Three days ago, my life was normal. I got up, went to work, came home, ate dinner and cuddled with my heavily pregnant wife. Now? Well now my world has crumbled all around me, and my life a mess, no, a torment. Three nights ago, my wife, my college sweetheart, went into early labour. It was the middle of the night when I awoke to hear screams coming from the bathroom. I leapt from the bed and raced to her; my heart skipped a hundred beats. I found her on the floor in a pool of blood crying for our baby’s life. It took twenty minutes for the ambulance to arrive, by then contractions had started and they were seven minutes apart.
My wife, Diane, was rushed through for surgery by a large team of doctors and nurses. A blood soaked nightgown was the last image I saw before she disappeared through the double doors, it haunted me every minute. They wouldn’t let me in to be with her… she must’ve have been so afraid.
I paced the corridors for three hours, tears stained my cheeks and snot gathered on my sleeves. Finally, a nurse poked her head out and told me to go to the waiting room for the doctor, who would be with me in a minute.
As I sat, my knees trembled uncontrollably, I heard the handle turning and jumped to attention. I must’ve looked a mess; teary eyes, runny nose, with a shorts and shirt combo.
“Mr. Campbell. I’m truly sorry. I don't know how to tell you this.” He fiddled with his pen and stood open-mouthed.
“Just spit it out. Is it our baby? Did he not make it?”
“It’s more complicated than that. Your wife had internal bleeding and a high fever. There were complications with the delivery and your baby was too long without oxygen.”
He put his hand on my shoulder and looked me straight in the eyes.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Campbell. Both your wife and baby didn’t make it.”
“What? No! This can’t be happening. This is some sort of nightmare,” I said as I swiped his arm away, I didn’t want his sympathy, I wanted to see my family.
They allowed me to see them once they had cleaned them up, my darling Diane and my little boy, Evan. They looked asleep, but when I touched their skin, I could tell there was no life in them. They were cold to touch. It was then my world began to fade away in front of my eyes, and my soul left blank. Nothing, empty.
I watched the mahogany box which contained my future be lowered into a six-foot deep abyss; two empty vessels, one cradling the other, sealed away for eternity. Family and friends left, comforting one another, to the wake in our local public house, one we hadn’t visited in a year or so, not since we were trying to have a family.
It was just me, the corpses, and the descending sun at the graveyard. I fell to the ground and rested my head on the soft grass beside the deep hole. I asked them to wait until tomorrow to fill it in; I wanted to be as close to Diane and little Evan for as long as I could. I stayed until dark and fell asleep.
Hours later, I awoke with the sound of a voice singing. A soft melodic tone that I pictured dancing with the dust in the cool breeze. I opened my eyes and eerily realised the dim light of the moon had cast a glow on the headstones and monuments in the cemetery. In between a row of recently deceased, not too far away, stood a woman dressed in a white gown which appeared old and raggy. Her dark hair was long and silky with a tattered white flower crown. It was as if she floated towards me.
“I feel your pain,” she whispered.
“What? You wouldn’t understand.”
“I have lost love before. I have lost children, too. I do feel your pain.”
Her voice carried a soothing tone that made my bottom lip quiver and tears flow from my eyes.
“I can reunite you. If you want,” she stated.
“If only that were possible.”
I sat up and glared at this mysterious woman who believed she could bring back the dead.
“It is. I can make it possible. For you.”
“Are you a witch?” I asked with a sarcastic tone.
“Ha! Don’t insult me. I am much more than that. I am a friend of death, I can control it. Don’t you want to see them again?”
Visions of Diane, with her large stomach, painting Evan’s room together last month, invaded my thoughts. She flicked the bristles of the brush at me and screamed laughing when I came towards her with a roller full of paint. She begged me not to paint her. When I put the roller behind me, she shoved the paintbrush into my face and wiggled before bursting out laughing and apologising. I let her away with it because of her condition, otherwise I would have chased her around the house until she was covered head to toe with the blue coloured paint. An owl hooted close by and brought me to my senses.
“Who or what are you?”
“I am a Dearg-Dul, and all I ask is for one kiss, and I can reunite you with your family?”
I had no idea what a Dearg-Dul was, yet the name seemed familiar in the back of my mind. Although she was mesmerising, I had just lost the love of my life.
“My wife is just there, why would you expect me to kiss you?”
She started to sing again, this song was different from the last one. The one before sounded like a song of woe, this was one of enchantment, with a melody that enticed my senses, and made me forget my emotional state. My sadness. My grief. The feeling of being lost in this world.
“What is that song?”
“It is an old song to give comfort to grieving souls. Did it work?”
“Yes, I would love to forget my pain, but a song doesn’t last forever.”
“This one can. You don’t have to be in pain, come kiss me and you will see,” she said seductively.
Her tale of forgotten pain was too enticing.
“It still doesn’t feel right for me to kiss you with my wife and child in the mud.”
“Do not wallow in pity. Let me kiss you and you will not have any guilt.”
She came closer and lifted her hand towards my face. Her sky blue eyes flickered in the moonlight, they were practically glowing. The touch from her pale hand was cold yet soothing.
‘What if she could unite me with my wife and son, wasn’t it worth the risk? I would do anything to hold them both in my arms.'
She spun me around and swayed side to side as she hummed another song; we were dancing. It felt like I was moving on a cloud. Her pale pink lips closed in, I closed my eyes and smelt her aroma. Her breath burnt my nose, like hot chilli. When our lips touched, I had an out of body experience, but not a typical one. I was back in school, and we were learning about Samhain and Halloween tradition. My teacher listed out characters from Irish folklore, and the Dearg-Dul was one of them.
‘What was it about the Dearg-Dul? Dearg...Dearg…was it a colour? Yes, that’s it. The colour red. For blood!’
My body quivered as her lips moved across my face and onto my neck, still kissing the stubble. I didn’t feel her teeth sink in at first, not until she started to suck my blood; then it felt like the very essence of my soul was being drained from my body. I screamed, but as she drank my blood and moaned with delight, my voice grew weaker and weaker until a little gurgle came out. My skin turned a pale grey and the other layers crinkled, yet she continued to feast upon me.
Black and white spots appeared in front of my eyes, and then everything went dark. I opened my eyes again to see my wife and baby smiling at me, with a bright light behind them, they looked angelic and perfect.
I returned a smile as I never felt happier in my life and reached for her hand…
Diane’s face changed, her brows lifted in shock and she turned to shield her and Evan. A dark force grabbed me, its touch burnt my skin, and it tugged me away from the arms of my love. I turned to see a beast with fire in his eyes and an evil grin. It growled and pulled me into a black rift; beyond were the depths of hell.
The last sound I heard was the Dearg-Dul laughing at my tortured soul.
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”