Sitting at the window, my book lying forgotten in my lap, I watched my employer, Mr. Wallace, meander in the garden below.
Fall had visited his estate swiftly this year, and taken his precious garden with it. He seemed to be in a state of mourning as he wandered amongst the dead stalks and withered petals, his dark, tousled head bowed against the wind.
I wished to meet him on the gravel path and offer him some words of comfort, but I must remember my station. I was just his daughter's governess. It wouldn't do to shadow the master of the house, especially given he was a widower.
An echoing whisper startled me from my reverie. "Sister..."
I turned to see the ghost of my twin, Eleanor, hovering several inches above the floorboards. Her hair drifted out from her head like seaweed beneath the waves, the scent of salt water filling the bedroom. A constant reminder she had died at sea the year before.
Her bluish-tinged lips pulled back in a smile. "I have met the most extraordinary gentleman!" I blinked, taken aback. "You've met someone?" I said.
"My first specter!" She floated closer. "His name is Mr. Sharpe and he resides in the cellar. I think you'll like him; he's quite the conversationalist."
She spun slowly in a circle, as if she were being dragged by a churning current. "It's such a joy to finally be able to communicate with someone other than..." Her voice trailed off, and her vacant eyes fluttered closed. "Do forgive me, sister. I didn't mean to speak ill of you."
“No, I understand completely." I smiled. "I'm delighted you've found – uh – amiable company." She stopped her eerie spin and nodded. "He's quite accomplished. When he was alive, he was a witchfinder general. Unfortunately, a hunting accident blew part of his head clean off."
I must have paled, for she hurried on. "I'll admit, he hasn't a left eye, and his nose is a tad ruined. But without an upper lip, you can see his front teeth quite well. He possesses such a dashing smile! You'll have to see for yourself.” "No, thank you."
"Only he claims it wasn't an accident at all, but that he was murdered. Isn't that ever so exciting? And he swears he'll exact his revenge. Isn't that industrious?"
"I don't have time to make his acquaintance." I picked up my abandoned book, acting as if I had been interrupted from an engrossing read.
She crossed her gossamer arms, my wardrobe clearly visible through her. "I know how dreadful it must be for Mr. Wallace to not reciprocate your affections. Only don't begrudge my happiness. Mr. Sharpe would be delighted to meet you. Says he hasn't been near a beating heart in ages ."
A shudder skipped down my spine. I lifted my book to eye-level. "I do not wish to meet your Mr. Sharpe."
Eleanor's head slid through the yellowed pages. "Sister," she huffed, "I do believe you are jealous."
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