Jack gazed on in wonder completely mesmerized by the scene before him watching the young woman gather up hidden objects from the ground and apply them to the aged Oak Tree branches. He had watched her do this same routine for days now and he was still as curious as ever to see what she was endeavouring.
It had been while visiting his recently deceased Mothers grave that he had stumbled upon her.
Sitting here for hours on end he still felt the intense pain of losing his Mother, she was taken far too early and this angered him. He would often come and spend his days here where he felt closer to her. Pruning the flowers and plants that he had organized around her grave and keeping it as vibrant and radiant as she had been in existence. He enjoyed telling her about his days and about what mischief Granddad had caused; this had always made her smile when she were alive.
His mother- Ashling, had been a lively character and always the life and soul of any room she entered. What, with her fiery red trail of hair and her dazzling green eyes, she could melt even the hardest of hearts with her beaming smile and quick Irish wit. Jack remembered fondly how she used to dance around the sitting room to the Pogues her favourite band. He smiled on remembering how she would say that they took her right back to her Irish roots, made her feel at home.
Growing up Jack had listened to his mothers tales endlessly and more so the one of how she had wound up living in England. She would tell Jack how she had set off for the bright lights of London in pursue of a career in the West End, leavening her beautiful City of Galway behind. Though instead of bright lights and West End shows, she had fallen in love and married Jacks father, then fallen pregnant with Jack. He had heard the tale many times as a small boy and he never tired of it. He wished right now that she where here to recite her tales to him in her lifting soft Irish lilt.
Jack loved his Mother dearly like any boy does. Though to him Ashling had been special and she didn’t deserve to die. Resting his head to the raw cold of the grey stone he would often imagine her here with him and at times he could almost feel her around him and smell her homely scent that had comforted him so from childhood.
Jack had taken on the responsibility of looking after his Granddad Brian after his mother had died. Ashling had brought her father over to England to look after him when he had gotten poorly with pneumonia a few years back and Brian had been here ever since. It was a tremendous thing for a lad of eighteen to do, though Jack knew his Mother would be proud and he felt obliged to do it, felt he owed it to Ashling for being the caring mother she had always been.
Some days though; it got too much for Jack as the pain and reality of it all would tire him out. It was days like this that he would walk. For hours and hours on end he would walk to where ever his feet led him and it was on such a day that he stumbled across the peculiar young woman.
After saying his goodbyes to his mother he decided to head off towards the old grave yard. It was at the very back of the newer one and had sat for decades overgrown and unused. For some reason being here seemed to ease him- relax him. It gave him a deep inner calm. He knew that most would feel uncomfortable but for him he felt totally at home here.
As he walked about the grave stones he noted that they dated as far back to the seventeenth century, some even as late as the sixteenth. On reading them he would often wonder what life was like back then. He was curious to how they had passed and some gave this information though some simply said,‘Here lies.’ And the dates born and deceased.
He stood watching now curious as the young woman stood back to admire her efforts then sigh in frustration as though she had not quite achieved what she had set out to do. He noted her clothes dated back to the Victorian times and that she was around the same age as Jack.
It had been a bright autumn morning when he had first laid eyes on her about a week or so ago. Whilst reading some of the faded old stones in the older grave yard he had noticed something moving out the corner of his eye. It was by the aged Oak Tree near the back of the grave yard. He had watched in amazement as she had floated around and around the tree throwing her hands out as though in frustration while muttering away to her self.
At first he had thought her just some young woman probably heart-broken at the loss of a family member or lover. But then he noted how she just hovered flawlessly, turning almost transparent at times and then would suddenly reappear. On noticing her attire the realisation suddenly struck Jack that she was a ghost. It dawned on him that no girl or woman that he had ever known could float and fade in and out of vision like her that was for sure.
Feeling shaken he had taken cover behind one of the old graves with the thought then occurring to him that he had never really believed in ghosts before, he had always had a scepticism about him. Shaking his head as though to rid himself of a double vision he then slowly peered around the grave stone to have another look, sure enough she was still there, as real as any person he had ever seen but most defiantly a ghost.
He had sat for hours watching her until evening had grown and when tired he would make his way home. Though he would return the next day and every day after, being sure to stay silently hidden out of view though sneaking that bit closer with each day he visited. Today he was just a stones throw away from her as he listened to her singing a lullaby in an almost hypnotic voice while she danced around the old Oak.
He felt his heart skip a beat as he noted that the song was an Irish lullaby his mother used to sing to him as a small child. Then chuckling to himself he watched as she now stopped mid lullaby, thrust her arms out in frustration and with a cross look on her face, started to make sweeping motions into the fallen crisp leaves on the ground. He was by now fascinated by this girl and her daily rituals, as she again picked unseen objects up and applied them to the branches. Jack had begun to notice this as an almost comedy show. He suddenly burst out laughing as she sighed again in frustration throwing her arms out wildly.
‘I’m glad you are finding this funny, because I’m not.’
Jack sat staring at her frozen to the spot. Had she just said that? He looked around the grave yard, it seemed deserted as far as the eye could see, feeling slightly worried he turned back to the ghostly young woman. She was now stood with her hands on her hips and frown upon her face glaring at him. Jack could feel the hairs stand up on the back of his neck; this couldn’t be happening, could it?
‘Well what have you to answer for your self? Why do you visit every day and watch me? Do you wish to tease me and poke fun at me?’
Jack could feel his heart thumping away in his chest; he couldn’t believe that a ghost was talking to him. Or maybe after all she wasn’t a ghost? He felt terribly confused.
‘Well don’t just stand there looking stupid I demand to know why you spy on me?’
‘I-I-I don’t know?’ Jack stood up feeling rather perplexed. ‘I just came across you and-well- I err, I was kind of fascinated.’
‘Oh fascinated are you? And what may I ask do you find so fascinating?’
She glared at him with a look of annoyance upon her face. Jack noted that she was extremely well spoken and was dressed in what must have been the best of finery in style back in the eighteenth century.
‘I’m sorry for disturbing you, a-as I said I was just fascinated-Intrigued to know more. Are you genuinely a real live ghost?’
‘Of course I’m a ghost what ever else could I be? Are you as stupid as those pesky little street boys that come around here? Because in case you hadn’t noticed; a ghost is unquestionably dead.’
‘Street boys? W-w-what street boys? I’m sorry if I’ve upset you I mean no harm.’
‘Yes you have upset me now could you please go away and let me get back to my sweeping; don’t you know it’s rude to spy? I could get you thrown in the dungeons for such things.’
Jack tried to stifle a laugh at her last remark but it was too late she had heard him.
‘You are laughing at me again? How terribly rude indeed; I should call for the guards now go away you annoying boy.’
‘I am just curious to know which guards you could call. And what dungeons you could you possibly have me locked away in if you’re a ghost?’
‘Oh leave me alone won’t you, please go away.’
And with that she was gone, just simply vanishing into thin air. Jack called out for her looking behind the old Oak shouting Miss as he went, though she was nowhere to be seen. He sat waiting for another half an hour or so but she didn’t reappear. He noted it was getting dark now and he was genuinely hungry, so he made off home with the promise to himself that he would return tomorrow…