I finally met my ghost and was intimidated as much by her mystique as her beauty. I was convinced she had been pursued by men and had deliberatley chosen to remain aloof and remote.
I was astonished though when I realized she was lonely and had never been in love even once in her life.
She could read the amazement on my features but wasn't embarrassed disclosing the truth—in fact, she seemed relieved to talk about it with me.
“You’re surprised?” She laughed softly, “Don’t be. I encouraged the public to see me as a Siren. I thought if I could create the mystique of being a libertine nobody would notice how lonely I was. It worked. I locked myself while appearing to be elusive and mysterious.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I wanted to take her in my arms and hold her, but suddenly felt shy.
“You see that cedar chest there?” She pointed to the very article Stella and I purchased.
“I put all my mementoes and keepsakes in that cedar chest and that became my hope chest. I turned the key and locked them away. Then I did the same with my life. I sheltered behind the walls of this house, turned the key and locked myself away.”
“But why, Blythe—did someone hurt you?”
“Not any one person, or any one thing. I became disenchanted. Yes, I’d say that was the reason, Theo. I was disillusioned. The right man never came along.”
I shook my head and stared off into space, realizing that was how I felt now—I wasn’t ready to settle for second best.
Blythe was looking dreamily at the chest as if it contained all the secrets of her heart.
“I wanted to stop time, Theo—get off the merry-go-round and just be. I lived in a society of fast walkers and fast talkers and I wanted time to discover me and to find something real.”
“And did you—find something real?”
She smiled bitterly. “You know what the Bard says, Time travels in diverse paces with diverse persons. That’s the problem with time—it never slows down or stops. For whom does time stand still? She gazed deeply into my eyes, “For me, Theo—for me. This is a house of stolen moments.”
“You can’t wall yourself away here, Blythe.”
Her eyes turned soft and she patted my hand.
“You know Theo, our souls are tied to our bodies by a fragile thread. A golden cord trailing behind, tethers people. It permits a certain radius of freedom but becomes entangled in relationships—in troubling ones it becomes knotted, and in devastating circumstances becomes broken and the person floats freely away, drifting like an untethered kite for all eternity.”
“Is that what happened to you?”
She didn’t answer for a long while.
“No, that is not what happened to me. I was afraid it might happen to me, so I remained behind the shelter of these walls, safe from pain and suffering.”
I nodded. It made sense—her isolation, her reclusiveness that everyone perceived as the aura of her mystery.
“And what happened to you, Theo? Why are you untethered?
I was indignant and took umbrage at her remark. “I’m not untethered,” I insisted.
“Oh, but you are,” she whispered.
I hated her for saying that, but something within me snapped. My eyes welled up and throat constricted. I turned away in shame, trying to hide my burning eyes, the lump in my throat, the dryness of my mouth and tongue.
She was gentle as the breeze stirring outside.
“Take your time, Theo. Wait for an image. Feel it totally, completely—let yourself go, and then, tell me what you see.”
I flowed with her words, loosening my clenched fists, closing my eyes, waiting for a picture—and it came to me unbidden through the soft soughing of the sea.
I began voicing aloud the images I was picturing in my head.
I was in Florida on the Gulf side and Ari and I had been flying a red kite. I tied it to the back of a reclining chair and let the stiff gulf breezes keep it steady in the clouds. I chased her down the beach and we fell laughing into the tide.
We returned in time to see the kite detached and carried out to sea, the long line dangling in the waves, the small diamond sail being swept toward the horizon, until it was just a red speck heading toward Mexico.
And for all I know, it’s drifting still, in a quiet afternoon of clouds and waves.
“That’s lovely!” she enthused.
How she knew, I don’t know. I certainly didn’t have to tell her—to say it out loud, but she saw it somehow in her mind’s eye. It was then knew I was loosing my grip, being caught up in her wild beauty, wanting to be with her on that sunny coast, under the forever sky.
“Are you enchanted?”
“Good,” she beamed, eyes shining, “it’s not good to be alone.”
My heart burned within me. I finally felt at home.