Ghost River – 11

October 22, 2006 at 5:42 pm (Ghost River)

We have discovered in the papers of the late John Hayes, three final sketches, which we will share to complete his Ghost River narrative. This is the first.

Lynn Alexander

After the reappearance of my grandfather, I went back through his works, back through the alchemical treatises he had left, and back through those that I had gathered on my own. I searched out the obscure backwaters and dry wells of our town’s ample collection of obscure works on such matters, but to no avail. Nothing gave me a clue.

Each evening I would exhaust myself, but then every night about 4AM I would suddenly wake. I would try to remember what I had been dreaming but not a single image would come. One night, unable to fall back asleep, I went outside to the back porch and just stared out into the woods.

I saw something and started to follow it. The moon was almost full, and since I know the woods and path well, I don’t need a light to guide my way. I walked up the hill, past the meadow and down to where the burial mounds are. It was an exceptionally clear and quiet night – only the distant sound of the trains, and my own footsteps on the leaves broke the silence. I walked to where the dry streambed cuts a deep crevice and sat on the rocks and waited.

The deep peace of the night woods soothed my nerves. The cool, crisp autumn air wafted around me like a clear elixir. I sat there for an hour, maybe two, and then slowly walked back to the house and fell sleep. The next few nights as the moon stayed bright, and the weather mild, I continued these walks. Gradually I came to hear more –not just the surface sounds, but the different layers one doesn’t recognize at first. As the moon reached its peak, coyotes began howling and listening to their eerie cries which sound almost like laughter, I could imagine the doors of the underworld becoming ajar, but even that didn’t mar the deep clarity of the woods.

After a week, I stopped waking up at night and my walks ended. It is fine I thought, the dead do not want their mysteries penetrated. I was content with that. Then she appeared.

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