The Ill Fated - an episode in the lives of the Soul Shifters.

Submitted into Contest #217 in response to: Write a story about two characters who like each other but don’t get a happily-ever-after.... view prompt

4 comments

Drama Fantasy Romance

Katy looked her brother in the eyes, hoping to get a response. After two songs still no glimmer of recognition. Had the amnesia been so severe, or was this Gaby, not the Matthew she believed him to be? She started her third and final song for the evening. The candles’ flames flickered and danced with the firelight that lit up the sitting room.

By the water I went walking

Looking for my own true love

I heard his voice call from the depths

Or was it from above?

It could have been a memory dear

From deep within my mind

If I can’t be with you in this life, my love

Then please don’t leave me behind


In the forest I went walking

For to find my own true love

My name was whispered through the leaves

In branches far above

I’ve waited it seems like forever

Waiting for the day to come

If I can’t be with you in this life my dear

I will wait until we can be one


But now I sit alone and still

I’m waiting for death to come

Soon we will be together once more

My love you’re the only one

I cry aloud my lover’s name,

My voice has a plaintive sound.

For if I can’t be with you in this life my dear

In the next one, you will be found




Gaby glanced at Charley and stifled a yawn, “My darling I’m dog tired. I must go. Thanks for looking after my sister Katy and her family.”

Katy hastily dropped her instrument and looked intently at Gaby. He had already turned away. She looked at Charley, and frowned. Charley shook her head slightly and motioned for Katy to let him go. She watched him as he walked out of the room without a backward glance.


***


Gaby had stated to Katy about his amnesia and it should have been enough. Her poignant songs had stabbed like a knife. Gaby understood the full meaning of the lyrics. It wasn’t a simple, “Remember me, I am your sister.” It was, “It’s all your fault, Roland, that I have been separated from my love. Where have you been?”


Gaby had looked over at Katy’s husband, Samuel, while she sang. He couldn’t fully grasp the emotions he read, but realized that he was in pain, a man in love with his sister. He wanted to warn Katy not to jeopardize her present family over her past love. He’d address it tomorrow.


***


That night Gaby slept like the dead. He did not stir when Charley awoke and dressed. She also left Laurena sleeping. On her way down the passage, she met Katy and they headed down the main stairs together.

“I hope you had a good night’s sleep,” said Charley.

“Yes, I did. I hope I can talk with Gaby today. He seems different than before.”

“You have no idea. If he wasn’t different, he wouldn’t be in this house, in my bed. The Gaby you know didn’t care for his family at all. He only married me for the Ranch. Finally, he was going to leave that as well. My biggest fear is that the amnesia will go away. It's very confusing. The things he does remember make no rhyme or reason.”


Laurena and her father slept in until midmorning.


Later, Katy was led by Gaby into the library and bade to be seated on the sofa.

“Don’t you remember me?” asked Katy.

“What do you want me to say? If I am your brother, I’ll give you some brotherly advice: You sing beautifully, you have always sung beautifully, but it distresses your husband that you sing such sad songs. Love songs, but not for him. You’ve both lost someone dear to you and you need to focus on each other, the children, and build a life together.” Gaby could have kicked himself for saying she had always sung beautifully.

“You don’t fool me Gaby, or should I say Roland, or Matthew. It’s all very well for you. Charley told me how happy you both are, apart from Laurena being kidnapped. In any event, your story has had a happy ending. I’ve been wondering how I could see you, find out if you were who I thought you might be. You . . .you haven’t given one thought to me. You are probably disappointed that I’m not Rosheen!”

“Katy, or at least Anna, I didn’t know where to start looking for either of you. I’ve been too busy supporting my family and making up to Charley and Laurena the terrible husband and father this man Gaby was. You can stay here as long as you like”

“It’s alright. I’ll go with my husband and children. I just wanted to see if you were who I hoped you might be. When you came back yesterday, and didn’t know me, I was heart-broken.”

He put his arm over her shoulder. “Katy, Anna, you came at a very bad time. I had been away for months and came home to Laurena having been taken away. I immediately left to find her. What a drama. I just wanted to come home and spend time with my family.”

“I’m sorry. But it’s like a knife in me that I can’t be with Tatavian.” Her eyes dripped tears.

“There is nothing I can do about it. I want to live, Katy. I want to be with Charley. She means more to me than anyone I’ve ever known, her and Laurena.”


 He went over to the bookcase and took the Bible out. He handed it to her, open, and she carefully read what was written . . . all the births deaths and marriages for many generations.


Katy looked at Gaby in wonder. “This proves it doesn’t it? Evelyn grew up, married, and had Charley. They did sail to America as Olivia wanted. She must have died on the voyage.”

“Charley told me she did.”

“Amazing.”

“Her mother Evelyn told her many things. . . Charley knows that her Great Aunt Rowena and Tom died in the factory fire. There’s some art-work of Rowena’s that’s been framed. At the opposite end of the upstairs hallway, is a narrow flight of stairs that leads down to the kitchen. On the wall behind you, as you go down, you will see an old sketch of Rowena’s. Charley’s mother Evelyn colored it in. Charley believes it’s an imaginary picture of young Great Aunt Penny, with her red curly hair. She’s standing beside a young man on a shore, with an ancient vessel, out at sea.”

Katy opened her eyes and mouth wide. “It’s Tatavian!” Her eyes once more filled with tears. “It’s of Anna and Tatavian.” A sob escaped.

“I think we three died on the Island.”

“We’ll never know. The most important thing is not to make history repeat itself. Are you sorry that I’m not Rosheen? You practically ignored me yesterday.”

“Since I woke up as Gabriel Fletcher, I’ve figured that due to the spell, we bounce around in the future. When I first saw Charley, I called her Tatsinda. I was confused. I’ve had to learn so much about Gaby, to adjust. It’s been a great turn-around for Charley too. I’m not sure what she told you.”

“Not much except that you are different than before and she is happy about it. She loves you. I gather you both adjusted, considering that she is having your baby.” She sighed. “I’ve had a thought, Gaby. You can wish all you want, with lots of regret, that you didn’t do something about the curse when you were on the Island. If only you tried to do something about it while we were all together, back there. Well, that is never going to happen. But there could be a way.”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“You need to go back to the Island and do something about the spell in this life.”

Gaby frowned and slapped his thighs. “How silly you are! How can I do that? I have a wife and children to look after. They must never know all this. Where is the ocean? Where even is the Island? We can’t go back. I haven’t had a proper life! One thing I’ve learned: Life is for living.”

Katy rolled her eyes. “You are right of course. But what if it was possible?”

“For your information, I’m very happy. I’m Gabriel Fletcher who didn’t care enough about his sister to even bother about her. I’m busy making up to Charley and Laurena the terrible husband and father Gaby was. I don’t want to find Rosheen. Are you satisfied?”

“I’m convinced she’ll turn up. Everything else about the curse has happened. I’ve never understood where I fit in, but you need to be careful. We found out last time that it may not be your jealousy that progresses to a deadly conclusion.”


***


Gaby gingerly knocked on the door of the small old house, with its walls veiled in ivy. He had never known there was a little house behind the saloon. He would never have found out if he hadn’t followed Charley that day. It wasn’t derelict, though it had been built before the Saloon. He could barely breath. He had no idea who might open the door. Faint footsteps came closer and a voice called out, “Who is there

Gaby knocked again. Soon the door opened and he inhaled a gasp as he looked into the eyes that were still familiar after such a long time.


The young lady stared with eyes open wide, and furtively looked around. “You’d better come in,” she urged, as if worried he may be seen. He went in and she swiftly closed the door, leaving it slightly ajar.

Gaby spoke at last, “Rosheen, Rowena, is it really you?”

“How did you find me?”

“What happened? I’ve been worried about you. I know that you and Tom died in the fire at the mill.”

“Yes, and then I was here in this little house with my son. He’s eight years old.”

“I have a daughter the same age.” They embraced and he held her arms as she told him her story. She didn’t seem to mind him holding her. Gaby felt relief as well as concern.

“When I woke here, I’d packed up to leave, but no one knew where. After a couple of days, I unpacked and continued on with this life. I do all the washing and ironing of the linen and clothes for the visitors and folk, at the saloon. My son Daniel goes to the school nearby. I was a saloon girl but one of the cowmen from the area loved me and I was going to have his child. He had promised to marry me. It never happened. He married someone else though he kept seeing me for years and helped me. He promised to leave her, but never came back to take me away. I haven’t seen him since. I’ve lived here as the washer woman, supported myself, and looked after my child. They felt sorry for me because the cowman didn’t keep his promise. I’m a ruined woman.”

“What is your name?” he asked.

“Donna Fisher.”

“I’ve never heard that name. I’m married to a lovely lady. She is so much like someone we knew. She’s kind and she helped me take on the life of the man I became. I don’t know why, but I was leaving her when I became who I am now. I’ve been suffering from amnesia. That’s what I told everyone. Now, I feel as if I’ve always been him. . . We’ve learned something though. Even when I view you as my sister, it doesn’t have to be me who wields a weapon against you. Someone else can have evil intent that results in your death.”

“I know. Poor Tom! He did try to save me. He managed to unlock his office door but there was too much smoke. That witch Olivia had locked me in. Who lit the fire? Not Olivia, surely.” She sounded unsure.

“I’ll tell you everything later. But this is important; I’ve found out something incredible –“

“Please first tell me how you found me?”

“I followed my wife one day. She’s never told me about this place and I simply had to satisfy my curiosity.”

“Would your wife be Charlene?”

“Yes, why?”

Donna gasped and pulled herself away, her face becoming pale.

“What’s the matter?”

“When this lady called Charlene first visited me, I was shocked because she is just like Tatsinda. If you are her husband, then your name is Gabriel Fletcher and I have heard of you.”

“I think many people in the town have.”

“I don’t mean that. You’re the man who didn’t marry me and the father of my child. Charlene’s supported us and she’s sworn me to never mention your name or try to see you. She said that if I ever do, she’d kill me.”

Gaby opened his eyes wide. “Charley isn’t that kind of person.”

“It’s because we share something: We’ve both given birth to a child that is yours. But, I’m not your wife. It’s like before. We simply can’t escape our fate. You must leave.” Donna wrung her hands and pushed him toward the door.

“But I have more to tell you. I’ve seen Anna.”

“After everything we’ve been through, you must let me live alone.”

He grabbed her hands and looked down at them when he felt how calloused they were. From hard work. Her eyes looked tiredly up at him.

“Dear, Rosheen,” he whispered, “Rowena. . . Gaby was leaving Charley probably to take you and their son Daniel away. When I woke up as Gaby, it was after I’d left my family. They allowed me to stay because I’d injured myself and had nowhere else to go. I knew Charley hadn’t told me something. Her biggest fear has been that I’d remember and be the old Gabriel again. But she has nothing to fear anymore. I love her and would never leave her.”

“Everything changes when there is another woman and another child involved, especially as the other woman is me. You must leave now.”

“But you are living a wretched life! Surely there is something I can do?” He continued holding her hands.

“Charlene is already doing it. Please, go away and forget you ever saw me.”


At that moment, the door behind them opened. Charley stood in the doorway. She stepped inside and her eyes flashed dangerously. The door partially shut behind her and she swiftly reached into her purse and took out the pistol that Gaby had bought her. “I heard your voice Gaby. So you know Donna.”

It sounded accusatory. Donna pulled her hands out of Gaby’s grasp.

“Not really. I followed you here the other day. Sure, she has a familiar face but I don’t remember her.”

Charley pointed the pistol at Donna. “I meant what I said about staying away from my husband.”

Gaby stood between them wringing his hands. “God’s bones, put that thing down and let’s talk.”

“Now that you’ve seen Donna it’s just a matter of time before you remember everything.”

Donna spoke up, “I told him to leave.”

“Please lower the pistol, Charley.”

“I’m to believe that he’ll stay away now that he knows the truth?” Charley continued to aim the pistol. “Step aside Gaby or I swear I’ll shoot you both.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” shouted Gaby. “Put the pistol down. I won’t move. I’ll explain the truth about everything. I didn’t even know her name.”

“I’ve always been afraid you’d meet her.”

“She could have been my sister. I came here because of you. Please, put the pistol down!” Gaby didn’t believe that Charley could shoot anyone but he knew anything can happen with a dangerous weapon pointing at them. They had a history of dying untimely deaths. He started to walk towards Charley, believing she trusted him. He could grab her hand and point the pistol away. Inevitably, he felt sure he could prise it from her hand. He was still the man she’d grown to love and trust. He could easily stay away from Donna. Anything to keep Charley happy.


As Gaby walked forward and Charley stepped back towards the slightly open door, they heard footsteps running up to the house. It was Daniel and he with the exuberance of a young boy pushed it open with such force that it knocked Charley just as Gaby had grasped her hand. In a sickening moment a shot rang out as Charley’s finger accidentally pressed the trigger. The bullet hit Donna in the chest and she instantly dropped. Gaby felt as if he had been shot as well. His fears had come true.


***


Daniel stood in the doorway in stunned silence for a moment and then ran to his mother’s side calling to her, “Mama, mama!” When he looked down and saw the blood on his mother’s chest, he wailed.


Charley stood staring at the scene holding the pistol. It made no sense to her that Gaby lay on the ground. This shouldn’t have happened. She saw Gaby slowly rise to his feet. He had a wild look in his eyes as he looked from Charley, standing with the pistol in her hand, to Daniel crying over his dead mother. His mouth hung open.


“Donna, my darling Donna!” he went down on his knees and grabbed his son’s shoulder He looked up, his face haggard. “You just wouldn’t let me leave and be with Donna and Daniel, would you.”

What had happened? Charley froze to the spot. Gaby had returned, the old Gaby. Tears streamed from her eyes. She flung her pistol down. It clattered.

“This is all a complete mistake!” In panic she turned on her heel and fled. . .



September 29, 2023 08:18

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

4 comments

04:03 Oct 05, 2023

I think you may have had to whittle too much. The premise is intriguing, but the overall effect is disjointed. I definitely need more backstop to orient myself.

Reply

04:25 Oct 05, 2023

I agree. Once I'd taken out as least as possible (a mere 2000 words) I was sorry I had even started. About 3000 words didn't do it justice. And it was Approved! Yet the one the other week wasn't. Couldn't believe it. It was a great story. An earlier story called The Soul Shifters written in a different way all together, fills in a lot of the background to this one. Thanks for reading. I loved yours.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mary Bendickson
23:07 Sep 30, 2023

Got somewhat lost. Will have to revisit this one. Short on time. Thanks for liking my Where the Wild Things Aren't

Reply

05:07 Oct 01, 2023

That's OK. Thanks for reading. I was somewhat inspired by your idea of taking a piece from a larger work. Such a busy week. This piece was at 5K and I whittled it down to just under 3. It's hard to leave important bits in when you try to skim off so much. But the trope idea inspired me. This part of the story is full of couples who want to be together and because of sad circumstances, three couples missed out on their happily-ever-after s. Another couple mentioned, died and missed out on their h-e-a as well.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.