“I used to love playing pirates as a lad. A rock was my boat and a stick, my sword. The bluebells, my ocean.” I grasp my mug, disguising my trembling hands. A soothing sip of the warm, bitter coffee fuels me enough to continue. “Supposed to be a change in the air or a drop of temperature, before a spirit appears.” Another sip. “None of that happened. She just appeared.”
“What did she look like, Grandad?” Sara’s eyes sparkle wide with curiosity and something else. She loves a good ghost yarn.
“Her hair was long, wavy and the purest gold you’ll ever see. She wore a garden dress. Not a garden party dress, a garden dress. Pale green and covered in real flowers. Vines grew up her arms and leaves sprung from her fingers.” I stop. No need to terrify the girl.
I polish off my coffee dregs and return my mug to its stained paper coaster.
“She asked me to join her. Reached her hands out to me. Her legs grew like tree roots.” I grab my mug again. Right. It’s empty. I hold it with both hands, pressing it into my chest. “She said she could show me another world.”
Sara leans forward, her breathing quick. “What did you do?”
“Threw my sword and ran like Hell itself was on my heels. Maybe it was.” I often can’t sleep wondering what would have happened if I went with her. My heart beats against the ceramic. “I never saw her again.” I reach to return my mug to the side table.
“Were her eyes bleeding?”
My hand collapses. The mug slips and shatters. I pay no attention. “How do you know that?” “Thomas went with her, but I ran. Like you did, Grandad.”