Author of The Magical Mimics of Oz, The Shaggy Man of Oz, Spectral Snow, etc.
Originally published in Dark Music and Other Spectral Tales, 1947.
If only she could make George look at her, Mavis thought. If only she could make him see her. It was useless to try to talk to him. He couldn't hear her. It had been like this ever since the accident. George looked so pathetically lonely as he sat in the big, bleak room. Why didn't he light a fire in the fireplace? That might make him a little less miserable. The room was chilly, and outside a cold, October rain was falling. The room was even darker than the gloom of the night. George started nervously when the naked limb of a tree stirred by the night wind tapped mournfully against a window. Mavis wished that George wouldn't sit alone on the dark like this.
She stood directly in front of him, hoping that somehow she could make him see her. George looked up, almost as though he were aware of her presence. But it was no use. He stared right through her, and in his eyes Mavis saw the misery and suffering that had been there ever since the accident. If only there was some way she could comfort him--make him see her just for an instant, so that he would know she was still here beside him.
George arose, switched on a lamp and lighted a cigarette. Mavis sat down in the chair opposite him . . . her chair. They had sat like this, happy and full of content, through so many long winter evenings. Surely George must see her now. The light of the lamp was full upon her, and he was so used to seeing her here like this. But his eyes were blank and hopeless as he stared at the chair.
Slowly the hours ticked away, while George nervously smoked one cigarette after another. Finally the clock in the study tolled the hour of midnight in deep-toned notes. The witching hour--the hour when graves yawn and ghosts walk! What a lot of nonsense, Mavis thought. Midnight was no different from any other hour.
With a deep sigh, George switched out the light and made his way wearily up the stairs. Mavis followed close behind him. Outside her room, George paused for moment, then slowly opened the door and clicked on the light. Mavis slipped past him into the room. He must see her now--in her own room, surrounded by all her own things that he had given her. But no, his eyes searched the room hopelessly, then clouded and filled with bitter tears. He extinguished the light and closed the door. Mavis followed him into his own room. Wearily the man undressed and made ready for bed. But in spite of the luxuriance and warmth of the bed, he did not sleep. A dim night light burned on a table at the side of the bed. Mavis stood in the soft light, gazing at him pitifully. George turned restlessly. Again and again he looked directly through her. She might as well not have been there.
The long hours passed. Fitfully George dozed and slumbered only to awaken with a start and a flood of memories that contorted his features with grief and suffering. Mavis tried in these moments of sudden re-awakening and onrushing consciousness to make him see her. If only he could catch the most fleeting image of her. But it was no use.
The rain had stopped, but with the dawn came a dismal fog that clung to the windows and swirled through the chill air. Now that the night had passed, George was sleeping soundly for the first time.
With the first faint grey streaks of morning light, Mavis was aware of someone standing quietly in the bedroom doorway. It was her mother.
"Come, my dear," said the older woman, as she advanced to Mavis and put her arm about her. "You can see it is quite useless. You remember how we used to refer to some people as being color blind? Well," she went on, as the two women walked slowly from the room and down the thickly shadowed hallway, "George is what we know as 'specter blind.' "
The Puzzle Corner
First and 4-most the answers to last week's Halloween riddles were:
A corn ear is like an army because it is full of kernels (colonels).
One's palms are truly read (red) if one is an Indian.
Owl, bat and cat were the three animals concealed in the words low, bat [sic] and act.
A candle goes out without moving. And now for some new ones. Can you finish these verses?
The Forgetful Poet's Puzzles
I'm a pretty good shot
If the target stays still
But a rabbit will run,
So I fared very -----?
I tried a game of football
With some boys upon the lot;
I caught the ball--but that's not all--
There's other things I -----?
A black eye and a twisted knee,
And several knobby bruises;
Whate'r they say, the one who has
The ball, sirs, always -----?
[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2012 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.