This story is by Annabelle Bianchi and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Ella Vanderwick sighed happily as she watched a young couple sitting on the bench. They were holding hands, and looking around at the autumn weather. The cool winds blew and ruffled leaves. Ella gazed around. “I love fall,” she sighed.
Deciding it to be time to leave, Ella went back to her comfortable cottage, where she would be seeing soon her good friend, James Robinson, a very nice man.
There was a knock on the door. Ella welcomed in her visitor, James Robinson. They headed into the dining room for tea together.
“James! My goodness, stop talking that way,” Ella said crossly, as his flattering had gone too far. “Now, then, would you please drink your tea and stop looking that way? Thank you, and good riddance to that. Right. Well, would you – ” Ella screamed as James pretended to spill his tea. “James, stop!”
James laughed. “It’s fine,” he said, in his dapper voice. “Isn’t this autumn weather so amazing? I haven’t seen anything better. The cool winds… it is just – music to my ears. Do you not agree? Or do you think this is the worst season?”
“Whatever do you mean?” Ella asked, bewildered and confused. “Of course I like autumn! It is definitely the best season. However, the leaves are a bit annoying, but asides from that – ” Ella gave a start as James kissed her.
Quickly, just as abruptly as the kiss had come, the kiss ended. James returned to drinking his tea, leaving Ella terribly shaky. “James!” she whispered hoarsely. “Do you know what you’ve just done? Created a girl’s best dream, that’s what you’ve done! Oh, James…
James smiled at her simply.
At three o’clock, Ella noticed the time, and said, “Do you want to eat somewhere? I know of a restaurant in town.” And so, they went off along the streets to find the restaurant Ella knew of, Keep in Time.
“Yes, thank you, I’ll have a sandwich, please,” Ella said to the waiter, who nodded, curling his mustache. James leaned across the table to speak with her.
“I will get my tea before your sandwich, probably.”
“Oh, yes, that is fine. You should drink it before it gets cold, too.”
The waiter sat down a mug of tea for James. Ella watched as James drank his tea quickly. He smiled at her. “I love you,” he said finally, taking a sip of tea. But the waiter then shrieked, “No, that tea – it is spoiled – poisoned – stop – no!” but it was too late. The blue met the green, but then there was no color.
Ella started to cry, and was finally taken back to her home, her cozy home, all alone, and went to bed, although it was only five.
The next morning, Ella, sniffling, busied herself with the tea kettle. She poured some tea into a chipped mug and sat down at the dining table, her feelings strangely sad. She felt nearly wishful and hopeful as she remembered James, and his wonderful laugh… why did it have to happen to her out of all people?
Ella smiled in mere memory of him. What was wrong with her? She suddenly stopped sipping her tea. There in front of her was a – well, she didn’t know what it was exactly. It was pearly white, and its voice was echoey, and it looked strangely like James.
“Hello,” he said sadly.
“James?” Ella whispered, mortified.
“Yes, it is him. I mean, it is me,” said the pearly white figure, somewhat mournfully. “How do you do?”
“Very well,” Ella said. “How are you? Doing well? Doing good? Care for some tea? Of course not! How could you even want tea again?”
James gave a high-pitched laugh. It was not like his normal one. “Do you remember what happened?” he asked, trying to sound casual as he floated toward her.
“Yes. It was poisoning inside your tea, I believe,” she explained.
“Perhaps that explains why I am here as a ghost,” James said thoughtfully. “Well, anyhow, I can only be here for a little while, I know that. But I’ll try and be cheerful, all right?”
“James – ” the words stuck in her throat as she tried to speak. “About those last words… were they true?”
James the ghost smiled at her intentionally. Ella gave a half-smile, and suddenly ran to hug James. It wasn’t easy, but she tried her best. His death was definitely devastating, but not going to harm her any longer.
“Wait – what do you mean a little while? You’re leaving so soon? Already?” Ella asked, processing his last words.
“Well, I wasn’t supposed to say that, I believe. I’m new to the ghost business, Ella, I’ve already told you,” said James. “Yes, I believe I only have a few days.”
Ella smiled weakly. A few days with James was better than none, right?
Four days passed, and James was still living with her. He enjoyed playing pranks on her, and they laughed happily and reminiscing about their childhoods and playing together.
But on the fifth day, Ella woke up joyously, and tried to find James. “Are you in the mirror?” she giggled. But he wasn’t anywhere.
By noon, Ella was worried. She didn’t know what to do. She was helplessly finding James, and her efforts were hopeless.
A fortnight passed. Ella cried into her sleep. He was only there for a few days. Ella tried to find a good excuse to find him. But what? Ella racked her brains for hours, and came to the wedding vowels: “Until death do us part.”
But Ella thought firmly, death would not part her and James. Nor would it ever part them. Ella went down to the same restaurant, and asked for some tea. She told them to poison it. Then, after she drank only a sip, the whole room was swirling, and she was on the floor. Everything went black. She would be reunited with James very, very soon.