The Tempest

Rachel finished her morning chores, and the young woman wandered to her favorite spot in the woods. Once she arrived, she marveled once again at its beauty. Among the towering pines, the valley opened to the south. Peering between the trees, the Merrimack Valley stretched before her. In the distance, the chimneys on the village rooftops looked like sentries guarding the small town of Andover. The valley sprang to life in the early spring with its lush meadow. Wildflowers bloomed among the grasses. At this time of the year, hope returned to the land and promised sunny days. Native birds returned, and their songs could be heard throughout the valley. This time of year had always been Rachel’s favorite season.

And this spot held such loving memories for the girl. In the meadow, her father taught her to ride Old Bart. Her mother showed her the native plants that could be used for tonics and teas. Some they had transplanted to their own garden. Her family would often come to this spot to rest on warm afternoons and share a meal of chicken, corn, and apple cakes. Gideon would play for hours, dropping sticks at their feet, hoping someone would continue throwing them, so he could play an endless game of fetch.

It was the exact spot where Levi had asked her to be his wife. It was the same spot where the two had eventually merged into one at his insistence that it could not be wrong since they were to be married. Rachel loved Levi and could never believe he would lead her astray.

His whispered promises spoke of a home on this very spot, for the land was fertile and perfect ground for their own farm. The nearby pond provided a fishing hole and would provide fresh water for their future livestock. It would be the ideal place to raise children.

And Rachel had a secret. She touched her swelling belly. The young woman knew she carried Levi’s child and could not wait to tell him. Rachel hoped he would be happy at her news. Then, she sighed. Soon they would marry and start their lives together.

As she neared the wooded area, Rachel heard Levi speaking. She quietly stepped along the grass and hid behind a tree. But to her horror, she discovered he was with one of her father’s servants. As they made love, he whispered the words he often spoke to her in moments of passion. Her heart stopped momentarily when Levi told the young girl that he loved her and could not wait to make her his bride.

His words haunted her and cut deep into her very being. Finally, Rachel could not breathe and turned to flee. Still, when she turned to run, she tripped, fell on the trail, and cried out in pain. Her ankle throbbed and hurt almost as much as her churning emotions. When Levi explored, he found Rachel crying on the path. He called to the servant and demanded that she run to the house and have his brother bring the wagon so he could transport Rachel home to her family.

Once the girl was out of sight, Levi tried to explain, but Rachel cut him off before he could speak another lie.

“Don’t you dare try to fix this, Levi! I witnessed your, your lies firsthand. Instead, you have betrayed me this entire time, telling me I was your true love. You spoke to me about the life we would share and the children we would have.”

Rachel began to uncontrollably sob when she spoke of children. The distraught girl buried her face in her hands, and her tears flowed.

“What am I to do?” She wailed as she thought of the child she carried.

Levi tried to help her, but Rachel demanded that he leave her. “I never want to see you again, Levi Andrews. Leave me! I do not want your help.”

The young woman grieved. Her distress touched the heavens, and the skies screamed with her. Dark clouds formed overhead, and blue skies disappeared under ominous black clouds. Thunder rolled, and lightning struck. The world mourned with its child. Levi stood to his feet. Fear showed in his eyes, and he began to run. Still, the lightning followed him, hitting the trees closest to him. One crashed and nearly hit him as he moved quickly down the path. He screamed and begged Rachel to stop the madness. “Stop, Rachel! Make it stop! What are you doing?”

Rachel laughed at his irrational thoughts. “What makes you think I have anything to do with this?” She asked the fleeing man. “I don’t know what’s happening, and you can’t leave me here!”

But the man continued running down the trail, leaving Rachel to fend for herself.

Rachel shivered, more from fear than the sudden burst of cold air. She feared the storm. The black clouds rolled low and overhead. Thunder boomed so loudly it echoed through the valley. Great sheets of rain hammered down upon the land. Soon, thick chunks of ice pelted the ground. One the size of a duck’s egg hit Levi in the back of his head, knocking him to the ground. He did not stir, and Rachel wondered if he were still alive.

At that moment, she noticed the stormy skies did not touch her. Although torrents of rain flowed, she remained dry to the touch. The winds howled, trees bent over from the gales, yet not a single hair on her head moved. “How could this be?” She wondered.

Soon her fear turned to awe and fascination. Her breathing slowed, and the panic that welled up inside of her vanished. As her emotions settled, the storm calmed, the dark clouds disappeared, and the sun shone again. The only evidence that a storm had blown through the valley was a downed tree struck by lightning. It still smoldered from the strike. And then, Levi still was sprawled, unmoving on the ground. Rachel could not move as she tried to reason what had just occurred.

Writing Prompt:

For today’s prompt, write about something eerie. It might not make your characters scream with fright or rush to lock their doors, but it should raise the hair on the back of their necks!

Photo by Breno Machado on Unsplash