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It was the good old Summertime when I moved into the small but stately house. I knew right away that something odd was going on.
I spent that first evening organizing my thoughts on what I was going to do with the place. Some favorite pieces of furniture that I had been looking forward to using were on their way. I was excited at the thought of my new life.
But in the background I could feel a disturbing energy—like a deep, low-pitched sound that you could not only hear but vibrated through you, though too diffuse to identify the direction or source.
It was late when I went to my four corner bed for the first time.
I was propped up on my pillows, starting to doze—unusual for me as I tend to lie down on my side right away. All the excitement of a million thoughts was keeping me upright, I mused sleepily.
I flashed on an image of my mother making hot apple cider when I was little and what an exquisite remedy it was for the cool fall nights.
My eyes snapped open, activated by a rush of air and movement.
There before me was the face of a pretty girl—clear eyed, painted, lacerated and somehow quietly terrifying. From some level of being I knew immediately that she wore a shroud of death.
I shoved myself back hard against the pillows and headboard.
"Who are you? What do you want?!" I stuttered in fear.
"I want to know what has happened to me," the image whispered in reply, "I want to know why."
She disappeared. I sat there awake all night.
I shook the next day, trying to think things through. That evening, as I lay waiting, she came again.
I told her my name, trying not to choke from fright, and I asked her what her name was.
"My name is, Amelia . . ." she responded, "was Amelia."
"Amelia, that's a lovely name," I said, still trying not to stammer, "Amelia, can you tell me where you came from, what brought you here?"
She seemed to be pondering.
"I remember dying," she answered plaintively, and she related the unspeakably horrible circumstance of her death. But she remembered almost nothing about herself before that, as if the brutal tragedy had erased the life that had preceded it.
She remembered the world but not herself.
In what was an amazingly unusual example of a budding relationship, she would come at night and we would talk—mostly me, as almost the entire sum of her memories seemed to be her sad death. But she listened to me eagerly, as if the thoughts and anecdotes soothed and delighted her.
I grew to treasure our time together. She was the ultimate good listener.
The days went by and the season began to fade.
One night I was telling her about how summer had always seemed like an easier time to live to me and that I loved it—easy to stay warm, to while away days under the blue sky, to move and dream. I never wanted it to end.
"And yet, it's a funny thing," I was saying, "because fall is still my favorite season. I'm not entirely sure why. The clarification of the cold maybe; it brings a new depth to the warmth. It's the," I searched for the words to describe it, "it's the bracing touch of change."
I laughed a little at my lame prose.
Suddenly an apparition of tears appeared, like a wall of rain between us. The specter of her lovely face came through it, drawing closer to me—closer than ever before, but I wasn't afraid.
"I remember," she cried, "I remember!'
A moment passed, and then she said quietly,
"I am so happy to have known you—my friend."
And she was gone.
I sat for several moments, stunned. I realized that the bit of inadvertent, common wisdom my sentiment may have contained somehow pierced the floodgate for her, and I was glad; but in the following days it did not take long to know how much I missed her.
"Goodbye, my friend," I whispered one night.
The cooler days and the colder nights began their return.
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