The Red Scarf – Short Story (Part 5)

The Red Scarf [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4]

By J. A. Weymouth

There was an eerie silence about the derelict mansion when Henry returned.  Its stillness unnerved him.  It was in the trees, the overgrown shrubs – throughout the quiet grounds.  A curious sense lingered over him as he stepped towards the fallen passageway.  It was like stepping into a graveyard.

Henry felt unsure and wondered whether he should visit the room – the one with the mirror and ghost he thought was imprisoned inside it.

After avoiding the familiar traps that littered the path before coming into the room, he entered and realised how quiet the room was inside, almost peaceful yet incredibly lonely.

When he saw her he didn’t think it frightening like he thought it would be.  Instead, it was sad seeing her.  It was just like waking from a dream – or remembering one.  He wasn’t sure.  Her image was still smudged, blurred as it had been in the photographs so that it seemed to him that she was neither in this world nor in the world of the mirror. She was in between.  Her being struggled with the idiosyncratic existence as the mirror had trapped her soul but she was meant to be free.  It appeared to Henry as he looked closer that her image softly vibrated, struggling with her entrapment.

Henry trailed his fingers against the soft surface of the mirror then rested his palm over the place where her hand had touched.  At this, it was as if Henry could feel the restlessness of her soul.  He had realised that it had only taken a moment for each of their souls to coincide with the unique rhythm of both worlds connecting as each one touched the other.  Then, a strange sensation overwhelmed him as if being pulled by an unknown force.

The feeling lasted only a second but Henry moved by a strange urge to turn and find the girl standing behind him.

She was watching him as he stood to see her with a curious expression decorating her face.  Henry thought her pretty with her auburn hair tied up in a neat bun, the red scarf placed gently around her neck though hiding a shameful secret, and saw in her deep, brown eyes that still looked at him cautiously but with the same sadness that he found in those pictures he had seen yesterday.

He was about to speak but she moved towards him, very suddenly, even though she was standing as far as the other side of the room.  She had only taken one step and already she was in front of him with her hand open towards him in front of his face.  The movement was graceful and with her hand nervously meeting his cheek she spoke.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said with a displaced, little voice, ‘but I have to show you.’

And she did, with her touch, her memories passed onto him of the night she had died.

It was unbearable.  It was as if he stood by her side during her traumatic encounter with the older, vile man that had been chasing her and, in the end, had finally caught her.  He could not move as he flowed with every quickened step she took to get away from the man.  Henry barely was able to glance around to absorb their surroundings: forties London, war posters, apathetic scattering looks, and deafening alarms.

Then it came to her rape. Seeing everything, breathing, smelling the sweat on his face as he lay on top of her, then the blood… the blood as he scratched at her throat with a piece of the shared mirror; the vile man’s last pleasure as he finished with her.  Henry had absorbed all her senses, all her feelings, becoming her and it was too much to bear and yet, as he felt like he was going to pass, everything went black.

He woke to her hand on his chest.  It seemed too cold as he woke, and yet he was in sweats and shaking all over with the feeling of shamefulness from not being able to help the girl.  This feeling overwhelmed Henry for a long moment even though he knew that she was already dead and it had all been a memory.  With a sigh, and as he grasped the girl’s open hand to help pull him to his feet, he stood to find the girl gone and standing in front of the mirror, in the derelict room alone.

Angry, he took the mirror from its hanging, finding a sharp, dislodged piece of wood protruded from the collapsed ceiling; he swung and with great force and empathy, smashed the mirror against it and it shattered into a million pieces.  Henry fell to his knees and cried.

As he composed himself, and feeling somewhat at peace, he noticed a small light shining in his eyes.  The light irritated him.  Henry found that a piece of the broken mirror shone a new, morning sun into his eyes and picked it up to stop it from reflecting it into his eyes.  Before he threw the piece away, he noticed a scarlet thread attached to its side.  He picked at the thread and as he brought it in for a closer look, it vanished into dust.  Its scarlet particles shone like red glitter in the sunlight.

A soft breeze carried like a whisper and Henry then knew that the girl had passed with a final thank you in the wind.

~~~

Final part to come soon ~

16 thoughts on “The Red Scarf – Short Story (Part 5)

  1. Yay for late commenting! Anyhow, the writing of this story has improved in a big way since you first began it. Your use of imagery in particular is really vivid, and you do a wonderful job conveying the sense of atmosphere for this house. It’s a very interesting brand of ghost story- haunting, not terribly gory, but the images still linger. And I really love that, since I have a very hard time capturing that sort of imagery.

    Now for the con-crit part- it’s not huge, don’t worry 🙂 But at times your sentences feel a little choppy; there are some unnecessary words that disrupt the flow of reading and grate a little. For instance you have this sentence here: “After avoiding the familiar traps that littered the path before coming into the room, he entered and realised how quiet the room was inside, almost peaceful yet incredibly lonely.”

    It flows nicely and gives a good sense of atmosphere in a few words. Then it’s followed by this one: “When he saw her he didn’t think it frightening like he thought it would be.” This sentence isn’t horrible, but it has an awkward structure that’s jarring compared to the rest of what you write. There are little pieces like that, here and there, that could be smoothed out and ironed, so to speak. If your sentences can maintain good structure, it will help reinforce the imagery and heighten the impact of what you’re telling.

    My lord, that was long. I’m sorry to be so nitpicky; I really am enjoying the story, I swear! If you don’t want my pedantic ramblings, tell me to knock it off 😉 Looking forward to reading the final part!

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