Twilight in Gloucester by Paul CornoyerMy carriage rattled down the old city street at a snail's pace. There was no hurry, really. I'd been to a Christmas party at my employer's, the usual raucous affair -- turkey with trimmings, fiddlers playing, and wild dancing. Wine ran like water, but I chose not to imbibe. I am a simple man who enjoys his pleasures, but the silliness of drunkenness is not one of them. There was flirting and laughter, but I kept to the sides biding my time until I could take a carriage home. Such is my life these days, somber, quiet, alone.
I studied lavish homes as we journeyed down the long main street. The swish of the carriage wheels in the snow blended well with the gentle falling flakes I spied out the windows. So peaceful, so much better than that noisy party. Nature is like my religion, really. I take great comfort in its varied manifestations, all of which make me feel part of a greater whole, just one work of art in a colossal masterpiece.
I turned, and she was there, sitting next to me.
"Hello, James!" Her bright eyes twinkled a warm welcome.
"Rose. It's you again."
"Of course, darling. I love being with you."
"I'm certain there are other places you need to be." I felt my heart two-stepping in my chest. My hands, moist and clammy.
"James, it's Christmas eve. I want to spend it with you." She cast me a sidelong glance, her sweet red lips parted in a pretty smile.
I felt aroused. I missed my lovely angel, but at least she came to visit on occasion.
"Haven't we always spent Christmas eve together?" she asked.
Truth be told, I wasn't certain. I had no memory of it, but certainly we must have. She'd been gone for such a long time. I remembered the sensual information...her smile, her touch, the way her lips tasted...but dates and times--they were just too long ago. Her visits with me were hasty and at unexpected times, warm and loving, but flighty and never to the end of an evening. My love was like a tiny bird flitting into my life and out again. The carriage stopped.
"I must go, my dear!" She said it in a soft whisper that wrapped around me and caressed my very being like a kiss. And she was gone...
In the pouring snow, the old woman reached out for assistance. Rose accepted the gloved hand of the driver, moving her old bones as gracefully as she could, dismounting the carriage with great care. Eighty years of life slows a person.
The driver noted her sweet smile. "Miss Rose, your ghost came to visit again. I see by your happy expression."
"Yes, Wilford, he came. Just as he always does...every Christmas eve. It wouldn't be the holiday without him."