― Scarlett Thomas
I made up my mind to repeat the process that caused me to meet my resident ghost the last time—except then it wasn't raining.
I looked out the rain-streaked window at the gardens. It was a misty dull day and somber—quite unlike the afternoon I walked the maze. I wasn’t sure if I needed the right atmospheric conditions to repeat the passage, but I’d soon find out.
I decided to forego the glass of lemonade as well, figuring I didn’t have to worry about being fetishistic and setting just the right mood. And seeing I was in that mindset, I put on my North Face waterproof hoodie over my sweater and jeans, smiling inwardly as I thought that maybe a less ‘curious’ appearance might persuade the lady that I was not an eccentric.
As I stepped out the door onto the patio, the rain came down heavier, and by the time I made my way down the slippery grassy slope to the maze, it was pelting down.
Great—just great! I was going to meet a beautiful woman looking like a drowned rat. Then, it occurred to me—I actually cared what I looked like, and more importantly, what Blythe thought about me.
I was heading down a slippery slope in more ways than one.
I began as I did several days before, walking the turf maze and resting at certain points to pause and reflect. It really was quite calming walking the curving paths in the rain, and I felt peace and joy in doing it.
After some time, I sensed I entered into a deep, meditative state, and knew it was time to go back into the house. I walked back up the gentle grassy slope and entered the kitchen. She was waiting at the entrance to the dining room, as if expecting me.
“I suppose I’ll have to accept you as a houseguest,” she whispered.
Her beauty struck me—I don’t know why it didn’t at our first meeting—perhaps it was the shock of an unexpected first encounter.
“You’re staring,” she said.
“I’m sorry—you’re very beautiful.”
A tiny smile played across her lips, “Oh, I see. The first time you detained me because you admired my poetry—but now, it seems, you admire my beauty. I would think with a surname like Wesley you’d be a man of good intentions.”
“I am well-intentioned,” I protested, “I just admire beauty. I guess that’s the reason why I put your discarded portrait back on the wall above the mantel—it’s lovely, but it doesn’t do you justice, in real life.”
Her eyes danced, mischievously, “And so you think this encounter of ours is ‘real life’, Mr. Wesley?”
“I don’t know what to think,” I said frankly. “To tell you the truth, I’m confused. I hoped you might clear up the matter.”
“Really? And you think I’ve been privileged with some sort of preternatural insight into The Mysterious Realm?”
“Yes, I was hoping you might know more than me, because I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. I have no experience talking with ghosts.”
Her face darkened with anger. “You think I’m a ghost? —You… you interloper!”
“Well, it seems a sensible conclusion seeing as you’re dead.”
“What—what did you say?”
“Look, I don’t mean to offend you, but it’s the year 2020 and you were thirty in 1935—so, do the Math.”
She stood there, mouth partly open, a terrified look in her eyes.