A Book of Ghosts

I held the large leather bound book between my hands, pushed closed so that it wouldn’t open to the page. That page. I heaved the book into the fireplace. The book opened and I saw the ghosts as they curled with the smoke and up the chimney. I witnessed the destruction of the book, watching the pages curl, fire flame, and then at the end the book was dead. The ghosts,  curls of smoke edging the flames, flashed and then were gone.

When my fiance brought me to the house. I had been impressed with the sitting room, the kitchen, and mainly the library. Seth had smiled wearily at me. “You will get tired of it soon, Kathy,” he held my hand as he led me to the library. “The books are dead with ghosts occupying every page.”

I hadn’t understood then. We married and started our family. When I was full with our first child, I started seeing a strange emotion cross Seth’s face. I was happy with knitting booties and blankets. My mother came to help us decorate the little room for the new arrival.

Seth tried to tell me not to get too attached to this baby. “It might not arrive.” His voice broke. But, I didn’t know the secrets his family had tried to conceal for centuries. The book was in my bedroom when I started those first labor pains. Seth started when he saw the book open to that page. He tried to shut it. I didn’t know why the book scared him.

The labor was long. I screamed often. My mother attended me because neither doctor or midwife could make it to our home in that blast of winter that had settled over us at those first labor pains. After hours of labor and the last scream, the child, a baby boy, was in my arms. My mother wiped my head and showed Seth his first born.

Seth screamed in agony. “Don’t let it touch the baby,” he screamed. But it was too late. The book snapped at the newborn in my mother’s hands. When the book touched the baby, I felt the last breath leave its little body. Seth stabbed the book and the book stabbed back. I lost them both that day.

As the book curled in the heat, I crooned. “You have taken them away from me. I have taken them away from you.” As I walked away from that house, I smelled brimstone. The house exploded behind me.