Whaaa? Chapter 55 of The Voice In The Forest


Hi Everybody!

Did I do it?!

Did I manage to write you a new chapter of our little hot mess story while I am captain of the struggle ship catch up on all the things?!


Okay. So, coming clean and pretending that I’m not a ridiculous mess of amped hope that this means something more than a small victory, I am still behind on all the things and can barely even use my phone.

In fact I am pretty sure that I will be paying for this win by the end of the day, but I did this and I’m going to take it.

Thank you, all of you, from the bottom of the stone cold cackles of my shriveled little heart for all the love and well wishes. I will be getting back to everyone once I can hold my hand and neck together long enough to do it.

For now, though, how about some happy for the words!

Happy Words

Believe it or not, while I have been in PT or on the rack (kidding, it’s a traction table and a home device for the same thing but my gallows humor can’t help but see it as a torture device I am thrilled to subject myself to– let’s call that a throwback to whatever ancestor they burned) I have been getting a lot of words.

The problem with that is that since I have been unable to exercise them like demons from my brain, I am instead just drowning in stories in my mind.

Unfortunately, that is still happening.

One day, oh that waited for one day, I will get all caught up and then all this dialogue, all these scenes, and all these worlds will be sent from my brain to the page in some effective way again.

I’m working on it.

The Voice In The Forest

Chapter 55

Montgomery’s face, with his eyes closed, mouth relaxed, skin paled, and devoid of all emotion and worry belied the shroud of death that hung heavy in the air as soon as I looked on his body in the coffin.

Like the crackling expectation of a sky filled with storms awaiting the first strike of lightning, the world enclosed within the tent felt thick with the weight of what would happen next.

Of all the things I expected as I stepped to Montgomery’s coffin, none of them were to look on the face and body of the man I loved as if he would simply sit up and gather me to him.

But, no.

My hand stretched behind me, still wrapped in his fingers, the solidity of him not wavering for a moment even as I looked on his real physical form. Something in me still sunk with the sudden certainty that he would change. As if now that his body was here, his spirit would cease to be as firmly held to this world— to me.

I gripped his hand tighter in my own, trying to hold the shaking running through my nerves within my body and not allowing him the faintest idea what fear was running through me with the force of the lightning I kept expecting to strike.

He returned my grip and his other hand moved to wrap his fingers around my wrist, slowly, his touch tender while his other hand was firm and strong.

A sob built up in my chest.

The reality of our situation had never before been as stark.

No matter what I wished for with him, this was the future for us. This coffin before me. It was the real him, and the physical manifestation of what I should have been helping him to do— to embrace his death and move on to wherever we all went after this.

But I swallowed and took a shuddering deep breath instead of allowing myself the release of the screaming cry that was slamming into me from the inside, desperate for it to be unleashed.

Of all the things I needed to do for Montgomery, and all the things I wanted to do for him, the last thing I wanted was to subject him to my suffering when he had plenty of his own.

I couldn’t do that.

At the moment, I also couldn’t turn around and look at him. I had to shove all the aches within me down before I looked on his face that was the same as the one in front of me except that even as a ghost, it held more life.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I dragged in another breath and held it, afraid that if I breathed out again, I would lose my control on myself.

Pulling all my nerves back together from the scattered crackling they were as they ricocheted through my body, I gritted my teeth and prepared to turn around.

“Arabella?” Henry’s voice sliced through the air behind me like the strike I was waiting for and I whirled around as if I had been hit, finding Henry just inside the tent as the flap that was the door fell back into place.

The back of Montgomery’s head blocked part of Henry’s face, but having that view of him, his hand still wrapped in mine, allowed me a chance to take a breath.

“What are you doing out here?” Henry asked and stepped further into the tent, past Montgomery blocking him, his eyes darting past me to the coffin and making my spine straighten further with a strange need to block Henry from it.

“I…” How could I answer this question? There had to be some explanation for me to be out here by myself that wouldn’t make Trenton or anyone else want to send me back to the hospital. Whatever the answer was that would work, I couldn’t think of it. I should have had something prepared, but after seeing Montgomery’s body in the coffin, I wasn’t sure if I would have been able to remember it anyway.

“You looked?” Henry asked, taking another step closer.

All I could do was nod, still trying to formulate words properly.

He sighed, his face falling into something that looked… disappointed.

“When your mother told me, I had hoped that—” he mumbled to himself before he cut himself off abruptly and his face went back to the soft smile he often aimed at me even though I still didn’t understand what it meant. “Odd isn’t it?”

Montgomery tightened his hold on me and didn’t move from his spot, partially blocking Henry from me as if he could physically do so without causing concern at all. At if he was still alive and Henry represented some kind of threat.

“Odd?” I seemed to be only able to parrot single words back to him instead of forming whole sentences or thoughts on my own.

“After so long, submerged and considered lost, forgotten and unspoken of by anyone who did know where he was, it is shocking to see the body in such a perfect state of preservation.”

“Preservation.” The word fell out of my mouth like I was purging it from my body and it tasted like bile on my tongue.

Henry nodded, a gleam in his eye, one step closer to me as if he was getting excited by the macabre topic.

“Yes. You know that there is nothing in any of the few documents regarding his passing that explains this incredible lack of decay.”

I choked on my breath, my mouth falling open to try and suck down some air. The way he spoke of it, out loud, as if this was nothing more than some anecdote we should discuss calmly over dinner.

This was the body of the man I loved.

But… I had to remind myself that for Henry, and likely for anyone else, Montgomery was a strange story of old history that no one living remembered and didn’t effect anyone emotionally.

His reaction to this coffin and the body inside it wasn’t the one that didn’t make sense.

Mine was.

“There seems to be quite a lot of mystery surrounding that entire time period about the house and family.”

“Mystery?” I asked, my voice tight and half strangled by everything I wanted to say.

“Yes. I have been looking into it as much I could, and have found less answers than more questions. But it seems as if there was some questions surrounding the death of his mother.” Henry’s eyes were alight as if this was a fun thing to think about.

It wasn’t Henry’s macabre fascination with the coffin or the questions surrounding my step family’s history that made me suck in a breath.

From one second to the next, Montgomery’s hand in mine, his too tight grip, and defensive stance still half in front of me and facing Henry, everything of him that I could see and feel right in front of me disappeared.

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