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Before Elijah could reply, a terrible sensation of ice shooting through his veins stole his breath. He shut his eyes tightly, reaching to grab Daniel’s hand away from his face, but instead finding that Daniel wasn’t touching him anymore. He opened his eyes, the ice being replaced slowly by warmth.
He and Daniel were standing in an empty street that was blanketed in snow. It was night, but the falling snow seemed to have painted the world in sepia. Everything was still and silent, as if the snow had muted all the white noise. There were no trees growing up through the road, and the houses looked well kept, better than anything he had seen in his life. The air had a pleasantly cold bite to it. Beside him, Daniel breathed deeply. He was watching the doorway of the house closest to them, a look of anticipation on his face. As he watched, the door swung open, a younger version of Daniel stepping carefully onto the stoop, and making his way onto the sidewalk. He was dressed for the cold in a heavy overcoat, distinguished as ever, pulling a pair of leather gloves on as he looked around.
“How old are you?” asked Elijah. As expected, this younger version of Daniel couldn’t hear him, and it was the spirit of Daniel who answered.
“I had just turned twenty three.” he said. As he spoke, the door opened again, a girl hurrying quickly through it to join him on the sidewalk, grinning widely as she held the hem of her dress up to avoid stepping on it. “She was eighteen.” Daniel continued. He sighed as he looked at her. “She was so beautiful.”
In the memory, Daniel didn’t seem quite as taken with the girl as he did now. There was a warmth in his eyes as he looked at her, but none of the adoration his spiritual counterpart was displaying.
“Easy Charlotte,” he said gently as she bounded up to him. “It may be difficult to catch you if you slip and knock me over too.” Her cheeks heated as she smiled, an abashed look on her face. Daniel smiled fondly at her, offering his arm. “Mrs. Gerard,” he said, his voice taking on an heir of mock formality.
She lifted her chin, taking his arm as she matched his tone. “Mr. Gerard.” she said, “A lovely night for a walk, don’t you think?” They started to walk down the snowy sidewalk. Daniel’s spirit gestured to Elijah to follow.
Daniel nodded, “The world is different on a night of snow. When I was a child, my mother would tell me that nights like this were magical. He watched her as she looked toward the sky, smiling as the snowflakes landed on her cheeks.
“The colors are different.” she agreed. “The stillness is wonderful. Anything could happen on a night like this.”
They walked at a leisurely pace arm and arm, the conversation light as they turned down one street, then another. Beside him, Daniel’s spirit was smiling fondly at Charlotte, and Elijah noticed that she was slyly choosing the turns they took in their walk, as if she had a destination in mind. Daniel seemed completely oblivious to this, content to let her steer him. “But really,” Charlotte was saying, tucking her dark hair behind her ear, “You think Mr. Quincy Adams will even be competent as president?”
“I should hope so.” said Daniel. “I voted for him after all.”
She was silent for a moment, thinking. “I wonder what I would choose if I were able to vote.” she said, a wistful edge to her voice.
“You’re my wife now, Charlotte.” Said Daniel. “When I vote, it’s for both of our interests.” Charlotte nodded, looking unimpressed. “How about this,” said Daniel, “The next time an election rolls around, you and I will sit down and discuss the candidates. We’ll decide together who we vote for. Does that suit you?”
“You won’t vote for someone I disagree with?” she asked.
“No ma’am.” said Daniel.
“That suits me just fine.” said Charlotte, the smile lighting up her face once more. She made to turn down another street, this one bordering a small graveyard. Daniel hesitated, a hint of uncertainty crossing his face as he glanced at the graveyard.
“Why don’t we go this way?” he said casually, gesturing in the opposite direction.
“Daniel.” said Charlotte, dropping all pretenses. “It’s time.”
“Charlotte…” said Daniel, unable to hide his discomfort. The look he was giving her was pleading, but she wasn’t bending. It was as if she had hardened her resolve against any excuse he might make.
“You haven’t gone to see her since we began courting.” she said firmly. “You never even speak of her. She loved you, Daniel. She deserves better, and I won’t let you treat her like this.”
Unable to find a dignified escape, Daniel nodded, letting Charlotte take his hand. Elijah and Daniel’s spirit followed the couple toward the gate of the cemetery, and with each step forward, Elijah felt a growing sense of dread. A wave of emotions was hitting him with such force that he paused before the gate, not wanting to enter.
Daniel’s spirit put a hand on his arm. “What you are feeling right now is a shadow of the emotions I felt on this night.” he said. “You’re going to feel them whether or not we enter the cemetery, so we may as well enter.”
To be continued!!