Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 21, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #10

 Long ago, there existed a world forgotten in the pages of time. In it, a man's true love passed into the realm of eternal rest because of a curse cast upon her by a water witch.

Thus, too was his life approaching an end because the two were as one, and the one could not live a fortnight without the other. He crossed seas to find her in his youth; he slew evil men, warlocks, demons, and dragons. He braved magical beings who sought to sway his resolve so that he would never find the one meant for him. But his was the heart of a lion; he was a single-minded man in his quest for true love—he fought with the bravery of Lancelot. For her part, the woman was pure of heart and would give her life for true love, but hers was a life of paths set before her where evil people charmed her from her purpose. For many years she lived in pain and sorrow, but for the suffering of it all, never once was the purity of her heart tarnished by silver-tongued people and their ill intentions. One day, when the sky hung on the precipice of fair weather and dark storms, a lone knight rode into her village on a mighty steed.  At the time, she worked high upon a windmill that stoked the river's waters toward her town's larger part. The mill owner, a wretched man, growled at her to keep about her work, telling her he would deal with the knight. Alas, fate intervened—the knight and the girl locked eyes and love-struck like a lightning bolt, jolting the two out of their realities. "Good day, sir knight," the wretched man groveled. "How may I be of service to you?" The wretched man saw that the knight became distracted by her, standing high atop the windmill. "She is my servant, a lowly stupid girl, sir knight, not worth the conversation."

Ignoring the wretched man, the knight waved at her to climb down and join him. Of her own free will and accord, she descended from the top of the windmill and soon stood face to face with the knight. He helped her upon his steed much to the protest of the wretched man. "She has not worked off her indentured service owed to me, sir knight. That is the law; even you cannot ignore it!"

The knight tossed a pouch filled with gold to the wretched man who caught it in his twisted filthy hands. Instantly, he took the form of his true self, that of a water witch. "A curse upon you, sir knight! She will die before you, and when that time comes, your days will not be long before Death comes to claim you as well!"

"I would have it no other way," the knight replied, "for what is life without love?"



Gwen Kekai chose to die at home; although she and her husband Herald could afford it, she didn't want to suffer through another round of chemotherapy; it took too much out of her. Her time was short; she knew it, so did Herald. "Where do you want to have your ashes spread?" He asked.

"On Jensen Ackles, if I had my way," her eyes sparkled with mischief, but she could only manage a slight smile. 

"I think there's a long line for that request," Herald chuckled as he held her hand in his, gently rubbing it. "Where else?"

"The first place you took me, that place meant a lot to me; it still does," the light from her eyes was slowly fading. 

"Please," Herald looked around their empty living room. "Just one more minute? You'll get me in a couple of days, what's another minute?"

"Death says a minute is all you have," Gwen whispered. "I can't pull up my skirt; you'll have to do it."

"What?" Herald wasn't sure as to what his wife was saying.

"You know, one last time," she shrugged her shoulders. "You only have a minute." Herald let out a boisterous laugh. In her worst hour, her final hour, Gwen knew how to make him see the humor in things, even in the moment of her death. "No laugh, you know you like!"

Herald laughed so hard that his stomach and his sides hurt; he couldn't catch his breath, he found himself begging Gwen to stop. By the time he managed to contain himself, his wife was gone. Her eyes were closed, and her mouth was wide open due to her jaw becoming relaxed. Even though Death had given Gwen a minute more of life, she knew that making her husband laugh would prevent him from the heartbreak of watching her die. Death could not help but admire her for that act of mercy.



The magical land of Alistruchor is where the Knight Herald and Lady Gwen made a life for themselves. He built a manor that would come to be known as Gwendolyne's Keep. Theirs was a long life of adventures together, traveling the land and the several oceans surrounding Alistruchor. Ah, but I have jumped ahead of our story; I must tell you of where Herald first took Gwen after he freed her from her indentured servitude. Near the village was a pointe jutting out into the ocean; within the pointe was a natural tide pool which was daily cleansed by the high tide. It was there that Herald bid they purify themselves of the residue from labor and long travel, but also from any magical spells cast upon them without their knowledge. It was there that they often visited for cleansing and to relax their weary beings after long travels and adventures. It was also there where they first joined as man and woman. Now, as we return to the present, the aged curse cast upon Sir Herald and Lady Gwen has come to fruition, and the grim specter waits at the door of Gwendolyne's Keep. Filled with fear, the servants run and hideaway; Lady Gwen pulls back the mighty doors and steps aside, welcoming Death into the Keep. Herald stands in the middle of the foyer, dressed in his battle armor, with his trusty sword at his side. "I go willingly," Gwen addresses the king of reapers. "You will have no struggle with me."

"To come or not to come, to fight or not to fight, Death is an unavoidable certainty as is life," the dark-robed figure stated his case matter of fact.

"Will she suffer?" Herald asked with a tinge of bravery and finality.

"She will sleep the long sleep until called for again, just as you will be Herald, in a few days hence," Death assured him.

"Then here will I remain to await my time," Herald promised.

"Wait or do not wait, travel or do not travel, drink and make merriment if you will, the long sleep will find you," as a matter of fact did the king of reapers speak.

"Leave of me my ashes for my beloved that he may take it to the place where we became as one? I beg you," Lady Gwen asked of Death. Turning to Herald, she smiled and said. "One last quest, my brave knight, my love."

"To this, I assent," Death agreed, and the Lady Gwen became a pile of ash on the floor where her corporeal self stood only a second previous. Silently did Death take his leave without a trace of himself ever having been at Gwendolyne's Keep, save for the absence of Lady Gwen. The following morning Sir Herald removed himself of his clothing, and with a golden urn in his arms, he poured a bit of the remains of the Lady Gwen of Avanchor in the natural tide pool at the pointe. The rest he left in the golden, urn which he hid away in a natural stone pocket in the reef. Less than a few days later, Sir Knight Herald of Khamondure had a mutton meal and the finest made bread that his cooks served before him. In his goblets were poured the best meade in the land. In the middle of toasting to a good life, long and adventurous, Herald also declared his love for his Lady Gwen. "It was said once by a water witch who cursed my Lady Gwen that she would die before I did and that a few days after, I would join her. I would not have it any other way."

Upon taking his last drink of the hearty meade, Herald let out a long exhale and died in his chair. Thus ends the tale of Herald's quest for true love and of his Lady Gwen, whose true love came on a white horse, dressed in a suit of armor.



Herald held on tightly to Gwen's urn. It was quite the trek up into the mountains to find the exact spot where he first took her and where they first made love. Luckily, a cool breeze comforted him for most of the journey, almost as if Gwen was there, making sure that Herald didn't suffer from heatstroke. He and Gwen met at a point in both of their lives where they'd finally come out of bad relationships. His ex-wife was mentally ill and had to be committed in the end. He did everything he could, exhausted all his efforts, to take care of her and get her the treatment she needed, but her family fought him all through it. It wasn't so much her that he ended up divorcing; it was her family too. They were toxic people who were more worried about making shame than helping their daughter. Gwen was coming out of an abusive marriage to a highly insecure man who needed constant attention. If he didn't get it, he'd accuse Gwen of sleeping with someone else. That's when the abuse would happen. One day, she left with everything she had and never looked back. By the time she and Herald met, they were both ready to be happy. Happy they were, for many years until Gwen was diagnosed with cervical cancer. There was nothing the doctors could do if Gwen didn't want to continue treatment. In the end, it was Gwen's decision; all she wanted from Herald was his support. There it was, up ahead in the middle of the stream, the large flat stone where it all happened. Herald remembers feeling like their lovemaking could have gone on forever until they heard hikers coming their way. They hid and waited until the group finally left, then they continued with their lovemaking. It was dark by the time they finished, and they only had one flashlight to lead them out of the valley.

 He opened her urn now and sprinkled her ashes in the water. The rest he left inside Gwen's urn and secured it in a natural rock pocket just beneath the flat slab of stone, where it would remain forever.



The dinner at the Ramen shop was exceptional, the broth was sweeter than it usually was, and the in house vodka added to everything Herald tasted. Walking to his car, he couldn't help but notice how alive everyone and everything seemed to be. The colors were rich, and the sounds had more clarity to them. The people appeared to be more sensual and more full of verve than usual. Usually, everyone at the Mc Cully shopping center kept to themselves and did not socialize if they could help it. The drive home was relaxing—no usual worry about who was driving too fast or too slow. He pulled into the garage of his house and never felt a deeper sense of comfort for the place until now. That slight pang in his heart didn't hit him until he sat at the kitchen table; Gwen was gone, she was. Strange, there was no loneliness, no hopelessness, just a sense of appreciation. A feeling that everything would be just fine. Herald let out a long exhale of satisfaction, not realizing that it would be his last. He died sitting in his favorite chair at the kitchen table. 

The End 

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