Chapter One Hundred Three: Leaving


It was hours later when the last drop of red blood trickled down his ghostly hand, into the bowl and overflowed into the growing crimson lake on the floor.

His face was sallow and translucent without the pinkish hue of blood coursing through his veins. The jaundice was now left unchecked and he appeared otherworldly in the lamplight, no longer human.

The chest no longer rose and fell. 

He was still. 


I had cried and rocked in the corner as I watched and waited, surprised yet again that I had any tears left after all of the sorrows of the years. 

I cried for myself, for innocence long gone. 

And I cried for him. He had been dead even before this. There was no cure. No treatment. He would die sooner rather than later anyway, most likely choking on his own blood and vomit, suffocated by hemorrhaging from within. At least I had spared him that indignity, hadn’t I?  

When the flow of tears and blood had stopped, I stood and packed my few belongings. 

I stood at the doorway to the bedroom for a few moments more, staring at the shell of what had been a brilliant doctor, my lover. I wanted Nathaniel to wake, to hold me, to tell me everything would be fine. He would not. I knew he would not but the heart wants what the heart wants. 

I craved his forgiveness but I could not have it. Not in this life.

Gathering up my skirts, I tiptoed through the sticky blood covered floor and kissed him once more on the cold lips. 

Kiss me back…

I touched his cheek.

There was no life there. 

I turned on the landing to look back, panic welling up as the horror of what I had just done broke through my clouded senses. A bloody trail of footprints followed behind me, fading with each step. My stomach turned.

Oh, God.

Then I ran.

Chapter One Hundred Two: Freely Bleeding


“We should do some blood letting,” he said grimly.

“Why?” I asked.

“It is the only thing that will help.” The white haired doctor lifted Nathaniel’s eyelids, one at a time, noting with a grunt the jaundice, a sickly yellow where white should be. He wearily sat back down in the worn wooden chair I had placed by the bedside.

“But how will it help?” I had not seen blood letting benefit anyone. Not ever.

“Madame, leave this sort of thing to the professionals. You should not have to worry yourself with the why’s and wherefore’s…”

He reached into his valise and pulled out a brass encased fleam. The blade clicked open with a fling of the wrist. He held it at the ready.

“I need a bowl.”

“Wait. I…..”

“Bring me a bowl!” he said sharply as he dug into Nathaniel’s forearm. “I don’t have all day. There are other patients to see.” He clamped a hand over the oozing blood then looked over at me expectantly. 

Nathaniel groaned and shifted. 

“Please be quick or this will stain….” he warned.

I shook off the shock and grabbed the basin off of the dresser, the one used for washing up. I felt numb.


“Thank you.” He said it deliberately in mock gratitude. “Now I need some fresh linen and clean water.”

I stood watching the blood flow down the arm in a weak rivulet, forming a deep scarlet pool in the creamy porcelain bowl below. 

“Now?” the doctor prompted.

I left to grab the required items, placing the wash pitcher with the clean water on the floor next to him, then handing over a few strips of clean linen. He put down the fleam and took the linen, draping it over his dark brown pants leg. 

“Just a few minutes more…”

Eventually he took a strip of linen and wrapped it tightly about the wound. Blood quickly oozed through as he wrapped another strip around that one.

“Come.” He motioned me over. “Apply pressure here.” I placed my hand over the indicated spot as he tied the bandage tightly. “He is a free bleeder, as most people in this situation are. It will take time for the oozing to stop. If it bleeds further, apply more pressure until it stops.”

I kept my hand on the bandage, holding tight.

The doctor quickly washed the blade and then his hands using the pitcher and bloody wash basin. Standing up, he dried them both on the towel on the dresser.

“I will see myself out, Madame…?”

“Brierly. Madame Brierly.” I sat down in the chair he had vacated.  “I am his wife,” I added by way of explanation.

“I gathered,” he said dryly. He looked at me pityingly. “I will be back tomorrow to check on you both.” With that, he nodded his head and left. I heard the door close softly behind him.

I moved my hand from the bandage and watched as the red spot on the white bandage widened. I clamped my hand back over it quickly, holding tighter this time. 

It felt as if I was holding on for dear life, holding on to a dream long past. Hope was oozing away beneath my fingers…

But there was no other choice. 

Or was there?

I relaxed my grip, then let go. Blood soaked the bandage, then dripped to the floor. 

Chapter One Hundred One: Lying In It

7-29-2006-01 I awoke to cold and darkness.

How long had I slept?

I shivered.

Unable to sleep the night before due to nerves, worrying over how the events at the cemetary would unfold, exhaustion had carried me away on sleep here. I had let down my guard.

I was hungry.

Placing a hand on his warm chest, I felt the rhythmic rise and fall. His breathing was regular, even though I could feel the deep rattle of wet lungs.

As I sat up, my hand landed in a puddle of wet soaked up by the bed sheets. A frantic search by my fingers found that he had urinated on himself and on me. 

Damn it!

Leaping up, cursing under my breath, I felt my skirt to discern the extent of it, then felt the bed and his pants. It was cold now and had soaked through the layers of skirt to my stockinged leg. 

I started to undress.

Tears stung my eyes again. Urine? On me? It was fine from an infant but from a grown man? 

Should I wake him? 

No. Not yet.

I stepped out of the black crepe dress and the black petticoat, leaving them in a pile. The stockings came off next. That left me in a chemise and corset. 

Somehow, in the light of day, I would have to figure out how to launder everything. I detested laundry.

I knew, even in the dark, that there was no where else to sleep save this bed and the hard floor. It was too cold. I could lie down on the other side of him perhaps, but just in case of further leakage, I took off the corset. I debated about the chemise, too, to minimize the risk of extra laundry. After all, I had dreamed of lying naked in his bed just this morning, hadn’t I?

But no. Not like this.

What time was it?

I crawled into the bed, feeling the way with my hands to make sure the area was truly dry and slipped under the coverlet. I hugged the wall, unable to sleep. He moaned and shifted, turning over, placing his hand on my breast. 

His face was next to mine. I turned away to avoid his breath but his hand remained in place.

I attempted to move closer to the wall but the plaster would not take me in. Hard and cold and unforgiving as it was. I tried to move his hand away but he stirred so I gave up. I was not yet prepared to interact with him. Would he even sober enough? 

You made your bed…

I tried to remember what his touch had been like before, when I had craved it with such hunger, but that did not help. I was still there with his sleeping shadow, acutely aware of where his hand lay, unable to relax enough for sleep to reclaim me. Instead, I passed the night lying awake for the hours before dawn arrived again.

Chapter One Hundred: Fluids

IMG_2141And so I went back.

I climbed each of those steps again, more slowly this time, filled with dread of a much different sort.

He was still lying in the floor, and had urinated on himself, but was coherent enough that he could assist me in getting him to bed. I helped him stand, leaving the bottle of spilled liquor in the floor.

Halfway across the room he began vomiting. 

Oh, God.

I stopped and waited for it to pass, the vomit splattering to the floor. Bits of it splashed up onto my skirt. I fought back my own urge to retch.

When the contents of his stomach had been completely evacuated, we resumed our halting progress.

His eyes held no recognition. I did not know if that was because of the alcohol, the head trauma, or something else. He groped my breast as he stumbled with me into the bedroom. I brushed his hand firmly away. 


He didn’t fight me.

His eyes closed as he fell onto the bed, dust rising up from the mattress. He appeared to be unconscious, though his brow remained furrowed. 

I undressed him anyway.

His abdomen was swollen, full of fluid that shifted with every breath, every touch. His legs were doughy, my fingers left a deep imprint that lingered wherever they touched up to his thighs. I could see that he had scratched his jaundiced skin bloody in several places with long fingernails, leaving deep excoriations. The dried blood was still visible under those nails. 

His personal hygiene had been neglected for some time.

It is difficult to watch someone you love, someone you have been so intimate with, so changed. I wrestled with revulsion as I bathed his body with the water I found in the pitcher on the worn dresser. How long had it been there? At least it was cleaner than him.

I realized, as I scooped the vomit into an old dirty towel, that I still cared for him, otherwise cleaning this vomit from the floor would not have been possible.

I walked back to the bedroom and lay down on the mattress next to him and wept. All of his secrets, his pain, his mortality were all on display here in this dimly lit room. We had both suffered. My heart ached.

Chapter Ninety-Nine: Honor


“Evelyn, I….” The hoarse words caught as his thick tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He cleared his throat. “I… Are you… Evelyn?” He leaned forward, squinting against the light from the window. It threw him off balance and he swayed a bit, then steadied himself with his free hand. 

He took a swig from the bottle again and wiped his mouth with a grimy sleeve.

All of this time I had imagined our reunion, playing the possible permutations over and over again in my heart. It always ended the same way: Love. Joy. His embrace. 

This was none of those things. 

I was too late…

I wanted to retch.

This shadow was no longer the man I loved. I had been duped. I cursed that woman under my breath. I should have known better. So foolish.

I cannot not stay here. 

Frantic thoughts.

I retied the bonnet quickly, lowered the veil. Snatching up the valise from the dusty floor, I hesitated for a moment.

“No. I am not Evelyn. I am sorry. I have made a very grave mistake.” 

He stared intently as I crossed from the window, past the chairs. Recognition crept slowly across his face, then left again.

Another uncertain swig.

Reaching the door, he grabbed my arm, pulling me close up against his body. He struggled to focus the jaundiced eyes, his face inches away from mine. Even filtered through the fabric of the black veil his breath was rancid with decay.

“Let me go!” I hissed as I yanked my arm away.

“Anne?” He moved to stand in front of me, strangely agile for a man who moments before had looked as if he would topple over. “You came back?”

“No.” I shoved him hard. 

In slow motion I watched as he fell, crumpling to the floor. 

He moaned.

Love was supposed to be unconditional? I felt nothing for this man. No remorse. No hatred. No sadness. No love.

Who am I, now?

My whole identity had been wrapped up in him for so long…

But then, there was the other half of that question:

How did I become so cold, so calculated? So unremorseful?

I stepped across his body, lying motionless across the threshold, and made my way down the stairs. 

The arrogance of pursuing what we cannot have. It is blinding, maddening.

Back in the cool morning air, I breathed deeply. My feet carried me several blocks away, weaving in and out among the men on their way to work and the women on their way to market. Walking fast. They were going toward something. 

I was running away. 

It was some time before I felt my head and heart clear. Tears stung my eyes, thankfully hidden beneath the mourning veil. 

It was appropriate, this black. 

I stopped at a corner, standing still, letting the world rush on without me. Carts and carriages rattled past, men shouted greetings to each other. 


We should honor what was, what had been. Honor the hope of a future now passed.

He was dying. He had killed himself. 

“Are you alright, madame?” A young gentleman in a dark grey overcoat stood watching me, concerned. English. Here in Edinburgh. How long had he been there? How long had I been there? 

He offered his arm. 

“No,” I shook my head. “No thank you.”

The man tipped his tall hat, shrugged, and walked on.

I turned around, walking slowly back to Lauriston Street. He would not die alone but he also would not take me with him, I would make sure of that.

Chapter Ninety-Eight: Threshold


The foyer was dim. It was clear that this was not a home so much as a cluster of apartments.

It smelled stale and musty, so much so, in fact, that it could be tasted as I opened my mouth to breathe to prevent the odor from permeating my nostrils.

I pounded on the worn door of a downstairs apartment only to have it opened by a scowling, stooped old woman who looked at me suspiciously.

“What?” she demanded.

“I am looking for Nathaniel Brierly.”

“Up there. Top floor.” She cocked her head, using her chin to indicate the direction.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

She nodded curtly, staring at me for a few moments before closing her door with a slam that made me jump.

Every step I mounted creaked in protest from the weight. A different tone or pitch rose from each as I climbed to the third floor flat.

Would it be locked? Should I knock? Or just enter?

I reached the landing and stopped at the door. I put my hand on the rough wood. What future lay on the other side? Happiness? I wanted happiness. Happiness and love and rest. 

I am so tired of fighting. 

I tried the door tentatively. It cracked open. Unlocked. No knocking, I decided. I would just enter. 

Pushing the door open further, I crossed the threshold. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust further to the darkness. Small slivers of light beamed through cracks at the edges of the heavy drapes, a shard here and a shard there, trapping dust in its light. 

No fire. 

I shivered. Was it cold? 

Walking to the far window, my eyes explored the room. It appeared empty. I pushed the drapes open with a flourish letting light flood in. I moved to the next window, doing the same. I squinted in the light as it assaulted my eyes. Lifting the veil and removing the bonnet, I paused for a moment letting the warm sun hit my face.

Deep breath.

Before I could turn around a snarl came from behind me. “Close them, you fool! Close them or they will see you.”

I turned to see a man standing framed in the doorway, shielding his face from the light with an arm. There was a bottle in one hand. He lurched forward, spilling liquor on his clothes and upon the bare floor. A bloated belly made it appear as if he were with child. The exposed skin of his hands glowed a sickly yellow.

“I said close the drapery!” Another snarl.

He lowered the arm and took another menacing step then stopped.

Should I run? Who was this monster?

“Evelyn?” he gasped softly.

Chapter Ninety-Seven: The Next Chapter


Where had she gone?

There was no doubt that she had disappeared into thin air. A magic, dark and powerful, filled with hate and anger and sadness, was involved… I had felt it throw me to the ground. It had crawl into my heart before it recoiled and fled. What did it see there?

I still felt a lingering cold and despair. Was it her despair?


She had said she no longer wanted to live in my shadow. Nathaniel did not love her as he loved me. I felt a certain pride in that fact. I had won after all, hadn’t I?

Her daughters were dead. They were the innocent casualties. I could not feel for them now, faceless as they were.

Was she dead? Or transported to another life, another time? Would she ever come back to haunt me?

Sunlight had broken over the horizon and bathed the rooftops in bright yellow. I shifted my skirts as the carriage made its way to Lauriston Street. The hem of the black mourning crepe was damp from the dew of the graveyard and black dye rubbed off onto my fingers.

No matter. It will dry.

My heart was pounding we came to a stop. A rocking signaled that the driver had stepped down. In seconds he had opened the door with a flourish and held out his hand to me. I placed my black gloved hand in his and stepped out.

The veil did not protect enough from the blinding sun glancing off of the third floor windows of the brownstone to prevent me from squinting as I looked up. It certainly looked respectable enough.

I could live here. 

I smiled to myself, relaxing somewhat, and took a step toward the front door. It was shiny and red with a large, simple brass knocker.

“No, Mrs. Brierly. Over there.” That name on his lips startled me.  I had given it to myself, to him. Still, to hear it on someone else’s lips….

He handed me the valise and pointed across the narrow street to another brownstone. The windows were dark with grime and the front steps were dirty. The door was propped open halfway, revealing stairs.

Surely not.

I checked the paper again, confused.

“Shall I wait for ye?” He stared at me kindly, expectantly.

I shook my head no silently as I pressed money into his hand.

“Are ye sure, lass?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

I could barely breathe, anxiety and fear gripped my chest.

Had she given me the wrong address on purpose? Was this her revenge?

I did not want this man to serve as witness to my humiliation.

Crossing the street, I stood staring at the steps until I heard the carriage depart. Only then did I push the door open further and entered.

Chapter Ninety-Six: Buried Grief

It was October 1st, 1858. The dawn of a new life awaited me this day, surely. I had suffered long enough.

It had been a decade since I had last stepped foot off of a train onto the cobbled streets of Edinburgh and yet the place still smelled and looked the same: damp, gloomy, mysterious, and medieval. 

The wheels of the carriage jolted as they hit each pothole along the way. I could feel each one in my bones.  

There were untold secrets, magic lurking in every wynd, every alleyway…

“Here ye go, lassie. The New Calton Cemetery…” The driver paused as he handed me out of the carriage. The dim light of the moments just before sunrise made the concern on his face barely discernible. I handed him a few extra coins. “It is still dark and the ground is drookit. Ain’t ye feart?” 

The gate appeared closed but I could see the light, low fog beyond mingling with the dark stones. The graveyard stood on a hill overlooking the city. The watch tower lay just beyond the entrance.

“I will be fine, sir. I am visiting my husband’s grave, I know my way.” Lying had become second nature to me now. I smiled at him.

“Shall I wait fer ye?” 

“Yes, please.” 

I walked to the gate, pushing gently against the cold metal. I could feel the chill of the ironwork through my gloves. It gave way easily, opening with a slight groan of displeasure. I slipped inside and pulled it closed behind me.

I walked quickly. 

There was not much time.

The stones grew older as I went, skeletons, angels of death, skulls…

Northwest corner….

Soon I could see the dark figure of a woman, also in full mourning dress. Black ghosts in the mist. She lifted her veil as I approached.

“Mrs. Brierly,” I murmured, warily. I was still unsure if I could trust her.

She nodded to me, coldly, a half smile playing upon her lips. The arched stone rose up behind her. It was newer than the other stones around us, just large enough for someone to walk through.

“You are ready?” she asked.

“Yes.” I took a deep breath and drew myself up taller.

She pulled a slip of paper and a small, pointed knife with a gilt handle out of the reticule at her wrist. “Here is the address.” 

I glanced at it, then tucked it into my sleeve.

1203 Lauriston Street

“Come here.” She commanded. I stepped closer until I was standing next to the arch itself. “Let me have your right hand.”

I held out my hand to her. She pulled off the glove.

“This will hurt.”

She pricked my ring finger. I winced, resisting the urge to pull away. A drop of dark red blood rose up. Still holding firmly to my wrist, she wiped the blood across a name carved into the stone. 

The breath caught in my chest. 

It was her name. 

Died, October 1st, 1858 aged thirty-one years.

Before I could ask, she released my hand. She pulled the glove off of her own hand and removed her wedding band, handing it to me. She pricked her own finger, wiping it also across the stone letters, murmuring a few unintelligible words. 

She pulled a gun from her belt and laid it on the ground. “That is in case this does not work.” 

“Why?” I was confused.

Her gaze was distant, far away. “My daughters died in the typhus outbreak seven months ago. Watching your children die one after the other, burning with fever and out of their minds, knowing there is nothing you can do to save them….” Her voice trailed off. She looked at me again, suddenly, fixing me with her determined eyes. “There is nothing left for me here. I would rather die than continue in this hell.”

I felt pity for her.

A few bright rays of sunshine were piercing through the gray of the morning, falling into the archway itself.

“I am running away. Far away,” she said, smiling.

She pulled off the mourning veil and slipped out of the black dress. Beneath she wore clothing that curiously resembled a man’s work clothes. Brown pants. A homespun shirt that buttoned down the front. She pulled her hair out of the braids and mussed the curls. Using the knife, she cut her hair short, jagged, letting the discarded locks fall into a haphazard pile on the ground. A hat then covered the mess. She wore work boots on her feet, thick and crude and had fashioned a pouch around her neck. It appeared heavy and I could hear coins rattling against each other inside.

And then?

She stepped into the archway without even speaking another word and was gone. 


I circled the stone. Indeed. She had disappeared into thin air.


I touched her blood stained name and a force knocked me backwards to the ground. For a few moments it felt as though I could not breathe. 

Slowly the air returned to my lungs and I stood up, looking around. Not a soul was present. At least not of the living kind.

I picked up the gun from the ground. It felt heavy in my hand. I debated taking it but instead put it back down. 

I would not be needing it. 

I looked closely at the ring in my hand and then slipped it on over my still throbbing finger. It should have been mine in the first place. I replaced the glove.

Dressed in mourning with the long veil, I would be able to slip into the house undetected, even in the bright light of full morning.

My heart sang as I walked back to the waiting carriage. 

Chapter Ninety-Five: Drawing Closer

Moon through a telescope

The whistle blew its loud, piercing warning. I ran back through the station and was helped up the steps by a conductor. Several heads looked up to stare as I rushed to settle myself in a vacant seat. One by one they returned to their own conversations.

Several moments of deep breaths and I regained my composure.

I clutched the overfilled valise to my chest as the train lurched forward.

A black crepe mourning dress was folded up within. It would end up terribly wrinkled by the time I was able to put it on but it would have to do. I would need a bonnet and long veil at the next stop in Leeds.

The brooch, my Recuerdo, would do nicely. I touched it absently, pinned to the bodice my traveling dress. I had carried it with me all these months. I wanted to open it again, to see his woven hair within but I resisted the urge.

Maybe some jet earrings to complete the ensemble?

Not that anyone would be able to tell beneath the veil…

The fatigue began creeping up on me again, but I was afraid to close my eyes, to let down my guard. The hard wooden bench would not offer a bit of comfort and so I willed myself to remain awake, staring at the passing scenery.

I leaned my cheek against the cool glass of the window.


Soon I would see his hand, his fingers. His face itself was dimmed in my mind but I could remember the feel of his hands in great detail. I had spent many hours in the dark of night tracing the nails and callouses and the feel of the knuckles over and over again in my memory, how my hand always seemed to fit perfectly within his as if they were meant for each other from the beginning.

His words whispered into my ear cloaked in blackness in Edinburgh so many years ago, the words that still sent shivers down my spine… Forgive me.


What was love that it could drive a person so mad? Was this love? Or was it something else, something more sinister? How could I really know?

I had thought that Anne would be my consolation, better than a brooch, a living vessel to pour my love into. She was not enough, though. Not when I saw him in her eyes each day, looking back at me.

God forgive me, I had not known. 

If I had it to do over again, what would I choose?


This was the only way to find peace.

What would tomorrow or the next day bring?

I shifted my cheek to a new spot on the cool window glass and closed my eyes for a moment. It was such a chore to focus on the fields of the passing farmland outside with such heavy eyelids.

The color of the red sun filtered through my closed eyelids. The light faded as the train turned, moving my side of the car into the shade, becoming gray and then finally black as we entered into a tunnel…

Chapter Ninety-Four: Running Away

 sunrise through the trees 
We drove hard through the night, never stopping. 

My heart pounded all the while as I cradled my little sleeping Anne. I held her injured hand, the stiff, frozen fingers curled tightly around mine as if they were made of stone.

I did not have much time with her and each second that ticked by softened my resolve. 

How could I do this?


The carriage rumbled to a stop. I could hear the crunch of boots as he hopped down and strode around to the side. His black hat shadowed along the fogged window glass was the only visible part of him until he opened the door and stepped inside, rocking the carriage as it shifted with his weight.

A chill entered with him.

The sun was creeping up over the horizon. A train whistle caused Anne to startle and wake. She smiled up at me. I made a face at her and she giggled back before snuggling up against my chest.

“We have arrived.” He stared at me grimly. “Are you ready?”


He nodded solemnly. “Remember it is the only way to keep her. You wanted me to remind you of this when the time came…”

“So I did.”

“They will be looking for a woman with a child, a baby girl…”


“They will not be looking for me…”

I had not told him the whole truth, though. I was leaving from here to go to Edinburgh to the arms of another man, the man who haunted me even still after all of these years and miles. Why was I drawn to him? What made him special? Had we known each other somehow in another life?

The Reverend held out his arms in order to take Anne.

“She will be well cared for until we can meet again.” 

“I know.”

Leaning over to him, I gave him a peck on a scarred cheek. He reached over and pulled me in closer, kissing me full on the mouth, deeply. My stomach turned. 

His breath… 

I pulled away quickly and smiled at him, whispering, “I love you.” I must maintain the illusion. I still needed him.

He smiled back, his eyes full of hope.

I had not fully planned the lies I would tell to get her back while severing my ties with the Reverend but I knew he was the only person I could trust right now with her well being. I would think of something when the time came.

Resisting the urge to tell him yet again how to properly care for her, I gave her one last kiss on the velvety cheek and whispered softly into her ear of my love for her, how I would see her again soon…

His arms opened again, ready to receive Anne. I handed my daughter to him reluctantly and stepped out of the carriage with my small valise in hand.

I could hear her muffled screams and sobs behind me as I moved away. They pierced my heart. I knew I left some part of my humanity behind that day as I kept walking to the train station, leaving my daughter behind.

Somehow I knew it would all be worth it. It must.