11 September, 2018 by katelaity
‘What the devil—?’ I could not help myself. ‘Pardon, abbess,’ I added hastily though the esteemed lady paid scant attention to my faux pas.
Instead she and Chambers both stared at my friend where the ghost had disappeared. I must say it was the queerest thing—
Though things became even more so in a moment.
‘Tansy, whatever is the matter with your face?’ I said with some alarm for her features contorted as if she were in some kind of pain or as I recalled with sudden clarity, the astounded look of having a pail of ice cold water thrown over her as had happened in the dorms one unfortunate night. There were far too many of the lads who seemed to fear Tansy even without knowing her, or his at the time, secret. Humans are such an unimaginative bunch.
I prided myself on my open mind but it was thrown for a loop just then for Tansy rose from the floor.
The abbess gasped. Chambers took a step back, his torch flickering. I reached for Tansy’s lantern, fearful that she might drop it in this extraordinary state. But her grip was like cold steel. The light reflecting on her face in that deep subterranean lair made me shiver with fear despite its familiarity.
Suddenly my friend looked like a stranger.
Her face seemed to changed in the flickering light. Her eyes, usually dancing with intelligence and mirth (when they were not flashing with anger or righteousness) seemed to be black pools of infinite depth. I shivered. The chill from the stone passage swept through my skin all at once. ‘Tansy?’
A kind of shudder convulsed her body and then her mouth opened. The voice that emerged was not her own. I knew Tansy’s voice like I knew my own. The sound I heard had a lighter tone, a Northern accent and a melancholy that permeated my heart with sorrow.
‘I am one of the lost.’
We exchanged looks of surprise and alarm. ‘Whatever is the matter, Tansy?’ I said with some impatience that I suspect did not mask my fear.
‘I was Eliza Fenning. I was imprisoned in this place with these other women.’ Tansy’s hand gestured toward the skeletons chained together before us.’
‘What crimes had you committed?’ Chambers asked as gently as possible, though he was not prepared for her response.
‘Crimes!’ she cried aloud, thrusting her face near to Chambers’ own. ‘We had committed no crime except being born women.’
Chambers drew back, rebuked. The abbess crossed herself and raised a hand in benediction. ‘God’s mercy upon your poor souls.’
‘God did little to help us in this dark pit,’ said Tansy or rather the thing that had possessed her limbs. ‘When we cried for help, no one came. When we begged for mercy, we were starved. When we hoped for the release of death, too long were we denied that boon—and I have roamed these rough corridors ever since, awaiting a chance to tell our story.’
It was then I noticed for the first time the other thing that had made me uneasy: Tansy was floating a few inches above the stone floor!