(Halloween Challenge Story)
It was Halloween night and Murdoch stood on the patio looking up at the full moon, he was thinking about the events of earlier this evening.
*********What happened to Murdoch*********
a scotch and relaxing in his leather chair Murdoch was enjoying the quiet.
Something rare since his sons came home, but for now the boys and Teresa had
not returned from the orphanage’s Halloween party. It had been an all-day
event and his old bones were worn out so he returned early to his
comfortable chair and a warm fire.
Almost asleep from the liquor and warm fire Murdoch roused when he heard a noise in the yard. He groaned at the interruption of his peace and quiet, but rose and headed outside. He looked around but didn’t see anyone so he shrugged his shoulders and turned to the house.
Then he heard it again, “Who is it?” he asked.
An old woman moved from the shadows, “You are wishing for what you lost.” It was not a question.
“Who are you?” Murdoch didn’t recognize the woman. She was extremely old and hunched over her walking stick, she reminded him of witches from childhood stories in Scotland. He remembered a childhood fear.
“I am here for you.”
Murdoch was getting angry the ambiguous answers. “Just tell me what you want old woman and be on your way.” Normally he wouldn’t speak to a woman like that but she unnerved him.
“I make you uneasy, old man,” she emphasized ‘old man’.
Murdoch shook his head and started to walk away from her and waved his hand, “Be on your way.”
“You can’t get away from the past but maybe you can change the future.”
He stopped and looked back and saw that she had followed him, it made him very uncomfortable. Murdoch continued to the edge of the patio, he just wanted to get away from her. He glared at the old woman then raised his arm and pointed toward the Lancer Arch. “Go.”
Her laugh sounded like a cackle to Murdoch and he couldn’t stop the shudder.
“I am here for you, to give you peace.”
Angered Murdoch glared at the woman, “Give me peace? What are you talking about?”
She ignored his anger and moved to the patio and slowly lowered her body onto one of the chairs then she motioned for him to join her.
Shaking his head and grinding his teeth he decided to hear her out then maybe she would leave, “Alright, have your say and then go.” He didn’t like feeling he had no control over what was happening.
“Are you so sure you want me to leave? Don’t you want to know why I am here for you?” She pointed the walking stick toward his heart.
Murdoch couldn’t understand the feeling it caused when the extended cane touched his chest, he wanted her gone yet he wanted to her to stay. It caused no pain yet it did. He forced out the words, “Have your say.”
Placing the walking stick upright she tapped the ground three times. Suddenly a cold mist rolled across the patio and hovered around their feet and legs. Murdoch shuddered but the old woman seemed unaffected by the drop in temperature.
“Look into the past, and see two women, one with hair as golden as the sun and one with hair as black as a raven’s wing. Now see two sons, so much like their mothers in look and temper.”
Murdoch looked into the mist, he wanted to run away but was compelled to stay. His mouth was dry and his mind would not form words. He sat transfixed.
“Watch and learn.” The old woman ordered.
Murdoch watched as images formed in the mist around him. The blonde woman was hugging her son and smiling at the small boy. She looked at Murdoch, “It will be all right my love.” A sadness covered her face, “Know that I had no choice, I had to leave.” She bowed her head and touched the boy’s cheek, “I am so sorry our son was taken from you.” Then she looked up and smiled, “But he is with you now. He wants to love you.” She reached out and placed her hand on Murdoch’s hand, “Let him love you as you love him. He wants to be with you and with his brother.” She drew back, “My heart is at rest, please my love let your heart be at rest.” She hugged her son again and turned the boy toward his father. “Can you be a family?”
The image faded. Murdoch couldn’t move, couldn’t speak but it didn’t matter he felt a peacefulness take over him.
A new image appeared in the mist of a dark haired woman and small boy. They were in the garden and the woman held the boy in her lap. She held a red rose and the smiling boy was trying to grab it, she laughed and told him “Careful of the thorns nino.” He wiggled to get down and when she placed him on the ground he ran into the garden to chase the butterflies. As a shadow fell across her lap she looked up, her smile faded. “I am sorry for taking our son away, but I could not stay.” She started to reach out but pulled back, “I loved you, you probably don’t believe me, but I loved you and still love you with all my heart.”
Murdoch’s breath hitched as he continued to watch the images.
She bowed her head and sighed, “The people did not want me here and resented our son.” She choked back a sob, “They called him horrible names. They said you only married me for the boy.” She stood but kept her head bowed, “They said I would cause the ruin of your reputation and…” Her eyes overflowed with tears she could not longer hold back and they streaked down her cheeks. “I don’t ask for you to forgive me, I know I hurt you both and condemned our Johnny to a hard and brutal life. He had no choice, he was forced to pick up the gun. If he had not...he would be dead.” She looked up and wiped away the tears. “He loves you and wants to be here with you and his hermano. Decide if it is worth putting aside your anger for the gunfighter to see your love for the son.” Her look changed from sadness to one of hope, “Now you have both your sons home, can you be a family?”
The image faded and the mist cleared. He looked at the empty chair next to him. Not sure exactly what had happened, he was grateful the peaceful feeling had returned. The loneliness he felt for Catherine faded to pleasant and loving memory. The anger he felt for Maria faded to understanding and now he could love her again.
They were right he had his sons home and he was going to put aside the regrets and anger that he had allowed to rule his relationship with both of them. Catherine, Maria and the old woman and given him a second chance and he was going to make it work.
Murdoch stood up, took a deep, calming breath and looked up at the full moon.
“Ladies, the answer is yes.”