Through the wisps of smoke from the fire, the first sliver of the full moon rises above the hills. She illuminates the clouds breaking overhead until they disappear altogether and stands alone in the autumn sky. I wish her tidings for All Hallows Eve, speak of the time since I’ve seen her last, and how a handful of weeks can feel like a lifetime.
With one hand tracing the intricate lace pattern of my dress, I remind her of my once pending wedding ceremony. How Aldus and I would have set out for the south the next day to start our new life. I tell her how those days were filled with tears of sorrow instead of joy. My voice is low as I speak of Aldus, his final trip through the valley with a bounty from the markets strapped to his small boat, the storm, and how the black water chose to embrace him.
I compose myself and focus off into the night, a night where the veil between worlds may be as thin as the one that should have covered my face. I search for more to say, but the words do not come. I turn back to the fire. My fingers graze the folded paper on my lap. I clear my throat, make a silent request, then lean forward.
The letter drifts away from my hand and settles on the glowing coals. The corners of the paper curl and blacken. Soon it flares and shrivels, casting light into the eerie calm. As the light fades, my eyes adjust once again to the darkness. A slumped shadow stands across the fire. Long hair stuck to their face. A tattered overcoat, once crisp and new, now dark and heavy with the scent of stale water and earth.
I do not look away as a piece of ashen paper floats away on the breeze. A smile fights for space as sadness flows from my eyes. “Hello, my love.”