Monday, September 23, 2013

The Night the Banshee Came to Visit




Shamus lay in the bed next to his wife, Isobel. They had been together for more than forty years and she had blessed him with two children. The children, Aiden and Cara, were both grown and had families of their own. Shamus loved his life and his family very much.

On this night, Shamus was having trouble sleeping. His muscles ached from working the farm they had lived on most of their married lives and raised their children on. He had hoped that his son would take it over when it was Shamus’ time to pass on but he did not seem to be interested in living out his life as had his father and ancestors. Aiden wanted to live in the city. Once he was old enough, he left the farm and found work in Dublin. So Shamus laid awake worrying what would happen to the family farm once he was no longer able to care for it. He had asked his daughter and her husband but they were not interested either. Finally giving up his worries over the family farm, he cuddled up next to his wife and fell into a restless sleep.

Shamus wandered through the forest of his land. He was looking for someone but did not know who. He came to a clearing and there, in the middle, he saw a figure of a young boy standing there crying. As Shamus approached the young boy started to run away from him.  Shamus caught up to him easily and said, “Young man, what’s wrong? Don’t run, I mean you no harm.” The boy stopped and turned to face Shamus. With his chin trembling, tears streaming down his cheeks he said “I don’t know what’s wrong. I woke up in this field and don’t know how I got here. Can you please help me?” He looked down at the boy and wondered what had brought him to this point. He had no idea who the boy was or who his parents were. Bending down to his level, Shamus said, “I will help you but first you have to tell me your name.” The young boy looked at him and said, “I don’t know my name. I don’t remember anything.” Sighing heavily, Shamus said, “Okay, come with me and we will see what I can do to help you.” He took the boys hand and headed back to the cabin. As they walked through the woods an apparition appeared. This apparition was a female with red hair and wore a white out dated dress that fell to her feet. She was emitting a plaintive, mournful cry. The young boy walking beside Shamus, quickly went behind Shamus, fearful of this apparition. Shamus had never actually seen one but thought this apparition must be a banshee. His fear grew as the vision seemed to float closer to him and the boy. As she grew nearer, Shamus turned, grabbed the boy and started to run away from her. He could hear the keening wail of the apparition all the way to the cabin. Opening the door, he set the boy down, slammed the door closed and drove the bolt home. His fear was palpable and he could not stop shaking. After a few minutes he turned to talk to the boy but he was gone. Looking around the room he did not see him anywhere and even checking all the other rooms did not turn him up. Finally, Shamus gave up and looked out the window of the living room. Through the window, near the edge of the woods, he could see the apparition and the boy standing next to her. Before his eyes, they disappeared.

Startled out of a dead sleep, Shamus blinked his eyes to clear them enough so he could see where he was. His heart was pounding and he had broken out in a sweat over his entire body. Shaking from the dream, he rolled away from his wife and climbed out of bed. Standing there next to the bed naked he checked his wife to make sure she was still breathing. He could not believe that, with that dream he had had, that she had slept through his restlessness. Walking out into the hall, he walked into the bathroom and climbed in the shower. Giving thought to the dream he had, he knew the apparition had to be a banshee. He wondered what the dream had meant. The boy he had never seen before and, when he disappeared at the end, could it be someone trying to contact him for help from the other side? Getting out of the shower, he dried himself off and went back into the bedroom to dress. As he finished dressing his wife opened her eyes and smiled at him He smiled back at her but it was not his usual warm smile and his wife knew it.

Throwing the covers back off her, Isobel rose and padded barefoot over to her husband, wrapped her arms around his neck and stood on her toes to kiss his cheek. “Shamus, what is wrong? I can tell by that forced smile of yours that something is happening. Talk to me honey.” Taking her in his arms, he pulled her close to his chest, running his hands up and down her back. He rested his head on top of hers and proceeded to tell her of his dream. Pulling back from him, Isobel put her hands on his face and said, “It was only a dream. We will be fine. You will be fine. It was only a foolish dream.” “You don’t understand Isobel. It was the wailing cry of the banshee that I heard. I have never heard that before either awake or asleep. Plus, what did that young boy mean? Is it possible for someone who has died, to try and contact the living? I know it sounds crazy but I can’t shake this feeling of impending doom. What will you do if anything happens to me? Who will run this farm and work the land?” “Well, if it comes down to that, I am sure that Aiden and Cara will help me out. However, I am not concerned with this because you aren’t going anywhere.” Stepping away from him, Isobel proceeded into the bathroom for her shower while Shamus prepared for the day.

Today he had to travel into town to sell his crops. He hated going there but there was no way to get around it. He had to make money and this was how he did it. Isobel came out and helped him load their crops into the truck and then kissed him goodbye telling him to be careful on his drive into town. Pulling out of their driveway to the dirt road that would carry him to the main highway, he still worried over the dream. If the tales he had been told as a child about the banshee, then his days were likely numbered on this earth. He needed to make sure that his wife and the family home stayed available for his family.

Pulling the truck up to the granary, a young man came out and started unloading his harvest. After being paid he took a drive to see his son. Getting out of his truck to approach his son’s front door he noticed a young boy sitting on the curb crying. This young boy was familiar to Shamus. It was the same boy who was in his dream. At first Shamus was afraid to approach the boy but then realized he was being ridiculous. Here was a young boy who had a problem. Shamus hoped to be able to help him. Tapping the young boy on his shoulder, the boy turned around and smiled up at him. “What’s your name young man? Can I help you with something?” “Hello sir, my name is Michael. I have lost my way and don’t know how to get back home. My father left me somewhere around here and I have been trying to get back home ever since. I can’t find where I live.” Shamus was shocked at first and then became angry. Angry at the man who had done this to such a young man. Sitting down next to Michael, Shamus said, “I am about to go in and visit with my son who lives in this house behind us. Would you like to come in, have something to eat and meet my son?” Looking up at the Michael said, “Yes sir, I have not eaten in a long time. I am very hungry.” For the first time, Shamus noticed how thin the young boy was.

Getting up they walked up to his son’s front door and rang the bell. His son answered and smiled at his father.  He also noticed the young boy standing next to him. Opening the door wide Shamus and Michael walked in. Shamus said to his son, “Good day to you Aiden. How are you these days?” Aiden said, “Hello papa I am fine. Who have you brought with you?” “This young boy was sitting outside on the curb crying his heart out. He said his father had left him somewhere and he was trying to get back home but couldn’t find his house. I had hoped to bring him in and feed him since he is very hungry.” After feeding Michael, Aiden asked Michael if he wanted to watch television. Michael nodded excitedly and Aiden took him into the living room where he turned on cartoons. Walking into his study with his father and closing the door, Aiden said, “Dad, what are you doing? Who is that boy?”  Shamus replied, “I don’t know who he is. I just found him crying on the curb. He looks like a boy I had a dream about last night along with a banshee. He needs help son and I am going to help him. He told me that his father had left him somewhere so that means he isn’t wanted by anyone. I need someone to take over the farm when I pass and you and your sister are not interested. So maybe this young boy needs me and is destined to become the new owner of the farm. I just don’t understand the banshee and its meaning. I am afraid that my time is approaching and so this young boy will be there for your mother and can take over the farm when he is old enough. I will take him home and let him live with us.” Aiden, shaking his head at his father, said, “Okay dad but I hope you aren’t making a mistake with this.”

Going back into the living room, Michael was sitting on the floor watching the cartoons still. He rose as Shamus and Aiden came into the room.  Shamus asked Michael if he would like to come home with him and live there. Shaking his head yes, they climbed into the truck and headed back home.

Arriving at the cabin, Shamus asked Michael to wait in the truck while he went in and spoke to his wife about him. Michael agreed and Shamus went into the house. Upon entering the house, he called for his wife. “Isobel, where are you honey? I have something to talk to you about.” Not getting a response he walked back to their bedroom and saw her laying face up on the bed. Her hand was clutched at her chest and her lips and fingertips were bluish in color. He ran to her screaming and shook her, trying to wake her up. No response. He ran out to the living room and dialed for an ambulance then went back into the bedroom.  Cradling his wife, tears streaming down his face. “Baby, wake up. Please wake up. You can’t leave me. I brought us someone to take over the farm when I pass on. It’s supposed to be me dying, not you. Please come back. I can’t survive without you.” His sobs could be heard out to the truck where Michael sat waiting.   He could feel Shamus’ pain and climbed out of the truck and went into the house. Walking towards the sobs, Michael found Shamus cradling a woman that Michael thought must be his wife. Heading up to him, he placed his hand over Shamus’ heart and said, “I remember seeing you in my dream last night. The banshee knew you were going to lose her and found a way to bring us together. I am here to help you get through this and will be as good as any son. Please let me help you.” Shamus could not believe this young man was so in tune to how he felt.


Finally, the ambulance showed up but there was nothing could be done for Isobel. She was gone. Shamus became the best dad Michael could have ever asked for and Michael became the son who would one day become the owner of the farm.  Years passed and Shamus was with Michael when he passed away. He held Michael’s hand and whispered, “I hear the banshee. She is calling me. I fear not that you will care for this farm. Take care of it and find yourself a nice woman like my Isobel, and create children who will want to keep this farm going. It is your legacy.” Michael sat there on the bed and held the hand of this man who had brought him into his home and raised him as his own son. As Shamus took his finally breaths Michael said through his tears, “I will father. I promise you, I will.” 

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