The Apple Blossom Lady - a short story by Pauline Kirk

Thu 23rd January 2020
Pauline Kirk

Maria shivered, turning towards David. “What was that?” she whispered. “The ghost?” Until then she hadn’t believed the legend.

“Ghosts don’t scatter stones,” David replied. “Look!” He pointed to where a fine rain of gravel fell behind the house. “Someone slipped. But what are they doing on the hill in the dark? We’d better see if Miss B’s ok.”

After three rings of the bell an eye appeared at the spy hole. “It’s David and Maria - your new neighbours,” David called. “There’s someone prowling around. Are you all right?” The door opened and Miss Blavaski greeted them. “Come in Darlings,” she invited. “I’m fine. I was going to call. I have a present for you.”

Mystified, they followed the woman down a panelled hallway and into a large lounge dominated by a grand piano. There was a strong scent, like apple blossom. Maria saw David frown but he said nothing. “Forgive the mess,” Miss Blavaski said. “I’m working.”

She saw their bewilderment. “I’m a composer. That’s how I earn my living, though mostly from writing practice pieces for children. This is theme music for a film but it’s being stubborn. Greta isn’t helping tonight.”

Maria looked at the cat curled on a pile of paper. “I thought he was called Henry,” she said. Miss B laughed, crossing to fetch a carrier bag from the table. “Just a little thank you for feeding him,” she explained and passed the bag to Maria.

“Henry hinders rather than helps, sitting on my music. Greta’s long dead of course but I like to think she keeps me company. I imagine you’ve heard the story at the Fox and Grapes?” Uncertainly David nodded. “An ancestor perhaps?” he asked tactfully.

“My Great Grandmother. Slipped from the rocks while she was waiting for her lover. Great Grand Daddy may have given her a push.”

“So she really existed?” Maria asked. “Oh yes. I have photos. She was lovely, and a very clever musician. She toured the music halls as Greta Blavaski before she married. I took her surname when I went professional - much more interesting than Angela Brown. I’m not surprised she had a lover. She must have been bored to tears here.” The woman smiled and glanced at the clock. “You must come for drinks sometime, but I have a deadline to meet this week.”

Taking the hint David and Maria left, thanking her for the gift. “I want to see if anyone’s still on the hill,” David insisted afterwards. “Come on. We’ve both got torches and there’s a good moon.”

They walked carefully up the track as far as the beacon stone. There was no one about. In relief they stood in the moonlight looking at the house below. “Can you smell apple blossom?” Maria asked in surprise. “It must have got stuck in my nostrils.”

“Yes,” David said. He shook his head in bewilderment. “There’s a bit of the legend I didn’t tell you. I thought it was trivial. People say that whenever the ghost appears you can smell the perfume she wore: Apple Blossom.”

Pauline is a published poet and Editor of Fighting Cock Press. Pauline writes as PJ Quinn for the D I Ambrose novels. Her sci-fi novel Borders 7 is out with Stairwell books.

Just Beverley