Conaught Hall by Kari Milburn
I passed over around four in the afternoon on July 23rd, 1842. Well, I’m too polite when I say I passed over. I was brutally murdered, just as Mrs Howard was bringing in afternoon tea. God bless her soul, she witnessed it all, and in doing so, ended up signing her own death certificate too. He murdered her about ten minutes later. Sliced her throat open from ear to ear.
Me? Well, I had twenty-three stab wounds. From what I can remember, it was around the eighteenth or nineteenth that was fatal. He got my heart.
Mrs Howard is still here too. Though she appears to have gone a little bit insane. Her grey hair is still impeccably tidy, drawn back into a small bun at the nape of her neck. Her high-necked dress hides the slash across her throat, thank heavens, but I can still see the edges of the slice beneath both ears. Though my death was equally gruesome, I shiver every time I think of how he killed her.
‘He’ was my husband, Jonathon. He thought I was having an affair, which really was folly, and when I laughed about it, he got mad and pulled out his hunting knife. I suppose, in hindsight, we should have talked about it all after he’d changed from the hunt. He always became somewhat… animalistic after a hunt. I guess the foxes and the hounds brought out the murderous aspect in him.
I’m not excusing his actions. In fact, the reason that I am still here is because of him. I was and still am, infinitely angry at his stupid rash actions. What he hadn’t known at the time was that I was with child. And so not only did he kill two innocent women, but also a helplessly innocent baby.
I remember crying and crying for the loss of my child. It was stupid, because I was a ghost at that stage and should surely have been crying for the loss of my own life also. But I hadn’t realised that. I just recall sitting and crying, holding my stomach, watching Jonathon shake when he realised what he had done. It was around then that I realised I was dead, and that the body he was hugging and shaking over was, in fact, mine.
That was a very peculiar moment. Had I been alive, I believe I would have suffered a heart attack.
Alive, I was not a vindictive person at all. In fact, people would always comment on how soft I was, and that I let the help get away with indiscretions on a regular basis. They were probably right, but I couldn’t help but think of my staff as part of my family. After all, I spent far more time with them than I did with my husband. When he was in Conaught Hall, he was always tucked away in the library, or off riding or hunting with the townsfolk. Most of the time, however, he travelled to the city where he kept a small apartment close to the Bank. I wasn’t stupid enough to think that he was always faithful to me, but I also knew that he’d never risk exposing his indiscretions, as the publicity would surely harm his career.
So, as I said, alive, I was not vindictive and did not carry grudges. Death, however, brought out the joker in me and because I was feeling anger and frustration at not being able to kill my husband in retaliation, I took it upon myself to make the remainder of his life a complete misery.
Which was fun.
In the beginning.
I have to be honest, after a while, it became quite tedious. I learnt how to spook him in subtle ways. For example, I opened doors that he had closed. I moved furniture – though Mrs Howard had to help with the larger pieces, as I couldn’t manage them on my own. And seeing how incompetent a ghost she turned out to be, it was rarely that we did that.
So I tried to show him my reflection in mirrors and in the glass - which I found quite easy, but it was more difficult to actually get him to look at the mirror or glass. As vain as he was, he spent time admiring himself and rarely noticed me stood behind him.
I came to realise very quickly that the man I had loved and promised myself to was not only a murderer, but also a pompous charlatan with no thought for anyone but himself.
He had gotten away with my murder too. He told the local policeman that we had rowed and I had left him for another man and that I had moved to the continent. I was shocked at how easily they had believed his lies. I was gone from England and would not return, he said. I had moved somewhere in Spain with a man that I had been having an affair with and I had taken Mrs Howard, my loyal maid, with me.
‘Spain’ was a big hole in the woods on the estate where he had buried Mrs Howard and I in a shallow three-foot grave.
And then I had to listen to the policeman actually sympathise with Jonathon. He actually patted his shoulder and said that it wasn’t easy to be wed in these days, especially as my husband spent so much time in London. I was a spiteful woman who didn’t support her husband, as I should have. “You’re better off without Miss Elizabeth.” He said.
This made me even angrier.
Sometimes I felt the pull from the other side. It was very subtle, like a shinning light in my peripheral vision. But when I turned to look at it, it had disappeared. I knew deep down that I should pass over, but as long as Jonathon lived, I couldn’t pass up the opportunities to haunt him. I wanted him to suffer.
I learnt to vocalise after a year or so. Jonathon started throwing parties and bringing his friends and whores back with him from London. I was so appalled the one-day, that I actually moaned loud enough to make one of the whores look in my direction. She shocked me as much as I had evidently shocked her, for she ran screaming from the room. Mrs Howard came to me to see what the commotion was about and we both laughed. It had been one of the best reactions either of us had achieved and I found it very funny indeed.
In the nights, I’d wake Jonathon up by calling his name or slamming a door. I’d stand in the mirror while he shaved, but when he did see me, he would snarl and tell me that I was as much as a pain in death as I had been when I was alive.
If I had had a heart that beat, it would have broken.
I remember when I realised that I had not seen Mrs Howard for over thirty-six years. I guessed that she had found a way to pass over. I was happy for her. Jonathon had aged into a spiteful bent over old man with too much money and no family to share it with. Every time he got close to a woman, I would do my utmost to frighten her away, and it had worked every time. I knew that Jonathon would never leave Conaught Hall. It had been in his family for generations and he was not going to let a new wife change that.
Haunting him slowly became a chore. Just like living with him.
He died at the ripe old age of 82. He had a mild heart attack at the top of the stairs, then promptly fell down them and broke his neck.
Now he haunts me.
I had never been a fond friend of irony and when Jonathon joined me in the house, I learnt why. I guess my years of taunting him had got the better of me. I could no longer hide from him, and even in death, he frightened me.
He was stronger than I was, and dead, he was more powerful a poltergeist. He used to follow me around the house and throw things at me, even though nothing could hurt me. We would row about why he had killed Mrs Howard and me, about the whores that he replaced me with and the money he lavished on parties.
No one moved into Conaught Hall after his death. Word had spread around the area that the house was haunted and soon the beautiful ten-bedroom house was derelict and empty. He had left the estate to his brothers’ son, Albert. But Albert never moved in. The years took its toll, storms took the windows and the roof and the weeds took the once beautiful gardens.
And still we drifted though the house, though the bricks and mortar that had been our home. Time passed so strangely, and the next people who entered our home were most peculiar.
“Jesus, Ian! Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”
“Look at the damn covings! Wow, this place could be great for us!” Ian smiled, then grabbed Christie at the waist and swung her around in the air, kissing her passionately when her feet touched the ground again.
She started running through the house, dragging her partner behind her, giggling as she went. The massive kitchen was at the rear of the house, and she found the maids quarters behind it. “We could convert the staff areas so they’re better equipped. You know, a few bathrooms, maybe a lounge for them to relax in?”
“Honey,” Ian said smiling, “Seeing the coach house sold the rest of it for me. We can do that up beautifully for us. Could take us a long time to convert and update this old bundle of crap, though. And we need to get a couple of surveys done and a couple of quotes for the work before we make an offer.”
Christie sighed, “I know that! But what a fabulous hotel this could be. And to think it’s just three miles from the M3 and the coast! What a find!”
Ian smiled, “Yup! We can arrange day trips to Bognor!”
Christie laughed, “I’m hoping we’ll have guests that will want day trips to Chichester instead!”
“You’re a snob!” he replied excitedly, “So if we get this right, you’re dad invests the money, my dad gives me an executive position in London so we can afford the refurbishment, and we can open in a year?”
“My dad will invest the money as long as we get married, you know that!”
“That’s fine. But do you think he’ll mind if we have the first wedding here when the place is finished?”
Christie gasped, “You mean it? Oh that would be great!”
Ian kissed his fiancé and hugged her close. After a moments silence, he asked, “It’ll take me, what? An hour and half tops to get into London?”
“Depending on traffic or the train times, yep.”
A third man entered the house, calling their names as he walked through the house. “Mr Callum? Mrs Callum? Where are you?”
Christie corrected him as she entered the hall, “It’s Miss Smith, actually. We’re not married.”
“My apologies.” The man stammered, “I assumed…”
The man took the folder from his briefcase and took out the particulars. “Now, Mr Conaught left the house to his son, Kyle. The present Mr Conaught resides in Arizona and has immediately put the property on the market for £3.2 million. The land itself is probably worth more than that, and I’ve been inundated for details from developers. However, Conaught Senior did stipulate in the Will that the land was not to be sold and redeveloped, and that the house could not be turned into a retirement home. The poor old man spent his last years in one and he obviously didn’t like it.” A flash of white teeth before he continued, “He didn’t mention anything about a Hotel, so I guess you’re free to make an offer.”
“What interest have you had?”
“Like I said, lots of developers have offered cash well over the asking price, but Kyle Conaught is bound by the will not to sell of the land for that purpose. If he does try, the house will instead be donated to the National Trust. It’s been available for six days now, and you’re the first to view it for yourselves. There is a lot of work that needs doing, but we estimate that the land and building could be worth north of £14 million if it were not for it’s present condition. Bare in mind through, that you may need to invest several million at least to bring it up to scratch.”
“We know that.” Christie said. “Give us a week to get some surveys done and you’ll have an offer.”
The agent looked very pleased with himself.
“Good heavens, Elizabeth! Did I hear that right?” Jonathon had crept up behind me, and his soft tone made me jump. “£14 million?”
“Trust you to think of the money side of it all.” I replied, disgusted.
“My great grandfather paid only a thousand pounds.”
“That was over 150 years ago.” I said, already tired of this conversation.
The people had left and the house fell silent again. Apart from my murderous husband, I’d had no company for almost 100 years, and seeing this young couple talk about all of the money with ease was disturbing me.
“She was wearing pantaloons!” Jonathon said. “And they were tight!”
“Oh for Gods sake!”
“Her legs were a bit skinny, but…”
“I don’t want to know, Jonathon.”
“I was going to say that I always thought you had the nicest legs, Lizzie.”
Hearing him call me that, after so many years was both comforting and alarming at the same time. Alive, he had only ever called me Lizzie when we were alone in our quarters. We were stood at the top of the stairs in the hall. A silence descended that was terribly empty, and I thought about my beautiful home becoming a hotel. “It will be nice to hear peoples voices in the halls again.” I said.
“We can spook them.”
Jonathon was so childish sometimes that it made me want to scream.
“And he said an hour and a half to London?” Jonathon appeared in shock. “It used to take me at least four hours from here.”
“Where’s Arizona?” I asked.
“I think its in America.” He replied, “I think it’s where the Grand Canyon is and where the Indians live.”
“Why would our descendant want to live there?”
“No idea.” He shrugged. “Though why they’d want to live in the Coach House is another matter entirely.”
I nodded, “It’s so small.”
They came again the following week, made an offer and started work on the Coach House a few months later. I enjoyed watching them work. It took them a while to fix the kitchen, and they brought with them such things that I had never seen before. Although I should confess that I had not seen the inside of a working kitchen for many years.
The thing that shocked me the most was the lamps'. I watched a strange man in a white all in one suit dig holes in the walls, run what looked like string through them, and refill them. A couple of days later, he was pushing a button on the wall and the rooms would light up with such brightness that it was almost shocking.
It had all been so sudden. One minute, it seemed that I was living in my house of old, and a moment later, there were builders and decorators, men in white suits fitting pipes and wires (I heard him say something about ‘wiring’ the place up). They fixed the roof, did something to the bricks outside (I think they called it re pointing? But what were they pointing at?). And brought in a team of people to tend to the garden.
“It’s starting to look like home again.” Jonathon said one afternoon. “Have you seen the lavatories? Not only are they inside, but they automatically flush!”
“They’re not married, and yet they share the same bed. What has the world come to?”
“I wasn’t married to Holly and she shared my bed until you frightened her away.”
“Holly was a whore, Jonathon.”
“Elizabeth, I know what she was!” he grinned.
“You disgust me.”
He smiled again and disappeared into the next room.
Two years had passed and the couple had married. The hotel was preparing for it’s second summer season, this one would be a full season that, according to the couple, was already fully booked. They hadn’t seemed fazed when Jonathon threw a chair against the wall one night. In fact, they seemed quite excited about it.
I would open and close doors, which was my speciality. Also, I’d appear now and then in reflections. My vocalising wasn’t brilliant though. I thought I’d be saying something completely normal, and they’d say, “woo!” back to me.
It wasn’t that we were trying to scare our new house owners away. In fact, we liked them a lot and loved what they did to the house. The gardens were beautiful, and weddings were booked every weekend through out the summer months.
I guess in a way it was boredom that propelled us. And some of the customers were just so… stuffy. The younger couples excited us, the way they talked, the gadgets that they carried. I remember staring at one young girl as she ironed her hair with a hand held iron. It worked fabulously and her hair shined so. And she wore it just like that.
Everything about this new era fascinated us both. The colours of hair, the styles of decorating, and the shiny vehicles that travelled so fast so effortlessly. And the electricity, phones, and televisions.
Jonathon learnt very quickly how to change the channel on the screen and annoyed people constantly by turning the news, weather or shopping channels on whilst they were watching a film.
I remember watching a Jane Austin novel on the screen and finding it all so fabulous that her words could be translated so well by the actors. They may well have changed some of the story line, but it worked well.
The autumn came and with it brought a cold that we couldn’t feel. The Callum's talked about the central heating and how glad they were that they’d paid the extra for the under floor heating. I had no idea what that meant until I saw Christie actually lay a jumper on the floor to dry. She had laughed and said that the instructions said to reshape and dry flat. I guessed the floor was hot enough to dry the wool jumper.
I stood in the bedroom of the coach house one autumn morning, watching Christie as she applied make up to her skin. She had the most beautiful flawless complexion and I wondered why she would cover it up with the liquid from the bottle. But she did it daily. Sometimes I wished I could talk to her; ask her about what it was like to be woman in this century. I could tell her stories about what I had been like for me when I was alive. I liked this woman who had taken over my house. She was beautiful, smart, funny, caring and extraordinarily thoughtful. She went out of her way for her guests, did everything she could to make their stay at Conaught Hall an enjoyable experience, and spent hours pouring over the menu with the chefs.
They had hired 23 staff for the summer months; all but 4 of them lived on site. I was surprised by the number of foreigners that she had hired but having seen how hard they worked, I understood their need to be living in England. They had a wonderful couple for their employers, who didn’t demand of them, just simply expected. It seemed to work wonderfully for them. I wish Mrs Howard were still with me so she could witness it.
I had only five staff members, but then I didn’t run a hotel, a restaurant and a bar. Jonathon was delighted that they kept the library where it originally was, and spent many hours in there just looking over the books inside.
As I watched Christie that morning, the most extraordinary thing happened. I had been watching her so intently, that I hadn’t realised that I was showing as a reflection in her mirror. She looks straight at me and said, “I wondered when I would actually see you.”
I was stunned, and for a moment shimmered out of her view.
“I know you don’t mean any harm. In fact, I think you like us living here.”
I smiled. For some reason, I couldn’t vocalise, but I could show emotion.
She applied some colour to her cheeks and turned to face me. However, she must not have been able to see me as she frowned and turned back to look at me in the mirror. “I’ve been talking to Ian about you, and he wants to invite some people here to either help you, or at the least, learn something about you. I hope that’s ok.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant, and I found myself fading from her view.
“I hope that’s ok.” She repeated.
They came in the winter when there were very few staff and no one booked in to stay. They were here for three days, and they brought such items that I was almost frightened.
“This should be fun.” Jonathon had said, grinning.
There were twelve of them in total, and they all wore jackets with the words Haunted TV written on the back of them. They brought powerful lights, strange machines and what Jonathon explained to me were film cameras. He watched far more of the television than I dared to and seemed to have far more knowledge about this century than I did.
One of the women that came was called Janet Paddock, and she seemed to be the one standing before the lights and camera more than any of the others. Jonathon called her the presenter.
They brought with them people who talked about finding ghosts and witnessing many different haunted buildings. These people had come to hunt us, and it scared me.
Jonathon and I stood at the top of the stairs, our favourite place. It surprised me how Jonathon used to like standing there, when it was the place where he had fallen to his death. But that was where we always seemed to meet.
“I think we could have some fun here.” He said.
“They scare me.”
And in a moment of clarity and pity that I had never felt for my murderous husband, he said, “Maybe they can help us.” His tone was so sad and forlorn that had I had it in me, I would have shed a tear.
Jack Keller came later than the others. It was already dark outside, and Janet had done some pre filming, talking about the history of the house and how the Callum’s had remodelled the house into the Hotel Conaught.
When Jack entered, he was dressed all in black; his expression was one of concern and confusion. His silver hair was shoulder length and thinning on top. He frowned heavily as he entered the library. “I feel…” he said, pausing for effect, “there is a spirit here who has not passed over.”
Jonathon and I followed him and the cameras in to the library. “I also feel the presence of a tortured soul. I feel that…” he paused, holding his head to the side as if listening to someone whispering in his ear, “yes!” he said suddenly, “It’s a woman. And she was taken from this world before her time. She was murdered.”
There was a gasp form the rest of the crewmembers.
“The man…” he continued, “Oh, he’s a nasty, nasty piece of work. He… he…” Keller paused again, again seeming to listen to someone, “yes! It was him! He killed her.” He paused, “I feel a connection between them.”
I looked to Jonathon, who shrugged. “Who is he listening to?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” I answered.
“I don’t like him.”
“Why? Because he described you as nasty?”
“No. I was nasty when I was alive. And I did murder you. I don’t like him because he makes me nervous.”
I agreed with Jonathon. We left the library and made our way back to our spot on the stairs. “What do you think they’re going to do?” I asked.
Jonathon smiled. “They want a show. And I think we should give them one.”
The idea was sly and I liked it.
The film crew came out of the library. The lights on the cameras were no longer on.
“I don’t know what happened.” Keller was saying, “One minute they were there, then I felt them leave. This place is definitely haunted and I think we should get some good action tonight.”
Janet smiled, “That would be great!”
“I need to see Christie.” I said, and made my way over to the Coach House, leaving Jonathon to watch over the film crew.
“What d’ya think they’re doing?” Ian asked Christie as he filled up her glass of red wine.
“Looking for her.” She replied.
Ian smiled and sat beside his wife. “Do you really think you saw her?”
“I know I did.”
“And it didn’t scare you?”
“No. Not at all.” She smiled and sipped from her glass, “In fact, I liked the look of her. I think she’s been watching over us. I think that she died here and couldn’t leave.”
Ian nodded. “Well, if the Haunted TV crew find anything, it should really help us with our international bookings.”
“So is that all you care about, the money?” Her words were cutting but her tone was playful.
“Absolutely.” He replied, “We need to pay your father back. I was thinking that perhaps we could do some haunting trips through the slow season; October through to February.”
Christie smiled, “That’s actually not a bad idea. Providing our friendly ghost will help us out with it.”
“I wonder why she’s still here?”
I’d wondered it myself so many times. Had it gone past the point of redemption? Would The Lord no longer welcome me into Heaven because I had stayed behind for so long? Had I condemned my soul to an eternity of this?
And why hadn’t Ian and Christie realised that Jonathon was here too? Perhaps it was simply because he couldn’t show his reflection like I could. Neither could he vocalise. His were poltergeist activities only. Mine were simply, in his words, spooky.
Either way, since the Callums’ had acquired our home, Jonathon and I had been getting on better. In fact, we were getting along better than we had when we were both alive. He could still annoy me a huge amount, but I had been lonely for all of these years, and it felt so good to be able to have a conversation with someone, even if that person was the man who had murdered me.
Janet and Jack were stood in the hall, surrounded by the film-crew members, bright lights shining in their faces as they discussed me.
“I’m trying to get a name.” He said, again listing his head to the right as if listening to someone. “I can’t…”
Jonathon smiled at me, “What do you think? Shall we?” and with that he disappeared and reappeared directly behind the man called Jack. “IT’S ELIZABETH!” he shouted.
I couldn’t help but giggle. I knew that they couldn’t hear him, even if I could.
But Jack jumped. He literally jumped as if Jonathon had pushed him.
“What is it?” Janet asked, alarmed.
“Oh my…. Oh my… He’s here. Right here. He’s with us now.” Jacks eyes had doubled in size as he frantically looked around him. Could he really feel Jonathon’s presence? “I think I have a name. I think it was Beth… no… Elizabeth. YES!” he suddenly cried out, “It’s ELIZABETH!”
Jonathon turned to face me where I still stood at the top of the stairs. “He can hear me?” he asked dubiously.
“Can you get a date?” Janet asked her ghost-hearing co-presenter.
“Tell him when you killed me.” I said.
“1842.” Jonathon said.
“18…. 4…. Something. Eighteen forty something.”
“1842.” Jack suddenly smiled. “She was here or killed in 1842.”
Janet nodded thoughtfully, “Fascinating.” She said. She didn’t appear very fascinated at all.
All of this was very strange feeling. Was this man really able to hear Jonathon? In fairness, Jonathon had to shout at the top of his voice, straight into the mans ear, and still had to repeat himself, but eventually he got across the fact Elizabeth and Jonathon Conaught had lived in Conaught hall in the 17th century. By the time Jonathon managed this he seemed exhausted. “I need a rest.” He told me as he passed me on the stairs.
I watched them for hours as they walked through the house, entered every room, discussed whether Jack could feel a presence or not. He should have every time, because I was there. When he entered what was our drawing room and was now a restaurant, he shuddered. “There’s some bad residual energy in here.” He said.
Of course there was. This was the room that Jonathon had killed Mrs Howard and myself.
“Some bad things happened here.” He walked around the room with his hands in front of him as if feeling the energy with his fingers. “People were murdered.”
“How many?” Janet asked.
“Two. There were two murders here.”
Mrs Howard? Could he feel her murder too? Or was there another that even I didn’t know about?
When they made it into the staff quarters, the man in touch with our souls smiled warmly. “There was a good soul here.” He said, “Oh!” and he grinned! “What a soul! She was here for a while, but she found her way over. She found her way to the light.” He turned around in the hallway off the kitchen and sighed deeply. “She was in charge here.”
Well, that was right. Mrs Howard ran the staff with a tight fist.
“But she was fair.” He continued. “And she’s moved on. She’s at peace.”
I thought of Mrs Howard and felt a pang for her company. It could also have been a pang of jealousy.
On the second night, they held a séance. I had seen one done before, while I was alive and it had unnerved me then. But this time, Jonathon and I were the ghosts and neither of us knew what to do. Six of them sat around a table with a glass sat on its rim in the centre. They were holding hands lightly, and all had their eyes closed.
“Show time!” Jonathon said with that glint in his eye.
I couldn’t help but smile.
The cameras were rolling and Jack was asking over and over if there was anyone present with them in the room.
“Moan.” Jonathon instructed me.
So I did.
Well, what a commotion that caused. Chairs scrapped back as the people sat around the table jumped. Two of them actually screamed.
One of the men holding a stick with what looked like a furry animal stuck on the end cried out, “Oh my God! I got that loud and clear!” He wore strange looking earmuffs and took the one off his right ear, “It was so clear!”
They calmed themselves and sat back at the table.
“If that was Elizabeth, could you bang something?”
Well, the only thing I’d ever been any good at was slamming doors. And if I thought my moan had caused a commotion, this was incredible. Jonathon was laughing so much next to me, thoroughly enjoying every moment.
Then Jonathon decided to go another step. He walked into the centre of the table and grinned at me, “This is amazing!” he said to me, “Inside their circle I feel so much stronger!” And then he started to move the glass. Around and around it went, in somewhat of a frenzied manner.
Janet let go of jack’s hand and the glass shot across the room, shattering on the floor.
“Jonathon!” I chided, “What did you do that for?”
Jonathon shrugged at me, “I didn’t mean to. But when she let go of his hand I no longer had control!”
“I think that’s enough for tonight.” I said, and promptly left the room. Jonathon didn’t follow me.
Ian and Christie hadn’t known about Jonathon’s presence amongst them. And they actually seemed pleased when they heard about him. Though Jack Keller described him as a ‘nasty’ soul, I knew that really he was just a bit bitter. He’d not passed over to the light for the same reason I hadn’t. Both of us had wanted to spite each other. It was silly really, but far too late to worry about now. When the Callum’s watched the film of the glass flying, they actually cheered. Did nothing frighten this couple?
The following day they ventured into the grounds. We followed them as they walked through the woods and across the gardens. There had been stories, apparently, of a ghost in the woods. I knew there wasn’t one there, but then gossip always did have a way of spreading in the town. They knew of the stories and wanted to find the ghost of the woods.
What they found was mine and Mrs Howard’s grave.
I don’t mean to say that they actually took a shovel and dug up our remains. But Jack Keller stood on the same spot, and sighed deeply. “I feel that the spirits resides in the house.” He said, “But I feel that one of them was perhaps buried here. Probably it was Elizabeth’s grave after she was murdered.”
Jonathon turned to me and said, “He’s very good, isn’t he?”
I turned away from him. At that moment, he was my murderer again.
But he caught up with me back in the house. “You know I didn’t mean it, don’t you?” he asked, his face a picture of sorrow.
“You stabbed me to death, Jonathon. What am I supposed to think?”
“Oh, Lizzie.” He said, holding out his hand to me, “I loved you more than anything in the world and the thought of you with another man…”
“I was always faithful to you, Jonathon.”
He nodded solemnly. “I know that now. And I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”
It had taken over 150 years to get an apology from him, and I was surprised at how sincere it was. I had loved my husband unconditionally, and even in death, I had still loved him. I let my anger take control, an anger that I hadn’t known I was capable of. And it had fuelled my eternal damnation.
In that moment, he appeared to me as the Jonathon that I had fallen in love with. 24 years old, a thick mop of blond hair, curls falling stupidly across his brow. The look in his eyes was the same too - full of life and energy and hope and desire. He had been the most handsome man I had ever laid eyes on and he had fallen in love with me. I had felt like I was the luckiest girl alive.
And now I felt like the luckiest woman to be dead.
We’ve discussed our future eternal life together. We’re stuck here for now, but hopefully one day, God will look upon the fact that we have forgiven each other and welcome us in to his Kingdom. For now, we will live in Conaught Hall, The Conaught Hotel, and we will relish the summer guests and frighten the winter ones! Ian and Christie are expecting a child, and so he has finished his job in the city to share the chores of running the hotel with his wife.
They will be happier here than Jonathon and I were, but perhaps the four of us, separated by 150 years of time and a ghostly plain, can finally be happy together.
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