Chapter 1: The discovery
I arrived at my ancestor’s home in New York on February second Nineteen hundred and ninety-one. Two days later, I made my way towards the attic with the goal of sorting through two centuries of family treasures and turning them into ready cash.
There was more than one could have ever expected. Nothing of much monetary wealth but two items would take me on an unexplainable adventure. This telling is to help me sort out what actually had happened.
Then leave it up to my readers to decide it’s reality.
To begin my name is Jamie O’Brien. My ancestors arrived in America around seventeen hundred nine-one. Charles O’Malley, my great, great, great, great grandfather, built the home I now stand in. Charles had come to America as an indentured slave with the hopes that after his servitude he could raise money to send for his family. He left them in Ireland with little, save hope they would meet again on earth or in heaven.
In less then seven years Charles had earned his freedom built a small home and sent for his family. However, Charles would never lay eyes upon them. He contracted smallpox passing away two days before his wife and child arrived on America’s shores.
What happened to his family is lost, except for a few words mentioned in the Family Bible. This entry sticks so clearly in my mind. On the fourth day of February in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred nine, Meghann O ’Malley weds Jamie O’Brien. Shawn O ’Malley laid to his final rest. This always confused me since I was told Charles had only one child.
Let me take a moment to explain that in truth I have always been a nerd. As young people my peers enjoyed sports and video games, I preferred a good history book. Family history was my greatest interest.
One day I asked my grandmother about the Bible’s confusing entry. She smiled at me and then laughed saying, “Relatives my dear and oh what a story,”
“Please tell me the story,” I asked several times but nothing more did she impart.
This only made me more curious yet none of the other family members knew anything or would not talk about it. There must have been quite a scandal.
This brings my tale back to the attic, where I would learn more about these people in a most unique way. Not through any letters or diary but a portrait and a ring. I found painting leaning face first against the attic wall. The portrait bore the image of twins, a like in ever aspect except their gender.
The artist’s work so striking that even through the years of dust and grime its radiance shown through. I decided at once to clean it. As I picked it up to carry it downstairs a piece of metal fell off the back.
It took me a few moments search through the debris on the floor to locate the object, a Claddagh ring similar to my grandmothers. Needing two hands to carry the picture, I slipped the ring into my pocket and went downstairs.
After spending an hour cleaning the painting it became clear to me that I had found a treasure. The woman’s face bore features resembling those of my mother’s. She had my mothers deep blue eye. These eyes were as penetration as my mother’s. Her small mouth curved exactly like my mother’s.
The woman’s brother would have been handsome had it not been for his mustache. In truth he could have easily been mistaken for his sister. I stood back to admire the painting in doing so I noticed the ring on the lady’s hand.
“It must be hers,” I thought taking the ring from my pocket. This time I examined the inside band. I saw some engraving, which read Meghanne O’Malley. So, this ring did belong to my ancestor.
What a discovery! Cleaning the rest of the portrait revealed no other clues to my eyes at that time. Now however objects in the painting brings clarity to the mystery. I do digress, please forgive me.
At that time the cleaning only increased my appreciation of the artist’s talent. The hall clock chimed two a.m. I found myself total spent.
Having made a bed on the sofa I decided to place the painting where I could admire it. I placed it upon the mantle then threw myself on the sofa instantly falling fast asleep.
I could not tell you how long I slept nor what had awakened me. A deep, dense darkness filled the room. It seemed as if I had been transported deep into a cave or rather a tomb.
Sound did not even penetrate this darkness. An eerie quite prevailed even the clocks had stopped. A cold unfelt before creeped up my limbs. “Escape,” my mind told me. My body would not respond. Paralyzed on the sofa my eye searched seeking the cause. My ears staining to hear the slightest noise, only silence.
“I am dead,” I concluded.
Why or how it had occurred I knew not. What would happen next? Recalling after death stories I had heard I waited for the light or to float above my body. Nothing happened at first.
Then lightly growing in intensity I heard a laugh. The laugh quiet almost muffed and steady brought me to the realization that I was not alone.
Had someone come to help me on the journey to heaven or hell. My eyes widened as a glowing light filled the room. Death had surly come.
Heaven or hell is not what I saw. The room I was still in the room. Light had reviled this fact. The light itself changed, it had come in a burst revealing all like the morning sun. Then demised. No, that is not the right word. It narrowed.
This narrowed light moved about the room as if searching for something. At last it came to rest upon the painting. The light shown on it as the portrait raised off the mantle. The painting floating in the air supported by a ghostly white light. That light transformed into a woman. She just stood there holding the portrait laughing.
I must have made a sound for the lady turned towards me. I gasped realizing it was the woman from the painting. There she stood her searching bright eyes boring into mine. My heart leaped. I forced myself to look down towards her finger in search of the ring. I was not disappointed.
“Oh! my Jamie,” she said reaching towards me.
Then as suddenly as she appeared she vanished. I heard the ring clatter to the floor.
The moment she left I was released from my entrapment. Getting from my bed, I turned on the lights and went in search of the band. It had lodged itself under a coffee table. Upon my hands and knees, I quickly retrieve the ring putting it on my small finger. Sitting down on the sofa I removed the ring and examined the with greater care.
There had been no alterations to the ring or so I thought. Confused I turned my attention to the room, all was as it should be. There was nothing out of place even the portrait had returned to its place upon the mantel.
Thoughts raced through my mind attempting to understand previous events. A dream, it had only been a dream, I came to the conclusion. What a dream it had been. At that moment I laughed. The clock chimed the same time as I had first laid upon the sofa.
Again confusion. I glanced down at the ring turning it before placing it on my finger. At that very moment heaviness returned. Beyond my control my eyes closed.