The Ghosts of War-torn Lovers

War loomed on the horizon. They both knew it was coming, they just hoped that it wouldn't happen so soon. He received his letter telling him when to report for duty on a brilliant October day. They had two weeks to get things in order and spend as much time as they could together before he had to leave.

Standing at the end of the lane, they embraced each other for what they both hoped wasn't the last time.

She promised him she would wait for him forever. He promised her he would come home, even if it took him forever. She clung to him with tears in her eyes, knowing that this could be the last time she held him. His embrace was just as tight, as he wondered if he really would make it back to his wife and unborn child.

She slowly loosened her grip and stared at his beloved face. He gently caressed the slight mound that was their growing child, his gaze sweeping the autumn landscape, the leaf lined lane and his family home. "I will love you for eternity," she whispered. His reply was just as ragged, "I will love you even longer."

He wiped a lone tear from her cheek, knowing that she would show nothing but strength to the world. She was glad that she wasn't a sobbing disaster as he turned and walked away. He would never know how hard it was for her to let him go. She would never know how much he wanted to sweep her up and leave it all behind. He told her he would come home in fall, just like when he left, that way she'd know when to watch for him.

The letters came frequently during the first year. She filled hers with news of their son and all of the things happening around town. He told her about the people he met and things he saw in the city he was in. But then he was sent further away and they started coming less and less frequently. The last letter she received was three years after he left, and he had been promoted to a Major.

She never forgot her promise, she'd start watching for him at the beginning of October. Then one day she saw a lone figure walking down the lane. Her heart stuttered, because it wasn't him, she just knew it wasn't. And she was right; their son, now five, came to stand beside her as they watched a man in uniform come closer and closer.

In a toneless voice, he delivered news that no woman wants to hear, "Ma'am," he said, "I'm sorry to report that your husband has been listed as dead. I'm sorry for your loss." With those words, he turned and left, never knowing the wreck he left behind.

She pulled herself together and lived her life for her son. She never remarried, and when her son was courting a young lady from town, she insisted that he build her a small cabin behind the main house. When he married and had a family, she moved her belongings into her new home and lived there for many years. And every October, she kept her vigil for the man that held her heart. She had promised him and she wouldn't break it.

She was a spry ninety-five when she passed away in her sleep. Her grand-children and great grandchildren had filled her life with happiness and laughter, only occasionally would they see the hint of sorrow in her eyes. They knew the reason why, even if they didn't talk about it.

Several generations were born and raised in the family home, and it's still in the family today. But they all say the same thing, every October, if you're in the right place at the right time, you'll catch a ghostly glimmer standing outside looking down the lane.

She never gave up her autumn watch, she knew he would come home to her eventually. Then one October, when the leaves started falling earlier than usual, as she was silently standing watch, she saw a young man coming towards her. She knew in her heart of hearts that he had finally come home and raced to meet him. They met in the middle of the leaf strewn lane and embraced as if they would never let the other one go.

She told him, "I waited for you!" He replied, "I came home!" Hand in hand, they turned and disappeared into the morning mists.

The shades of Autumn

by Stephen Thompson

The shades of Autumn paint our woodland road again
And squirrels rush to hide their nuts
The Summer's gone with it's exhausting memories
The Winter's grip is still to come
And you're still here
And you're still here.

Forbidden Home by Marc Prudhon

The second entry for our Call for Caption regarding the image shown. By sheer coincidence, both who submitted came up with the same title! ... great minds and all ;)

by Sir Marc Prudhon

The house stood, tucked into dark woods, at the end of a dirt lane.
Many claimed it was cursed, haunted, or under some terrible bane.
Even in the hearts of those who scoffed, there was a feeling of Doubt.
No door ever opened, no window broken, for fear of letting something out.
The county agent told all the news, that made some thoughts run wild;
A young couple had bought the house, the wife, pregnant with child.
The young man painted and repaired; together the two washed and cleaned.
The Forbidden Home restored, floors, windows and walls, they all gleamed.
The couple wondered why no visitors came, from any neighborhoods.
Thought probably because so far out that lane, surrounded by woods.
Winter storm raging, snow drifting; from trees, many limbs being torn.
Of course this would have to be the night the baby decides to be born.
The husband goes to the phone, what he finds fills him with dread.
No dial tone, because of the storm, the phone has gone dead.
He starts for his wife in the bedroom, he has to explain, tell her something.
When to his great surprise, that phone behind him bursts forth in a ring.
Grabbing it up, through the cackle and hiss, caused by the storm,
He hears a woman saying, "I'm sorry, I must have dialed wrong."
She doesn't hang up, as he tells her that his wife is in labor.
His phone won't call out, he needs help if he is to save her.
Then he sits with his wife, praying, wishing he could do more.
In the storm, he heard no car, but there's a knock at the door.
The Doctor introduced himself, said ''I'm Jonathan DeGrace.
You've done wonders here, now one could love this old place."
The Doctor went in with the wife and in the midst of that storm,
A new life entered this world, a sweet baby boy was born.
He sponged off the child, lifted it to its' mothers breast.
Told the father, "You're all tired, please try to get rest."
The Doctor looked at the three, an old man's kindly smile.
Said, ''I've no other calls, Will bide and watch for a while.'
They awakened just past dawn to sunshine, the storm gone.
Father went to thank the Dr, after checking wife and new son.
He was nowhere in the house, no car outside, nothing at all.
His wife said, "The Dr must have had to answer another call."
The three drove into the Village, to thank and bless Dr DeGrace.
But asking after him, were told he didn't practice in that place.
One old woman, said "Dr DeGrace? Sit and his story I'll tell.
My Mother told me that he was a man of neither Heaven nor Hell.
He believed not in God, but had a demeanor both kindly and mild.
Said to the Priest, he'd battle any power for the life of a child.
When I was a girl of five, there was a yellow fever outbreak.
None knew whose life would be the next it would take.
Jonathan DeGrace went without sleep, fighting to save any life.
But in the midst of that horror, the fever took his pregnant wife.
He felt he had failed her, in spite of all those ill that he did save.
For months after that, he spent days kneeled by her grave.
One day he walked into those woods, facing away from town.
Others searched for weeks, but his body never was found.
Yes, your old house was his home, he and his dear wife.
She died here in town, he despaired, then took his own life.
So last night in the storm, you prayed for your baby and spouse.
Not Satan or Hell could have kept his Spirit from his old house."
Husband, Wife and child, no matter what was claimed in those parts,
Went to the old house, their home,with love and joy in their hearts.
They had many more children and on any time, day to day.
The old house ever rang with the sound of children at play.
Their oldest, a boy born in a storm, his name was a key.
Went away to college, studied eight years, got his degree.
Came back with his license, now a good man grown.
Now called Dr Jonathan, practices there in that town.
Anything can be changed when love makes new seed sown.
None now name that house near the woods, The Forbidden Home.

The Forbidden Home by Bonnie Ramsburg

The following was submitted in response to a "call for caption" concerning the image included. Clearly, Bonnie's muse was on overdrive ;)

* * *

by Bonnie Ramsburg

It was rumored that an insane woman had lived and died there. It's said that she murdered her family and then treated the bodies as if they were still alive.

They also claimed it may have been an insane asylum at one point in it's history, where atrocities of "science" were used to try to cure the patients, and most of them died. Once, a child of 10 was thought to have been seen in an upstairs window, but no one was brave enough to go in and see if it was real.

The local township wanted to demolish the home, but they were too terrified of the curse they feared they would unleash. The Home was never put on the market, they knew nobody would buy it. They put up warnings and fenced the property off in hopes of keeping the stray traveler away from it.

But it never failed. At least once a year, some stranger from the city would find their way into town, decide to go sightseeing, and no matter how many townspeople told them to stay away from that end of the community, the traveler would undoubtedly head in that direction, never to be heard from again.

Then one day a nondescript man showed up in town. He meandered his way around the local district, listened to the warnings and headed in the direction of The Forbidden Home. The locals shook their heads and went about their day, positive that they would never see him again.

Suddenly, the sky turned pitch black and there was an unholy scream in the air. The families of the community quaked in fear, and stared in the direction from which the screams came. They saw a red glow hovering over the horizon, above where the Home was located. They ran to their homes, or the nearest building, in hopes that whatever was happening would pass them by.

The screams continued for hours, some of the inhabitants of the town were seen leaving their safe harbor and heading in the direction of the Home. Nothing their friends and neighbors did could stop them.

Eventually dawn broke, and with it came silence. The screaming stopped, the red glow took on a more subdued, hazy shade and about ninety percent of the townspeople were no where to be seen. Those that remained hesitantly exited their homes, and huddled together in confusion.

Out of the morning mist, from the direction of the Home, they saw a lone figure walking down the road. The nondescript stranger looked a little worse for wear, as his appearance was such that he appeared to have been in a battle.

As he passed the huddled mass of humanity, he turned to them and with gleaming eyes said, "The Forbidden Home is no more. The demons that lived here are no more. And if you wish to survive this night, you should burn this entire town, the woods and all property owned by this township. Because they will come looking for me, but will only find you. The fire will muddy the trail, and give you and your families a chance to flee to a more normal life. If you don't leave, you'll either die, or become demons yourselves. Your choice." And with that eerie proclamation, he vanished.

Did the townspeople listen? If you follow a lone road back til it dead ends in a burned patch of earth the size of a small town, you may or may not find a friendly face to give you a tour of the area and tell you the story. But if you do make such a trip, be sure your affairs are in order, because you just never know what might happen.