Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)
TITLE: Hoosier Folk Tale
By Andrea Cooper
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Grandpa’s eyes sparkled. “Last time I told you that story, you ended up sleeping downstairs because you were too afraid to sleep in your rooms.”
“Ah, come on Grandpa, that was over a year ago. We’re bigger now. We promise not to be scared.”
Grandpa chuckled and settled back in his chair. Looking out at the menacing clouds, he began in a drawing voice…
They say that she was abandoned out in the hollow after she drew her last breath. No one knew who she was. She became a beautiful tale to talk of on dark October nights. But every man that claimed to have seen her, spoke of her with that same awe about them…describing her eyes with such beauty that many men found themselves riding through the hollow hoping that they could dry away her tears…
One day, a visitor came to town. He was tall and a bit studious in his appearance. He rode in on a horse that looked like it would rather lay down and become glue than be rode one more mile. No one had time to learn his name. He was the sort that talked a mile a minute. He said he was heading to the little town beyond Landon’s Bridge. He was on his horse and riding before anyone could stop him.
The moon was peeking above the towering oaks as the horse trotted, breathing hard, and grunting all the way. The stranger was a bit skittish already, so when the horse suddenly reared, it was no surprise that the stranger lost his balance and fell hard to the ground. He was dazed …his eyes staring up at the beautiful white moon that seemed to wink down at him.
It was then that the soft sound of weeping floated to his ears. The stranger managed to sit up, and there, standing just in front of him, was a shimmering woman…oddly white and hazy. She was weeping, wiping her eyes with a delicate handkerchief.
“Is there something wrong, Miss?” He asked awkwardly.
She looked up at him with eyes that held his for what seemed like an eternity. It was in her eyes that he saw a world he had never tasted, pain that he would never feel, and secrets that he could not understand. Great beauty came from within her, mixed with a world of darkness that seemed to grip him with cold and clammy hands.
“Miss?” He whispered. He could feel his knees begin to tremble as her eyes silently began to tell him a story he did not want to hear. Before she could finish with her secret, the stranger found the strength to reach out to brush a single tear that had slid down her cheek. But just as his fingertips touched the salty tear, the woman was no more…
“What happened to her Grandpa?” The first drops of rain began to fall.
“No one knows, darlings. The stranger came back into town looking as if he had encountered the Grim Reaper down there in the hollow. He stayed only the evening before taking the train back where he had come from.”
“What about the woman? Why was she crying?”
“No one knows.”
The thunder rolled in the distance and Grandpa stood to his feet. “Come now, girls. We’d better go in for the night.”
The girls followed, but the eldest paused to look out in the distance toward the bridge. She tried to listen for the sounds of the heartbroken ghost, but heard nothing except the rain falling.
“Come on.” Her sister turned to say. “What are you standing out there for?”
The girl turned and grinned wickedly. “I thought I heard her.”
Her sister’s eyes widened with horror. “The ghost?”
The giggles of young girls floated on the stormy wind…floating by the towering oaks…through the dark paths…until it reached the ears of the lonely woman who’s handkerchief would forever be tainted with century old tears.
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