There was a sudden spark as though someone had hit the fire with a stream of gasoline and suddenly the room was illuminated as though it were day. The moment of light suddenly made the Have vanish and it became clear what the widow’s settings were supposed to look like. It also showed off multiple shadows that seemed to cower. The human forms were exposed only for a second before they drifted off to darken the nearest corner to them. One, however, was not so lucky. One shadow remained open on the floor before the fire, nearest to the lady in black, and clear to the group as the widow circled around it. Another crackle of the fire made the shadow more pronounced and it was obvious from this one small burst that it was not the shadow of a woman but of a man. It scuttled away, trying to quickly slink away from the light but the lady in black was too quick for it. She seemed to casually glide but in a quick moment, she made a point to step on the tail of where the shadow had been. The group cringed as they saw the struggling form writhe and helplessly claw the air as it was slowly drawn into the black dress that the woman before them was wearing. She sighed as the darkness settled and went back to simply being the fabric that hung around her body.
“Okay so that solves the mystery of why the shadows weren’t on the attack,” Will said, quietly.
“Couldn’t they attack as a group?” Dolly asked, looking around to see if they would try to come out. She saw movement scurrying around but all of them seemed to be trying to scuttle away.
“I think they could if they wanted to,” Matt replied, looking at the widow. “Why wouldn’t they want to if being stuck in this room means they’re going to become fabric?”
“Oh never you all mind him,” the widow said, tenderly. “He was a rover, that one. I was but a wisp of a girl when I met him. Charming lad, he was. He had all the swagger of a young movie star and that was so very exciting back then. Of course, I believed all the things he had to tell me back when he was so young and handsome. He really did have such a way with words, you understand. I suppose, then, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I wasn’t the only girl who had fallen hopelessly in love with those dimples and promises.”
“Is there where the story takes a turn and you start singing that he had it coming?” Matt said, cringing.
“You like Chicago?” Lydia said, quietly.
“Guilty pleasure,” Matt grumbled, under his breath.
“Guys, focusing on task at hand,” Dolly said, watching as the widow got closer to them. She stopped short of actually touching them but passed by close enough that they could smell the funeral lilies that she’d been holding. And a kind of perfume that seemed far less appropriate to be hearing to such a somber event. “Did you kill your husband?”
“Oh but I hardly had any choice,” the widow sighed, heavily, her face turned to the fire. “You wouldn’t understand unless, of course, you’d been there. How easily the young and beautiful of this world can play a part that fools the world. They can be so kind and generous when they get what they want.”
“And they can be so hard to please when they get angry?” Dolly guessed, a slight edge to her voice. The widow looked her in the eye and for the first time, her smile wasn’t artifice. She nodded once and sighed.
“Romance is such a strange spell to cast upon anyone, no? One moment, you are just who you are, sure of what you know and what you stand for. The next, you find yourself caught up in such beautiful fantasies, like somehow you’ve stumbled into a fairytale where you get to be the princess after all,” the widow laughed, mirthlessly. “How difficult it is to reconcile that your prince is nothing more than a charlatan who, falsely, assumed that you would simply be willing to hand over all your money to him for nothing. And how utterly furious he was to find out that being born into society didn’t mean that money was a guarantee. Such a temper is hard to control and sometimes, it got out of hand. I couldn’t very well have him ruin my lipstick again, could I?”
A pall settled on the group as the cold became sharper again. The five of them curled in even tighter, Dolly pulling Stuart and Will closer and Matt shaking as he found a way to wedge in closer to Lydia. The cold air swirled about the widow, stirring up the shadows and Dolly got a sinking feeling as she watched her move now. The woman in black before them had been very serious and in one instance, Dolly was sure that she was telling the truth. She was certain that she knew what this woman was talking about when she heard her speak of how her husband had a temper. But there were instances where she was also certain that this woman was lying. It didn’t help that everything she said wasn’t exactly adding up. If the shadows were what she now thought they must be, they might indeed be dealing with a lot more trouble than she thought.
“Dolly, my hands are freezing,” Lydia complained. “If we know that she killed her husband because he hit her, is there more to know before we know her story?”
“There is but I think that we’re getting there,” Dolly sighed.
“There’s more to this story than I think we’re getting to see,” Will said, trying to push his spider legs into his sweater. “For one, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense for a young man to be attached to wallpaper from his youth if he was around her age.”
“And this guy with the good looks didn’t seem like the type to want an obedient wife with a shit load of children either,” Matt nodded.
“And that would explain why there’s more than one shadow trying to avoid coming anywhere near the fire,” Dolly said.
The sound of the crackling fire was dulled only by the ticking of the large clock as they realized how slowly it was going now. How very slow and laborious it seemed to be moving now that they were all quiet. Everyone was uncomfortable but no one wanted to speak for fear that they would accidentally give away the silent conclusion that they were all coming to. If the woman before them knew what they were thinking, she gave no indication but Dolly thought for certain that she could see a kind of expression of satisfaction on her face. Something that was difficult to see beneath the veil but there was a kind of odd smile on her lips and deep in her heart, she knew that what she was seeing was true. They were looking at a woman who had admitted to murdering her husband. Even if Dolly could believe that the man she told them about had forced her hand, that didn’t explain the room full of figures that were trying to avoid this woman at all cost. She doubted that all of them had been horrible, abusive jerks and even if they were, currently, they were reduced to ghosts and the widow was not. Ultimately, it hardly mattered. They all were stuck in this hellishly icy room, trapped with an admitted murderer.