And then a voice hoarse with a combination of age and non use came from behind me, “What are you doing peering into my house?” I jumped and shrieked my nerves were shot. I whirled around and before me was the oddest person I had ever seen. She wore a hat on her head; but; it wasn’t a hat, it was a support for an old birds nest, where old broken shells twisted in the weave. Her clothing was just as gnarled, patched and dirty as the hat and on her feet, she wore shoes that didn’t match.
Her eyes followed mine down as I took in the odd looking person. “Oh dear your feet are all bloody and raw. You look like you have been running a race.” I peered down at my feet nodded and collapsed to my knees in front of her door.
“In a sense I have been. Are you the wise woman? The one who lives in both worlds?” I asked as I shifted the musket off of my back and lay it on the ground beside me. I then looked down at my feet. And now that I was looking at them they started to throb. I watched as a bit of mud washed away with a fresh line of blood.
She gave a cackling laugh. “Oh yes indeed though others have not been as polite as you nor as pretty.” She went inside of the hut and bustled around and then emerged with a wooden bowl which she took down to the creek that gurgled in the background. By the time she came back my feet hurt so much that I fell back on to my rear. But that didn’t help other than it eased some of the throbbing pain. She knelt down and started to wash the blood and dirt off of my feet. I flinched and jumped.
“Don’t you know the meaning of socks and boots?” She asked.
“Ouch,” I jumped again as she hit a particularly painful spot. “Yes but it worse when you walk around in the swamps and the constant wet makes the skin come off in chunks so I go barefoot.” I took a deep breath, “But that is not why I came. I have heard that you see a lot and you walk among us and the Native people. Is that true?”
She smiled; most of her teeth were gone, and the rest were blackened with old food. Her breath smelled horrible and I tried to pull back but she tightened her grip on on my ankle. “Oh yes I know secrets of you, the Indians and many many more.”
I looked up at her and shivered was something that was strange and different about her and I wasn’t sure what it was I swallowed, “I am one of the Ghosts and I walk the swamps and yesterday ….” I was scared to say more.
She nods, “The Ghosts. There are many ghosts in the swamp and in other lives. Not everything is what you think it is going to be.” She cackled again and snapped, “You need to listen to your legends I am someone that you need to stay away from. I am shunned but yet you come and seek me out?”
I picked at the seam in my leather pants, “I know but I had no one to turn to because if I told my family they would say that I was crazy. My Mother thinks that I should meet a nice man and have a baby in my belly and another toddling by my side but that life is not for me yet.”
She narrowed her eyes and looked me directly in my face, “You saw something that you shouldn’t have seen and there is only one place where that happens and even the Natives avoid it.”
I gulped again. “I didn’t know my Ghost leader told me to go scout for a rogue band of Red coats and that is what I did. I didn’t know that I trusspassed into a place that I was not supposed to be. Yes I have heard the legends and the stories but I didn’t think that they were true.”
“The truth is stranger than a lie. And yes there are things out there that we don’t understand and probably never will.”