Ghost of Future's Past
The good reader, I trust, will realize that I had no choice. My actions were merciful, my actions were benign.
My dear daughter, whom was loved by me in a profound way that no other
father on God's good earth could possibly have understood, was the
center of our household. The center of my life.
"Daddy" her voice would ring out "Come daddy, I have a game to play", and we would play, oftentimes for hours
"Father" she would call "Come along, mother has prepared a wonderful supper"
of which she was naturally speaking of the after meal dessert. Often I
would indulge her and allow her some teasing bites of the cake, or the
pie, or whatever delectable delight my loving wife had prepared
previous to our supper.
Likewise did my wife dote upon her, often reading to her late in the
evening hours, or giving her loving instruction in music. Charlotte,
my daughter, inherited her ability with music from my wife, and they
would both play the most angelic music that could grace one's ears. An
evening at the music houses was as nothing compared to their musical
duets, and I often found myself lost in the strains of Souvenirs d'Andalousie or Le Boifeuillet.
Then the fever came. From seemingly nowhere, our beloved Charlotte fell
to a raging heat inside her frail body. Day and night, she tossed in
her bed, muttering and occassionally screaming. Her body seemed to be
wracked with untold pain and my dear wife saw to it that the sheeting
was changed thrice daily, such were Charlotte's sweats.
Doctor after doctor was hired, and all came away with no encouraging
words. The source of the malady was unknown, and they suggested to us,
in somber tones, that we allow it to run its course and let God's will
I watched her, while I sat at her bedside, for days and as far into the
nights as my tired eyes would allow. I watched her misery, I watched
her decay before my very eyes. Her youthful complexion, gone, now to
be replaced with a pallor of deathly grey. Her hair, once so dark and
lustruous, now thinning before my very eyes.
Our daughter was dying, slowly and painfully.
I trust dear reader that you will realize that I had no choice. My actions were merciful, my actions were benign.
Slowly, with a pain that cannot be described, with tears running down
my face, oh so slowly that time itself seemed to have halted for a few
seconds of eternity, I took up the pillow.
Weeping, as only a loving father can, I ceased her pain. I brought an end to what I saw as a long, lingering death
My wife, despite my words assuring that charlotted died, finally, in
peace, was broken inside. All the days leading to the funeral were
days of tears for my poor disheartened wife.
I, of course, maintained my poise, as any proper man should. But at
night my tears welled up, not only for my loss, but also due to the
knowledge of what I had done.
Nay, what I had to do.
My words cannot, and thus shall not, bother to describe the grief our
house experienced, both before and after the burial of our dear, loved
Months went by, and then a few short years. Eventually, as all things must, our house returned to a semblance of normalcy.
And then, as if a gift from God, a new joy entered our home. To us was
born a new child, whom I named Katherine. As was Charlotte, Katherine
was a wellspring of happiness to me. The bright and shining star from
which my joy sprang. As an infant and a toddler, every day was as a
day of discovery for me, as she experienced and learned new things on
nearly a daily basis.
I was, once again, complete.
My dear wife, however, seemed to avoid Katherine. She never held her,
she never played with her, she never doted upon her. So different from
the way she interacted with Charlotte. I held to the belief that my
dear wife was still in grieving (although a quiet version) over
Charlotte and that, in time, she would come to see the joy in Katherine
that I was already experiencing.
However, a strange thing began to happen. As she aged, and grew past
infancy, past her toddling years and finally grew to full-fledged
childhood, my dear Katherine took on most striking similarites to our
dear departed Charlotte. Of course, the reader may be thinking, this
would be natural, seeing as how they were sisters. However, as she
grew the similarities became more and more pronounced. A few days
after her seventh birthday, I looked up as she entered the room and was
stunned by the fact that Katherine could easily have been the twin of Charlotte.
When I spoke of this to my wife, all I received for my insight was a
scathing rebuke of "You're mad! I will hear no more of this from you!"
Stranger still, Katherine seemed somewhat of a prodigy, as she took up
the piano with no instruction from my wife, who still refused, in her
years-old grief, to reach out to Katherine. Prodigies are not unheard
of, of course, but I was chilled to the bone the day I was sitting off
the parlor room and heard Souvenirs d'Andalousie in two-part duet.
Looking up sharply from my Daily, I saw Katherine playing the keys and
looking directly at me with no hint of pleasure on her face. It was an
unnerving sight that chilled my very marrow.
Weeks later, once again in the sitting room, I heard, ever so clearly
for the first time in years, the voice of my daughter, Charlotte.
As clearly as you are reading these words, I heard her voice say "You killed me".
Looking up sharply for the source, fear shaking my heart, I saw only
Katherine, sitting in a corner on her favorite stool, reading, her
mouth slowly moving as she read.
"What..." I stammered "What did you say?"
Looking up, her sweet smile seeming malefic to me at this moment, she said "O
Im sorry father, I was just reading out loud. 'You killed me' seemed
such an ominous phrase from this story, I just had to hear it out
loud. Are you alright father?" she asked, worry clearly on her face.
Standing, I strode to where she stood and snatched the book from her
hands. Looking at the cover, I saw it to be one of those cheap and
tawdry "penny dreadfuls" that seemed all the rage amongst those with
"Never" I said, irritation clear in my voice, "Never read this garbage again. It pollutes the mind and stains the soul. Do you understand me?"
"Yes father" she replied, much ashamed. Then, suddenly, she beamed up at me "Do you smell that?"
And indeed I did, for supper was being prepared.
"Come along, mother has prepared a wonderful supper"
she smiled up at me, and grabbing me by the hand in a way that brought
back a rush of memories, led me, shocked and helpless to supper, as her
words had stunned me beyond resistance.
Those abovementioned incidences, along with a rash of others, caused me
to avoid, in increments, my daughter. Fear had taken ahold of me, fear
and guilt. How could such a darling light create such in me? They
were coincidences I told myself, nothing else. Be rational, man! Be
reasonable! Such is the way of the sciences I had read about, and I
was determined to overcome these petty childish fears. I was likewise
determined to not allow my guilt to cloud my love for Katherine.
However, much to my eternal shame, my emotions proved stronger than my
rationality. No matter how much I tried not to, I kept finding excuses
to avoid my dear Katherine.
My nerves drove me to drink. Not much at first, mind you, as any
proper gentleman knows his limits. But over time my drinking became a
nightly affair, with whiskey blotting out the memories and
simultaneously bringing them into sharp focus. Dear reader, if you
have drank due to pain, then you surely know of what I speak.
Much to my wife's, and my, disgust my drowning of sorrow and memory began to take its toll during the day as well.
"Come daddy, I have a game to play",
Katherine would call, and I would create some excuse of having to check
my records and the pain of those words would drive me to shut myself in
my library and open the bottle again, early in the afternoon, when I
was just recovering from my binge the night before.
One day, I found Katherine again reading one of those disgusting books
I had forbidden her to read. Snatching it from her hands, my face hot
with anger and alchohol I yelled at her "Didnt I tell you? I dont want to see these books in this house again Katherine!"
Her look of absolute confusion snapped me out of my anger for a moment.
"Katherine?" she asked "What are you speaking about father? You meant Charlotte, didnt you?"
And in that moment, her voice, her appearance, the very way she sat on the stool, yes even her clothing...
...Charlotte sat in front of me, confused and wide eyed.
Stunned, I fell to my knees.
"It's alright father" she said, gently patting my cheek, "I'll take care of you, don't you fret" and with that she gently kissed my cheek and left the room.
That night in my library, a thousand questions blew through my mind as a gale force wind.
How? What? Who?
A ghost? But no, she had touched me, kissed my cheek, I felt her, she was as real as I, as real as this chair I sat in. She was human, as human as you or I.
How then, could she know that name? Yes she could be toying with me (in fact she MUST be
toying with me), but how could she know that name? My wife and I had
never spoken of Charlotte to or around Katherine. My wife had indeed
never spoken to her at all to my recollection.
And if she was toying with my mind and soul, it was a most malefic game she was playing, one that I would not allow her to win.
A few weeks later, I made my way to bed far too late and far to
intoxicated, as had become my habit. Drunken, I pulled the covers
tight about me and drifted off to another night of nightmares and
guilt. Then, suddenly, I awoke, for another was in the room with me.
Blinking, I made out a silhouette in the darkness and heard with
perfect clarity, Charlotte's voice yet again.
"You killed me father" she whispered. "You killed me!
Your light and life. If you had waited, the sickness would have run
it's course and I would have lived, weakened yes, but alive. You took
the coward's way out father, and now I will make you confess your crime!". Malice poured from her words as if it were the devil himself speaking to me. "You will confess and I will have my vengeance!"
Bolstered by my own fear, I lept out of bed, still under the influence
of the intoxicating brandy, and reached to grab this person in my
room. She, however, was quicker than I and lept to the side, avoiding
my grasp and running to the door. Stumbling, nearly falling in the
darkness, I ran after her, down the hallway and saw a flip of
Katherine's nightrobe as she ran into her bedroom.
Slamming my shoulder into the door, I fell into her room, to see her
sitting on her bed, looking at me, hatred and vile bitterness evident
in her young eyes.
My emotions, long my weakness, inflammed me. How DARE she take the
name of my first daughter in such a way? How DARE she invoke
Charlotte's name to play some twisted childish game with her drunken
HOW DARE SHE?
I was at her bedside in an instant, pinning her down. Her face was
contorted, full of rage, and she was screaming, over and over, "You killed me father! YOU KILLED ME!"
"Shut up! Shut that vile mouth of yours!" I screamed back "You are not Charlotte! YOU ARE NOT CHARLOTTE!"
"You killed me father! YOU KILLED ME!"
I had to silence her, and even as the pillow pressed down upon her
face, even as her struggles intensified, then slowed, then stopped
altogether, her silence was overcome by my voice
"You cant be her! You're not her! I killed her! I killed Charlotte! O GOD have mercy on my soul, I KILLED MY BABY GIRL!"
Then, a most disturbing sensation overtook me, as if I were being turned from the inside out.
I heard my voice screaming, I felt the pillow in my hands.
But it was no longer night time.
It was day, and I was in my dear Charlotte's room, the pillow over her
face, snuffing out the last life from her frail wracked body.
"I killed her! I killed Charlotte! O GOD have mercy on my soul, I KILLED MY BABY GIRL!"
Horrified, shocked beyond sanity, I lept back from the bed. From
behind me, I heard a gasp, a sob, a painful cry. Turning slowly, dread
building within me, I saw my wife standing in the doorway, horror
etched on her face. Next to her stood one of the doctors we had
hired. Having overheard my screaming, they had run to Charlotte's room
and beheld, in all of its macabre tapestry, my act.
I heard her sweet voice one last time, the achingly beautiful voice of my dear daughter, the light of my life.
"You will confess and I will have my vengeance!"
As I sit here now, awaiting my sentencing, I know only one thing. My
mind is disabled, helpless against the onslaught of madness, hence, I
I ponder....Ghost or Guilt?
Is is possible that I, wracked by my own guilt, lived a lifetime of
remorse and self reproach in a handful of seconds, only to convince
myself to yell out, to attract those witnesses as could be summoned?
Or is it possible that my dear daughter, wanting to cling to life so
badly, forced me to live out that lifetime of personal failing, herself
forcing me to confess my guilt in such a way as to be unmistakable?
I will let you, dear reader, come to your own conclusions.
Perhaps after my execution, I can ask Charlotte myself.
From my LJ