26 September 2008

The Love of a Mother I

I decided to start posting the two stories I wrote in Ireland this year.  The first I'm posting is a ghost story, called "The Love of a Mother," which is a rewrite of a tale about Mary Shea, called "The Dead Mother," which I found in Jeremiah Curtin's Irish Tales of the Fairies and the Ghost World.  So, without further ado, here is part one of "The Love of a Mother".

The Love of a Mother

By Bekah Baugh

Daniel O’Flaherty married Aoife against his parents’ wishes.  A placid, kindhearted creature with apple-red cheeks and strawberry-blonde hair, Aoife was well-loved by everyone save Daniel’s mother and father, who were formidable, cold people.  She made a home with her husband and two children, Liadan and Eoin, in Kinsale.  They had a modest house with a red door and green window boxes overlooking a lake on the far end of town.  Liadan was already a young woman, and Eoin was seven and full of innocent life.  Love thrived in the O’Flaherty home, and theirs was a happy existence.

Until, that is, Daniel fell.  He and Aoife were out for an evening walk when his foot slipped.  Their position was precarious, and before Aoife could react, Daniel fell to his death into a rocky ravine.  Naturally, Daniel’s mother and father blamed their daughter-in-law for their son’s death, and Aoife was stricken with grief.  Aoife was a gentle woman, and her heart ached that her in-laws suspected her.

The tension between Aoife and her in-laws grew until at last she told them, exhausted and heartsick, that she would leave Kinsale to make a new home in America with her children, if only the in-laws would provide the money for the trip.  In return, Aoife would gladly grant them the parcel of land she still kept.  The in-laws, being an altogether greedy couple, agreed and scrounged up as much money as they could.  In the end, though, they could only come up with enough money to send Aoife and Liadan across the ocean.  So with a promise to soon send for her son, Aoife took her daughter with her and boarded a ship for a new home and a new life.

For about a year, Aoife and Liadan took jobs as governess and nanny for a family in Chicago.  She and Liadan did well for themselves, and they soon had saved up a considerable amount of money.  Eoin would not be with his grandparents much longer.  But before she could call her son to her, Aoife contracted a fever and died.  Liadan was just old enough to claim independence, being the eldest of Aoife’s children, and so she used the money she and her mother had saved up and sent for her little brother in Ireland.

Two weeks after Aoife’s death, a girl was walking back to Kinsale from a visit to an aunt nearby.  It was evening, and the smell of summer-warmed wildflowers hung lazily in the air.  The girl, whose name was Bridget, turned a corner and came across the ghost of a woman standing in the road. The woman’s hair, a pale gold in death, wafted about her in shimmering strands.  Every part of her gleamed, and it seemed to Bridget the figure before her was not a threatening apparition.

“Evening, mum.  Who are you, and why are you wandering?”  Bridget asked her, unafraid.

“My name is Aoife O’Flaherty.  Do you know me?”

“You were Daniel O’Flaherty’s widow, were you not?”  The girl eyed Aoife’s glimmering figure speculatively.

“Yes, I was indeed.  You need not fear me.  I’ll do you no harm…  Know you my son, Eoin?”  When the girl nodded, Aoife’s ghost continued.  “I have seen him here, and I have seen the way my husband’s parents treat him.  My daughter sends for him even now, but you must do me one great favor.  Spread word among the townsfolk that my husband’s parents are cruel, mean people, and let them know that they are not fit to raise their grandson.  A time will come when he will need the support of the town to lift him out of that pit.”

“I will do so,” said Bridget with a little bow of her head.

Satisfied, Aoife's ghost moved on to see her son.

No comments: