Helena's eyes opened wearily. She sat up and looked around. She was in her new bedroom, surrounded by boxes yet to be unpacked.
Stretching, she sat up and rubbed her eyes wearily. How long had she been sleeping?
Suddenly, Helena remembered. The night before… The person in the forbidden room… The coffin….
"Helena?" came the call. Helena's door opened, and in walked Helena's Mother, Mrs. Bline.
"Honestly, Helena, how long are you going to sleep? You're sixteen years old, you should know better."
"Sorry, Mom," said Helena, sitting up and swinging her feet over the edge of her bed. Had she dreamed last night? Was there really a room with a coffin in it?
Well, there was only one way to find out. Helena jumped up and grabbed a box labeled 'clothes.' Ripping the top off, she ignored her Mother's question.
That was how, at ten o'clock in the morning on a Friday, Helena came to be running through the house dressed in a black Sunday dress with brown leather shoes. She rushed past the kitchen, once again ignoring her family. Helena was intent on receiving some answers.
When she reached the chapel, she carelessly threw open the doors. The little room was still there. Helena stopped dead and listened. She didn't hear anybody this time around. She stayed stock-still for a second before continuing forwards, heading for the room.
Throwing open the door, Helena peered in, half expecting to see the same figure as last night.
Instead, there it was. The same coffin she could have sworn she'd seen the night before, draped in lace. A single candle rested atop the coffin, and it was unlit and worn down from use.
Helena gasped. Could it be that she hadn't imagined everything? Who had been in there? And why was he there? It didn't make sense.
"Helena!" snapped Mrs. Bline angrily. "What on Earth are you doing?" She stopped dead when she saw her daughter staring into the tiny church room, white as a ghost. "Helena! I thought I told you never to open that bloody door!"
"Wh-what is this?" asked Helena, not turning away from the enormous coffin.
"It's the burial shrine of Elizabeth Van Horrensige," explained Mrs. Bline. "She lived here once upon a time. That was before there was a chapel here. One night, she inexplicably hung herself at the age of twenty-six. In her suicide note, she told her family to build a chapel and place her body in it. Originally, she was up on the altar. Then, one of the later owners of the house moved the huge coffin and built a room around it." Mrs. Bline paused to scowl at her daughter. "You need to be more careful. What if there was something dangerous in there?"
"Why didn't you tell us?" asked Helena, looking over at her Mother. She could still see that same person from the night before, mourning silently and disappearing without having uttered a single word.
"It's not like you needed to know. Besides, your siblings would have panicked," said Mrs. Bline.
Helena nodded and cast one more look into the room before closing the door. Letting out a sigh, she headed back towards the door leading out of the chapel. It must not have been anything after all.
As she walked down the hallway towards the kitchen, Helena couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched. She quickened her pace and tried to shrug it off, but she couldn't.
Finally, Helena looked up. Just to her left was a large window. It looked out onto the cemetery that was on the property. Helena stared out into the gloomy place for a second. Suddenly she jolted.
Sitting just before a grave was the same man she'd seen the night before! This time he wore a black silk shirt that was buttoned up in the front with gold buttons and loose gray pants. She couldn't see his eyes, but Helena was sure they were still the reddish-orange they had been the night before.
Darting away from the window, Helena raced down the hall towards the nearest door. Once she reached the black wood exit, she grabbed the doorknob and tugged. It was heavy, but Helena managed to open it just enough that she could slip through. Once outside, Helena turned so that she was facing the graveyard and began to run towards where she'd seen the person sitting.
When she arrived at her destination, Helena's heart sank. There was no one there. However, she noticed something strange. Right where he had been sitting, there was a sprig of fresh lilac. It was as though he'd known she was coming, Helena mused.
She bent down and absently picked it up, cradling the lilac to her. The delicate scent filled her nostrils, and despite her mental turmoil, Helena smiled. What a nice gift to receive.
Breakfast that morning was very quiet. Helena had been sitting and staring absently at the sprig of lilac all morning. Her younger sister, Anna, was sitting at the table with her and wringing her hands absently, asking if the hard boiled eggs had been prepared for long enough.
"Mm," said Reuben, picking at his nails with a penknife and only pretending to listen.
"I thought they were too runny!" whined Anna. Helena's right eyelid twitched a bit in frustration. She absolutely couldn't focus with her siblings causing such raucous chaos.
"Be quiet!" snapped their Father. "Honestly, you kids have no DECENCY."
Helena scowled to herself and looked back down at the lilacs. She couldn't bear to set them aside in a glass of water. They were special, weren't they? After all, she hardly knew WHAT had given them to her. Let alone the how or why that she'd been trying to work out all morning.
"I'm going outside," Helena said suddenly. Maybe if she did, he'd be waiting there for her.
"Okay," said Rueben, clearly thinking someone had asked his opinion on something.
"Helena, do you think-," started Anna, but she was interrupted by Helena literally running out of the room, towards the back door.
The minute Helena stepped into the sunlight, she felt better. Her heart lifted in her chest. Smiling to herself, Helena walked over to the goldfish pond near the kitchen window. It was a lovely little pond, full of goldfish and tadpoles. They darted away as Helena drew near, and hovered at the edges of her shadow, no more than flecks of gold in the dark-green pond.
Sitting down on a nearby rock, Helena began to hum a cheerful tune under her breath.
"Ah, you like fish?" came the sudden voice. Helena jumped five feet in the air and landed on the rock. "I've been taking care of them for a while now, but they haven't grown much have they? You'd almost think they're starving."
Helena spun around, coming face to face with a strange woman. She was wearing a golden overcoat and a late-Victorian hoop skirt.
"Oh, did I startle you? 'M sorry, dear," said the woman. She had the palest skin Helena had ever seen.
"Erm… It's fine," said Helena. "Um, if you don't mind me asking, who are you?"
"No trouble," said the woman cheerfully. "I am Callie Girding."
Helena nodded and muttered a 'pleased to meet you.'
"Do you live around here?" she asked curiously. The woman chuckled heartily.
"Yes, you could say that," Callie said, tucking a strand of gray-brown hair behind her ears. She looked about thirty or so, with sparkling blue eyes and a pleasant smile.
"Ah, I see," said Helena, although she didn't really.
"How long have you lived here?" asked Callie.
"Three days or so," said Helena. She actually had to think about her answer, because it seemed like ages ago that she'd first discovered the coffin.
"Ah," Callie nodded. "Do you like living in the church? Always seemed like such a nice place."
"It is," said Helena. "Very nice."
The two women sat in companionable silence, each watching the fish, until Helena worked up the nerve to ask her original question.
"Um… Did you come here for something?" she asked timidly.
"Oh, I just wanted to meet the people who moved in," said Callie, as though the fact that she might need a reason to visit were a foreign concept to her.
"I see," said Helena quickly, hoping she hadn't offended Callie. "Would you like to go inside?"
"Oh, no thank you," said Callie. "I much prefer to be outside on a nice, sunny day like today."
Helena nodded, turning the lilac branch over in her hands.
"Oh!" said Callie, noticing what Helena was holding for the first time. "How lovely! I simply adore lilac, don't you?"
"Yes," said Helena readily. "It smells so sweet!"
"I know!" agreed Callie. Suddenly, she seemed to remember something.
"Oh, My!" she said, jumping up and gathering her skirts to her. "I just remembered! Terry invited me to 'coffee' this afternoon, so I better go and get ready. It's been nice talking to you, Helena. I hope we bump into each other again soon! See you, Dear!"
With that, Callie turned and ran towards the cemetery. Helena raised an eyebrow, but simply turned back to watching the fish. What an interesting neighbor.
I'm late! I don't deserve to live! Oh, Dear God, smite me now! I'msorry I'msorry!
I'm sorry if Helena seems to young, but I can't mentally picture her any older than that.