
regarding the Fleming deaths, he thought he could hear the notes to the song
playing on a piano, somewhere far away.He removed his reading spectacles and rubbed his temples, trying to make
the sound leave him.But the more he
tried to rid himself of the song, the louder it seemed to play until it was
almost as though someone were sitting in that very same room with him, playing
on a piano.The song continued to fill
the air and he could feel the emotion being pounded into the keys.He noticed the chills that covered him and
remembered what he had thought that night at the orphanage in the center room
on the fourth floor (room number 410).
No logic…none at all…
James looked around as he felt the presence of someone enter
his study.But when he looked up, no one
was there and the music had stopped.The
house was silent around him.Empty and
Cedric and Margaret Fleming’s orphanage would remain open
thanks to Maxine.The now thirty-four
year old woman would recover well from the deaths of her parents and would also
bring in her cousin and Cedric’s nephew, Jared Fleming, to help her with continuing
In 1868, James would retire from being on the board, though
he extended his help to Jared and Maxine if they would need it. James would never share this with anyone, but
he didn’t take very well to Jared.There
really wasn’t anything specific that James could point at, but there was
something about Jared that didn’t sit very well with James.Of course, there was the rumor among staff
members that Jared and Maxine had been more than just business partners to one
another, but James was bored with gossip at that point.The final year of James’s life would be quiet
other than gatherings with friends and family with the occasional visit out to
see Emma and the other Blakes still living on the property Charles had bought.
On a summer night in June of 1870, James would put his head
down on the desk in his study after reading a letter from Emma Blake, shut his
eyes and never wake again.He would be
found a day later by his two eldest sons.
James’s funeral had been a large affair with many
politicians, artists, and others of importance in society in attendance, each
remembering James for the work he had done for the state of New
York and the small town of Plains.What would have been the most important to
James thought, would have been knowing that Emma Blake, her children,
grandchildren, and new great-grandchildren had been at his service followed by
their pleasant shock when they discovered what James had left for their family
in his Will.Following his funeral service,
James had been interred alongside Samantha and a statue of him had been built
in front of the Plains Library in his honor, stating him as a founder of the
Emma Blake would go to be with Charles in the year 1875 at
the age of seventy-one.Emma would pass
away, surrounded by her family inside her her Illinois
home.Over in Canada,
only a month later, Nicolae Ganoush would collapse right before his heart would
stop beating at age fifty-one.His final
resting place would be the Atlantic Ocean as one of
Nicolae’s children would see that he got his final wish of having his ashes
scattered there with Eloisa’s.Nicolae
Ganoush, known as Luiz Akatzatov, had left behind Teresa, their seven children,
and thirteen grandchildren.He was
finally happy again.Finally back with
As for the Fleming Orphanage, Jared and Maxine would run it
together for another ten years until the night of All Hallow’s Eve in 1880 when
Jared would be found hanging by his neck in the fifth floor of the main building.
He had been living in the same quarters
that his aunt and uncle had lived in and it had been rumored that although
Maxine had kept her school instructor’s dormroom, she actually lived up with
Jared most of the time.
On the night of Jared’s death, Maxine had been found
wandering the grounds claiming to have seen her brother Nathaniel.
“He had the Devil’s eyes!” she was rambling, “he was asking
me to let him in!”
Maxine was taken to a sanitarium further upstate and was
reportedly going on about how the town of Plains
was cursed and built near a hellmouth.
The rest of the Fleming kin thought it best to close the orphanage
down.There had been one scandal too
many and sponsors were threatening to pull their funding.So it was done and the remaining children
were moved around to other orphanages around the state.
When the news of Jared’s apparent suicide and Maxine’s
rantings had hit the newspapers, many assumed the story to be nothing more than
a case of people who succumbed to the effects of alcohol (as Jared and Maxine
were both known to have been quite the lushes at parties and events) and the
pressures of running a business that proved to be more difficult than
originally thought.But what the papers
didn’t report was that Jared’s body had been terribly mutilated.The coroner knew the wounds on Jared’s body
had not been self-inflicted like his father before him had been mystified by
the small scratches on the bodies of Cedric and Margaret, this coroner found
the mutilation on Jared’s body to not be like anything he had seen in the few
years he had been practicing.
Jared was quietly buried in Plains
Cemetery along with his Uncle
Cedric, Aunt Margaret, and his cousin Nathaniel.Fleming Manor was officially shut down in the
spring of 1881, close to what would have been it’s 35th year open.
The buildings would sit empty over the years and what was
once considered an asset for the town was now a gloomy eyesore.Maxine would live out her final days in the
sanitarium.She would be found floating
facedown in a bathtub at the age of 60.Her body would be moved back to Plains where she would be buried with
the rest of her family.
The years would pass and the people of Plains would
eventually resume their quiet lives.The
Fleming’s property would go up for sale again, but by the the time a recession
would hit the United States followed by the Great Depression in the 1929, the
land didn’t hold the value it once had.Of course, the local folklore didn’t do much to help matters.The more superstitious did believe that the
land up on the hill was cursed and refused to go near it.Maxine’s original statements of the area
being near or on top of a hellmouth remained.Some who claimed to be mediums preferred to call it a wormhole that was
a direct pathway to other dimensions.Then there were the claims of the strange and unusual sightings,
including those who said that they had seen the ghosts of Nathaniel, Maxine,
Cedric and Margaret along with seeing Jared’s silhouette hanging in the fifth
floor window of the main building.Some
even claimed to see the spirits of the children who had gone missing and had heard
whispering coming from the trees at night and shadows lurking in the
trees.Maybe it was the dark cloud cast
upon the state of New York and
the rest of the country before and during the Depression, but the stories were
Others laughed the stories off as being ghost stories used
to take people’s minds off of the hard times of the recession and Depression
and would dismiss the whispers as simply being the wind and the shadows as
being either woodland animals or just some local kids messing around.
There would be the occasional group of teens who would sneak
up the hill late at night, daring a member of their group to stay for at least
an hour on the floor of the main building where Cedric, Margaret, and Jared
Fleming had met their end.Sometimes
they would enter the buildings in groups, breaking open the doors, or forcing
open a window, running around and scaring each other.Some would even find their way to some of the
old rooms and end up giving into teenaged desires in one of the old
bedrooms.There would be one such outing
on Halloween of 1931 that would begin as a fun night of mischief for a group of
six friends but would hardly go as any of them would plan or expect it to.And that would only be the beginning.
As for Jonathan and Kimimela Blake, they would both be live
to see the turn of the 20th century (as Jesse, Samuel, and Lawrence
Livingston and their wives all would).Jonathan would pass away at the age of 79 in the year 1906.Kimimela would follow him three years later
in 1909 at the age of 80.
Kimimela’s passing would occur in the same way her
mother-in-law’s had, in the home she and Jonathan had built after they had
gotten married, which was partially maded possible by James Livingston.She was surrounded by her and Jonathan’s
children, grandchildren, and a few great-grandchildren.As the shadow of death covered her physical
being, Kimimela saw scenes from her entire life, from her birth in her Sioux
village, to her first meeting with Jonathan, to their wedding, and the births
of all their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.Then she saw him.She saw Jonathan, sitting on top of Samson,
waiting for her at the end of a trail.One that was very similar to the trail they had met on.
Kimimela felt as though she were floating.She saw her body below her lying still on the
bed.She saw her children and
grandchildren surrounding her and she felt their sorrow.She saw eighteen-year-old Matthew and how
handsome he had become…so much like Jonathan at his age.She saw Ronald and his lovely wife, Eunice, holding
their first born son, Chayton, with her left arm while she made the Catholic
sign of the holy cross with her right.Then,
she heard his voice call to her.Jonathan’s voice.Suddenly, she
was enveloped by a warm light and taken to the edge of a trail, the one that
resembled the place she met Jonathan at.Kimimela looked ahead to see Jonathan and Samson, still waiting for her
at the other end.Jonathan was a young
man of eighteen, the way he was when she met him.Kimimela looked down at herself, realizing
that her body had been restored to it’s youth.
She ran up the path toward Jonathan and Samson.She could feel the presence of her father and
They’re here too!
When Kimimela approached the end of the path she stopped to
“I’ve missed you!” she said to the black stallion.Samson bucked his head, as if he were
greeting her, welcoming her home.
Kimimela looked up as Jonathan was dismounting Samson.She looked into the grayish-blue eyes she adored
and Jonathan scooped her up in a passionate embrace as he had done the evening
Howahkan had given the union of Jonathan and Kimimela his blessing.
“I’ve been waiting for you, my love,” Jonathan whispered to
her in his beautiful Irish brogue. He
helped her get up onto Samson before getting on behind her and taking hold of
Jonathan gave Samson a gentle nudge and the three of them
turned out onto a field.Just up ahead,
Howahkan and his wife waited and the presences of Charles and Emma Blake were
not far away either.She was home again.