She watched the ghost shiver with fear, his icy hands clasped in her warm ones. Feelings of fear were etched on his face, and he clung onto the little girl as though she anchored him. Both remained silent as they absorbed their surrounding, a gothic wonderland that was the Garden of Death. For a while, the sounds of their heavy breathing reverberated through the air, intermingling with the chilly howl of the wind that nipped at them. For a ghost that had spent the last three centuries rattling his chains, the silence was deafening.
“I’m scared,” whispered Sir Simon, finally breaking the peace in the garden. Lush roses hung heavily from dark green bushes, and the moon appeared brighter than ever. The heavenly celestial body reflected in Virginia’s round brown eyes, glassy with unshed tears. She felt deeply for the ghost, his fear projecting onto her as well. She too, was scared. Yet, with a courage unseen in such a young girl before, she slowly dropped to her knees and began to pray with a devotion summoned from the depths of her being. She prayed for Sir Simon’s freedom, for the absolution of his sins, and for a sleep that would last an eternity.
The next few moments were surreal, even though the situation had already blurred the lines between imagination and reality. As Virginia sat with her eyes tightly closed, she felt a connection that tugged at her heart, binding her to flashes of events she hadn't experienced before. It was Sir Simon’s life passing before her eyes, dazzling her with its vivid imagery and a bounty of knowledge she’d remember forever.
It was a conversation that needed no words. Through numerous scenes, the treasure chest of information Sir Simon had accumulated in his last three hundred odd years of existence engraved themselves into her memory. Private conversations between friends and family raced through her mind. The feeling of indescribable hunger shook her core when she witnessed the slow and painful death of Sir Simon, and felt as though she were reliving that hell. So close to the brink of death, trapped in a halfway existence. These memories imbibed in young Virginia a maturity that was well beyond her years. In a matter of seconds, she had become privy to all of the ghost’s private matters.
Like art being painted before her very eyes, the final brushstroke completed the masterpiece that was Sir Simon’s story. Virginia’s prayers slowly halted to a stop. Dazed, confused and utterly spent, she clambered to stand once again on shaky legs. In a garden of perpetual night, the darkness had given her a light, a spark that could not be extinguished. A faint shadow marred the grass, Sir Simon’s chains lying in bundled heaps on the ground. With the knowledge of his freedom, Virginia walked back home, changed forever.