An Encounter with Queen Katherine Howard
By: Laura Loney
Many people believe ghosts are nothing more than fairy tales. If that’s the case, then my life is a lot more like those creepy, old stories, than the light-hearted, modern ones. I’ve come to accept it.
I stopped telling people I’m a walking ghost beacon because I couldn’t handle anymore stupid looks. No, I haven’t lost my marbles. I just want to be heard. Maybe that’s why the ghosts picked me to listen. A kindred spirit.
I’ve stumbled upon a few believers. They say annoying stuff like seeing ghosts is a gift. A gift. Really? Where’s my gift receipt?
“Jen! Over here! Come see.”
I sigh before making my way through a crowd of vacant-eyed tourists to my long-standing friend, Flo. Probably my only true friend. She never calls my episodes with ghosts ‘gifts’. She’s a keeper. Someone steps on my foot and I shoot them a glare. My inner calm died the minute we entered the crowded gallery.
“Aren’t you having fun?” Her eyes tell me she actually cares.
I’m impatient, but soft-hearted so I lie. “I am.” Reminding myself there’s no reason for me to ruin our trip to Hampton Court, I add, “It’s just really busy.”
“Let’s stop and grab some lunch.”
Her words are welcome, but a buzzing in my ears muffle them. It’s started. It was only a matter of time. My head nods automatically, managing only the most basic gesture. The nausea creeps in and my body turns cold. Why now? Fainting is so embarrassing. Please don’t, please don’t, nope, don’t, no.
A warmth on my arms grounds me before I keel over. Flo’s grip is supportive and worry wrinkles her forehead. She knows something unearthly is here. Swinging around, her eyes sweep past the gowned lady without hesitating. Flo, like the crowd, is blind to the ghost.
I swallow hard and a deep ache stabs my dry throat. Panic hits my chest like a transport truck and my mind spins with fears that don’t belong to me. The penalty for treason is death.
Flo’s concern is drawing unwanted attention. I struggle to mimic calm, my heart racing. The gowned figure drifts closer.
“Come.” Flo tugs my arm, but my feet are concrete blocks. I’ll never escape the guards or his fury. Chop. Chop. The gowned lady’s shrill screams cut through the high-pitched ringing. I smell iron and gag. She rushes at me, colliding before I close my eyes. As quick as lightning, she’s gone. My symptoms fade, but my breathing remains heavy. It’s over.
A pushy tourist nudges me with her elbow, while a child screams for juice. No one else saw her. I stand upright and focus on Flo.
“What was it?” She says, in hushed understanding tones.
“Well, this was definitely worth my price of admission.” I attempt a grin, though the terror of the young Queen has marked me. “I met Katherine Howard.”
Flo’s eyebrows pop up. “How was she?”
“Loud,” I say. “Very loud.”
Published February, 4, 2022
Disclaimer – This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.