A cold breeze blew in from an unexpected source, yet all windows and doors were shut tight. The darkness embraced the tiny cottage by the edge of the lake and the still evening offered only silence.
Stella pulled the duvet tight to her chin, and her knees came up and squashed against her ample bosom. The dog growled, looking around the bedroom sensing something neither of them could as yet see.
Once again the cool breeze appeared and the Chantilly lace that framed the old four poster bed rippled. The air brought with it a scent of fresh lilies and Stella automatically thought of her deceased Grandmother.
A soft glow appeared below the warped oak door, and at that instance the dog leapt from the end of the bed and commenced barking loudly. Stella did not want to look; she was frozen upon the bedstead not even moving an inch. The smell of lilies wafted around her face and teased her nostrils; it made her glance towards the door. Mouse, the little dog (named for his petite size and mousey coat), began to whimper and retreated slowly backwards away from the light, which had begun to pool beneath the crack, like hot melted wax.
The molten light was now a puddle inside the bedchamber, there was an eerie iridescence about it. Stella’s hands gripped the edge of the duvet and pulled it up over her mouth and nose so only her large wide eyes peeked over. A soft bump, made her jump and the terrified young woman braved a look over the edge of the bed. Stella let out an audible sigh when she noticed it was only Mouse. The frightened creature had backed into the base of the bedframe. He was now cowed down, with shoulders hunched and body shaking.
From the corner of her eye Stella noticed new movement. If her eyes could have grown any larger they would be the size of dinner plates. Drawn to the site of the wet patch, she now gazed in horror as it began slowly receding. Stella looked on as the flowing light gathered itself together, and began swirling upwards to form a column of wisps. Chilled to the bone she was wishing this were all just a dream. Yet she knew in her heart it was not. The strong aroma of the lilies was evidence of that, and the fact that she had now clenched the covers so tightly she could feel her sharp manicured nails digging into her palm through the layers of laundered fabric.
The wisps were dancing and melding together, creating a vaguely humanoid being. Long skeletal arms began to form and rise, reaching out to her. It was all too much; Stella tugged the quilt completely over her head and curled into a tight embryonic ball. Scared out of her wits, she listened for the slightest sound or movement but there was none. Escape was impossible; the monster was blocking her exit. There was not even the slightest chance of getting out of the teeny tiny leaded window; Stella was so lackadaisical she had not got around to removing the paint that had sealed it shut tight.
Unexpectedly the sound of small yips could be heard. Stella had forgotten all about Mouse in her effort to hide herself away from the monster. Hold on she thought, as her mind began to unravel the muffled sounds.
‘Those are the noises made only by a happy Mouse’.
Dare she take a peek outside of her cocoon? Slowly she lifted the covers; the potent fragrance of the lily that much earlier had felt oppressing was now easing beneath the fabric. It became lighter in its tone and began gently caressing her face bringing the warm memories of her dear grandmother. That’s when she heard it, a voice from beyond the grave – it was her, her dear sweet Grandmother.
“Ma mar” she yelled, using the pet name she had always referred to her Grandmother by.
Mouse jumped upon the bed hopping around in his excitement at exactly the time Stella threw off the covers. The little dog’s head butted against her chin and she had to grab him with both hands to hold him tight and calm him down. Pressing her small companion against her side she turned to see the beautiful shimmering figure of her matriarch.
The old lady was neither here nor there, merely a transparent glittering image of the woman she used to be. Dressed in a twinkling floral gown, the elegant ghost appeared almost as she had in life. In the crook of one arm she was cradling a bunch of highly fragrant lilies, and in her hand she was carrying a beautiful leather-bound book.
Stella smiled and stroked the top of Mouse’s head.
“I’ve just come to say one thing dear.”
Both Mouse and Stella tipped their heads to the side listening closely to the words that had brought their beloved from her grave.
“I didn’t bequeath this cottage to you, so you might burn it down in the first year”.
The ghost wagged a translucent finger at the woman who felt once again a child.
“You left the cooker on, my dear”.
In a blink of an eye the apparition was gone.
This would be the very last time Stella would be so thoughtless. She swore to show more loving tender care to her Grandmother’s home. Especially now she knew the old lady was watching.