So we went to Maine, and I am sitting on the porch with my ghosts and memories as twilight falls and the call of a loon breaks the silence. And then the quacking of ducks from somewhere at the edge of the pond.
“Margaret still feeds the ducks,” John says, which seems very odd to me since they have to make their way from the pond up our lengthy path to get across the road to Margaret’s house.
I wonder what my heroine would do. She’s come to Maine — why? She inherited the island in the middle of the pond, even though she’s not family. She’s thinking the family must be furious. There are a raft of nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts and uncles who on the face of it are more entitled to inherit than she. She’s never asked herself why her.
But the family must have: the family was surely gathering forces to contest the will. At the moment, however, my heroine doesn’t care.
She sits on the porch at the home of a friend, thinking about the past as she gazes out over the pond. She used to come here as a child. There was a guy — but best not to think about that. She hasn’t really thought about him in years and gives herself a moment to wonder now, is he still around? Is he married? Is he dead?
He is one of the ghosts; she fully expects to see him canoeing toward the dock, calling out to see if anyone’s home. Or to find a jar of homemade jelly on her front steps, a sure clue he came visiting.
But no — all she hears are the far-away voices from the camp at the other end of the pond. The sound of oars dipping in the water, or the occasional roar of a speedboat pulling water skiiers on the far side of the island.
It’s all about the island, my heroine thinks, and how it reflects in the water. In some lights, when you photograph it, you can’t tell which is the real island and which is the reflection. It feels like a metaphor for her life.
Clouds gather, a portent of a storm. Mist wafts across the water. The branches overhanging the pond, which look like a samurai warrior and a dragon respectively, sway in the churning wind like marionettes controlled by an unseen hand. It starts to rain, a pattery rain that causes the water to ripple. A drift of lily pads and pond grasses floats across the reflection, effectively dividing it in half.
The rain drops blur the shadowy trees mirrored in the pond, making the upper half look like ghostly men rolling toward the shore, coming for her, coming for me.
Across the pond, out of the corner of her eye, she sees movement — an ethereal figure in white which looks as if it’s walking on water.
She freezes. Who’s heading toward her island? Anyone could — it’s wide open all the time. If she were there, she’d be defenseless. Here, on the porch, in the rain, she can do nothing about it. She feels terrorized nonetheless.
The ghost men in the water come closer and closer, reaching for her, reaching for me. The white ghost floats along the length of the island, seeking — what?
Ducks quack loudly, one-two-three. “They’re on their way to Margaret’s house again,” John says from the kitchen window. “We’ll visit tomorrow morning.”
My heroine (and I) look up. The mysterious white figure is gone.
Does being away from home set your imagination in motion? Do you weave stories from dust motes? Do you believe in ghosts? Yes, the island really exists.
Thea Devine is working on her next erotic contemporary romance, and other projects. She will be attending CTRWA’s Fiction Fest in September, and speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October. She was among those honored as a Romance Pioneer at this year’s Romantic Times Convention.