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PAST STORIES : 2006

Ghost in the Mirror

October 23rd 1880 11:50 PM

Ella Kingsbury adjusted the flickering lamp on her dressing table and sighed as she looked in the mirror and brushed her hair.  Four more weeks she thought to herself. Four more weeks……… She could hardy bring herself to believe that she was finally getting married. It had been so long in coming. All of her friends were already married with several children of their own. Her best friend since childhood, Kathryn Parker, had already been married for seven years now. Kathryn had married a man who was a nephew to noted financier J.P. Morgan and now lived in a lush apartment in the growing metropolis of Manhattan. She and Kathryn corresponded frequently. In her last letter Kathryn carried on and on about a man called Edison, whom she said was going to bring electric light to the whole island of Manhattan. She knew little about electricity and could hardly imagine what would be better than the oil burning mantle lamps that they now owned. They were so much brighter than the candles they used to use. No matter, after she married she would also be living in New York, for her fiancé also lived and worked mostly in Manhattan. She would be delighted to be married, live in the big city, and able to visit with her best friend whenever she wanted.

Ella was the oldest child and only daughter of Jonathan Kingsbury, the rich owner and operator of Kingsbury Farm in Corning, NY. She was all of twenty-eight years old, had lived her entire life in Corning, and all the local gossips whispered to each other that she would end up a spinster. Its not that Ella wasn’t pretty.  She was pretty in an easy and plain sort of way. Far from ugly, but also not what most men would call drop dead gorgeous. She’d had her share of male callers back when she was younger, and some that seemed to lean toward marriage, but none that apparently had enough nerve ask her father for her hand. And anyway, there had been a few that she fancied, but none that she had really been in love with. As she got older there were fewer men her age interested in her.

She had first met her soon to be husband when he was visiting her father as part of some business deal. Something about another possible expansion of the farm and investing in some tobacco growing in the Southern states.  She rarely bothered understanding any business dealings of her father, and it was not considered a woman’s place to be poking their nose into to any part of the “Mans” business world. Her future husband had made several overnight visits to see her father the previous summer, and she had become interested in him after the very first one. He was ten years her senior but was very handsome, learned, and worldly. They often talked long after dinner and would take long strolls in the summer nights. He said all the right things at the right times. He made her laugh. Maybe it was the combination of the moonlight, the fireflies and the warm summer breeze, but she found herself falling in love with him almost from the start.

He was not perfect, though. She discovered He did have a few peculiarities. He liked to sleep late and was very particular about not opening any window shades during the day. He explained once that he had a rare malady ever since he was a child that sensitized his eyes to bright light. For this reason he often worked and read late into the night. She did not mind a husband that slept late. She did that herself on occasion, whenever she could get away with it. Ella had often wondered what it would be like sharing her bed with someone. She shivered a little in anticipation and mused that it wouldn’t be long until she found out.  Though she was older she hoped for a child or two of her own. This had never happened to come up in conversation with her fiancé, but she hoped that he felt the same and did not think they were too old to have children.

He had proposed to her during his last visit to Corning and she had immediately said yes. They set a date for late November just before Thanksgiving. She had wanted to get married sooner but he had said that he had to travel abroad on some family business and would not return until the first of November.

The lamplight continued to flicker as all these thoughts whirled trough her head. She continued to brush her hair and gaze admiringly at herself in the mirror. Ella had already had her dress made by Kurtzmans, definitely the best tailor shop on Market Street This was the second time she had tried it on since it had been finished. She loved the way the taffeta looked and she thought that the dress complimented her figure nicely.

Ella shivered and began to think about adding some more coal to the stove in her room when she realized just how cold it had become. Her breath made white puffs in the night air, visible in the glowing lamp light. She was puzzling as to why it had suddenly become so cold in the room when she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned to see who was there, thinking that her father may have come into her room without knocking. She saw no one. Puzzled by the unexpected cold, she returned to face herself in the mirror and saw a sight that made all the blood drain from her face. There in the mirror was a reflection, (or was it an apparition?) It was her Fiancé, his glazed lifeless eyes open. Staring ahead and straight through her. Slowly a scream began to rise in her throat………..