This is a story that I was inspired to pen after an apparition sighting and meeting of The Lady In White on a Kentucky back road back in 2006. All my life I’ve been a skeptic of the paranormal until this early morning. She looked at me so lovingly, then turned and vanished into a cemetery that was on the side of the road, I was unaware that it was there. I sat in my truck stunned in disbelief what my tired eyes had just witnessed and to this day I’ve become a total believer in the spirit world. I may have resembled this Jeremiah I pen about in this story, I don’t know, but somehow I left feeling a connection to this lady. I was later to find out from other writers who live in the state of Kentucky that she has been sighted many times over the years. I was lead to pen first, “Graveyard of Lost Souls” then this story and a couple of more poems, “Somewhere in Time and ” A Message in a Bottle” I have added the links below this story.
It was the Spring of the 1800’s when little Laura was born to Mr. and Mrs. James Alexander Mackenzie in the county of Lexington Kentucky. They lived off the land as many did in that period and put the plough and horse to work the rugged land. Little Laura grew into a budding teen and was strong willed and stubborn. She wanted to leave the farm and venture out into the world and find an honorable profession. In her mind it would be nursing or politics, in her parent’s mind it would be teaching.
Laura attended Brim wood elementary under the watchful eye of headmaster Jonathan Fox a bespeckeld little man with a jaundiced pale look about him. His eyes looked to far separated from his nose and when one looked at him felt like his eyes were looking to the side of them. It was a very uncomfortable feeling for little Laura and he scared her.
The headmaster taught the one room classroom with students that numbered 15 and where from around the local area. The class was pretty evenly divided into boys and girls with the balance swinging to the girls side with one extra girl and that was Laura Mackenzie the Scottish lass of Alexander Mackenzie from Lexington.
In this classroom there was one boy who caught Laura’s eye and attention and his name was Jeremiah Houston a local preacher’s son, he was so handsome, with blue eyes that shone so brightly and they were set in a well chiseled face and strong jaw. He had a loft of wavy black hair that flowed off his shoulders like silk blowing in the wind.
Little did Laura know how Jeremiah would play such an important role in her life as they both struggled to discover both of their paths in life? It wasn’t easy being a preacher’s son. His father reverend Joseph Benjamin Houston was not always a fair man and could be a brutal task master outside of the sanctuary of his place of worship. However the town folk only saw a man with a collar, a man with a voice of thunder and damnation inside the church walls.
Jeremiah however saw a man at home being brutal not only to his gentle but charming mother but as well to him and his only one sibling Sarah Lea Mackenzie. This Jeremiah would keep as a secret for most of his life until the day when all hell broke loose at home and his dear mother was struck down by her father. Jeremiah and Sarah both cringed outside the door of their parents bedroom as shouts and taunting were thrown towards there mother. Then a loud smashing sound was heard and then a whimpering like the sound of a dying dog that had been stepped on and kicked badly.
There father burst open the door and pointed firmly to both of them and threatened them never to speak a word of this incident but to go to their rooms and to bed. Jeremiah could hear a dragging sound in the hallways and then thump thumping down the staircase outside their bedroom window. Jonathan crept along the bedroom floor and slowly and quietly lifted his head to the bottom of the sash. He carefully slightly opened it and saw a dark shadow pulling what appeared to be his mother along the rough dirt and stones. Her head was completely covered with a potato sack and tied tightly with twine.
Jeremiah gulped and felt the sweat running down the side of his face and his body was shaking out of control. He quietly cried while his anger and his tormented soul felt like it was being yanked from his quivering body. He prayed that his sister was asleep and not witness to what he was seeing. He knew then and there that his father was not a man of the cloth but a monster devil sent from hell to ruin this family he once loved so dearly.
Laura Mackenzie was at home in her beautiful little two bedroom wood framed house in front of a warm fireplace. Her bare feet and toes rested and supported on a stool. The flickering flames gave off a bright glow in the room and her toes were all comfy warm. Her mother Mrs. Rosemary Ruth Mackenzie was busy spinning the wheel as the cotton all rolled up was neatly placed in the basket beside her father James Alexander was comfortably reading the Bible and puffing quietly on his long clay stemmed pipe and occasionally looking over his round rimmed spectacles to give both his lady folk reassurance that he was content.
The years went by and Laura and Jeremiah grew closer and closer. They had met in a little classroom in a small school house and their love for each other grew stronger by the day, weeks and years. Jeremiah although a smart boy was also a hurting soul. From that dreadful night of the beating and killing of his mother and the secrecy and lies of that his father kept to himself and from his flock did not hold well with him. He was determined to expose his father for the monster that he is. Laura grew into a beauty with radiant black eyes and long flowing jet black wavy hair. Her face was like alabaster when the sun lazed upon it and her posture was upright and confident. Her shape was exquisitely beautiful as she slowly walked through the apple orchard on her way to the well beside the barn where Jeremiah waited for her.
The sun was just beginning to disappear below the horizon and the orange glow it left behind was enchanting. As Laura approached the well she could see Jeremiah leaning against the barn door with a one leg firmly planted on the ground and the other tucked up behind him against the door. Laura looked about and saw no one in sight and gently laid her water bucket down and slowly moved towards Jeremiah. When she reached him she carefully and slowly pressed her firm body against his, looked up at his face and gently stroked it with both hands. Both her palms gently caressed his cheeks and her index fingers touched upon his perfectly shaped slightly moist lips.
The love in their faces, the tightness of their close bodies touching, their shallow breathing told them both that they were meant for each other and that nothing they could do at this moment could interrupt that love. Jeremiah brought Laura’s face and lips up to his and they melted into each others souls while their lips felt like sweet strawberries releasing their seed and juices into their mouths. Jeremiah took Laura by the hand, kissed it ever so gently and promised her that he would lover her forever and not even death would separate them, but find them in eternity.
Though Laura’s parents had wanted her to study to become a teacher, Laura chose to help people in another way. She became a nurse and tended the sick and wounded soldiers that were brought to the Jefferson Military Hospital in Lexington from the surrounding battlefields scattered throughout the county. The anguish and crying could be heard from the wounded as limbs were saved and others were removed due to gangrene setting in over time. The supplies were scarce and Laura knew she had to work with what she had. Torn up linen, blankets, shirts and dresses. The county was torn apart and people were depressed and many displaced.
This was a brutal war and many man, woman and children would lose their lives. There was very little mercy shown to the grey coats and raiding parties of bluecoats would vandalize and brutally kill many innocent people to loot and burn to the ground anything that stood in their path of winning this war.
Jeremiah was forced to join the army earlier than he expected, sent to the front lines and fought amongst the wounded and dying. The battle fields at times were strewn with dead men who had hopes of bravery halted in their path and their young lives brutally shattered by the sword and cannon. The sounds alone were deafening and many men lost their minds and would wander aimlessly on the field only to be gunned down by the enemy. Jeremiah was appointed to captain of his unit and move his regiment constantly forward fighting every obstacle that confronted them. It was very difficult to survive and supplies were constantly low and men were starving. Some even took their own lives as nightmares were constant companions. It was a brutal war and devastation was al around them and their constant companion.
It was finally over the war came to an end and people began to rebuild their lives and work their lands again. It took many years but one of the many changes was freedom of the slaves and all the plantations had an exodus and the white man was no longer allowed the title of slave masters of the south. People were all one and good old Abe Lincoln was their hero. Jeremiah hung up his uniform and a new age dawned. He would now pursue his desire to become a land baron and enjoy building a home and future for himself and Laura. His intent now was to ask Laura to marry him and be the mother of their children.
The long hours and even longer days and weeks took their toll on Laura’s health. She was often with fever and coughing. Laura took different medicines given to her by doctors at the hospital she worked in and nothing seemed to quiet her cough. As much as she tried to get well she found herself drifting into melancholy and depression. Without the doctors knowing she would find the pills she felt would help her and take them every moment she felt this sickness come upon her. She sank further into depression and had to leave the hospital and find a way to overcome this.
A year went by and her health didn’t improve she was losing weight and looking very frail. All along Jeremiah was doing the best he could to encourage her. He had asked for her hand in marriage and she refused it not because she did not adore and love Jeremiah with all her heart and soul, but she wanted to be perfect for him and perfect meant to her being healthy and strong and mentally alert. She knew how badly he wanted to start a family and she didn’t want to disappoint him with not being able to bare a child with her illness. It was very sad for the both of them. Jeremiah vowed to wait and he nurtured her and cared for her with all his might and love. He knew that God would heal her in his time and when it was done, she would be ready to accept his hand in marriage and together share their lives together.
Laura became weaker by the day and further depressed. So much so that she decided to end it all. Laura could not go on with her life the way it was and with a broken heart and coughing up blood she knew it was her time. In her room under the pale light of a candle she took her feather pen and a clean piece of parchment and began to write a letter to her beloved Jeremiah Mackenzie. She wrote of her undying love for him and recounted how they had met and how she had fallen in love with him from the very first time there eyes met. She wrote of how much she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him and to die in his arms. A tear fell from her eye as her weak body shivered and the pen in her hand fell from her hand. She wept and pulled at her beautiful black wavy hair. She knew this was the end for her and wanted to express her dying words to Jeremiah for all of eternity. They had made a vow to meet again should one or both of them pass. It was her time; she could not live any longer with this mental and physical pain her body was enduring.
Hanging in her closet was this beautiful white gown that she her mother had made for her and was to be worn on her day of marriage to her beloved Jeremiah. She took it in her hands and brought it close to her weak body closing her eyes as another tear fell from her. Quietly she put on this beautiful gown of white, slowly brushed her long flowing black hair and without any shoes, going bear foot she left her room and walked through the orchard for the last time towards the barn.
In the distant she could hear the build up of thunder as the clouds start to form and the wind stirs in the trees. Laura continues to walk slowly and remiss and with a very heavy heat. The rain starts to come down as she reaches the barn door. She struggles and weakly pulls on the handle towards her and it slowly opens with a creaky sound in the night air. She enters and closes the door behind her. Hanging on a post she takes down the lantern, lights it and a sullen glow surrounds her. Shuffling around slowly she finds what she is looking for a thick rope used to tie off the bales of hay brought in from the fields. Laura makes a look and ties it off with a tight knot. She barely is able to fling it over the cross beam in the barn, but manages to do it. The rest of the rope she wraps around the coral gate and tightens it firmly.
Laura knows that she will soon be free of the pain wracking her delicate body and be dangling from the end of the rope she has secured to the gate. An empty old barrel she is able to roll over beneath the dangling rope and jack it upright so she can get up on it to stand awhile. As she stands on top of the barrel and gently pulls the rope over her head and to her neck she winches knowing of her fate. Praying one last prayer for forgiveness to her God and taking her last breath she stops off of her pedestal and feels the immediate jerk and tightness of the rope on her neck. Shades of bright colors and light appear in her mind as her limp body twitches and jerks and becomes completely still. Laura’s pain is gone as her soul departs and leaves an empty shell of hurt and sorrow and the undying love for her Jeremiah.
The morning comes with the crow of the rooster and the sun rises brightly and a new day begins with the hooting of the barn owl. Laura had forgotten that she had told Jeremiah to meet her in the barn at sunrise so they could share the sunrise together and talk about their undying love for each other. Jeremiah quietly opens the barn door and with horror sees Laura’s limp body hanging in the air and her face as pale as the white dress she was wearing. He cries out in anguish and runs to her and lifts her feet up to the pedestal pulling a knife from his belt he stabs at the rope and cuts it. Laura’s limp body falls on his and he is crying in agony and yelling No and why Laura why have you done this. He is torn to pieces his heart is beating so loud he feels like it will explode and he wants it to. His tears are falling on her as he pulls her so tight to him sobbing uncontrollably. He is lost and knows that his life has just changed for good. He will never be the same without Laura in his life and he gently lifts her limp body in his arms and cry’s out loud as he carries her body to her family who are running to the barn after hearing the wailing and crying. They stop in their tracks shocked and smitten and Mrs. Mackenzie faints and falls to the ground.
The people come to pay their last respect to this beautiful young woman in white. With heavy sorrow and bitter tears shed. They gather at the church one last time to pray and sing the hymns of the departed. Because Laura worked in a military hospital and was highly regarded by the admiralty for her dedication and loyalty to helping the wounded and sick, she was given a proper military burial and a cannon ball salute sounded for the last time as they draped the flag over her coffin and took her to her resting place in the Lexington Military Cemetery. They lowered her in the ground and placed a flowered scented wreath on top of her. Last prayers were spoken as Jeremiah stood crushed and broken hearted. He pulled a rose stem from his vest and gently tossed it on top of her grave and whispered. Fined peace my beloved and wait for me in eternity as we promised each other. Goodbye my love.
© Copyright 2012 by Vincent Moore. All rights reserved