This is an original ghost story written by me. Scroll down to hear me read the story aloud. Happy Halloween!
The maiden lies on the mountaintop, entombed in glass and gathering dust. Her snow-white skin and blood red lips, her hair as black as ebony wood, belie how long she’s slept.
Something has gone wrong.
No pious mourners keep their watch, no birds perch on her coffin lid, the vines have grown to obscure her tomb. She waits alone.
And years have passed — seasons changing one by one, and one by one again. So many years that, should she wake, she’d think herself on distant shores, or sent to some accursed realm where all is nonsense – a world gone mad.
Where is the prince? He’s long since dead. His life was misery, his lot despair, his heart was broken, and his will was lost. He thought her dead (asleep perhaps? It wasn’t clear) and, well, one doesn’t kiss without consent. He left her there. And so, she sleeps.
But now, at last, she’s found again. A boy — no, two boys, nearly grown — stumble upon her tomb. Neither one admits his fear. They egg each other on.
“Go on, kiss her.”
“No, you first.”
“Alright, I’ll do it, help me with the lid.”
A puff of air, an attic smell. A sound like breathing but there is no breath. The lips too red, the cheeks too soft, the eyes seem somehow sunken.
He swallows painfully, his throat gone dry. His friend steps back, unsure. On bended knee he leans in close. (Does he imagine it, the smell of rot?) Her hair moves in the wind. A strand – more than a strand – detaches and floats away on the breeze. Her bones show through the skin of her face; her lips can’t quite hide the shape of her teeth. Where isthat smell coming from?
“Come on, man, get it over with.”
He closes his eyes. He leans in again. He remembers, too late, that he’s never been kissed. This will be his first. His gorge is rising. He’s not sure why. Do it fast.
He touches his lips to hers. Cold, and soft, and moist. He pulls away. Stumbling and falling and scuttling backward like a crab. Far enough away now, he laughs. A hollow sound. She doesn’t wake. He turns to his friend.
But it will not be his turn. Softly the maiden’s skin is falling away. Her lips peeling back from her teeth. Sinew and muscle sink gently into bone. Hair drifts silently away. Her eyes open.
There is no sound. The boys stand, frozen in terror, clutching at each other’s shirts. Somehow they cannot move, cannot run, cannot do anything but stare with eyes glazed and glistening.Hereyes are glistening too. She doesn’t blink. She can’t. She’d need eyelids for that. But she turns her head. Turns her eyes toward the boys.
She begins to sit up. A sound like leaves on a window pane. She lifts a bony hand, examines her skin hanging in tatters. Her teeth click hollowly, her jaw exposed. She swivels, swings her legs off the side of the bier. A pretty red ribbon that was once in her hair – when she had hair – detaches from her head and flutters away.
As one the boys begin to run. They tear their eyes away and, gasping, fling themselves into the woods. In their ears is the sound of their beating hearts, the swirling leaves and forest sounds, and, underneath, the sound of bone on bone.
They charge into the underbrush, tripping over roots and crashing into trees. They grab at each other – now pushing, now pulling – and try not to hear the third set of footsteps rustling the leaves. They dare not look back. They dare not believe. They dare not acknowledge what they have done.
They burst out of the woods and into the town. They tumble into a house that belongs to one or the other of them. They flip on the lights. They lock the door. They stand in the hallway, the thing they have seen already morphing and shifting in their minds. (A trick of the light? A practical joke? A dream?)
A shadow detaches itself from the wall across the street. It makes for the brightly lit window of the boy’s home. It creeps closer. And closer still.
A whisper on the wind: “I knew you’d come.”
Hear me read this story aloud (with spooky sound effects) below.