The Gray Lady

“Dave, are you up there?” Katie called as she opened the front door to the house. The lights in the house were a sharp contrast to the nighttime atmosphere outside.

The couple had bought the house just a few months earlier, and they were still getting acquainted with it and the town. Katie had a day job as a clerk in a dress store on the square, and her husband Dave was a counselor and youth minister at one of the churches in town. She usually came home first, but occasionally he would be in the attic shuffling some boxes around. They had a relatively small amount of items from their previous quarters, but the attic of this new house was so small that it was already almost full with them.

“Yeah, I’ll be down in a second,” a familiar voice from the ceiling replied.

Katie walked into the kitchen and set her things down on the table. She turned around and started walking toward the refrigerator to relieve a day long hunger, but stopped when she heard Dave enter the kitchen. He placed a musty old wooden jewelry box beside her black leather purse.

“Okay,” Dave said. “Open it.”

Katie opened it and found a circular golden locket with the image of a bird engraved on the top and a keyhole on the right side. “Oh, wow,” she said after a few seconds of gazing at it silently. “Where did you get this?”

“I found it in the attic,” Dave answered. “It must have belonged to the lady before us, some widow. She probably lost it and eventually forgot about it.”

“It’s beautiful,” Katie said as she took the locket out of the box and proceeded to fasten the golden chain around her neck.

“I thought you’d like it,” Dave said smoothly.

Suddenly, the lights in the house flickered and then shut off completely, turning everything black. Katie heard footsteps, a drawer open, and then she was blinded by a flashlight.

“Don’t worry,” Dave said, “I’ll go to the garage and check the fuse box.” After he stopped talking, the two both turned to the staircase, where they heard a horrible screeching sound. Dave shined the light at the stairs, and they both gasped as they saw an old lady.

The old lady had messy white hair that settled around her neck. Everything else about her was gray, except her angry eyes, which were more like white circles with little, black dots for pupils. She wore a tattered shawl that came down to where her knees should have been, but she didn’t have any. No knees, no legs, nothing below the frazzled ends of her shawl. She hovered silently still at the bottom of the staircase for a moment, and then she lifted a withered right arm and pointed a decrepit finger at the couple, still in the kitchen.

Dave got in front of Katie, protecting her. “What do you want?”

The spirit slowly moved through the living room, finger still outstretched toward the couple. As it got closer, however, her focus became clearer; she was pointing at Katie, who was now clinging to Dave’s arm.

“Why do you want her?” Dave asked, shaking with nervous apprehension.

The spirit didn’t respond. It moved closer to Katie, and the couple then realized that it was pointing at the locket. Katie quickly handed it to the figure. The woman took it and as soon as the locket touched her hand, she started to transform. Waves of light pulsated from the locket, and starting with the hand, the woman started to radiate a beautiful gold aura. Her decayed finger became healthy, and the health soon took over the arm, the shoulders, the head, and in seconds she was a kind-looking older woman with beautiful black and gray hair flowing in the air. She opened the locket with a key and showed the inside to Katie, who began to cry. After this, the woman vanished and the lights came back on.

“What did she show you?” Dave asked.

“It was a picture,” Katie weakly replied, “of her and her husband.”

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