I remained aghast, frozen on the spot as if the coldest winter had descended upon Grasmere. The shivers could not be controlled, try as I might, and it gaged my attention beyond the length of time of customary repose. It almost seemed as if my stagnation was beyond remedy, until my Uncle finally arrived at the churchyard.
'Rowena, you're here,' he said cheerfully before he took it upon himself to worry about the whiteness of my face. All blood had drained, and in that moment, I could not think of anything but the odd children. 'What ever is the matter? It looks as though you've seen a...'
'She did,' Antonia told him with a conceited smile upon her face.
Uncle Henry glared at her. It was apparent from their manner that they were not at all friendly with each other. 'Antonia Sibley, lurking amongst the gravestones. I should have expected as much.'
I managed to pull myself out of my fear-induced coma. 'You know her?' I asked my Uncle.
'It would be extremely hard to find someone who does not know this woman,' he said with angst. 'If I so recall, Mrs. Sibley here caused nothing but trouble for your Aunt.'
Suddenly I felt lied to. 'I thought you said you and Aunt Louisa were friendly acquaintances?'
'I said we knew each other,' Antonia corrected me, and she was not wrong. I felt senseless at the correction. 'I never said we were friends.' She returned her attention to my Uncle. 'However, I must pay my respects. Every soul is precious in Grasmere, and with so few of us already, it is rather a shame that Louisa passed at all. How did she die, Henry?'
I paid very close attention to the reaction of my Uncle. This was a detail I did not know myself. He appeared offended. 'She died in her sleep! Peaceful. It was her time.'
'No soul ever dies peacefully,' Antonia informed him, spitting her words out. 'Nor was it her time.'
My Uncle was getting very annoyed. 'I am rather tired of this conversation,' he said. 'I would appreciate it if you take leave now. You have paid your respects. Your own soul must be satisfied. You won't be setting foot in that church.'
He walked away before she could respond. I felt uncomfortable with the interaction and thought it best to follow him inside. Antonia, when I finally had the courage to look back at her, was gone. She must have left in such a hurry as she was nowhere to be seen.
'Are you alright, Uncle?' I felt compelled to ask, though Antonia raised my suspicions. I did not know how my Aunt Louisa died, and the reasoning of her death did not satisfy my curiosity. While I had heard of people dying peacefully in their sleep, something about Antonia's questions induced my pragmatic mind.
I had to know more.
Uncle Henry ignored the question and strolled down the aisle of the church. I forgot to look around me as I had entered, almost bumping into one or two people that stood waiting to be seated.
Despite being ignored, I sat at the front row beside my Uncle, being the only family member left to attend. Elizabeth was sorely missed, and while I felt a detachment to my Aunt Louisa with whom I never formed a true bond, a mournful sadness washed over me.
My mind wandered back to the funeral of my husband and child, the open casket of my Aunt reminding me of that dark day. She did indeed look peaceful as she lay there, whereas my husband appeared so disturbed that I had to request the casket to be closed.
It was hard to picture my husband being buried with a face contorted in fear. My baby was buried in the minutest casket I had ever thought possible. It was wrong to have to bury something so small. Their deaths remained a mystery, as did my Aunt Louisa's.
YOU ARE READING
Fen of Stagnant Waters: A Ghost StoryParanormal
In 1840, Rowena Holloway lost her husband and baby in one fateful night. Five years later, she travels to the North of England to uncover the ghostly mysteries of Grasmere and its connection to her.