In this latest blog I am going to take another look at my horror novel ‘The Cornwall Ghost Story.’ In the following passage the Noble family are taking a walk in a woodland area. Alan Noble chases after his children as they are in the middle of some frenzied childish activity. Fiona smiles as she sees this but this does not last long. As she looks straight ahead of her she sees a woman suddenly appearing in front of her. It soon dawns on her that she knows this woman but she had not expected to find her while she is in the middle of a family day trip:
Directly up ahead of Fiona and approaching from behind a tree came a mysterious figure. She seemed to materialize out of nowhere. As it ultimately turned out this figure was not as ‘mysterious’ as it first appeared. As Fiona approached nearer she found she could recognize who this person was.
‘My God,’ she thought. ‘It’s Esmeralda. What on earth is she doing here? I mean when I saw George in that vision yesterday I saw him in a distant locale in a French jail cell. I wasn’t noticed by him. I was merely an observer. Yet here Esmeralda appears to me and she seems to be looking straight at me. Unless it’s not me she’s seeing but someone else. Maybe it’s one of those time dimension deals and while I am seeing her in her time period, she isn’t seeing me but rather what is happening around her in her own time.’
These may have been illuminating thoughts, but they did not have much strength behind them as she was about to find out. To her initial perception, Esmeralda was not wearing the most pleasant of expressions. Indeed, it was plain she had a grievance with the person she was looking at. It was almost as if she felt she had been let down in some way and was determined to let her grievance be known.
“So, we finally meet. Fiona Noble in the flesh, so to speak. Of course, I cannot give myself that appellation having ceased to be living the best part of two hundred years ago.”
“The very same.”
“But how do you know my name?”
“Because, my dear young lady, I have been following your every movement since you moved into my cottage.”
Fiona found this idea rather unsettling. However, there was also amusement to be found in the remark. To be referred to as a ‘young lady’ by someone who Fiona had up to now seen only in the same light was rather strange. Also, she and her family were only holidaying in Cornwall, yet Esmeralda had suggested they were living there for good. She decided not to pull her up on the latter comment. Instead she concentrated her mind on the former. Esmeralda appeared to her now as she had shown herself to Fiona every time she had entered her presence in her spirit form, namely as a young woman. Did this mean she had died when this age or did she merely appear to her now as such so she could be easily recognized?
Fiona did not know quite what to think on the matter. Meeting her like this, face to face, with no time dimensions to place any strictures on their converse, gave Fiona much pause for thought.
“When you appeared to me just now from behind that tree…”
“Yes, a clever trick was it not?”
“I suppose you could say that. But then I would think spirits would be capable of almost anything.”
“Pah! You do not know the half of it. But come: what did you wish to address to me?”
“Merely that you had the very look of thunder on your face as if you were angry. But surely you could not be aiming that venom at me. After all, I have done everything in my power to help you.”
“Help me?” laughed Esmeralda. There was a mocking tone in this laughter which Fiona did not appreciate. “How could you be said to have helped me I’d like to know? I can see precious little evidence of that.”
“But what do you want from me?” asked Fiona in confusion. “I have had a series of dreams and visions which I have attempted in my own way to piece together. But the picture which comes to my mind is not a very appetizing one. Not for you and most certainly not for your husband.”
“Well, that is very succinctly put. But it does not help me much, does it? I need to know what became of him after the sinking of his ship. I have existed these past two hundred years in a state of perpetual limbo. I am what your fellow mortals would term a restless spirit. I need to know what happened to my darling George. And up till now you have been wilfully incapable of coming up with the information I require.”
“But I have done my best to help you.” Fiona almost gasped out her reply. ‘Good grief,’ she thought. ‘What does this spirit expect? I have been inundated with all of these manifestations. I have not sought them out. They have sought me out. I did not ask for them, nor were they one whit welcome to me when they arrived. Yet she talks to me now as if I had brought all of this unwanted experience onto myself. But it isn’t true. Surely she must know that.’
“I think you must realize I sought you out for this task. I did so for my own reasons.”
“One of which was because I am married like you were.”
“Yes, how very perceptive of you to think of that.”
“Not that perceptive. It stands to reason. You wanted a woman who was devoted to her husband like you were to yours. I don’t quite get the kids angle, though. After all, you didn’t have children, did you?”
Esmeralda glared at Fiona as if she had taken a grave offence at this remark. “No,” she smiled through clenched teeth. “We did not, as you so rightly put it, have any children of our own. We planned to, but of course George’s disappearance made this impossible.”
“So why did you…?”
“I merely wished to have some children running round the place. This cottage was to be a home of love and joy for George and myself. It was to be a warm and sunny homestead. It was to be expected that we would bring children into this environment. It is one of the reasons we married. Oh, we loved each other to an excess of devotion. Each day we spent together was that much richer for each other’s company. But what is a marriage worth its salt without children? It is agreeable, yes, but it lacks the finishing touches. Seeing yourself and your husband enter my home with your children reminds me of what I missed out on when George was lost to me.”
“But surely that would be almost too heartbreaking to bear. Thinking what might have been, what should have been. I would think that would drive a person half crazy.”
Esmeralda laughed at this. There was a hollow ring to the laughter as if it had come from a well several hundred feet below the surface. “I have long since moved passed any heartache I may have felt. You forget these events happened all of two centuries ago. They are long dead in the past and will remain there for ever more.”
“So why this need to find out what happened to George? If you have accepted all that occurred in your lifetime why do you persist in dredging it up in your spirit existence?”
Esmeralda stared blankly at Fiona. It was a look which rather unsettled her companion.
“I did not say I accepted it. I merely stated I did not feel the same overwhelming level of heartache I felt at the time of George’s disappearance. But to say I do not still feel pain over his loss would be a great untruth. Whenever one loses a person who is so close the pain never truly leaves you. The best that can occur is a greater ability to deal with the sorrow which has descended upon you.”
Fiona didn’t know how to respond to this. So she didn’t try. Instead she asked the ghost what she could do to unearth more details about George’s whereabouts.
“Since you appear to follow my every footstep,” Fiona told her. “I am sure you know the last I saw of George was when he was in his jail cell in France.”
“Yes, and a fine position that is to leave him in. To look on helplessly as my darling husband is chained up like a dog. Oh, to hear him pine for me in such a way with tears running down his face was almost too much to bear.”
“So how can I find out more?”
“By picking up on the signals which are left for you to follow.”
“But how can I pick up on anything if I don’t know what they are?” There was a hint of desperation in Fiona’s voice as she spoke. She wanted to help this beleaguered spirit but did not know how this was to be achieved.
“Well, you came here did you not?”
“You mean Cornwall?”
“No. I meant this woodland area. It was a favourite haunt for myself and George when we were together. You clearly picked up on my message to you in that instance. Otherwise why would you come here?”
“Because we as a family wanted to explore somewhere new. Since coming here we have travelled all over the Cornish coastline, but we thought we might try an area further inland.”
“Yes, and you were drawn to this spot were you not?”
Fiona nodded. “We knew as soon as we entered this forest that it was a good choice we made.”
“Pah! It was not your choice, foolish woman. It was me. I led you here. You acted on my directions.”
“But how can that be?” Fiona looked at Esmeralda now in a wondering way. “I was not aware of any guidance from you.”
“Perhaps not, but that is what occurred nonetheless.”
“So you’re saying I should wait for some promptings from your husband, some sort of sign that he is trying to contact me?”
“Precisely so. And you could do worse than return to my journal. That is part of the reason why I have been so piqued with you. When first you came to the cottage you devoured my journal. You could not get enough of it…”
“Yes, that’s quite true, but…”
“But nothing. You simply must return to it.”
There was a hint of an order in the way Esmeralda said this which did not sit well with Fiona. Indeed, throughout her whole dialogue to date Esmeralda had taken on a superior air which Fiona felt bordered on the distasteful. However, she decided not to make any fuss over it. After all, from day one this had been Esmeralda’s story. Ever since the Nobles had settled in at the cottage there was a feeling that the truth would come out in time. But there had also been the belief in Fiona that this would only happen when Esmeralda wished it.
So Fiona agreed to abide by Esmeralda’s wishes and hoped this would be enough to appease her. It seemed it would be. But before there could be any sign of recognition from the ghost she had disappeared from view.