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The Guardian of the Night

by Ana Sofia Brito 9 months ago in Short Story
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A Ghost Story

He had seen her before, the girl with a yellow rain coat, walking alone in the woods, slowly towards the river. Sometimes she would stand still, and just look at the water. In other occasions, she would get into the icy river and just disappear without a trace. He knew her name, Klara, the girl with the yellow raincoat and beautiful blue eyes. He saw the desperation in her parent’s faces when her lifeless body was found floating in the river.

A ghost, she was. A silent ghost wandering in the woods at night. Harmless, really. He never understood why people are so afraid of ghosts. There is nothing wrong with them. They are just lost souls that are not ready to depart from the world of the living. He could feel that Klara was very scared and lonely and was trying desperately to get in touch with her family.

Then, there was Elliot, the little boy who could not take the bullying from school and the loveless life at home. Elliot was also attracted to the river like a magnet. He saw him walking into it and drown. Wash all his pain away. This time no one, cried, his father blamed his mother and his mother just shrugged her shoulders and said: “He is in a better place than us!”

Elliot was an angry ghost though. He did not manage to wash all his pain away. He tried desperately to find the bright light that he read about in the books, the light that would take him to a better world. Sometimes, Elliot would get so frustrated that he would start tormenting the ones who had once caused him so much pain. Some mornings, Elliot would just sit with his parents at the kitchen table and burn the toasts or empty the bottle of the milk on the floor.

His parents were terrified. They tried to stay away from home most of the day, and the nights were spent in the living-room couch, stuck in each other’s arms, too scared to leave the room on their own. No more arguments, no more violence, no more hateful words. They had found solace in each other’s fear. They had fell in love again and started to grieve the death of their only son, Elliot.

Charlie and Jack, the bullies that had made his life a living hell for five years, did not have the same luck. When Elliot died, and the school and community realised the reason behind his death, the boys were forced to move school and eventually their families sold their homes and left town.

Klara and Elliot never crossed paths, even though they both ended their lives in the same fatidic place. The woods were now cursed with their deaths and no one ever ventured there anymore. No more family picnics by the river, or school trips, or camping groups. The woods were off limits.

The owl was old and tired. He had witnessed too much pain in his owl life. The woods had been his home. Once what had been a happy place, was now haunted by tragedy. The owl felt it was time to do something, to accelerate destiny and unite two very unhappy souls, Klara and Elliot.

The moon was full and bright. The night was warm and sweet. Klara was walking in the woods, looking for flowers, trying to find ladybirds, exactly as the day she fell in the river. She struggled so much to get out of there, she thought about her parents, her baby brother, he best friend Louise. She thought about the Shakespeare play that they were going to perform at the end of the year, where she would play Titania, the Queen of the Fairies and the kiss she longed to give to her Oberon, played by Marcus, the best-looking boy in the entire school. She thought about the Summer holidays her parents had booked in Crete, her favourite Greek Island. If she had been more careful, if she had not slipped and her foot had not got entangled in the river weeds… If only she had stayed at home, instead of going and wander in the woods alone.

Klara sat by the river, waiting. She did not know what she was waiting for. She heard the old owl that guarded the woods. She saw him staring at her and shuddered. She had never been a big fan of birds, but she felt comfort in the company of that owl. Klara felt a presence approaching. She knew it was not a living being. She liked the woods because she did not have to deal with any ghosts, like Miss Cassidy, the crazy lady from the church, or Tony, the school’s caretaker who had died just a few weeks before her with a heart attack.

Klara had seen him before. She was sure of that. She remembered the story of the boy who had drowned in that same river, who took his own life. Edward? No! Elliot. That was it. Elliot! He was there. It was him. That poor boy who had been bullied relentlessly, whose parents were a couple of drunks who never cared for him. She had heard it all before. It was him on the river the day she drowned. She was so sure. He had just stood there, looking at her struggling to breath, fighting for her life, and had done nothing to help her. But how could he? He was a ghost. Exactly as she is now. A couple of lonely ghosts. Unwanted beings. Homeless souls. Klara felt an urge to hug him, to have him in her death, someone to talk to, someone to help her figure out what to do with eternity.

Elliot also remembered Klara, the girl with the yellow raincoat, who had slipped and fell into the river. That day was wet and grumpy. When he saw her walking around the woods, he knew that something bad was going to happen. He thought to himself, “What on earth is this silly girl doing here?” He tried to warn her, but could not build a connection as he was used to when he haunted his parent’s house. He tried to save her, but nothing he did was strong enough. He guessed that, it was meant to be and there was very little he could do to prevent it.

They are now sitting by the river. Both finding comfort in each other’s company. The owl feels contented, there is a strange feeling in that sad, abandoned place. A tiny sense of happiness. The owl missed that. He could now rest in peace.

Short Story

About the author

Ana Sofia Brito

Primary School Teacher and Drama Practioner, Ana Sofia Brito lives with her family in London, UK. She loves writing, cooking and travelling. The Adventures of Clarisse in the Birds Valley is her first novella.

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