An Overnight Stay In Dalhousie, New Brunswick
Being human is a lonely experience. I’ve been alone from the day I was born, even in the presence of others. I’ve always felt that I was separated from my peers and that there was something just wrong with me, unable to connect with people who said they cared about me. But what I found in Canada changed my mind completely.
I’m an investigative journalist, based out of a parent company in New York, who sent me up to the Canadian province of New Brunswick on a tip from an anonymous source. They had seemed rather hush hush about the matter, hesitant to spill any details to me aside from a paid for plane ticket, and a small hotel in Dalhousie, in a quiet patch of land surrounded by suggestively eerie mist and sprawling forests. When I arrived, the town seemed inviting enough, and wasn’t creepily aware of my presence or any such nonsense, but instead offered me the pleasantries expected of a quiet Canadian town. I had settled into my hotel room when a knock occurred at my door. A quiet, carefully timid tap on the wooden surface. “Hello?” I asked through the door.
“Yes, hi. Are you the reporter?” The voice was as timid as the knock, as if scared to ask the question.
“I certainly am. Can I ask who is asking?”
Quiet. They weren’t telling me something. “Lily.” The voice did sound rather feminine now that I listened harder.
“Well, Lily, are we to continue talking through this door or would you like to come in?” I asked, my voice coming out a tad bit harsher than intended. A strange feeling welled up inside me, as if I myself was scared of talking to this person. I shook it off and opened the door. A young girl, mid twenties at most, with shoulder length black hair and brown eyes looked at me from behind her scarf. She was covered head to toe in winter clothing, though I had found the weather rather pleasant. I couldn’t see any skin beneath her eyes, and she seemed intent on keeping it that way.
I sat on a bed, and she the opposite one, before I spoke again. “Lily. Are you the tip?”
She looked questioningly at me. “Tip?”
I stared blankly in response, but figured she must have no idea what I was talking about. “So, no tip, but you knew a reporter was coming?” She shrugged lightly in response. “Well, yes. Your company told me, after all. They told me your room number.” I found this odd, and wanted to pursue it, but instead decided to figure out my reason for being here at all. “Lily, can you tell me why I’m here?”
She sighed heavily. “I can’t. But I can tell you where to start. There’s a car rental service a little ways up north, just follow the road. Rent a smaller car, no SUV, white. From there, drive down the main roads until you reach the shoreline. You’ll know it when you see it.” Her tone had been completely replaced here by a demanding, strangely intense tone, as if she had been told to recite this word for word. Perhaps she had. I shook my head.
“Slow down, girl. Why am I to do all of this?” I looked at her, examining her face for any sign of emotion, but the scarf prohibited any look at anything but her eyes. Her eyes, though, spoke more than she did. They were afraid. I had been in this job long enough to read faces. She was afraid of something, or someone. She was nervous to even be here. She got up off the bed and put her shoes back on, only looking back at me to say one thing.
“Sir? I’m sorry this is all so sudden, but I want you to know one more thing.”
I paused, looking at her expectantly.
“Your wife is here.”
She left out the door, before I could respond, and I chased after her in a hurry, but when I peeked my head out into the hallway, she was gone. All that remained was her scarf, on the floor, countering the harsh green, patterned carpet with a bright red streak of color. I picked it up, and feeling strangely compelled, pressed it against my nose, inhaling deeply. It smelt of sand, of a shoreline, of distant memories I couldn’t dig back up. It was nostalgic and terrifying all at once. I went back into my room, wrapping my neck in the scarf and mulling over her words as the sun outside my small hotel window dwindled into a silver streak lining a dark sky, stars daring to peek themselves out past the overcast weather of clouds and mist.
As I awoke in a hazy state, my hotel door opened, and I felt entranced to leave it, walking out into the hallway. A red scarf lined the carpet, extending itself to unwearable lengths, wrapping the baseboards of the hallway and weaving itself throughout the middle of the space. The walls were a deep shade of brown, rather ugly, and unnervingly intense to look at. A thick mist trickled into the hallway as I walked through it, noting all other doors but mine had been removed, aside from one at the very end of the hallway. I could hardly see two feet in front of me, but I kept moving forward. Something compelled me. Something called to me. A wooden sculpture began to take form against what I assumed was the end of the space, and then it quickly lit aflame. In the flames, I saw her. The girl from earlier today. She looked back at me, and removed her scarf, revealing the entire bottom half of her face, from below her eyes to her chest, was made of leaves. The leaves seemed to be in the midst of autumn, varying colors of gold and brown. They quickly scattered to the wind, or whatever force was in the hallway, and with them, she did as well.
I awoke, not in a shock as you might from a nightmare, but instead in a comforted state. I felt like I had gotten the best sleep of my entire existence, which, mind you, had been very long and toilsome. It was a pleasant feeling. I stretched across my hotel bed, and got up quickly, heading down to the lobby for a cup of coffee and perhaps breakfast. As I rode the elevator down, I found myself inhaling the scent of the scarf around my neck once more, entranced by the memories it brought back. Before I could get too nostalgic, the elevator jerked to a stop and I found myself on the bottom floor. The lobby was empty, save for the two ladies at the hotel check in, so I took to the minimal kitchen setup they had and poured a cup of coffee, before leaving the place behind and heading into town once again. This time with a purpose. I began my trek towards the car rental service, which I found to only be half a mile or so out, and enjoyed the scenery on the way. I found myself in love with my surroundings, a wonderful coastal town with a wonderful view. Before I knew it, in what seemed like much less time than would be required to walk half a mile, I arrived at my destination. A kindly old man greeted me.
“Ah, the reporter. We have your car ready already. Your company called it in.” He tossed me a set of keys and led me to an inconspicuous, clean, white car. Though I admit I was slightly confused as to how it was just that easy, I got in anyways. I set up the GPS in the car and, with a nod and thanks to the old man, left the town, following main roads until I saw a seaside.
Once I found a pier poking itself out from a lovely shore, I figured this may be the spot. The pier itself was rundown, broken and clearly abandoned, but surrounded by beautifully pale sand and an equally pale sea that lapped at its shore. The mist hadn’t let up. I got out of my car, and walked towards the beach, taking my shoes off as to really enjoy the experience of the shore. But before I could get too comfortable, I noticed a figure I swear hadn’t been there before, on the tip of that rundown pier. More so confusing, the tip of the pier wasn’t connected to any other bit of its connecting bridge. Not even a support below it. If I didn’t know better, I’d have told you it was floating. I figured perhaps the mist was just obscuring something from sight, and walked towards the figure.
As I got closer, I noted the long, red scarf the figure was wearing, as well as her shoulder length black hair. When I got even closer, so close as to the point where I had to crane my neck to look up at it, it looked back at me. This time it was different, not like my dream, though the leaves were indeed taking up the bottom half of her face again, and dusted themselves into the wind once more. This time however, the top of her face, her eyes and what I could see of her forehead…
They were the eyes of my deceased wife.