Wednesday, October 29, 2008



~ May 30, 1840 ~

Melinda kissed her brother, her two sisters, her father and mother.
“Thank you, Mama, for the pretty weddin’ you gave me. I’ll remember it till the day I die.” Melinda said her farewells and with the help of her new husband, Jackson McMillan, stepped up into the wagon, holding her bouquet of Oxeye Daisies.

Jackson shook hands with Melinda’s father, bowed to her mother and sisters, and mussed the hair of her brother before jumping up onto the wagon’s seat beside his dainty, young bride.

Rice was thrown, tears were shed, and laughter lifted high atop the tulip trees, standing heavy with pink and white blossoms. Melinda tried to shout I love you over the rattle and bump of the tin cans and old shoes tied to the back of the buckboard, but her voice, faint with emotion, failed her.

The wagon had traveled only a few yards toward the settlement of Locust Hill, when Jackson put his arm around Melinda. “Ye’ve made me the happiest of all men today, Melinda. I’ll be a good husband to ye,” he said, as he kissed her forehead.

She leaned into him and squeezed his arm tightly, then reached up and kissed his cheek. “You were my dream, Jack. ‘Twas a wish that I made on a shootin’ star when I was fourteen years old that has come to fruition this day,” she looked adoringly at him.

The next few miles were filled with talk of future things – gardens, a barn, cows, and children. The mid-afternoon sun was warm on their faces, and added to their feeling of true contentment.

“Oh, Jack, let’s stop on the bridge so I kin make a wish!” she said.
“I thought I was yer wish,” he joked.
“I have another one,” Melinda said, demurely.

As she jumped off the wagon seat impetuously, the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her dress. Dozens of starlings flew from the bridge in fear, as Melinda’s scream split the air. Jack reached out to grab her, but the delicate lace of her dress tore under his heavy hand. Still clutching her bridal bouquet, she plummeted thirty feet into the shallow, rocky waters of Clay Creek.

Jackson scrambled down the bank beside the bridge abutment and jumped into the water. When he reached her limp and broken body, he quickly felt her neck for a pulse. Jackson’s own breathing stopped, his face contorted, eyes shut tight against the looming possibility, as he felt for a sign of life. The contusion on her temple was a dark purple knot. She was bleeding from her mouth and nose. Feeling no pulse at her neck, he pressed his ear to her chest. There was no heartbeat.

The cry that tore from him was a guttural scream, raw and ugly; a primordial rendering that leaves the shell of a human intact, but shatters the spirit beyond repair.


Rick said...

My gosh, K. Lawson, you do wonderful work except now I have to wait til Friday for the rest!

Aine said...

Oh no! You are evil... ;)

I can't wait to hear the rest. Perhaps a good old-fashioned haunting for Halloween?...

Anonymous said...

*shivering at the haunted bridge*

Bring it home tomorrow, Kaye. :)

blue possum said...

I have chills!! Can't wait for Friday!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Rick, thanks a bunch! And...I guess it will be later on into Friday, since I will be out Trick-or Treating. :)

Aine: You never know....(Booooo)

Jason, yeah...just hope I can make it over the bridge on my way home! ;P

Blue Possum - I hope the chills are about the story and not a fever!!! Glad you are feeling better.

blue possum said...

Haha, thanks! You always know the right thing to say!

Vesper said...

A beautifully written story. I'm anxiously awaiting the continuation.

But, it is Friday... Where is part two? :-)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Vesper, thanks so much for the visit and kind remarks. Hope part two lives up to my unintentional hype! LOL

Sarah Hina said...

I love the prose here, K! Such a treat for All Hollow's Eve. ;)

Great, sensory details between Jackson and Melinda. Their sweet, and shy, excitement--and her innocent desire to expand that happiness--make her fall, and his grief, all the more shattering. Very lovely writing.

Can't wait to read more!!