(This fall my first published book will be arriving from the printers. It is called The Horror of Loon Lake and it is a horror anthology comic paying tribute to the classic horror magazines and comics that many of us loved. Included also is one prose tale, which will feature several illustrations by the talented Nicole Bresner. In ten installments, www.horror-writers.net will serialize this short story, entitled Willow the Wisp. For more information about the book, follow its page at www.facebook.com/horrorofloonlake – Carl Smith, aka Dr. Carl Cadaver)
Life took on a new purpose for the bachelor over the next few weeks. He returned to work and was quite personable. His coworkers were thrilled to see a rejuvenated and enthusiastic Jonathan buzzing merrily about the office. Each evening he would take a short nap, awake, and visit Willow. No longer hiding or hesitating, he would stroll right in and meet her with a smile. They would visit for nearly the whole hour, say good-bye, and part cordially before she disappeared.
As familiarity grew between them so did the berth of their conversation. While no longer stunned by her radiance and grace, Jonathan was still entirely enchanted. He made a concerted effort at first to not mention her parted state and vowed to protect her mysteries if she decided to share about her Earthly past. After a few days of familiar friendship, he ceased to consider of her as anything but a caring comrade. The talks would sometimes bring laughter, sometimes grim nodding, but mostly the words were secondary to two souls enjoying the proximity of each other. He never missed a night, even during the stretches of rain and wind.
By the end of six weeks she was anxiously awaiting him near the gate, often greeting him with hugs around his neck and a quick glinting kiss. The unlikely friends would stroll around the cemetery, sit together on a monument, and even on a couple special evenings dance together. One fact was unchangeable during each visit; the world around them ceased to exist while they were in each other’s company. The man with his handsome charm and rejuvenated heart and the girl with her otherworldly beauty and captivating presence were all each other needed for one hour each day.
Jonathan began to sleep a little less soundly as week seven started. A longing started to form deep within him that eluded classification. Distraction started to itch within his mind. A riddle had posed itself to him, and he could not fully rest until he unraveled the answer. He drifted through the work week tired and consumed as coworkers gossiped if he was ill or if he was experiencing a relapse of the former malaise that had him inches from being fired. Even Willow sensed a tension and hesitance in his humors, but she carefully and expertly navigated around his mood during their visits.
Ultimately a stroke of inspiration defeated this inner storm by the week’s end. Suddenly giddy with energy and with eyes full of light Jonathan slipped into his boss’ office for a brief but animated talk. His peers craned necks to hopefully decipher what change in fortune had befallen the bachelor. Soon he emerged and everyone turned back to their own business, suddenly working with purpose and focus.
Granted another week of vacation by a patient and supportive supervisor, Jonathan methodically planned a shopping trip to Price’s up in Detroit Lakes. The trick was getting his tasks done and to return home in time to catch a nap and not miss his rendezvous. Monday night’s visit was filled with wide grins and nervous energy. Willow pressed him for what it was that had him glowing with happiness and all he would reply was “Just you, my dear. Just you.”