She couldn't sleep. Blurry-eyed, she trod down the creaking stairs. The pictures on the walls to her right caught the gleam of the moonlight peering in through a slit in the window. Dozens of pictures; a handsome young man with slick black hair and a Carey Grant smile always standing with his arm around a pretty blonde woman. While the woman's expressions changed, from nervous at their wedding to slightly tipsy at their honeymoon, the man's face never changed. Ever-present was his loving smile when he looked at the woman.
And now the woman, old and frail, was all alone. The stair groaned again under her soft step.
"I don't like walking around this old and empty house," she whimpered, feeling her balance waver.
Suddenly a warm hand clasped around hers, holding her steady in its firm but gentle grip. Before the woman could react she heard another voice, "So hold my hand, I'll walk with you my dear."
It was a voice she'd long remembered belonging to a handsome man with slick black hair and an ever-loving smile. Her knees became weak, and her hand felt numb, "The stairs creak...I should sleep. It's keeping me awake."
"It's the house telling you to close your eyes," the voice said, coming from below her. The hand lead her down the dark steps slowly, one creaking step after another.
"It's killing me to see you this way," said the voice, a hint of sadness blending into his hushed tone.
The woman had thought of a response, but she didn't know whom to address it to. She couldn't find the source of this guiding voice, and even the hand around hers was enveloped in shadow.
"You know, some days I can't even trust myself," she began, talking to darkness.
Something within her felt wrong. Some part of her was prodding at her brain through its sleepy veil, trying to get her to wake up to something. But the warm, assuring grip of the hand holding hers calmed her, soothed her in a way she'd not been soothed in years.
"There's... there's a voice in my head, it's holding me back," she said.
The man replied with a slight chuckle, "Well, tell her that I miss our little talks."
A wave of delight flashed across her heart for a brief instant. Relief overtook her, knowing it was him. She took the next step with more confidence this time.
"Soon this will be over," she sighed, "and buried with our past."
"We used to play outside when we were young. Full of life and full of love," the voice said, opening a floodgate of thoughtful memories into the woman's sleepy mind. Happy memories. Beautiful memories. Things she hadn't thought about in so long...for some reason.
She felt desperate. She didn't understand, she felt like she needed to know more, but she couldn't remember why "I don't know if I am wrong or right."
"Your mind is playing tricks on you, my dear."
Another wave washed over her, this time hitting harder; a wave of despair. As the memories played through her mind, she remembered the bitter, painful ending. She understood why she was alone, and why the voice in the shadows was nothing but a fragment.
"You're gone, gone away. I watched you disappear. All that's left is this ghost of you," she said, a tear streaming down her cheek as she took another step, "We're torn apart. There's nothing we can do. Just... just let me go," she begged.
Another step. The voice replied, whispering closer than ever, "We'll meet again, soon."
And with that, the hand let go, and the voices fell silent. And the woman, too, fell, for she had no hand to guide her.
Charlie Tennison, born July 19th, 1921; died December 24th, 2004
Melinda Davids-Tennison, born May 3rd, 1926; contracted Alzheimer’s disease shortly after the death of her husband, died instantly from a fatal fall down the stairs in her home on November 10th, 2010.
Story inspired by song lyrics written by Nanna B. Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson
Written by Tyber Zann