I live in a small, secluded town in East Tennessee with many aged back roads. Most of these roads existed before the Civil War, thus, are bound to have some history to them. Much of the real history of these roads became romantic stories and legends of highwaymen and damsels in distress, but all of the children here love them just the same, even more since, normally, the truth is worse than the story.
As it always happens, the children I grew up with changed and discovered new things like fashion, sports, each other, yet somehow I stayed the same. I became an outcast bookworm who sat alone and read romance novels. I didn't mind living in my head, I rather liked it actually. The only thing that bothered me was the loneliness.
As I grew, I didn't mind my lack of friends, but I longed for a companion, yet I found that even at 20 years of age, all the men I knew where obsessed with super models and sports. So, instead I immersed in romanticized tales of the highwaymen and pirates I so loved as a child and shelled away from the world, buried in my books. My favorite story was, and still is, "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. It inspired me to begin writing.
I know everything here seems long, boring and pointless, but it is important to understand why these encounters affect me so.
The sun sank lower under the hills and I cursed for the umpteenth time that day. I had crashed my car into a small tree about a mile ago, swerving to miss a deer on one of the many mentioned back roads, this one known by the locals as Lotus Hill. It is, to this day, a spot where many men won't visit after the sun sets, even with friends. All because of the reputation of a man, long since dead, a highwayman, said to be the most brutal to live, bent on revenge against the one who killed his beloved. I was to be there alone and without any mode of transportation and I had a large cut on my leg and my right arm and a gash on my head. I was losing blood, I'll give you that it was at a slow rate, but it wasn't clotting and the main road wasn't for at least another mile.
Night fell quickly and I shivered, pulling my coat closer to my body. It shouldn't have been nearly that cold in the middle of summer. I picked up my pace hoping to reach the main road before long. Halfway there, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I shivered, having the strange feeling of being watched. I walked a few more steps before I heard it. A faint click-clock-clop sound came from behind me, growing with every second I turned quickly, realizing my mistake as I lost my balance and fell into a ditch on the side of the road. I slowly pulled myself to my feet and looked toward the noise, which had slowed down before finally stopping moments before. My jaw dropped at what I saw. A large black horse stood proud and tall in front of me, his eyes glowed an unearthly red. But it was his rider that shocked me into my stupor. He wore tight black breeches and knee high boots, a flowing white shirt and a crimson waistcoat. A tricorn hat sat perched on a mass of dirty blonde hair and a small, black mask covered his steely grey eyes. I regained what was left of my senses and stumbled to my feet, my mouth still hanging open. I swayed slightly and he jumped off his horse and grasped my shoulder to keep me from falling. The last thing I remember before passing out was the soft look in his icy eyes.
I woke at sunrise the next morning to the feel of fresh dew on my face. I sat up groggily, I tried to touch the aching spot on my forehead, but my fingers came in contact with a piece of cloth. I opened my eyes slowly and glanced around. I was in a cemetery, an old one. I remembered what had transpired the night before and looked down at my arm and leg. As I suspected, they were both neatly bandaged. I stood up slowly and looked around. The cemetery was unkept and the grave markers were cracked, some to faded to read the names, yet the one that marked the grave I woke upon stood out like a beacon. His name was William Norrington, he was a highwayman. More specifically, the one that is said to haunt Lotus Hill. In that instant I knew it was he that had rescued me that night, and for the first time in my life, I smiled in pure happiness. Even if it had been a ghost, someone cared enough about me to help me.
I walked out of the cemetery, back to the road and into town, checking into a hospital the first chance I got after reporting my car crash.
The night after I was discharged from the hospital, I headed back to the cemetery, my favorite book in hand. I found my way with hardly an upward glance, and when I reached the top of the hill, I went straight to William's grave. As I hoped, my highwayman came, his horse clopped up to the gates and strode on into the cemetery, stopping in front of me. I stood up as he climbed off his horse and smiled at me. I smiled right back. We continued our tradition of meeting at the cemetery for several months. I read aloud from some of my favorite books, and sometimes silently, he always sat and watched me with a happy smirk on his face. Sometimes I spoke to him, and he would nod in agreement or make faces, or sometimes seem like he wanted to laugh. Before I would leave at dawn, he would hug me. I always found it confusing, how he could be translucent, yet still solid enough to touch. The long walks wore me down and I was always very tired during the day, I slept most of it away.
As one could assume, I was extraordinarily happy when I found that the owner of the land the cemetery sat on was for sell. I had a house built next to it and live there to this day. My highwayman is now the one who visits me, he sits in my living room and sometimes speaks of his Sara (said beloved who died), still very much in love with her. Sometimes I will fall asleep in my living room and awake in my bedroom with a trinket of some sort lying by my head. If people are capable of loving ghosts, then surely I have fallen for my highwayman. He comes to me by moonlight, and I could never be happier.
I'm sorry that this is so incredibly long, forgive me, but I needed to tell my unbelievable story to some people who may actually believe it.
Contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org