11-year-old Abigail rearranged the tea cups on the white lace table cloth; her fingers shook a little as she lit the match and carefully lit the wick. As a soft yellow glow filled the moonlit room steam rose from the teacups. With shaky hands, Abigail smoothed her day dress, waiting anxiously for him to arrive. As soon as the maid helped her into her nightdress, slid the bed warmer at the foot of the bed and closed the door, Abigail jumped out of bed and quickly changed.
The candle flickered; she took a deep breath; a few short moments later her best friend Patrick appeared in the seat across from her. A playful smile formed on his face when he saw Abigail’s favourite tea set spread out on the delicately carved table.
“I am so lucky to have you as a friend!” laughed Patrick eagerly reaching for his teacup
It had taken him a few years to control his movements; when he had successfully picked up a teacup only six months ago, they had celebrated.
Abigail smiled, watching him close his eyes in bliss as he took a sip of the sweetened hot liquid. They had always been best friends, they were even born on the same day. Their parents had decided that when the time came, Abigail and Patrick would marry and unite the two families. The two youngsters did everything together, they were inseparable. However, on Patrick’s ninth birthday, a terrible tragedy occurred. While on a ride through the forest, his horse had become frightened and reared up; Patrick had been unable to hold onto his horse as it raced off down the worn path. His foot caught in the stirrup and was dragged two miles before his instructor was able to catch up and stop the frightened animal. Patrick had suffered a serious head wound and multiple bruises; Abigail was inconsolable when she heard the news of Patrick's death.
The young girl had locked herself away in her bedchamber for weeks following Patrick’s death. On the night of their tenth birthday as Abigail tossed and turned from a nightmare, Patrick appeared to her. She had been sure that she was dreaming though when he appeared again a few days later; she knew that Patrick had come back to her. They talked and laughed as though nothing had happened; despite their continuing friendship, Abigail couldn’t help but wonder how it was possible for her dearest friend to surpass the grave. A year later, she still had not asked him how it was that he could still be here with her.
Abigail pushed the thought from her mind and simply enjoyed the time she had with him now. Though he was able to spend a few hours with her, he always disappeared a few hours before sunrise. Patrick insisted on this because he wanted her stay healthy and well rested.
“What thoughts are occupying your mind Abby?” asked Patrick reaching across the table and taking her warm hand in his cold one.
“I am thinking that I am truly lucky to have you in my life.” grinned Abigail her eyes sparkled happily, “I would be lost without you Patrick.”
“Well, never fear my dear Abigail, I will never leave you.” promised Patrick seriously
With that said, the two happily continued drinking their tea and eating their sweet biscuits as the night passed slowly.
Seven years later…1892
Abigail closed her eyes against the pain of her corset being tightened unbearably tight, she didn’t think it possible to stay upright as the air inside her was squeezed out. Yet she still stood upright, her hands wrapped tightly around the bedpost. ‘Mother would think today is my wedding instead of a simple meeting.’ thought Abigail as misery overtook her
After much tugging and adjusting, she stood and inspected herself in the mirror. ‘Mother will be pleased…if all goes according to her plan, I will be married before the end of summer.’ pouted Abigail sadly, ‘I need to talk to Patrick about this tonight.’
Abigail tried to calm her nerves as she entered the parlor, a young man stood up as she entered. She risked a glance at her parents and instantly regretted it when she saw the smug, cat like smiles on their faces. ‘They’re practically planning my wedding; I can sense it.’
She forced herself to keep her hand to stay still as the young man placed a kiss on her knuckles; she resisted the temptation to snatch her hand away and run back upstairs. As she sat listening to Stephan talk about the many details of his responsibilities as a duke, her mind wandered to last night’s conversation with Patrick:
“Mother is up to something Patrick…she has been parading me in front of countless suitors that she promises is vying for my hand in marriage.” sighed Abigail sadly
“She is trying to look out for your best interests Abby.” whispered Patrick, “You are of age and we both knew that it would happen someday.”
Abigail looked up at him, her heart catching in her throat; he looked absolutely miserable. They had known since they were children that they would marry and when Patrick died, those plans had obviously changed. Patrick walked over to Abigail and kneeled in front of her, taking her hands in his.
“My dearest Abigail…I have loved you since we were children, however painful this is, we both know that our union will never be.” sighed Patrick kissing the back of her hands, “I feel like I am to leave you soon…I promise that before I go I will make sure that you find and marry a man you will love till the end of your days on earth.
“How can I possibly marry another, when I love you?” cried Abigail clutching his hands in hers, “Perhaps I will never marry and then when I pass on, we will be reunited once more.”
“My love, you cannot give up any chance of happiness for me.” declared Patrick emphatically, “I promise that we will be reunited one day…however in the meantime, I know that you will find another love.”
“How do you know?”
“Call it a gut instinct.” whispered Patrick as tears pooled in his eyes
They fell silent for a few moments; Abigail felt an urge to ask him how his presence was possible. A part of her longed to know while another part of her was terrified that she would not like the answer.
“You want to ask me something, I can feel it.”
“I am scared to ask…”
“Please do not be afraid! If I can I will answer.” replied Patrick gently
Abigail swallowed hard while her heart began to pound so furiously within her chest, she was afraid it would burst free from her person. She looked into his eyes and saw love and patience; Abigail had always known that they were meant to be. At this moment she felt like she was losing him and the very thought frightened her. She fiddled with her tea cup for a few minutes as she fought to find the courage to ask the one question she’d had on her mind since she was ten years old.
“Patrick…how is it possible for your…spirit to be here? I’m not complaining, I love that you are here with me….”
“My love, it is alright.” chuckled Patrick lovingly, “I completely understand and I wish I knew the full answer to your question…after the accident, I was able to see the proceedings of my funeral, you crying and hiding in your room. I was so overcome with despair at leaving you that another spirit approached me and told me that I was to help you move on, to find another love and once that happened I would be able to find the peace I needed to wait for you, to wait for our souls to be reunited.”
“I was shocked, of course, yet I was not afraid; before I knew it was standing in your bedchamber. I was able to manipulate objects, able to hold your hand…Abigail, I promised you when we were ten years old, that I would never leave you and that promise still stands. I will always be here for you, my darling Abby.”
Patrick gently brushed the tears from her cheeks as he leaned over and placed a kiss first on her cheek and then on her lips. Abigail gasped as she carefully touched the spots on her face where he had kissed her. It felt cold yet comforting.
“It is time for you get some rest; tomorrow will be a busy day for you.” smiled Patrick warmly
Abigail pulled Patrick into her arms, hugging him with all her might; as always Patrick promised to arrive at the same time the next night. Despite this promise, Abigail tossed and turned through the few hours she had before her maid would enter to help her dress for the day.
The next day…
Abigail browsed through the ribbons while her mother talked to the dressmaker, she stifled a yawn. She felt a tap on her shoulder, both curious and annoyed, she turned to confront the stranger who interrupted her thoughts.
Her eyes widened when she took in his appearance; he looked like Patrick! There were, of course, differences; like his eye colour was green instead of blue, his hair was darker than Patrick’s. ‘He must be related to Patrick somehow…’ thought Abigail as she tried to still her trembling hands
“Abigail! It’s me…Thomas Lodge!” exclaimed Thomas excitedly, “I am Patrick Lodge’s cousin; you probably do not remember me, it has been years since we’ve been in each other’s company.”
“Thomas…of course, I do remember you now.” gasped Abigail fighting off a blush
“Abigail, it is imperative that I speak with you…may I call on you tomorrow afternoon?” asked Thomas hope filled his voice
“Of course, you may.” agreed Abigail curtseying quickly
Thomas took her gloved hand in his and placed a gentle kiss in the same spot Patrick had, she felt a small jolt of electricity run through her.
“Patrick, did you know that I would meet your cousin Thomas?” asked Abigail watching her childhood friend and love closely
Patrick smiled and sat down across from her; he picked up his tea cup and sipped before answering her.
“I did…you two will be very happy together...I can sense that you two are meant to be together.” smiled Patrick setting his tea cup back down, “Your parents will not refuse him his desire to marry you.”
“How do you know? Why would he want to marry me?” questioned Abigail leaning towards him
“Thomas has been in love with you since we were children. Upon my passing, he inherited everything that I would have…had I lived. He is now the Duke of Lancaster, which means that he will be able to provide handsomely for you. Your parents have always wanted you to marry a Duke and now their wishes will be complete.”
“I’m afraid…this is all happening too soon.”
“Please do not be afraid! I promise that in time you will come to realize that you love Thomas and will be very happy with him.”
“If this is what you want for me, then I will try…”
“I want you to find happiness again…I have seen this future for you. He plans to propose to you tomorrow…will you accept?”
Abigail took a big breath, although she still felt uncertain, she knew that Patrick was taking care of her.
“Yes. I will accept his proposal.” smiled Abigail looking up at Patrick
That night as she slept, she knew deep down that she would find happiness and love with Thomas. The uneasy feeling that buried itself in her stomach faded and was replaced with feelings of peace and reassurance.
The next day…
Abigail quietly observed Thomas as he took a sip of tea, his resemblance to Patrick was uncanny. Patrick was right, Thomas was kind and gentle; their marriage would be a happy one. Thomas looked up to find Abigail observing him; he smiled as he set the tea cup and saucer back down on the table.
“Abigail, this may sound rash and unbelievable…I’ve been in love with you since we were children; I knew that you were promised to Patrick, yet a part of me always knew that you and I would be…”
“Yes, exactly.” chuckled Thomas bashfully looking at his hands, “A few years ago, I had a dream that Patrick told me that you would one day accept my proposal of marriage. I hope he is correct because I am prepared this moment to go and speak with your father the moment you say yes.”
Abigail blushed as she smiled, her heart felt light and happy. She glanced up and saw Patrick standing behind Thomas, a soft smile lit up Patrick’s face. She felt like he was saying good bye, instead of feeling lost and afraid, she knew that everything would be okay; peace settled in her heart as she smiled at Patrick one last time. Patrick bowed, whispering, “I will always love you Abigail.’ before turning and slowly walked away. Abigail watched as Patrick slowly faded away. ‘He will always be with me.” smiled Abigail
She turned her attention back to Thomas and smiled brightly; Abigail took one of Thomas’s hands in both of hers and with courage and love whispered:
“Yes Thomas, I will marry you.”
Thomas released a relieved sigh and brought her hands up to his lips, placing loving kisses on her skin.
“I love you Abigail, and I always will.” whispered Thomas moving closer to her
Thomas rested his forehead against hers and smiled. Slowly, he gently placed a kiss on her lips and when she reciprocated the kiss, he tightened his hold on her hands as though he were afraid of letting her go.
“I love you Thomas!” whispered Abigail lovingly