Love At First Sight

Intro: This story was inspired by a ghost tour I went on in York. Being based in Edinburgh, I’m used to tales of ghosts, but York might be even more suited to those stories than my beloved city is. If I’m honest, it’s a bit generic (ghostly faces in windows are ever so slightly overdone), and that’s probably why I haven’t been able to do anything else with it. However, I was still quite happy with it. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. No one goes out with the intention of falling in love, or if they do, it’s not with someone like her. She’s different. Not in the way all guys claim their girls are different. I can’t even begin to explain how different she is, but it’s true.

Everyone knew about her. I guess you’d call her a local legend. You’d hear the tour guides telling her story. Using her short and horrible life to entertain a baying crowd. Back then I didn’t take it seriously. I hadn’t seen her eyes. They burn with pain and desperation. When you first glance at them, you might even see hate. I got past that, though. Now all I see is love.

It wasn’t like that the first time I saw her, let me tell you. Then? All I wanted to do was run. Wandering back home from the pub, my head in the clouds – or the drink – it’s a miracle I heard the tapping.

Tap, tap, tap. The noise broke through my drunken stupor. Tap, tap, tap. Not because it was loud, but because it was urgent. Tap, tap, tap. It didn’t even occur to me that it was her house. Tap, tap, tap. I just thought someone wanted my attention. Tap, tap, tap. A fellow drunk perhaps? Tap, tap, tap.

Even when I looked up, it took a few seconds for my eyes to realise what they saw. When they met her’s, it all came flooding back. All the stories. Gosh, I got a shock.

Her beauty wasn’t instantly apparent to me you see. I didn’t look inside her then. In that state, I just saw a screaming young woman. A silent roar being ripped from her throat. A wide-eyed stare that would have been cartoonish if it hadn’t been so horrifying. I’m ashamed to say that I fled. I ran home without a second thought leaving her all alone.

The next day I tried to convince myself it had all been a dream, brought on by the drink. She was merely a figment of my imagination, a sour pint bringing her into the world.

It didn’t work. Her face wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t stop it drifting through my thoughts.

There was no plan to visit her. I wanted to stay away. It wasn’t my decision, though. My brain had cooked it up without my approval. Before I knew what was happening, I was walking through the dark streets. Without even being sure why I found myself back outside that window, staring up at her.

On that night, she wasn’t screaming. Sadness still flooded her eyes, but the terror was gone. In its place was a hint of confusion. She studied me as closely as I studied her.

I can’t lay claim to knowing what she saw. I can, however, tell you how she changed in front of my eyes. How the skin that was stretched around her face became less alarming and more beautiful with every passing second. How her flaws only served to enhance her loveliness.

Soon I was going back every night. It was like a drug. I’d stand there from midnight till five am. If anyone walked past, she’d vanish while I lingered, attempting to look casual. When they had moved on, she’d return, and we’d resume staring into each other’s eyes. Not a word was spoken. Yet, I knew her better than I had known anyone.

During the day, I began to research her. My work left discarded in a desperate need to find out everything about her. I wasn’t eating or sleeping, but I started to piece together her story.

I started with the tour guides. They only had the basics. A rough outline passed between them all. So, I went deeper. Newspaper archives, books of local history and anything that might tell me about the girl in the window.

When I finished, I had a tale that rang at least true-ish. She had been a merchant’s daughter, rich, probably happy. Then the plague came. It hit the city hard. The bodies were piling up, and money or status means little to the Grim Reaper. The world was panicking, so when its marks appeared on her family, her neighbours did what they believed right.

They snuck into the house late at night, working quickly. By the time the hammering woke her, it was too late. Her bedroom door – and that of her parents’ – was locked forever.

No history can tell you what being in that room must have been like. Tour guides don’t go into the details of how she acted as she slowly died. Could she hear the same happening to her parents in the next room? The scratches on their door suggest she would have done.

Meanwhile, the people of the city walked past her window, not looking up and putting the horror out of their minds. She looked out until the very end, hopeful that someone would save her.

When they finally opened up the doors, her parents’ bodies were – as expected – riddled with the signs of the plague, what wasn’t expected was the state of her.

She wasn’t in great shape, a combination of starvation and dehydration is not a good look. However, there were no signs of the plague on that corpse. She had died for nothing.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, now she was forced to spend eternity in that room. Looking out over the city that betrayed her. Forced to reflect on a life that she lost as she screams into the void.

Well, no longer. She has me now, and I love her. In those long nights spent outside her window, I realised what must be done.

Tonight, I go to save her. I write this only so you know that we are gone. I plan to take her away from this accursed city. I won’t let anybody stop me.

This diary was found in the possessions of a Mr John Lambert. He was found dead after falling from a 3rd-floor window. There was no evidence of foul play, and apart from him, the house appeared to be empty. The death was ruled a suicide.

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