It was all Hallow’s Eve in the month of October of 1865 and Alexandra Drachen huddled beneath the long branches of the evergreen that reached far above as if it touched the sky. A wolf’s lone howl in the distance made her shiver in cold eventhough she was covered from head to toe in a damask cloak. Beneath it was hidden the ivory ball gown so elegantly embellished with beads and pearls meant to shimmer beneath the candlelight of the home she had escaped out of bloody fear for her life. She was only seventeen and too young to be betrothed and married to a man she had never met. For fear he might be a werewolf in disguise, she had run across the span of green surrounding the manse into the darkness of the woods. The rays of moonlight rained down through the branches and her cape of ruby red shone in the black of night, the pattern of the fabric a beacon to any that may be lurking in wait for a young woman all alone.
She pulled the hood of her cloak over her head as far as it would reach. Her eyes searched the forest for signs of life as she wondered why there was no one to rescue her as in all of the novels she had read hidden beneath the coverlet of her bed late at night. With only candles shining through to light her journey into other worlds, she would read until dawn and then fall into restless sleep. In the stories, there was always a dashing rogue who ravished the heroine and made her his bride in the end.
As she sat beneath the tree, Alexandra heard the fall leaves rustle in the wind and watched the fog creep toward her against the earth. Perhaps, it was the spirits that passed between the fine line of life and death on this night that surrounded her in the mists. Ghosts took shape as the wind blew the thick fog into swirls of mist surrounding her as the bark of the tree bit hard against her back. Alexandra gathered her cloak tight and tucked her satin shod feet beneath her. What had she done? Should she have stayed and faced her reality? She was shaken from her thoughts from pounding hooves in the distance, thundering toward her. Could this be the man she had run from? Or, would it be a kind soul who would help her escape the prison of her fate?
She struggled to free herself from her twisted cape and got to her feet waiting for the stranger to appear. Near his path, she stood. As the horse and rider came closer, she could see that he wore a look of determination on his beautiful face. A face of a pirate with the eyes of an angel. The horse did not stop, the face did not turn. It was as if she wasn’t there.
Hell bent on finding a way out, Alexandra ran back across the lawns, past the stone facade and to her home. Silence. She heard nothing. No music. No voices. Only the slightest of whispers. A body. Very still. It did not move. People bent upon the ground below her window looking at the figure in the blood red cloak with the ivory of her gown beneath. Alexandra’s mind flashed with memory and shock waved over her with reality flooding through her. There she was lying still with no breath. But, how could it be? She was standing so near. She screamed but all was silent. As the stranger dismounted from his horse, he walked slowly toward the mourning crowd. For it was his betrothed lying there. He was too late. He leaned down, held her hand and bent his head.
Alexandra felt as if she would die. But, already, death had taken her. She was but a ghost. Memories flooded back. She had slipped from the vines off the balcony as she had tried to escape and fallen to her death. The place she had thought of as a prison had not been that at all. Now, she was trapped in the prison of death with no life’s breath to breathe. Fear had taken her life.
The muted ghostly shapes that had surrounded her in the forest now became clear as they surrounded her. She screamed at them hoping they would leave and all this would have been a strange nightmare, but they stood waiting for her. One beckoned to her to move forward and she felt a pull so strong she could not resist but within her the soul that still lived knew she could escape once again. Back to life. She would find a way back no matter the cost, no matter the time.
Alexandra looked back at the man that seemed to come from within one of her novels. He had been meant for her. At that moment, she looked toward the night sky filled with black darkness and saw only the light shining from the moon and vowed she would come back. In the end, she would become her own heroine. One that would rescue herself from the fate of death and return to the life she was meant to have. A ghostly hand reached out and held Alexandra’s arm and she was gone. But, not forever.