Stuck (Short Story)

She stared into the mirror until her reflection went blurry. When her eyes refocused, she stroked her hand down her cheek. It felt soft and warm but her hand was freezing. Her hands were always freezing, it was pretty normal. She looked into her deep brown eyes and wondered if she was even real. If her reflection was really there or just a figment of her imagination. It was much too early for an existential crisis but she honestly could not help herself. It was hard to feel real in a place where she did not belong, a place where she had ended up so long ago.

“Artemis dear, it’s time for us to go.” Her husband called to her from across the hall.

She sighed, the last thing she wanted to do was go out on a night like tonight. Artemis got up, got dressed, and walked across the hall. She kissed her him on the cheek and smiled.

“You look lovely as ever my dear,” he smiled and took her hand.

She blushed as he was often good at getting her to. Even after several years of marriage, he still had that effect on her. They headed out the door and into the limo that he had reserved for the evening; he said he wanted the night to be special. Artemis did not know why, they anniversary was months away. One thing she was not a fan of was surprises but at this point she had no choice but to go along with it. They did not speak during the ride there, oddly enough they were not a very chatty couple. Artemis figured that’s why the relationship worked so well, he never really had asked much about her or where she came from. He just accepted that she existed and that was that. She looked out of the window and the crisp clear evening. It was so nice that she did not need a jacket. The dress she chose to wear was backless and she really hated to ruin the look with a coat or sweater. Her husband took her hand and squeezed it.

“Your hands are like icebergs,” he looked at her with concerned eyes.

She did not reply, she knew that her hands were cold but she would not be able to tell him why. He let it go and did not pester her further about the matter. When the arrived, he instructed her to wait in the limo until he returned for her. Artemis was not happy about it, she detested being cooped up and vehicles were too small of a space for her. After what felt like an eternity, he returned with blindfold.

“You must put this on, I don’t want to ruin the surprise.” He spoke while he gently tied it on for her.

She frowned but let him, she knew that her husband meant her no harm. He guided her slowly inside the building, she was afraid to walk without support. If she had known she would be blindfolded, she would have opted for flats. Artemis heard the familiar ding of an elevator and allowed her husband to guide her inside. She was full of anxiety because she had no idea what was about to happen. There was no way for her to tell if the elevator was going down or up, her stomach always lurched regardless of the direction. She felt it stop and heard the doors open. Her husband guided her out of the elevator and she could hear her heels clacking on the hard cement ground. Where was he taking her? Her heart began to race and she feared the worst. Had he finally found out the truth? Was this the end for her?

He sat her down in a chair and then kissed the top of her head. She felt him untie the blindfold and she cautiously opened her eyes. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the dinner table in front of them.

“Oh my, what is this?” she questioned.

He sat down in the chair opposite her, “I wanted to take you to your favorite place but I wanted us to be alone. The owner decorated this room for us.”

There were beautiful twinkling lights everywhere, so many flowers, and the food smelled delicious. He winked at her then began to eat his food rather quickly. Artemis ate her food in silence as well as she felt the cold from her hands begin to travel up her arms. She knew that she didn’t have much time left before it overtook her whole body; she hoped dinner would be fast.

“What’s the matter dear?” He asked with great concern.

“Nothing my love,” she smirked at him. She pushed the thought of the cold away and focused on enjoying the night with him.

They laughed, the talked, the danced, and kissed the night away. It was the happiest she had been in a while. Her husband was often away for work and she missed him constantly. She wished she could share everything about herself with him but there was no way that would ever work. It unnerved her that he didn’t seem to care about the fact that she never spoke of her childhood. Why would anyone marry someone they barely knew? Hell, she should have asked herself the same question.

The evening was drawing to a close, the coldness in her body had reached her legs. She was running out time. They left the restaurant, her husband had a work flight to catch. The limo took them to the airport and he kissed her goodbye. When he was gone, she sighed. Artemis was finally alone but that did not mean that she would not miss him. It was much safer for him to be far away from her this time of year. She instructed the limo driver to take her home as quickly as possible. The cold in her body slowly crept into her lungs and then made its way to her heart. If she did not get home soon, there would be nothing she could do to stop it. The drive felt to slow, so she took the pendant from around her neck and drank the liquid inside. It would give her enough time to get home but it wouldn’t save her completely.

The limo arrived to her home and she did not wait for the driver to get the door for her. She hopped out and ran as fast as she could into the house. As soon as she crossed the threshold, she felt some of the coldness in her body retreat. Some remained in her hands and feet, she knew then that she had more work to do. Without changing her clothes, she headed into the basement. It was cold dark and clammy, the only thing renovated down there was a wine cellar. At least, it was the only renovated room in the basement that her husband knew about. She entered the wine cellar and walked to the wall on the far end of the room. She grabbed ahold of a wine bottle and pulled. A secret door opened, she walked inside, and shut the door behind her. There were no lights in the room, so she lit several candles and placed them as she walked.

She made it to the altar and placed her last candle directly in the center of it. Artemis sat down and waited for her energy to reconnect with the room. A gust of cold air came from nowhere and it made her shiver.

“You took much too long this time.” A craggy voice came from behind her.

Artemis did not turn around, she knew that if it wanted to be seen; it would be seen.

“I know, I apologize. My husband took me to dinner.” She looked down at the floor.

It laughed, “Husband? Dinner? You seem to think that these things are real for you. If you are late again, I will no longer be able to help you.”

Artemis rolled her eyes. It was always saying that but continued to help her anyway.

“Now, I can give you more energy but eventually this will no longer work. At some point you will have to tell your “husband” the truth.” It chided.

She knew it was right, there would be no way to hide this from him forever. “Why isn’t there just a way to bring me back?” She begged.

It scoffed, “your body was buried here so long ago that there would be nothing for you to come back to. If there were a way, I would have done it by now.”

Artemis frowned, it was right and there was no way she could argue.

“Even if you were to find a new body, you’ve been like this for so long that I fear no spell would work.” It added.

She knew that she should have just found a new body when it brought this up over a hundred years ago. Artemis just couldn’t bring herself to kill anyone for her own selfish desires. It was also difficult to do considering the fact that she could not leave the house for long periods of time. Her husband just thought that she was agoraphobic and he did his best to help her. He did not know that he was in love with and married to a ghost. She knew that someday she would have to tell him, the question of children was starting to come up. Artemis could not bear children as she had no body to bear them with. He would only go along with her agoraphobia excuse for so long.

“I will charge your energy but you cannot leave this house for a month. Otherwise you may just fade away this time.” It said as warmth poured over her.

She closed her eyes and focused on drawing the energy into her. When it was over, she felt it leave and then she hurried back upstairs. As she was changing for bed, she thought about calling her husband and being honest with him. Artemis decided against it, how do you tell someone something like that over the phone? She laid down in bed but was unable to sleep, simply because she did not need to sleep. Going through the motions was just what she was used to. Suddenly, the energy in the house shifted so quickly that her form disappeared and then reappeared in the kitchen.

When her vision returned, she saw her husband standing in front of her. He looked so distraught and she wondered how he got home so quickly.

“Honey. I love you so much.” He caressed her cheek.

She kissed his hand, “I love you too.”

“My plane crashed. All I could see was darkness and then suddenly now I am here. I’m scared and I don’t know what is happening.” He spit out frantically.

If there were breath in her lungs, she would have lost it. “It is because you are dead, my love.” She took his hands in hers.

“What?! Dead?! How am I here?! How can you see me?!” His questions were full of panic.

She smiled and embraced him. Then she pulled back to look at the face of the man she loved and could finally be with forever. “It’s because I’m dead too.”


A. Rose

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