Dreamlike Despair

I sat, carefully arranged curls matted to my head, mascara stained tear tracks running down my face, and the dress I had been so excited about, plastered to my body, splattered with mud.

Hyde Park had long since emptied, leaving me alone, in the rain, on a bench where I had previously walked my dog and watched the children play. A place I had once played.

Why was I sitting here, after my tears had long since dried, and the hours had passed? The hurt kept pounding, and probably would now that my heart was broken. He left me; he left me for my best friend, at my best friend's debutante ball. I almost laughed when he told me, thinking it too cliché to be real.

I couldn't go home, my parents weren't expecting me back until tomorrow afternoon, and they would ask too many questions, and I couldn't go back to a friend's house because they were all at the ball. I could only sit in Hyde Park, reliving every moment together, trying to find out where we went wrong.

But, what would I do when Monday came, and I had to face school? We were supposed to get married, it had always been Tom and Charlotte, Charlotte and Tom, but now, I didn't know who I was. I had given up the things I loved to be with him more often. With every year we were together, I gave up football, the violin, and even my time with Liz and the rest of the girls. We were destined to be together forever, although, destiny seemed to have told Tom something different.

They picked me up off that bench, and I screamed. Wearing ratty clothes from different centuries, babbling nonsense I could never have understood, and righted me, bringing me with them in a wave. Towards the back I noticed a man wearing muddy 19th century clothing, he reminded me exactly of Mr. Darcy.

"What is this, hello?" I said, trying to figure out what I was in, and why I couldn't seem to leave the group, no matter how hard I tried to swerve or stop.

"They can't hear you," Mr. Darcy answered, "They can't see, or hear, or feel anyone."

Of course, I freaked out. Though, when my mouth opened to scream, I wanted to babble like those around me. I was forced into compliance; a sort of rest, that underneath was unrest. I knew who I was the back of my mind, but, I couldn't shake the idea I was one of many. My personal identity no longer mattered. I was stuck, and there was nothing I could do, and, as much as I tried to force panic, an omniscient presence calmed me; it was like waiting for something exciting, as much as you tried to patiently let it come to you, all you really wanted to do was jump around and constantly look for it.

When I came to, I looked around and realized we were going down a back ally of London, very close to Kensington. "Why are we going this way?"

"I seem to have only woken up," He paused, thinking, "Only a short while ago, I do not know the date, but, we seem to be unable to face light."

"It's 2009."

"Well, it has been two hundred years since I was last in control of my own actions." He answered.

"And you haven't aged?" This Mr. Darcy-like fellow seemed to be about my age, not an ancient who should be rotting in his grave by now.

"I assume not." He replied indignantly, looking closely at his hands for signs of old age.

This conversation was keeping me calm, keeping me from looking for a way out of this group of crazy people. "I'm sorry, I haven't introduced myself. I am Charlotte Grey."

Darcy looked at me, as if trying to remember the social graces to respond to my name. "I'm quite sorry," he responded, sadness laying over his words like a blanket, "I can't remember my name."

"You don't know your name? How is that possible?"

Darcy sighed, "As I explained before, I have recently…woken up." He fiddled with the cuffs of his frock coat that, underneath the grime, looked quite ornate.

"Well then may I give you a name?" I asked, annoyed underneath the haze of calm and idiocy that this pack seemed to push me into.

"If you must."

I smiled, surprised something so little should bring me joy in the wake of this sudden upheaval of my life. Something about this group of mad people speaking in tongues should have made me uncomfortable, but I almost felt more at home walking the back streets of London with them then with my friends. "Then I shall call you Fitzwilliam."

"That's it!" He said, jumping when he heard the name. "That's my name!"

To think I could pick the one name in the English language that belonged to him, unless, of course, he was the person who Austen had modeled her famous Fitzwilliam after, "Fitzwilliam is seriously your name?"

"No, what a silly name, my name is William."

At least he was pleased with himself. "Why are they running?" I asked suddenly, worried.

"Dawn is breaking, brace yourself; we're going into the Thames." He said as he picked up speed to keep up with the rest of the group.

I stopped, "Are you serious?" I asked as something compelled me to run, straight into the river I had lived by all my life, and never entered.

Charlotte wiped the grime out of her eyes and opened them, "What the-"

Voice muffled by a hand placed over her mouth in silence, she looked and saw William. "Now can I trust you to be quiet?" The still bedraggled girl shook her head furiously and his hand dropped, leaving her gasping for air.

"Are we IN the Thames?" She asked incredulously.

William sighed, "Give me a chance to explain. From what I have been able to gather while pondering for the last three weeks or so is that, first, when we get picked up by this group we are put in a state of limbo. I have obviously not aged since I lost consciousness and, the others have not either. Since we do not technically exist, or so I assume, we hide underwater where the light cannot reach us and remain here until full dark. Most wake up around dusk, but there is a time of waiting in between going above ground." He took a deep breath, his words had been very fast as though his solitary life with these people had pained him and now he had to confess everything while I was still here. "To continue, I think we are a part of the Weepers."

"What are the-"

"Please let me continue, obviously your society is quite inferior if you have not been taught about the Weepers. You see, when someone you love more than life itself dies, or leaves you, your heart is broken. The Weepers are drawn to you, like a magnetic force, and you are doomed to walk the earth trying to find someone to bend your broken heart."

I thought for a minute, trying to process the possibility of being something that was not quite human, almost like a ghost. "So are we dead?"

He cocked his head to the side, "I have a theory, but I do not know if it is correct. When my nurse used to tell me the tale of the Weepers when I was young, she used to say her mother had told her they were just looking for someone else to love, so, I hope that if you find that person to fix your broken heart, then you will return to normal life and a normal aging process."

Charlotte ran her hand through the water, "I still can't believe we are in the Thames"

"I don't think we need to breathe, I don't think we really exist, and if we do, only a shadow of ourselves, like gauze over a window." He answered.

Silence resumed as I felt a prickling at the back of my neck and saw William's eyes widen. He turned and looked around and noticed something.

"They've noticed us," he whispered worriedly, "Lie down and remain completely silent." The former Weeper followed his own advice and then dragged Charlotte down with them.

The teenager heard a few moans and screeches as she closed her eyes, suddenly feeling fuzzy. After a few minutes William nudged her back to let her know the danger had passed.

"What was that?" she asked.

"Ghosts, and not the friendly type either." He responded grimly, "It's almost reached full darkness, leaving the Thames is worse than entering though, so brace yourself."

"There are ghosts here?" she muttered incredulously.

"Yes," he answered, "And you would do best to watch out for them, English ghosts tend to be a little homicidal, and supernatural beings can kill other supernatural beings, I've seen it happen. Now, get ready, it's coming."

Moments later, Charlotte realized he was right. She emerged from the mucky river realizing that, if she had still been "alive" she would be cold, wet, and out of breath. Along the banks, the rest of the Weepers were assembling, still muttering to themselves mournfully and looking like a misfit bunch of reenactment actors.

William grinned at Charlotte's chagrined expression and offered her his arm, "Shall we then?"

She sighed but accepted the arm, and off they went for another night of wandering, sharing their life stories. William like dogs, hated poetry, and had never read Jane Austen, which Charlotte found preposterous. Charlotte told William about the world she had lived in and all the changes made.

It was not until the fourth night of this pattern that they finally brought up what had made them "Weepers." Each told their story, and, each found themselves almost laughing at their stupidity. They were caught in this curse of an existence because of their melodramatic tendencies.

The third week, at least on Charlotte's count, she posed a question that William found intriguing.

"So I've been thinking," began Charlotte.

"Well that's a first," William let out under his breath. An easy friendship had formed between the two after that fourth day when they truly let their armors down.

She hit his arm lightly, "Anyway, I wanted to know why we were the only ones who were "awake" out of the whole group, and yet, we still cannot leave them."

"Let's test it."

For the next month, the pair stretched the boundaries that held them to the group to the utmost limits every night, gradually lengthening the leash that bound them. Finally, when relative freedom could be established at night, as long as they had jumped back into the river by the time dawns rays had leaked over the horizon.

"I've remembered something." William announced as they walked by Harrods, unseen by the passersby.

Charlotte cocked her head expectantly, their familiarity letting her know a verbal response was not necessary.

"My nurse used to tell me that witches dwell underneath arches, and, for a price, they would tell you anything you wished to know."

"That's just an old wives' tale." Charlotte answered, dismissing the idea immediately; she already could guess his plan.

"So are the Weepers." He answered softly.

The next night Charlotte found herself strolling to the Marble Arch of London on Oxford Street.

Soon, the traditional cackling was heard and Charlotte knew he had been right. All the logic of science could be thrown out the window with this experience, and all the stories would prove truthful.

"What do you want, pretty little thing," a wizened old women said.

Charlotte had jumped into William, clutching his frock coat in both hands. The witch had sprung up behind them.

William detached the girl from himself before calmly answering, "We want to know how to get rid of a curse."

"A curse you say," answered the hag, for that was what she truly was. "Ladies!"

Two more women emerged from the shadows of the arch arguing quietly about the state of the ghosts and the need to pitch them into the ocean to the settlements there instead of letting the ghosts reside in the Thames. These other women resembled the three fates in Disney's Hercules, and Charlotte briefly wondered whether this was where the artist had drawn his ideas from. Although, they did all have both eyeballs.

"A price," The first said.

"Gladly" answered William.

"We want the ring in your pocket." They answered in unison.

Charlotte looked at William expectantly and he gave her a sheepish grin. "Do you really want that, I have other things?"

"That is our price, if you do not like it you may leave." The third said passively.

"Give it to them." Charlotte said quietly.

William choked, "But, it was my wedding ring."

"That was two hundred years ago William! She's dead by now and she left you anyway!"

William looked like a little boy whose puppy had died before he reached into the pocket and grabbed the tattered blue velvet box and handed it over, his life outweighing his pride.

"We see," said the three witches in unison. They linked and began to spurt supposed wisdom, "You have stretched this far, the Weepers keep a vice like grip on their victims, but you are stronger. The one who made this curse, he punishes you for your pride, your vanity, and your dramatics, banish those and mend your heart and you will live a free life." The witches retreated to the shadows leaving the two to ponder their words.

"Our pride, vanity, and dramatics cannot truly be an issue anymore, especially after you gave up that silly ring," Charlotte mused.

"Mine maybe, but you still wear that necklace." William said knowingly.

"But its Tiffany's," the teenager whined softly, then, catching herself she unclasped the necklace and chucked it across the Thames. "There, check."

"Well, now to find someone to love." He answered softly.

"That is going to be tough considering no one can see us." She answered.

The schemes the two went through to find "true love" were ridiculous. They became poltergeists, scaring away hapless people who were abroad in the night and wreaking havoc in stores and restaurants.

"I think we're striking out," Charlotte said sadly one day.

William nodded, picking at the stock he had worn so helplessly for two hundred years. "Blast." He said suddenly, picking up a rock and hurling it at a wall. It was somewhere around two in the morning and had been almost seven months since Charlotte had joined the Weepers.

Charlotte picked up an abandoned newspaper and flipped through it dejectedly. "To think I would have been celebrating my eighteenth birthday with all my friends next week if it hadn't been for this silly curse."

William's ears perked with interest, "It's your birthday?"

"Well, in six days, yes." She answered absentmindedly.

Thursday night, also known as Charlotte's eighteenth birthday, William dragged her away from the Weepers, experiencing the light tug of the mob before turning her in the direction of Kensington Palace.

"Where are we going?" she asked, wondering why he needed secrecy.

He grinned, "You will see soon enough."

They stood facing Kensington Palace, a place William knew well as this particular palace was one he had visited in his days of balls and matrons guarding their charges like little plump bulldogs.

"I've always wanted to come here." Charlotte said wistfully.

William's grin spread like the Cheshire Cat's, "I know, that's why we're doing this."

He led her up to the gate and opened it; nothing is locked to a Weeper. He led her inside and was surprised by the darkness, but, almost like a vampire, Weepers could see in the dark.

"Here," Charlotte announced helpfully, flipping one of the new fangled twenty-first century devices and flooded the place with light.

He linked their arms, "Now, let me show you the gardens."

She gasped when she saw the perfectly trimmed walks and the capping finish, the round pond the entire thing had been designed around.

"It's perfect," she exclaimed hugging him tightly.

"Can't breathe," he gasped, and she let go grinning at the sight of the beautiful plant life around her. He shrugged and held out a cupcake.

"I know we don't need to eat," he answered, "But, I thought it was appropriate."

"You remembered my birthday!" she gushed.

"Of course I did," he sighed, "Without you I would never have gotten over her, learned to live without a pessimistic view, and most of all, I don't think I could handle life without you looking out for me, and you certainly wouldn't last long either."

And, as the pair hugged fiercely, the chain that constantly tugged at them, disappeared.

February, 2011

He had written a book about our experiences, gotten a movie deal, and was living the high life. But, when we realized what had happened I dragged him home with me like a lost puppy and asked my parents if we could keep him.

Sometimes, I regretted the choice, like when he forced me to attend Oxford, for the betterment of my own mind, and punched out the first date of mine he met, but then, I now had an unshakable rock, who I could always count on for firm advice. He went to Oxford too, paid for his education after his book had become a bestseller, and there I met his friend John.

As much as I hated to say it, when we stopped looking for true love, like what we thought we had lost, and found the familial bond we shared after seven months of only each other's company, our lives changed for the better.

When I graduate in two years, he will be standing at the altar, right next to John, giving me a reproving glance if our kiss lasts two long.

He still occasionally has trouble with the technology that snowballed after "his time" but he likes to push buttons and figure out how things work on their own,

Sometimes, I like to make fun of him for being such an old man with his recognizable nineteenth century ways, and John always responds that he is just as old as William, to which I only laugh.

And of course, when people say things are just a story, I sigh and realize their ignorance before moving on. Sometimes, science isn't the answer for everything.

A/N this was meant to be a full length novel buttttt it ended up being my end of the semester English project. It started at a 90 page ish thing from the outline, I got it down to 25 and then my English teacher said it was too long so it became a 15 page short story. Sorry I don't have the 25 pager anymore.

Thanks for reading