October 4 - I am writing these observations in case my condition worsens and proves to be a medical issue. At the moment, however, I feel certain that the events which I am about to relate were caused simply by fatigue.
Recently, I have moved my medical practice to a small New England town. I've moved into a house the realtor politely described as “quaint.” It is, quite frankly, archaic. It is absurdly large for one person and is filled with drafty corridors and outdated wiring. I took the house because it was surprisingly inexpensive and I needed a place to stay quickly; this town has gone far too long without a general practitioner or a doctor of any kind.
Of course, a house of this nature - large, old, priced absurdly low, and avoided by neighborhood children - carries with it certain associations. I blame these associations for the nature of my hallucinations.
For the past several nights, I have believed that I heard a woman singing somewhere in the house. Of course, it is quite possible that a woman in the neighborhood enjoys nocturnal music, and I’m mistaken about her being in the house. Also, I have seen flashes of white in mirrors, or flitting around corners. These could easily be caused by tricks of the light played on tired eyes. It is last night’s events I find more difficult to explain.
I rose early yesterday morning and had a long shift at the office. I hadn’t even time for a proper lunch, as my schedule was packed. After work, I put in a few hours at the soup kitchen, as is my custom. While there, I look over those who cannot afford medical care. It was late when I returned home with takeout food. I left empty takeout containers on the counter and my breakfast dishes in the sink and went to bed. As I fell asleep, I heard the singing - lovely and soothing.
This morning, I found the kitchen spotless. A turkey sandwich awaited me in the fridge. I’ve eaten it for lunch as I write this, but I still cannot believe it was real. Did I fix it for myself in my sleep-addled state?
My lunch hour is over. I must return to my patients.
Later - This I cannot explain. When I arrived home from work, I found meatloaf and mashed potatoes on my kitchen table. The table was set for one and a single white candle burned.
The food was delicious. There was hot apple pie for dessert.
Is it possible I have a stalker? A woman who sneaks into my home to prepare food for me? Why would she not make herself known to me? A woman who can cook like this would have my full attention.
October 9 - I have become almost used to food appearing in my home. Delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners appear by magic and I simply eat them. It will never cease to amaze me what a human can get used to - how quickly the miraculous becomes normal.
Today, something new happened. Yesterday, at the soup kitchen, I caught my shirt on a screw and tore a wide hole in it. This morning, I found it neatly mended. It also came to my attention last night that my sheets had been freshly laundered. The halls smell of soap - there is not a sign of dust or grime anywhere in the house.
I’ve heard tales of helpful elves that work at night. Could they be true?
October 16 - I must be going mad. There is no other explanation for the things that I have seen and sensed.
A sweet smell, like lilac perfume, wafts through the halls. It clings to my clothes. It can’t be only in my mind - my secretary commented on it. She wants to know who this woman in my life is who bakes me cookies and leaves the scent of her perfume upon me.
I want to know the same thing.
October 28 - Is it possible to fall in love with someone you have never seen? Someone? Something! A phantasm. She simply cannot exist.
And yet I hear her singing. I stay up late to hear those plaintive notes, so sweet yet full of longing. I dare not go towards the sound, for fear of banishing the dream. I stay out of the kitchen. But every morning, the food is there - real and substantial. My clothes are cleaned, mended, put away. If I lose a pen or a sock, it finds its way to my dresser.
Someone is taking care of me. I want to do something in return. But what can you do for a ghost?
October 30 - I brought flowers. I left them on the kitchen table.
“Thank you,” I said - and somehow I didn’t feel foolish, talking to the empty air. I could feel her listening. A white flash darted across the darkened window. “You’ve made this house a home. I wish I could do something for you.”
As I shaved, I thought I saw a pale white face over my shoulder. It only appeared for an instant. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking.
This morning, the flowers were in a vase on the breakfast table. I think she liked them.
November 1 - If I am mad, so be it. But I don’t believe I am. I saw her. I believe she is real.
Last night, I heard something in her song that pulled me like nothing ever has. I followed it and, at last, was brave enough to step into the kitchen. So far from banishing the dream, this brought it closer. She stood at the stove - transparent and ethereal, but there. She looked like the reflection of a flower.
“What is your name?” I asked when I could speak.
She gave a start and turned from her cooking. A bright, glorious smile lit her ghostly face.
“You can see me?” she asked, her speaking voice as sweet as her song.
“I can. I’ve longed to for some time. What is your name? Why are you here?”
“My name is Lorelei. I’m here because I spurned the advances of a wicked man. He grew so angry that I wouldn’t be his that he killed me.”
A hot wave of fury filled me then and fills me again as I recount her tale. How any man could lose his humanity so far that he could harm such a gentle person is something I will never understand.
“But a kind warlock cast a spell on my spirit,” Lorelei went on. “If a good man would love me enough to set me free, I could be eternally happy.”
“Set you free?” I repeated.
She nodded. “I have been trapped in this world. Will you send me from it?”
“Is that what you wish?” I thought of her lovely song, of her gentle displays of kindness. Words could not express how much I would miss the sweetness of her spirit.
“I do not belong in this world,” she said. “Not like this.”
“Then, if it’s in my power to release you, I do so gladly.”
She began to glow. Her light shone more and more brightly until I had to look away. Then the light dimmed and I looked back, expecting to find myself alone.
Lorelei stood before me in the flesh. The rosy glow of health blossomed in her cheeks. Rushing forward, she threw her arms about my neck. She was as warm and real as any woman - yet somehow more alive, more vibrant, more wonderful than any woman I have ever known.
“I thought you would disappear,” I said, in a daze. “I thought that was what you wanted.”
“You were willing to give up all the meals and the cleaning and everything to make me happy.” She beamed up at me. “You set me free. And now I have a second chance at life.”
You can imagine the wonder that I felt. We sat down together and talked it all out. And then we talked of other things - of what she would do now, and her dreams, and my dreams, and our pasts, and our interests. The sun rose while we talked. She didn’t disappear.
Now she sleeps in the guest room. When she awakes, we will talk more of the future. Though nothing is certain, and she still has much to see and experience now that she has regained her life, I have hope that our futures will be closely intertwined.