He showed up at my sister’s Halloween party. With her. Ever since the second grade I knew I would be the one showing off the glittering two-carat diamond.
Choking on a cracker loaded with a pile of dried beef cheese ball, I pushed through the crowd and out the kitchen’s back door. Scantily clad in my Minnie Mouse costume, I hurried into the back yard. The light of the full moon guided my wooden steps across the browned grass. Dust and dry leaves scattered from my path with each gust of wind.
It was supposed to be me.
How many times had he told my sister he wanted to ask me out? Four? A dozen? I had waited for him to ask me. I was too shy—too young to go out with an older boy. I had waited too long. Now my chance vanished in the crisp cold air.
I settled on top of a crumbling stone wall and tucked my legs beneath me.
Too late. The love of my life is marrying another.
Hot tears stung, but I growled, willing them away. I swore to wait forever, for there was no other. I’d dreamed of our wedding—seen our two sons in my Visions.
How? How could this have happened?
I peered across the harvested corn field. Ashen clouds spread along the horizon, threatening the clear October night. An uprooted tree rested a hundred or so feet away, brittle cornstalks cut to knee height surrounded it and whispered their death woes.
“I’ll end up the same.” The words tore through the thickening in my throat.
Mist the color of a headstone rose from beneath the upended roots of the old oak, swirling and taking shape.
I blinked and blinked again, trying to stifle the fear creeping up my spine.
A woman dressed in a black, high-necked gown floated on the wind, the material draped around her legs fading into the mist. Long sleeves hugged her arms, their ends caressing bony hands. Hair parted in the middle and pulled back into a severe knot, she looked like a Civil War widow. A bit of wispy gauze clung to the bun and cascaded to her trim waist.
My heart pounded. I couldn’t move. A trick? Hallucination? One of my Visions?
Haunted, hallow eyes the color of a dark weeping sky met my gaze as she stopped before me, a breath away.
“Too long ….” she whispered.
I exhaled the breath I’d been holding in a puff of fog. “W-who are you?”
“A woman who waited. Who loved and lost.”
Waited—as I had. “Who did you wait for?”
Sadness filled the smile she offered. “My Yankee soldier. He went off to war and returned with a wife.”
Tears pricked my eyelids again.
“My broken heart crushed me. Smothered me.” She clasped her hands over her breast. “He was all I ever wanted.”
The fractured remains of my own heart ached. “I … I understand.”
“Don’t waste away as I did.” Empty eyes lifted to the house beyond me. “He’s found another—his fate does not match yours.”
Fate. I used to believe in it.
“And you should still,” she replied to my unspoken thought, gaze returning to me.
A tear slid down my painted cheek. I hugged myself tighter. “But I saw our sons.”
Her gaze bore into me. “You saw your sons.”
“W-what?” I swiped away the dampness from my face.
“You’ve the Sight, do you not?”
I nodded. Once I’d entered middle school I stopped speaking of the things I saw. Everyone I told thought I was crazy.
“Then you’ve seen your sons.” Another smile lifted her lips and she reached a hand to caress my blonde curls.
Understanding rushed through my mind. “They’re not his.”
She moved back and whispered, “No.”
“But they have his blue eyes. His cleft chin.”
“There are many such men walking this earth.”
She’s right. Peace washed over me as a rain-scented gust of wind fluttered her billowing gown and pushed the clouds closer. “Please … won’t you tell me who you are?”
“Your aunt, too many greats to count.” She raised her face to the pale moon. The mist crept upward, swallowing her torso. “I must go, but I will return on this night next year. Things will be different.” Her gaze returned to me. “Meet me here?”
She faded from sight and a Vision flashed through my mind—dressed as Lucile Ball I would climb onto the crumbling wall, a baby bump resting on my crossed legs.
I gasped and the first rain drops in over thirty days splattered on the stones beside me. Closing my eyes, I lifted my face and let nature’s shower cleanse my heartache away.