This week, my taste comes from a new project, a story of a haunting. I call it, His Cemetery Doll.
Nathan Wolfe came awake with a little start. His daughter Skye, bleary-eyed and wild-looking with her short blonde hair sticking up at all angles, shook him gently again, mumbling sleepily.
"There's a woman outside."
He'd dozed off in his chair by the small cottage hearth, and the fire had died down to sulky, smoldering coals. In the dim light, Skye's pale cheeks and her white cotton nightgown glowed: a little candle-flame girl in the dark.
He rubbed his hand over his stubbled jaw, and then reached out to comb his fingers through her messy tresses, trying to tame them down. "What did you see, baby?"
"I told you, a woman."
Her big, bright eyes were heavy-lidded. Her tiny voice muzzy with sleep. Nathan gazed at her, then gathered her up onto his lap and cradled her.
"You were dreaming, Skye. There's no woman."
"There is," she insisted. "She's in the cemetery, by Maya."
Maya. The angel statue Nathan himself had carved from stone, and placed in the center of the graveyard.
"Baby, you can't even see Maya from your bedroom window. How could you see anyone standing with her?"
"But I did," the little girl pouted. Her head drooped against his shoulder, though; already sinking back into sleep. Nathan stood, lifting her gently to carry her back to bed.
As he tucked her in, she settled into soft, faint snoring. Absentminded, he tried to straighten her hair again, then picked up a small stuffed dog from her toy box, and tucked it in beside her.
"Sweet dreams," he mumbled. Then he retreated, clumsily trying to avoid re-awakening her.
Back in the hall, he stood at her doorway, watching her for long moments. Then his gaze drifted past her, to the window which faced the cemetery.
The night outside crept close in dense fog. Gray veils drifted, slow and ponderous, beyond the glass. Even if Skye had a view of Maya, she couldn't possibly have seen anything out there tonight.
Yes, he thought. Just dreaming.
Drifting grays...dancing whorls, like silk ribbons on the wind.
No. Nothing out there.
He turned to go back to his chair before the hearth.