*I thought I would try my hand at a ghost story. While not my usual genre or style, it was fun to write! I especially enjoyed the research that went into it to make it as authentic as possible.
This story will be given in parts, as it is a bit long and still needs a little work.
I try to use all of my own photos, but this proved difficult for this piece. For parts III and IV, I was able to snag a photo from my own stock! This picture was taken by my daughter’s friend, Sierra Palmer.
Also, my editor is usually not on duty for my blog posts. If you happen to find any errors in spelling or grammar…I’m sorry! I do what I can, but often miss things. Thanks for your patience!
I truly hope you enjoy reading my first ever ghost story!
Cold Comfort Part III
by Kristy Gherlone
London England 1947
“What are you doing about, my love?” Thatcher James frowned as he walked in the door after a day looking for work. His wife, Elizabeth was in the kitchen, looking quite pale and tired. He kissed her cheek and waited for an answer.
“Effie’s left us. She was only paid up ‘til Tuesday. She stayed an extra day as it was. Anyway, she’s confident that little Thames is in good hands now,” Elizabeth stated, trying hard to sound positive, but knew she fell short. She turned her head away and held back the exhausted tears that threatened to betray her.
At least she’d had enough sense to send Effie off to market before she took her leave. With the amount of rationing coupons she’d saved, she was able to secure dinner for the two of them anyway.
“I’m sorry, my dear. I’ll scrape enough together to hire another mid-wife. You’re not ready for all of this yet after losing so much blood. You need to get some strength back. The doctor said it would take some time…”
If they’d had the money, he would have taken Elizabeth to the hospital to deliver Thames. She’d never been a very strong woman. A bout of rheumatic fever as a child had left her a bit on the frail side.
“No. Don’t,” she said quickly. “I’m actually looking forward to seeing to him myself. At least I won’t have anyone here telling me all of the things I’m doing wrong,” she chuckled thickly. She knew they couldn’t afford it, and there was no use in making him feel bad.
“But how will you manage?” Thatcher asked, moving in to take over the dinner preparations.
“Give me a little credit,” Elizabeth cried in mock indignation. She shuffled over to the table. She lit a cigarette and sat, grateful for the help.
“One potato?” Thatcher questioned, looking around for another.
“Yes, that’s to be the last of them too. There’s to be a ban soon, I hear.”
“Where is the little monster anyway?” Thatcher grinned, asking of their week old son.
“Napping in the pram. I’ve set him out on the back stoop for some air.”
“I don’t mean to sound like Effie, but isn’t it a bit cold?”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and gave him a look of exasperation. “Not at all. He’s in his bunting. My mother did the same with me, as I’m sure yours did with you. Babies need air.”
“I’m sure you’re right, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to see the little fellow.” Thatcher set down the paring knife and went to get him.
“Of course, but if you wake him, you’re changing him!” Elizabeth called out teasingly.
Later that evening, Thatcher and Elizabeth sat in the living room listening to the The Adventures of Leonidas Witherall, as Elizabeth nursed Thames.
As much as Elizabeth loved the mystery, she fought to keep her eyes open. She dozed off and on, giving in to pure exhaustion, as Thames suckled noisily.
The episode ended and Thatcher got up to switch off the radio. “Let me carry him up.”
“Fine by me. He’s eaten his weight,” Elizabeth laughed tiredly, as she handed little Thames off to her husband.
“You go and get some rest. I’ll stoke the fires and put him down.”
“There may not be enough coal to last until morning. You may want to start the electric fire,” Elizabeth suggested. “I’ll be glad when this blasted winter is over,” she added as she yawned, heading up the stairs to bed.
The next morning Elizabeth woke feeling a bit stronger, but oddly at unease. She could tell by the light streaming in through the window that it was well past seven. She was alarmed that Thames hadn’t woken her in the night. It was quite unusual and all at once troubling. She got up quickly and went to check in on him.
As soon as she entered his room, she could tell something wasn’t right. It was cold in there. Much too cold! Thames was unmoving. So still, and of peculiar color. She held her breath, fear and feelings of resounding dread washed over her.
“Thatcher!” she screamed. “Get the doctor! Get the doctor quick! Something’s wrong with Thames!”
An hour later, Elizabeth’s heart felt like it would never recover as the doctor delivered the news.
“Classic case of crib death, I’m afraid,” he told them solemnly, listening with a stethoscope for any signs of life and finding none. “You mustn’t blame yourselves. There’s nothing you could have done. Third one I’ve had this year. Tragic.” He shook his head sadly and packed up his kit.
Thatcher walked the doctor to the door, who then fished a bottle of medicine out of his bag. “Give her one teaspoon of this every few hours. It’ll help her sleep,” he said, eying him with meaning. He tipped his hat and took his leave.
Elizabeth was inconsolable. “My baby. My sweet little baby,” she cried as Thatcher tried to comfort her. She buried her face in his chest, deep sobs wracking her body. He carried her off to bed as the doctor ordered.
“There, there, now my love. He didn’t suffer. We can always have another,” Thatcher said, but he knew it wouldn’t be true. Elizabeth wouldn’t survive another.
She blinked up at him, the tears unstoppable. “It was so cold in there this morning. He froze didn’t he? We’ve killed our son!” she cried.
Thatcher wrinkled his brow in confusion. “My love, it was as warm as toast in there this morning. As warm as toast…”
Cold Comfort Part IV
Abigail and Jackson Shaffer were beaming with happiness. After nearly four years of marriage, a half a dozen fertility treatments, and two miscarriages, Abigail had just successfully given birth to their first child. Emory Rose was just about the most perfect baby they’d ever laid eyes on, and she was all theirs. They were taking her home after spending four days in the hospital as Abigail recovered from her C-Section.
“The sweetest and most perfect baby there ever was,” Abigail whispered lovingly, planting a kiss on top of Emory’s nose as she carried her into their house for the first time.
“Abs, let me help you into the living room and then I’ll make you something to eat.” Jackson smiled, guiding his wife towards the couch. He held onto her elbow as she eased down into a sitting position. She clung to their baby, unwilling to put her down for even a minute, though it was obvious that she was still in a fair amount of pain.
“Thanks, baby. Isn’t she perfect?” Abigail asked, grinning proudly, not taking her eyes off from Emory’s face. Though she’d asked that question a million times already, Jackson readily agreed.
“Yes, she is. She’s just like you. Perfect and beautiful and wonderful,” he confirmed seriously, kissing her on the cheek.
Jackson saw Abigail’s face pinch with sudden discomfort as she adjusted her position.
“I should probably get you some water to take your pills with. You don’t want the pain to get ahead of you, like the doctor said.”
“No,” she protested. “They’ll make me sleepy. What if I fall asleep?” she asked, pursing her lips with concern. She clutched Emory in a protective hug.
“That’s what I’m here for babe. I can wake you up if she needs to be fed. Abs, you need to take them. Doctor’s orders.”
“Okay, okay. But you better make sure you wake me up if she cries in the night. And can you turn on the air? It’s hot in here.” Mid July in Maine could be a lot hotter and more humid than one would think. She unwrapped Emory’s blanket, checking for any sign that she was getting overheated.
Abigail woke up with a panicky feeling the next morning. She reached out to feel around the covers for Emory. She vaguely remembered going to bed and Jackson placing Emory at her breast for her nighttime feeding.
“Jackson! Where’s the baby?” she cried. She sat bolt upright and shook him. She leaned over and peeked at the floor next to the bed, terrified at what she might find. She was relieved that to see that the baby wasn’t laying there broken, having fallen off the bed in the night.
Jackson rolled over and gave her a sleepy smile. “She’s in her room, in the crib. I figured since you both were sleeping so soundly, I’d put her in there and let you get as much rest as possible.”
Relief flooded in, quickly replaced by anger. She gave Jackson a scathing look.
“Don’t give me that look Abs. She’s gonna have to get used to it, eventually.”
“Jackson!” Abigail protested loudly. “Not her first night!” She jumped out of bed and was immediately sorry that she did. Pain ripped through her stomach. She doubled over.
“Back into bed before you rip your stitches,” Jackson ordered, getting up to help her. “She’s not even fussing yet Abs. Calm down. I’ll go and get her if you want, but you’re going to have to learn how to relax.”
Yawning, Jackson went first to the bathroom. He did feel a little guilty about having slept so soundly, but he hadn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep for the last week. If the baby had cried in the night, he hadn’t heard her. He was both grateful and sorry at the same time.
He flushed, washed his hands and went to Emory’s room. He opened the door and was blasted with a burst of cold air. It couldn’t have been more than fifty degrees in there!
He knew he turned the AC down just after he’d put her in her crib. He hadn’t wanted her to get too cool in the night.
He half jogged over to her crib, holding his breath. Something about her didn’t look right. She wasn’t moving. She was just too still.
He reached out to turn her over.
Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus…
Stay Tuned for the final chapter!
Side note: This week I received word that a short story I wrote has been accepted by Short Fiction Break! It(Ice Cream or Moxie) will appear on Aug 2nd. Additionally, The Mystery Tribune read another story of mine(Thief) and requested it for their magazine. It is featured in their magazine now!