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The Lady of the House (A Ghost Story)

(also know as Day 3 of my Island Residency)

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Every living element of the island hid under the fog that the rain left behind. Not a footprint in the sand. Not a soul stirred as the sun rose behind stratus cloud.

On the beach a single candle flickered in avidity.

The waves lapped. Unseen seagulls amidst the foggy waters began to coo. The candle’s flame: smothered by mother earth’s chilled exhale.

Just off the beach — about twenty feet — lived a house. In the house, bodies breathed in slumberous dreams when a small bit of light from inside seeped into the street. It was the lady of the house. With her light on, the trees watched eagerly from their seats. The wet sand danced in the water’s wind. The clouds rose slowly into the troposphere.

The lady of the house occupies this place the same way memories crack and fragment in the ordinary mind over time. We humans, we fill in the blanks.

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The lady of the house exists here for visitors to believe and beware. Oh, and because it’s her house. She died (mistakenly) there.

Each day she wakes and goes about her routine; amended across centuries. A short read and a journal entry alongside a coffee and bowl of sweet strawberries.

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The lady of the house spends her days collecting the ideas and energies  from those visiting on a soul-searching quest. She takes note of their thoughts and journeys and wrecks; she’s compiling a novel to pass down to– well– she’s not sure yet.

All day she scribbles, all day she writes, taking breaks to make tea down the hall and to the right (in the kitchen). She makes friends with the tenants in chit chat and stares. If they see she is present, they talk long of their cares.

The hours of the day fade the same way in death as they do life. As it becomes time to turn on the overhead light she pulls on her boots and steps out to say to the sun: “goodnight.”

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At the beach she turns west and heads to the end where the trees meet the lake and the rays of light bend. Every day, she stands here; the view’s her keepsake. She thanks mother earth for not letting her house fall into the lake. (The island is a sand bar.)

Once the sun slips behind Hamilton, she departs the beach and goes to see her friend John Paul Radelmüllen. (It’s actually Radelmüller, but the lady of the house thinks Radelmüllen goes better with Hamilton… and there’s much debate to Radelmüllen’s real name, anyway. And apparently this story rhymes now… Just go with it.)

The story, it goes a little like this: there’s a lighthouse inland because the water’s edge was once against it. ‘Cause the island’s a sandbar, the coast got built up and that’s where the lady of the house decided, too, to construct up.

Her and this John Paul, they drink to January 2nd. That was when, in 1815, his life unjustly was threatened. It was over the bootlegged beer he would brew and the crime committed by two drunk soldiers named John, too. They’d canoed over for their (re)fill and when John Paul cut them off they were just like, “K– Ur killed.”

They chopped up his body and buried it in the frozen sand. THEN when they went to trial for his murder, they were acquitted because of lack of evidence. Truth. The end. That’s all. The lady of the house still goes on, and she meets up with Radelmüllen when she can. Some ending, right? I’m sorry.

(Here’s a good article on the entire happening: The True Story of Toronto Island’s Ghost.)

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(I did a lot today, world-wise.)

(Oh, and happy March! I welcome you with wide open arms.)

(Oh, and the candles pictured are from Tiny Ritual – beeswax and so utterly beautiful. The best intention candles on the great lakes’ shores.)

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