I stared out at the empty space before me with consternation. It was the first cold day of the year; fall had been slow coming, allowing the remnants of summer to coddle us all. Dusk was still about an hour out, but the chill in the air was a clear indication that the sun had tucked itself in for the night. I stood shivering with my arms interlocked across my chest and the hood of my sweater pulled over my head. Lyle was about a foot ahead of me on the path, staring straight ahead and frozen in excitement.
“This is stupid. I don’t see anything.”
“Shh!” he warned irritably.
I rolled my eyes. This wasn’t the first time I had let him talk me into some ill-advised misadventure. When he got something in his head, it was easier to give in than to argue. Two summers ago we had spent a whole night in a trailer park two towns over looking for what Lyle swore was the dashboard of a crashed UFO he had read about online. I tried to tell him that the story had likely been masterminded by a fourteen year old boy with too much tech, but Lyle was sure. We never found anything. That’s how the story always went; he had the theories, and I had the research. Twins, and counterparts. It was lunacy.
“Are we ghost hunting right now? Because I’m pretty sure you can’t see a ghost in the fog. Or, you know, ever.”
Lyle swung around and cut his eyes at me.
“Sorry,” I whispered, sardonically, in that tone every girl inherits around the age of thirteen (and treasures forever after).
Lyle positioned himself around me so that I was in front, and cupped my shoulders to force my focus straight ahead.
“You can only see it in the fog. And no, it’s not a ghost.”
I sighed, but did not let my focus waver. The last time Lyle had dragged me to a graveyard we were only kids. He had ripped off a Ouija board from the local toy store and truly believed supernatural powers could be harnessed from a piece of plastic worth $11.99. Admittedly, it scared the shit out of me when it started to move, and I had nightmares for weeks thereafter. He swears he never moved it, but I don’t know how else to explain what happened that night. Either way, I’ve mostly crossed the street at the graveyard since then.
“I hate it here,” I whispered back.
“I know. Just wait.”
So we waited. And waited. And then came the peripeteia – it appeared.
At first, it was just a shadow in the fog. Then, slowly, it materialized into the form of a woman. Stunned and silent, I tried to refocus my eyes, convinced they were fabricating images due to the long, cold, interim – but there was no mistaking those eyes. Their white glow pierced through the fog and the darkening sky; my own eyes their target. Her emergence from the fog grew steadier, and her unsettling beauty became more apparent. Her long white hair wrapped itself about her formless body, draped in a white figureless garb. Overtop, a green cloak rested upon her shoulder-less shoulders. She seemed more an apparition than a person – her floating feet did not quite meet the cold ground.
Still processing what was taking shape before me, I let out an almost muted gasp. Lyle’s grip on me tightened reassuringly, and then he stepped out from behind me, and towards her. He moved gently, with the finesse of an apparition himself. But the movement, however slight, was still enough to make the woman evaporate. As she fused into the fog again, she released a sorrowful wail, loud enough to send an otherwise unnoticed flock of perched crows back into the evening sky. The wail echoed, creating a symphony with the flapping wings and distressed squawks of the murder.
Lyle turned back to me, gleeful with his discovery.
“It’s a Banshee. She must be visiting her family.” He nodded towards the tombstones to our left.
Still numb from what I had just experienced, I followed Lyle’s gaze, before correcting him.
“No. Only her family can see her, and hear her cries.” My voice was beginning to quiver with panic. “She warns them of an impending family death.”
Lyle stared at me quizzically.
“Lyle,” I whispered, “she was visiting us.”
Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©