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Banshee's Gift

It was a myth.

Men scoffed and laughed at each other as they passed the moores, daring one another to take the shortcut home. One would shove a friend in jest, guffawing when the other man danced around the misty tendrils, shoes squelching in the mossy muck.

During the day, it was easy to claim the banshee was nothing more than a tale to frighten small children and gullible adults. Nevermind that grown men made the sign of the cross and women hurried their sons and daughters inside when dusk arrived and the mists began to creep forward.

It hadn't always been this way. No one could quite recall exactly when the banshee tale had sprung forth, but it coincided with the night a man stumbled from the mists, sobbing and inconsolable, unable to articulate why he had been gripped by guilt so suddenly he would have taken his own life were it not for his pistol jamming.

Two women who entered the mists one eve fell prone, and were overcome with sorrow and despair so powerful the only thing that kept them sane was the small child who clung to their skirts crying until the mist grudgingly receded.

The intense emotions ebbed and followed, and the people of the nearby towns learned to avoid the mist, particularly when the day was cold and the wind wailed between the trees.

Everyone felt ill at ease near the dense fog.

Everyone, except one small boy.

He had stumbled into the mist one day, angry and wanting to get home, ignoring the warnings to avoid the moore.

But as soon as the fog enveloped him, the boy felt a soothing calm surrounding him in a warm embrace. He recalled a happier time, when it wasn't just him and his father, and when he looked forward to going home.

When the boy started to walk home now, he was certain the mist carried the scent of yeasty bread and honey, a hint of mint tea coaxing a memory of a yellow tea cup and honeyed bread waiting for him after school.

When he emerged from the mists, the light of his home twinkling in the distance, he turned to watch the marsh, and listen to the sound of crickets welcoming the night. He saw a shadow, maybe just a bird winging through the fog on its way to rest. But there was no sound of flapping wings, and when the moon broke through the fog, he thought he saw a green scarf flutter, and when he looked down, there were flower petals strewn across his shoes.

He picked up one of the petals gingerly, and placed it in a pocket on his vest. He would add this to the others at home. He had a book half full of flowers that he hadn't opened since his mother passed. Perhaps, it was finally time to continue what they had started.

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