It’s a bright spring morning. Mary Anne Yarde from the Coffee Pot Book Club has arrived in her trusty time machine and parked it a short distance from a large barn. She tiptoes through the open door and finds a young woman in a rocking chair, busily knitting. As she approaches, she whispers an incantation, compelling her interview subject to answer her questions honestly. After cordial introductions and a polite welcome, Mary Anne is invited to make herself comfortable and she prepares to write the answers to her questions in a stenographer’s notebook. And thus, the interview begins.
Mary Anne: What is your name?
Mehitable: I am Mehitable Munch.
Mary Anne: What is the date today, and how old are you?
Mehitable: I think it is the 17th of May, 1804, and I am 20-years-old.
Mary Anne: Where were you born, raised, and where do you live now?
Mehitable: I was born in Poultney, Vermont and now I live here, in this barn in Jay, New York. I like living on the frontier in the wild, untamed wilderness.
Mary Anne: Do you like to read? If so, what do you like to read?
Mehitable: Yes, I love to read. Every day, I read from Granny’s Bible. I have a few other books, including the complete works of William Shakespeare. Mostly I’m too busy to read much, but I do like to take a few minutes now and then. As I go about my chores, I like to ponder what I’ve read.
Mary Anne: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?
Mehitable: I don’t like to talk about it and I almost never do. But for some reason, I feel compelled to answer you. I was spending the night at my friend’s house. My family’s house was burned to the ground. There were no survivors. I lost my parents, six siblings, and Father’s cousin Millicent to that dreadful fire.
Mary Anne: I’m so sorry to hear about your tragic loss. Does it get any easier with time?
Mehitable: I think of it every day. I take comfort in keeping busy, playing music, reading poetry, and I enjoy the company of the barnyard animals. In particular, a sheep named Emmeline. She’s a very good listener.
Mary Anne: Do you have a prized possession? If so, what is it?
Mehitable: Yes. I love the virginal that has been in my family for generations. If you’re not familiar with this musical instrument, it’s like a small piano in a box. I entertain the farm animals with a recital from time to time. I’m fortunate to have a few other treasures, including Granny’s spinning wheel and Father’s sheep sheers. Just yesterday, I sheered the sheep myself. I’ve never done that before. Have you ever heard of a woman who could sheer sheep? I’ve never heard of a woman doing that before.
Mary Anne: Good for you. All of the animals here look so well cared for. Here’s another question. If you were going to visit someone, what dish would you bring with you?
Mehitable: Let me see. I’m known for my cookies, which I make from oats, pumpkin, and maple syrup. I would probably bring those or my mother’s beloved Shoo-Fly Pie.
Mary Anne: What makes you different or special from other people?
Mehitable: [sighs deeply] Many things, I suppose. Probably the strangest thing is that I refuse to sleep in a house. After the fire killed my family, I have insisted on sleeping in the barn instead. My dear friends, Polly and Reuben, allow me to live in their barn, and they permitted me to accompany them when they moved from one frontier town to another.
Mary Anne: Describe your hero. What things remind you of your hero?
Mehitable: I had a very special bond with my Granny. She made me feel important, loved, and she understood me in a way that nobody else ever has. I think of her a lot, but especially when I pray. Almost every day, I say her favorite prayer, and it makes me feel like she’s still with me. God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior.
Mary Anne: What is your deepest secret, and who knows your secret?
Mehitable: [frowns] I’d rather not answer that, but the truth is, I can see dead people. For the most part they leave me alone, but there is this one ghost that torments me on a nightly basis. ’Tis the ghost of the man that burned down my house and killed my family. That fire killed him also. Granny and my brother Perry knew my secret.
Mary Anne: Describe your ideal man.
Mehitable: [scoffs] I tell my friends that I should like to marry a musical man that can sing in a deep voice and play the violin. A man that reads poetry to me. The truth is, I don’t know if I’m ready for the ideal man, should he magically appear. I tell myself that I will let God choose for me, and I trust that I’ll know when and if that should ever happen. My friend Polly’s husband, Reuben was sweet on me before he courted Polly. I was far too young, and even less ready to marry than I am now, but if I had to guess, I would have to admit that he’s pretty close to my ideal man―tall, strong, and kind with dark hair.
Mary Anne: Would you like to have children one day? If so, would you prefer that they resemble their father or their mother?
Mehitable: Yes, I love children. I would love to have children some day. So I guess I shall have to let some man sweep me off of my feet someday. I think I’d prefer that our children resemble their father. Then they wouldn’t have to deal with seeing ghosts like Granny and me.
Mary Anne: What is your deepest fear?
Mehitable: Mice. You would think it would be ghosts. Some days I think that evil spirit will be the death of me, but my deepest fear is mice. How unfortunate, since mice are very plentiful in barns. If you look all around you can see I have set traps for them everywhere. I shudder in terror when I catch a mouse and have to pick it up by its tail to get rid of it.
Mary Anne: What is your favourite colour, and why?
Mehitable: I used to think it was red. Burgundy, to be more specific. ’Twas the color of the dress I wore on the night of my sixteenth birthday. Since the tragedy, however, maybe I have come to prefer green. ’Twas my mother’s favorite color, and she surrounded herself with things that were colored green.
Mary Anne: Do you care what other people think of you?
Mehitable: No. Mostly, I don’t care. Except for my close friends, Polly and Reuben, other than them, I really don’t care about what people think anymore. Since the tragedy, I pretty much stay to myself and avoid people. Before the tragedy, I loved to work at the mercantile and talk with customers as they came in to shop. That seems like a lifetime ago now.
Mary Anne: Do you think that someday you might find that your ability to see ghosts is a good thing―a gift, perhaps?
Mehitable: ’Tis hard to imagine, but you might be right. That sounds like something that Granny would say. How strange.
Mary Anne Yarde thanks Mehitable for her time, bids her adieu, and hurries to her vehicle, so that she can return to the year 2021!
David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing. She Sees Ghosts―A Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls is the next instalment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.