The Lady in White

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic


"And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death." - Walt Whitman

Submitted: September 11, 2017

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Submitted: September 11, 2017

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The Lady in White

He had seen her several times now and knew the time was near.  He was a young man in his mid-thirties and had seen the pale silhouette of Death many times for his age, too many. 

He had first seen the woman when he was three years old and his grandfather had lived with his family.  The old man had had prostate cancer for some time, but the young man could not remember how this fact affected his family.  Children supposedly do not retain memories from their younger years after the age of seven, though the young man’s memory of his grandfather did not support that theory.  As the old man’s condition worsened, his friends had come to visit and during those visits a young woman in white had come.  She stood out in his wordless child’s mind because, unlike the other people who came in noisily and pinched his cheeks or leaned forward speaking with grins on their faces as giants surveying smaller prey, she was next to silent.  Each visit she had worn the same long white gown, her steps so light she made no sound and he had thought she was floating.  Each time she had made her way to the old man, standing next to him, though he did not recall them speaking to one another.  This also stood out in his child’s mind.  It wasn’t until what he now knew was the seventh visit she had made her way to his grandfather and with a pale finger caressed his face, leaving the house before the confusion of tears and yelling from several people announced the death of his grandfather.

The next time he saw the lady in white he recognized her immediately.  He had been sitting at a local restaurant with his parents and girlfriend at the time, a Jewish girl named Richenza he had intended to marry.  The woman had walked in, unnoticed, and to his horror had faced the direction of their table.  A cold sweat had broken out on his forehead and armpits, his breathing felt shallow and the need to urinate was held back only by nearly two decades of daily practice of his potty training.  He had recognized her and sensed her delighted surprised at being recognized as she slowly began to move toward the table.  He had jumped out of his seat and hurried away, locking himself in the only stall in the Men’s Room, a fist in his mouth to hold back the screams fighting their way out of his throat.  After what had felt like an eternity he realized it wasn’t only Richenza out there, but his parents were also out there with that horror possibly standing behind them.  He had emptied his bladder sitting down, knowing his legs would give way if he tried to brave the urinals.  By the time he entered the dining room of the restaurant she was gone.  Five more times he saw her, three in the company of Richenza, and he had thought the girl was good as dead when the call came a Monday evening.  His mother had let out a wail of sorrow and despair as the kindly voice at the other end informed his family of his brother’s death at school. 

He had not married Richenza.  The realization he worried more for himself than the girl when the woman in white had appeared told him all he needed to know about his romantic relationship.  He had not married Yin either.  Like his brother’s death years before, the visits had come despite Yin being in another state when she was hit by the speeding truck of a man already well known to the local police because of his DWIs.  The visits had also come before his father went into cardiac arrest while he was at work.

It had happened enough times so that the young man looked for the lady in white whenever anyone fell ill.  Sometimes he saw her silently making her way to the victim, standing near them while other times he simply saw her from a distance.  She always faced him.  He never saw her face, though.  He was too afraid.  She was a nondescript figure in a white gown, undeterminable age, unremarkable except for the fact only he seemed to be able to see her or feel her glee at his despair.  He had noticed how dark her long hair was, darker than night itself, and she always wore the same white gown that covered her pale arms and went down to the tip of her toes.  He knew she was pale; after all, he had seen the skin on her hand which matched so perfectly with the white of her gown.

When he saw her for the sixth time at the hospital, he knew it was his mother’s turn.  The following day he bought a bouquet of red roses and a slice of cheesecake to sneak into the cancer ward.  His mother’s favorite had always been plain cheesecake and in a morbid way he liked to think he was giving her the perfect last meal.  He sat next to his mother’s hospital bed, slowly feeding her the cheesecake, arranging the roses into a vase until his mother was happy with it.  They talked of memories past, his successful life as a lawyer, when he would finally settle with a nice girl, of life as they knew it.  Yes, the conversation was going well until he saw her standing at the doorway from the corner of his eye.  He turned away, that damned creature that had taken so many people from him.  He was startled by her sudden appearance at his mother’s bed, opposite of him.  His immediate reaction was to (lookatthefloorlookawaydonotlookatherface) make some stupid excuse with his mother.

“Must you go, dear?”  his mother asked.  “Very well, then, take care.”

He was a coward and he knew it.  Death was about to take the only person he had left in his world and he was running away, incapable of stopping her. 

He took the elevator, the dull metal sides reflecting his guilty face.  He tried to compose his face into a more composed expression when he noticed the woman in the elevator.  He felt a shake as the elevator lights flickered.  He heard a scream he barely recognized as his own as the beautiful lady in white smiled triumphantly as she caressed the side of his face with her pale fingers.


© Copyright 2017 T. R. Elliot. All rights reserved.

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