Rough Draft: Yesterday’s Bride

Note: This story is part of the Bloody Valentine Horror Hop hosted by fellow author and friend A.F. Stewart. The challenge was to write a story or poem that celebrated anti-romance. Every rose has thorns and every romance can have an edge… here’s my take on a true love that’s gone wrong. Enjoy, and follow the link to follow the rest of the hop.

Bloody Valentine HopThe woman walked between the tombstones with purpose. Her old feet had gone this way many times over the years. Three steps to the left, one step over the sunken stone with no name and three more steps to skirt the soft spot in the grass that kept sinking. It was a familiar dance to her, the steps in time with the weeping of her lost love.

His cries were always with her, quietly sobbing words she could never understand. At night it was the clearest, and she held his weeping to her as proof of their tragic love.

She had spent many nights here, laying on his grave and dreaming of what might have been. Other men had courted her, but she had always denied them, keeping true to her love and her promise. Those were the nights he cried loudest, and she knew he was overcome by her true heart.

The temperature was falling with the night. Usually she brought comfort with her on these visits; a blanket to wrap in, a thermos of hot chocolate and some nibbles. Tonight she came with nothing, and wearing nothing, but a broken heart and and her yellowed wedding dress.

Like her, the dress was still new and untouched, though neither of them looked it. The lace had gone brittle with time. As she moved, pieces snagged and fell away in the grass. She paused and looked back at the trail of remnants she left behind. Filaments floated away in the breeze like spiders’ silk, glimmering against the dark. The night was cold, but she was too numb to feel it. Something stirred in her, anticipation maybe, or perhaps hope. She had been denied her wedding day. This day would make up for the loss. She would keep her promise. She turned and went on.

As she hobbled round the corner of a mausoleum, a breeze slipped through the thin silk. She shivered in spite of herself. A small doubt wriggled in the back of her mind. She could go back to her tiny flat, heat some chocolate and wrap up with a novel. She could spend the night, and the remainder of her days, in comfort. But she had promised.

His voice stirred in her mind. The memory of his eyes, soft and loving, pleaded with her. He must have been so lonely without her all these years. She had tried to comfort him, laying at night on the same soil that held him, but still he cried softly. His weeping would wake her and she would lay helpless under the stars, listening. His sorrow drained the color from her life, his cries kept her alone. She had promised.

“I can’t live without you,” he had said heatedly the night he proposed. “Say you will be mine, always and no matter what.” His eyes had melted her. Her heart had thumped in her chest like a bird, skin aching for his kiss. She had promised then, and they set a date. Were it not for a cold night like this one, were it not for black ice on the church stair, the date would have been for joy. But she had kept her promise and remained true only to him. She paused, tears glittering in the creases of her cheeks. She had reached his, and now her, resting place.

“I’ll finally join you,” she whispered, sinking down onto the earth. It would be a frozen night. She had covered her plants and left her taps dripping, even though she knew she wouldn’t return to them. Her shaking fingers plucked at the folds of her dress, trying to arrange it prettily around her thickened ankles, and she lay back to let the frosty night lead her to love.

As always, the sound of his weeping grew stronger as she settled. She could never understand the words he murmured, but she whispered back to soothe him. “Don’t weep, love. I’ll be with you soon.” The cold stole her breath and pushed it back into her lungs making her cough. When the spasms stopped, a lovely, sleepy warmth took over her and his voice grew stronger. “Go on,” his voice murmured in her ear. “Go on…”

“You don’t have to cry anymore, love,” she whispered. “I’m here to join you finally so you can rest… we can rest together.” His voice grew stronger as her vision dimmed. “I wasn’t crying for you to join me,” he said, “I was crying for you to move on and let me go.” The warm feeling she was floating in chilled. “My jilted bride, I can only pass over when you have moved on. Now we will both be tethered here, in darkness, forever.”

The spark faded from her eyes as the elements claimed her time weakened body. Her ears listened as her dimming mind struggled to decipher the words she had longed to understand. Meaning took hold as her final breath hovered, pale and misty, in the air. She finally understood.

The parade of empty days passed through her memory in an instant, the wasted hours and missed opportunities. Her family and friends fading from her as she spent her life honoring a hastily whispered promise of passion. In hindsight, she realized she could always understand what he had been telling her, and that it was she that had held on. Then she exhaled and was extinguished.

A breeze whistled between the stones like a regretful sigh. Frost began to settle over the cemetery, covering everything in glittering white, just in time for yesterday’s bride to arrive.

This story is part of the Bloody Valentine Horror Hop. Follow the link to follow the hop.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. Currently, she publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit SpaceandTimeMagazine.com or AngelaYSmith.com.
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6 Responses to Rough Draft: Yesterday’s Bride

  1. How very poignant, and darkly beautiful.

    • Thanks, and thanks for hosting this hop. I’ve always wanted to participate but have never understood how it was supposed to work. I appreciate your help, and your wonderful story and poems of dashed romance.

  2. Sheila Deeth says:

    Oh. What a beautiful, sad, wise and haunting tale.

  3. I love this story. That last line is beautiful.

  4. Ash Krafton says:

    Oh, I truly enjoyed that! Very elegant, and extremely resonant…

  5. Lexa Cain says:

    This was very well written, and I enjoyed it a lot – I love ghost stories!

    Thanks for signing up on the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. We post every Friday about little accomplishments that week or things we’re grateful for. I look forward to reading a “Celebrate” post from you. :)

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