• Cheryl

Prologue

The Misfortunate Chronicles of Havisham Hollow


From the moment I arrived, I heard their voices. ‘Perhaps it was Violet,’ I thought at first. ‘In this forsaken place, this marvelously haunted Hollow, I at last succeeded. My writing had delivered her soul back to me.’


A delusion to be sure, held onto by the broken-hearted desperation of my subconscious trying to mend itself together. Grief has a tremendous ability to fracture the borders of reality and mend the gaps with whatever scraps of fantasy proclaim to ease the pain. But all too quickly my fabrication was shattered. The voices were too great in number to belong solely to my dear-departed sister.


I was drawn to Havisham by its mystery and twisted allure— despite many strange warnings I might add. After all, what is one to do in their time of mourning but re-focus their energy into their passion? By writing about her, I felt I was bringing her back. They say no one ever really dies, not as long as we remember them. Funny. Everyone in Havisham, every wandering soul who was so unfortunate to wander here has remained – in one sort or another. But outside of the Hollow, no one remembers them. They were cast off from the rest of the world but still are waiting to be granted escape from it. I suppose the same stands true for grief. The souls we loved were cast out of this life, and those who stay behind are doomed to grieve them, waiting still to be released ourselves. Sometimes I wish I could have taken my sister’s place, that I could have rescued her from that terrible fire, or die in her stead. But maybe by living, I spared her from a more tragic sentence. Only the dead find peace. … except in Havisham. Here, the residents are doomed even after death to grieve with us. Comforted only by the perpetual aromas of citrus, cinnamon, and the petrichor of dew that drowns the auburn leaves left to die along the sidewalks.


Not knowing where to go, I picked up what little essentials I had left and began to walk…not because I had a destination—what a dream it would be these days, to have a place to go, a tomorrow that will wait for you so long as you can reach it on time. But such dreams are not mine. Instead, I walk because it is the only thing left to do. To keep the air in my lungs, for as long as it will come. I must continue, otherwise, I’m certain I’ll stop, this time permanently. I promised my sister after my last attempt that I would always keep walking…I just never imagined she would stop first. Sometimes living means leaving everyone who was dear to you behind and letting yourself go numb just enough to take two more steps towards the “ahead” that lies in front of you. Sometimes it means watching the people you love, love you so much that sacrificing themselves for your life seems worth it…if only they knew what you now understand—the bitter broken fate that comes at the cost of "living till the end.” In truth, there is no relief for the survivor, for loneliness comes all too quickly to choke out that final breath of life.


In my time living among Havisham’s dearly departed residents, those doomed to linger beyond the “end,” I’ve realized we are not much different. Are we not all, in one form or another, wandering spirits, yearning for a sense of peace? In Havisham, where there is no peace to be found in death, what then? We must find it in each other and be consoled by shared grief and the comfort of understanding. Enclosed here are their stories. Some were written by Havisham’s residents themselves, preceding the grave or not. The rest I’ve put to ink where they were otherwise unable (though I have taken every cautionary measure to ensure my retellings are nothing short of the truth).


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