Our kiss lasted quite a long time, slow and lingering, a very, very different kind of kiss than Ruth ever gave me. And I felt very, very different from it. Every inch of my body pulsed with something so unknown to me I couldn’t even name it until his lips were off of mine and our eyes met. I realized, This is what they were all making a fuss about. This is what a kiss really feels like. I kept my eyes on his, shocked to finally understand the reason I felt nothing with Ruth was not because I couldn’t at all, but because I couldn’t with a girl. Poppop had been right. I was a lot like him.
“Chance.” William’s voice made my body quiver more. “I… apologize. I said before I would never force my attentions on you and it seems that I have.”
I made a gasping sort of sound in reply before I could find the ability to speak. “I–I don’t mind. P-please… kiss me again.” His eyes darkened a bit and then his lips were on mine. His arms tightened around me and I just had this feeling of being safe in his strength. I kissed him back, enjoying this newfound feeling inside me. My eyes opened again once he finished kissing me and I felt all tingly in the face.
“I am most glad your desires are of mine. Of men. I was most afraid of what kissing you would cause. I am happy that you did not run me through with a sword.”
“I don’t have one,” I giggled.
William looked very entertained at that for some reason. “Ahh… then I shall protect you. Would that be acceptable for you, Chance?”
“Yes, please.” I fell into his arms, all happy from his embrace. Happy to know my fears of the impossibility of love weren’t true. Maybe this was even love. It might’ve been, but I wasn’t gonna concern myself with it too much. Just enjoy whatever it was. “If you didn’t–know I was–going to be ok with your kiss then why did you do it?”
“I was unable to resist a moment more and when we began this conversation that turned so easily to matters of the heart… I simply could not bear it a moment longer. The way your face was when I spoke those words, the way your body shook…” His hands traced up onto my waist and I began shaking once more. He smiled. “I could not bear it, I simply could not hold back. I could not! You have been fanning the flames within me since the moment I laid eyes upon your face, Chance.” His voice rose to a feverish pitch and he held my waist tightly. “One more night and I do believe I would have burned into nothingness.”
“Oh! Th-that’d be terrible.”
“And of no consequence now,” he said. I smiled up at him, marveling a bit at how different it felt with his hands on my waist than it was from Ruth’s hands. “I am most glad you have accepted me,” he murmured in my ear.
“I–I suppose I’ve been thinking about you for a couple weeks,” I said, frowning a bit. “My sister said something and it stuck in my head, and I–I’ve been trying… to avoid thinking about it cause I didn’t think… you were… I didn’t think knights were gay.”
“Mm, I suppose in a sense we were not. It was not viewed as love, twas lust. Vile… bodily cravings that were not allowed. We married wives and produced children, the same as most other men. As I did, or tried. It was such a different view than it is now.”
“You–loved a man?” I asked, beaming now.
“My heart is turned towards you now,” he said in a low voice, moving one hand to my upper chest. “Not another.”
“Oh, no. I meant before, when you were alive?” I saw a frown go on his face and I felt bad. “I guess I shouldn’t make you remember, I’m sorry.”
“I do not imagine you would want to hear of another in my heart,” he said a bit tensely. “Most men are jealous of such a thing.”
“Well, um, if you said your heart was turned towards me now then what do I have to be jealous of?” I asked, leaning into his arms again as his hand slid from my chest to my shoulder. He frowned slightly and I realized that might not have been the best answer. I felt kinda guilty. Did he want me to be jealous…? But why SHOULD I be? I toyed with the idea of apologizing and before I made my decision, he began talking again.
“I… did. It was not considered anything other than lust so I did not think upon it as anything else. I did care for him. I did… love him. I did not think of it so at the time. He–he was a servant. A stable boy. Fourteen. I, thirteen. We… joined together often in the lofts. When I was married I turned him away. Twas not right for a married man to be carrying on in such a manner, although very few married men of my time were faithful to their wives. My father did not and after my brother married–after I was dead–he certainly did not.” William smiled now, a tiny little amused smile. “His wife caught him, playing with one of the kitchen maids. His wife threw a pot at her and the maid threw a plate. It was… quite entertaining, I had never seen such a wild act! Women did not act like that, or rather… they were not supposed to. So it was all very fun.”
“What happened? To the wife? And maid?” I asked, intrigued by this centuries-old gossip. “Did the wife divorce your brother?”
“Divorce was not permitted,” William said. “A man could put away his wife for adultery but a woman could not do the same. They remained married, unhappily. The maid ran away, I do not know what happened. She said she would kill my sister-in-law but that did not happen. Just a small, silly girl full of small, silly thoughts. Ah, but I have been talking so much and we just–well, it is not the best time for my mouth to be running.”
“I love listening to your stories,” I said, beaming. “They’re very fun to hear. I love hearing stories from different times and stuff, and places, and all that. It’s the bee’s knees.”
“Oh!” I giggled. “It means, it’s very fun.”
“May I kiss you again?”
“Yeah. I like it.”
He kissed me once more and I felt very happy. His kisses were so different from Ruth’s. I wasn’t sure how that was possible. I mean, kisses were kisses, weren’t they? But going from the empty, nothing feeling from Ruth to this warm, tingly feeling from William I knew it wasn’t true. Kisses could be different. Or maybe it really was the fact she was a she, and he’s a he. Oh well, I thought. No point dwelling on it anyway!
What happened to us didn’t seem to change much, we stayed very much like we had before. We talked and joked and told stories. He kept trying to get me on the horse and I’d refuse. Though now when William spoke of love and romantic poetry and songs and stuff, he’d do it in this really gentle, hushed tone like it had been made for him and me. We kissed sometimes too, though he wasn’t much into holding hands. He didn’t really understand that concept so I didn’t bother him about it.
The days passed by and Miracle came back. I saw her near the graveyard one day, and excused myself to William before drifting down the hill to the place my sister and I usually met up. We hugged tightly and she told me about what our family was up to, and how much they missed me. “Everyone was so upset you didn’t come home,” she added.
“I like it here,” I replied. “I like my freedom.”
“I know but you shouldn’t abandon your family.”
I scrunched my face up at that. “I didn’t abandon them. I just… Miracle, why do we keep arguing this?” I floated up a bit, hovering in the air. “I’m tired of arguing it, of going in circles!! It’s never going to end unless I’m back locked up in the house, is it? You guys agreed to let me go then harassed me about being on my own. YOU wanted me HERE and now are bugging me to just follow you around like–like a puppy dog!”
“I want to make you happy.” I came back down to the ground, eyebrows high on my forehead as my eyes widened. “I really do. But I don’t know what I can do to give you and the family happiness without giving up… myself. I’m not a toy. I’m a person, even if I am a ghost. I love you and everyone else in my family but… I don’t see how it’s fair for you guys just to treat me like a pet, or a toy, or whatever. To just be like, go here, do that, don’t do that, don’t be selfish, do what we say.”
“Th-that’s not what’s going on, Chance. You’re still a teenager, anyway. You’re not an adult. You have to listen to your family.”
I looked down, not sure how to respond. I felt like I was being ushered back into the cage again. I felt uncomfortable. Very, very uncomfortable. “I know, you’re my family, but…” But what? I guess really there was no but. “You’re right.”
“Yeah, you are.” I kept looking down at the ground, feeling walls closing in around me. “From now on, when you go home, I will too. I’ll stay there if–” But how could I be saying this? Now that I met William. Going home would mean leaving him. Unless he was able to Wander… which he might possibly be able to, I wasn’t sure. “I’ll just–yeah.” I lost whatever it was I was going to say, and now I felt super sad anyway. “I’m gonna head back for a bit I’ll see you in a couple nights.”
“Chance! Stop acting like this. If you want to be treat like a grown up then act like one!” She started following me up the hill as best she could.
“Being on my own without any trouble isn’t?” I asked over my shoulder. “I’ll see you later, all right? Please don’t follow me there, it will just cause trouble.” I floated a bit faster and she stopped following me though I could feel her eyes glued on my until I went up over the hill. Even then I could still feel her eyes on me. William came over and took my hand, running his thumb gently over my knuckles–the closest he ever came to holding hands. I smiled (forcibly) at him and then said I was feeling a bit melancholy. “I’m just going to sleep for a bit. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
“Are you… well…?”
“Just sad, really, not in the mood for anything. I’m sorry. I can stay out if you like–“
“Nay, go and sleep.” He pulled my hand up to kiss the back and then let me go.
I drifted into my grave and curled up, trying to sort things out. Miracle and my family, and William and my freedom. Since I was sixteen, was it really ok to be jerked around on puppet strings? Should my feelings not matter? I thought of William–how he had to marry at fifteen because, well, despite it being normal to get married as teenagers it was his father’s wishes. How was that any different from me being told where to go? Okay so it was pretty different but the general feel to it was similar. We had to do what our parents/guardians told us to do even if it’s really not what we wanted. It went against what we desired. Him with his desiring not to be married (I think) and me desiring my freedom.
Did my wishes and wants not matter that much and me being like this… was it just causing so many problems that I should give up my freedom?
After a couple weeks I mostly forgot about the fight until my sister brought it up again, and at that point I decided to ask William his thoughts about the… general idea of things although he wasn’t too much help. I asked him if he thought a sixteen-year-old should be making their own decisions about life, and he responded with the fact he was a widower at sixteen, and that his brother had done what he did before he was even sixteen.
“I do not know how it is now, but in my day… sixteen was very adult. Then again… most men did not live to see the age of forty.”
“Oh.” My fingers automatically tightened around his arm. We were taking a bit of a walk, arms linked in a very romantic manner. “So you were middle-aged, then.”
He laughed. “I suppose.”
“My grandpas are in their seventies. Or eighties. I’m not completely sure how old. Aunt Kaylee and Aunt Emma are in their forties, and they just had a baby.”
William was silent for a moment or two then he stopped and turned towards me. “How do you know such a thing?”
“You seem to know… quite a bit of your family still living. Did you haunt them, before you came here? I did not think you the type to do such a thing.” He picked up a strand of my hair and let it fall back against my face.
I shifted. “Um, I know things I guess. Why?” I was afraid of him knowing the complete truth. What would he do or say if he found out what sort of different ghost I was? But he loves me, so I don’t think it really matters. I relaxed at that thought.
“Merely curious, Chance.” He brought my face close to his so he could kiss me. I closed my eyes, happily lifting my body a bit to press up into his mouth. Part of me still expected that urgency that Ruth had, but William never did. He also never mentioned anything more than just kissing. Not that that was really possible anyway. I knew what… sex… was and guys just couldn’t do that together.
We parted, and I looked up at him with only half-opened eyes. “I’m so happy,” I said without realizing I was going to say it, or anything at all.
“That makes me happy,” he said.
I beamed and put my arms around him tightly. By pressing my face in against his body I could smell more than just the earthy, stale scent around him that he was was due to his death. I could smell a waft of sweat and horses and something else that I never quite knew what it was. I told him once, and he claimed it was the roast pheasant he ate the night he died. But I didn’t think it was. Whatever it was, it was nice smelling. Better than that horse scent, really. Ick.
“I’m glad I came here,” I said, eyes shut as I enjoyed the feel of his arms around me. He was certainly stronger than me, or so I figured. I couldn’t really see his muscles that well but when we were like this I could feel them in his arms and chest.
His mouth brushed against my hair. “As am I, most grateful you’re here.”
It didn’t take too much longer before word got out in the graveyard that I was the same as William, and Mike really made his displeasure shown. He approached me one night when William was off riding the horse. I was sitting on a bench, swinging my legs and thinking about things when Mike came over. I immediately smiled up at him, since we hadn’t really talked much. “Hi!” I said cheerfully.
“Mmm.” He folded his arms and looked down at me. “So, I heard from Andrea that you’re… seeing William.” He did air quotes around the word ‘seeing’. “I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, he sucked you into his world. I warned you it would happen. I told you to avoid him.”
“Um, I dunno what you’re talking about,” I said, my legs going still. “If you mean ‘seeing’ like as in ‘dating’…?”
I beamed. “No. He doesn’t really get the concept of dating, so I can’t really call it that. But I don’t think it’d be ‘seeing’ either. That doesn’t seem quite right. Um, not boyfriends really, I don’t think he gets that concept either. I’ll have to ask him exactly what it–“
“Whatever you call it, you’re doing it!” he snapped. “Watcher! You’re so young and innocent, and he’s… sunk his… claws into you. Look. I don’t know what he’s promised you, but it’s all wrong, all right?” I just stared blankly at him, not feeling very happy about where this was going. “I can help. Okay?” He crouched down in front of me to meet me eye-to-eye. “Whatever’s happened, you can get out of it.”
It clicked into place what he was saying. “You think that… William and I together are… bad?” I said it slowly, worried that THAT was what he really meant.
Sure enough, he nodded. “It is, Chance, but don’t worry, I know you’re a good kid. You don’t understand it, he’s tricked you. It’s what they do.”
“They? You mean….”
I squinted at him, searching my hazy memory for that word. Only one thing came up but he couldn’t mean that. “A… ciggy?” I remembered a couple movies where ciggies were called fags. But surely he wasn’t calling William that.
“Cig…? No. Fag. Faaaaaaag. As in, a gay. See, you’re so innocent you don’t even know words like that. You can be helped.”
“Helped? From what?”
He tipped his head towards William. “Him. Doing horrible things to you.”
“Well, um, the only horrible thing I can really think of him doing is making me go near that horse and he won’t, so… it’s ok…” I felt uncomfy now, wishing he’d leave me alone and stop whatever it was he was trying to tell me.
“Whatever he’s told you–“
“Is not really your business,” I finished for him. His eyes narrowed and I moved aside so I could stand up. He rose up from his crouch, arms folded once more. “I appreciate your concern, Mike, but um…. I really like him. He makes me… feel stuff that I never thought I’d feel. Like, before, I never thought I could feel love but since–“
“Love? It’s not love!” he snorted. “It’s vile… corrupt… disgusting… it goes against nature.”
“You know. Mother Earth. Father Time. Yin and Yang. Sun and Moon. Always a female and a male. It’s not love. No matter what you think, or what he’s said. It’s not love. You’re… becoming just like that blasted witch that cursed me. Defiling the rightful way of things, upsetting the balance of nature. You–“
“I do believe the only one upsetting anything is you upsetting Chance,” William said, sidling over seemingly out of no where. Mike jerked back, looking a bit guilty. “You may say such things to me, Cursed One, but do not dare say such things to Chance. That I cannot sit by and accept.”
Mike sniffled loudly as William moved to stand in front of me. “You’re the one that dragged him down into your world.”
There was a shhhhhnking sound and William had a sword out, the tip pointed at Mike. “I did not drag him into anything. And if you continue to slander his name, I will take action to protect his honor.”
“Honor? What honor, a filthy little fag like you doesn’t know anything about hon–“
William jammed the sword forward and it pierced through Mike’s chest. I screamed and grabbed William’s arm, then screamed again when Mike dissolved. He was gone. “You–killed him?” I gasped, clutching William.
William sheathed his sword again and almost right away it disappeared. “Nay. He will reappear. I have done this before. To him, actually, on more than one occasion.” William cupped his hands around my face and kissed me. “Do not worry, Chance. He is fine.”
“How did that–how can you–how–“
“I do not know. I believe spirits, although not of the living, are held together by something which holds the living to earth. Violently stirring that up mayhaps… changes it for a short while. I’ve experienced this, a few… decades ago?” He hesitated then continued, “I was riding and there was something that frightened the horse. I was thrown, and hit the ground and felt… so strange. Everything was dark. I woke up in my usual resting place a few days later. Are you all right, my dear?”
“Uh—yeah, I’m ok. He… he said…”
“Do not worry.” Another kiss and then he pulled me over towards another bench so we could sit down. “If he bothers you again, I will do what I can to prevent him from harming you. Until he learns his lesson and stops.”
I grinned. “My knight in shining armor, huh?”
William smiled, his eyes crinkling up as he put his hand over mine. “Aye. Always.”