I was content to retreat into my solitary life, waiting for my resident ghost to appear, and fully convinced that she would.
I felt no anxiety whatsoever because I sensed Blythe Summer’s spirit in the house and was persuaded it would only be a matter of time before we made contact.
The only thing in doubt was how this communion between us was going to occur—but even then I felt no compulsion to hurry things along. In a way I felt my blithe spirit had been with me all the time.
So, I might have continued on in this manner, contentedly lounging around the house and lazily contemplating my next writing project, if it were not for a seemingly accidental occurrence.
It was the first of May and I had been out in the gardens. I was contemplating hiring a gardening service and was taking note of various features I wanted restored—particularly, the ornate fishpond.
I was thinking how the grounds must be magnificent in summer when the leaves were on the Maples and the grass dappled with sunlight. A sparkling fishpond full of goldfish would be delightful and relaxing.
I walked up the cobbled path and entered the kitchen through the mudroom door, and as I did, I glimpsed a shadow flit across the dining room wall.
“Hello,” I called out, “is someone there? Stella, is that you?”
I came straight through the kitchen into the dining room and found it vacant, but not quite empty. There was a lingering scent of perfume and the unmistakable aura of someone just having been there. Goosebumps stood out on my arms and I felt a tingling sensation go up my spine.
My hair stood on end.
I gripped the cane-backed dining room chair until my knuckles turned white. It was a full minute before my heartbeat returned to normal.
The strange experience unnerved me, but I resolved not to let fear of the unknown or anxiety about the mysterious workings of the spirit realm deter me from pursuing contact with Blythe’s spirit.
Later that night as I sat by the fire a thought dawned on me— it concerned the penciled notes in Blythe’s book of poetry.
I retrieved the volume from the bookshelf and reread the words: In May, walk up from the fishpond by the cobbled path and enter through the side door.
My flesh began to crawl. What if these seemingly trite notes were in fact true segues—pathways to commune with Blythe’s spirit?
I could dimly recollect a book I read one afternoon in university, sitting in the Hart House library—it was a mystical tome written in the late nineteenth century and it described the concept of world lines—the interconnected paths people trace in space and time.
Then, another thought hit me. Stella had often spoken to me about engrams—about souls encumbered from living in the physical ream.
But it all seemed so mystical to me then and the feeling was compounded when she talked about the sense of peace she got from walking mazes and modern labyrinths.
She told me she spent an afternoon in a church garden walking these labyrinthine turning paths and found it quieted her mind and helped her enter a contemplative state.
What did Stella call her experiences? Wasn’t it, tiempo robado? Another Spanish phrase! I got out my computer and Googled the term—it meant stolen moments.
Suddenly, everything crystalized in my head. Perhaps I could use these segues in Blythe’s book of poetry as paths to take in order to commune with her. The thought seemed wild and impossible, but appealed to me in a way that made my life take on new meaning.
Now I had a mission. It was better than a writing project and if pursued it, I might get to meet face to face with the woman in the portrait!
My heart pounded with excitement at the possibility.