The Withered Mistletoe – A Short Gothic Tale
“The sun rises and fades,
The flowers bloom and wither away,
Night falls and the stars glow,
When morning comes my heart is still filled with woe,
You are not here with me, you are gone,
My life is empty; it sings a tragic song,
I ask myself must everything beautiful end;
Why does love always have to bend?
And a voice answers ‘no’; love always transcends,
With a new morning, the radiant sun, and blossoming flowers,
Though the days have passed and painful were the infinite hours,
All that has gone returns,
Love that is true forever burns”
It was Christmas Eve and the year was 1899. The snow had shrouded the streets of London and children sang Christmas carols in choirs on the streets. Holly and bells decked the lamp-posts; children frolicked with excitement, their parents carried wrapped gifts; t’was the perfect season to be jolly. Yet Captain Knightley sat somberly on an antique rocking chair in the main hall of his lonesome house; the embers in the hearth had died out. He was a man accustomed to harsh weather conditions – all his youth spent on the sea had hardened him; he had grown tenacious physically, though he always had a fragile heart and a brooding soul.
He had only been eighteen, a young lad when just after Christmas he was to go on his first ever expedition as a naval officer. But he wanted to make that Christmas special. He had decided to propose to his beloved Amelia, a young beautiful girl whom he had known since they were children.
That Christmas Captain Knightley plucked up bravado and at a particular moment when both he and Amelia stood under the mistletoe in the main hall of his house, he proposed. Amelia looked at him with forlorn eyes – for she had committed herself to another. It was not very clear to Captain Knightley whether Amelia loved him or not for she touched his hand gently and quietly walked away.
That moment had surely broken Captain Knightley’s heart. He had imagined that moment time and time again – in his fantasy, Amelia would have said ‘yes’ and they would have kissed under the mistletoe. But that did not happen – in fact that most brutal rejection had struck Captain Knightley like a terrible storm rattling a ship.
Amelia had married soon after and had left for France. For some years Captain Knightley’s only abode was his ship. He was a talented young man and eventually became Captain after his intelligent tactics helped in saving the crew on board when a storm actually struck. He was revered as a brave and noble young Captain. It was upon Captain Knightley’s dying mother’s request he was compelled to finally marry.
When he did, a most excruciating tragedy befell him. His wife died in childbirth and his infant son was stillborn. The grief of losing his wife and child scarred Captain Knightley’s fragile heart. He resigned from his post as Captain and confined himself to his lonely grand house in Hampstead. His mother too succumbed to her illness and Captain Knightley once again found himself alone in this world.
The mistletoe under which Captain Knightley’s heart had been broken by Amelia had of course withered with time. But given the sentimental man Captain Knightley was, he had placed some of the crumpled remains in the Hungarian puzzle box which Amelia had gifted to him as a child as a melancholic memory of his one true love.
It had been twelve years since Amelia had married and in those twelve years, one misery after another had befallen the noble Captain. He had become a cold man; at least he had a cold exterior and he greatly disliked children. It was perhaps because he had lost his own child. He had become a recluse and most of all, he despised Christmas. It was on Christmas that Amelia had left him with a broken heart; coincidentally it was on Christmas a few years later his wife and son had died.
“Christmas! Nothing more than a day which brings back the worst of memories” he thought to himself as he desolately peeked at the remnants of that withered mistletoe in the Hungarian box.
TO BE CONTINUED…….