Whispering Fog is a journal of a young girl named Belinda Brady that lived in the year of 1959, it tells the story of how she literally fell into the whispering fog and traveled aboard the Aeolus, a tall sailing ship in the year of 1788. How she fought pirates, attended a Christmas Ball at Drayton Hall Plantation in Charleston, SC, and traveled from Maine to St. Augustine, FL visiting ports along the way. How she became the Barrel Man, lookout for the ship climbing high up to the crow’s nest swaying with the movement of the tall ship, and the story of how she fell in love. This novel delivers the beauty of emotions of affection, sorrow, laughter, a story of tragedy, of unconditional love, not only romantically, but love of friends, an ageless tale.
This is the first chapter of "Whispering Fog"
The Adventure of the Aeolus, “Keeper of the Wind”
Harbor Towne, Maine
Monday, October 13th, 1959
Voices called my name. I couldn’t answer. My throat was chocking me. I couldn’t scream anymore. My beating heart pounded in my ears as my body plummeted through the misty air, not graceful as a seagull diving for a fish in the sea, but more as a ragdoll with arm and legs flapping wildly. Weightlessness had taken over. I couldn’t stop myself. I became frozen in fear. Total darkness was all around me until a bright…
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Johnny waved his hand in the air trying to get the attention of the young girl deep in thought sitting across the kitchen table from him. The flickering flames of the birthday candles sparkled in her eyes.
“Belinda,” Johnny called out. His long body leaned across the table gently patting the formica top with his fingers. “Well, have you made your wish?” He chuckled, tapping even louder on the tabletop. “You’d better blow out the candles before the cake catches on fire.”
Belinda pulled her eyes away from the shimmering flames of the candles. She felt a chill in the air and tugged her new, pink sweater up around her neck, her birthday gift from her father. She shivered, a shiver that started from the bottom of her feet ending when her head quivered, bringing her thoughts back. She swished away the curls of long blonde hair from her face. Quickly, she leaned her head over the two-layer white icing cake, with its green buttercream swirls piped on the sides. Taking in one long deep breath, she blew out the twenty multicolored-striped candles leaving a swirling cloud of smoke.
“Happy birthday Katelynn Belinda Brady,” Johnny said proudly. He carefully lifted each of the candles from the birthday cake that he’d purchased along with the birthday meal from Miss Sophia’s bakery and deli.
Johnny’s tall body reclined against the back of the kitchen chair making it squeak. His eyes stayed fixed on Belinda. He’d been in love with Belinda all of his life, and the gossipy women around the small town of Harbor Towne, Maine, including his mom, had wondered why the two hadn’t married. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled as he continued to stare wondering the same thing. It wasn’t because he hadn’t tried, but every time he brought up marriage, Belinda would discreetly change the subject. Now that she’d turned twenty, he believed things would change or at least he hoped they would.
Belinda smiled back at Johnny noticing he was deep in thought. She knew she couldn’t resist the tan face of the butternut haired boy, who’d been her best friend, her confidante, since the first grade in Mrs. Jones’s class. She’d never had many friends growing up in the small town of Harbor Towne and living miles from town on Franklin’s Cliff next to the tall lighthouse, didn’t help her socially. It seemed the girls in her class at school had always been jealous of her and the boys were afraid of her because she was too headstrong. Except Johnny, he knew she was stubborn, bullheaded, and nothing anyone said or did would change her mind. But, today her impetuousness was waning and she didn’t like how that feeling felt.
Johnny stood from his chair. He hurried to the cabinet hanging next to the sink and pulled out two of his mom’s plates with blue flowers on the edges. The knife slid into the cake. He stopped briefly waving the knife in the air as his eyes peered out from under his long hair. “That must’ve been a hell of a wish – it sure took you awhile.”
“I’m sorry Johnny,” she replied. Her fingers strummed nervously tapping her nails in an odd rhythm on the table. “My dream I had last night keeps haunting me.”
“Ohhhhhhh, the dream about falling?”
Johnny leaned over the table and stared into Belinda’s eyes. “Awwww, you know what a dream about falling means. You’ve lost control of something in your life and you’re trying to grasp, cling to something or maybe someone…”
“Johnny,” she interrupted, “no more therapy sessions and I haven’t lost control. I’m fine.”
“I can’t help it, I am a psychology major. Remember, I’m here to help.”
She smiled back at him. “You know my mind won’t stop thinking about what happened last night.”
“What about it?” he questioned with a puzzled look on his face. He sat back in the kitchen chair. “Oh, it’s about the strange lights and sounds you heard out by the lighthouse; you need to let it go. That’s just superstitious rot.”
“I can’t,” she shivered again tugging her sleeves of her sweater down to her cupped hands. “It gives me the chills when I think about it – there was something that....” Her voice trailed off as Johnny moaned.
“Ur,” grunted Johnny, “you’ve just got a very strong imagination and living on that cliff by the tall lighthouse all of your life isn’t helping.” He wanted to add, and you need to marry me and move away from that lighthouse, but he bit his lip stopping the words from coming out.
“I know my imagination is going wild, but…” “Belinda,” Johnny interrupted still holding onto the large knife covered in soft moist cake, “there wasn’t anyone out on the water that late at night, especially in a thick fog.” His head shook no. “Tales of a whispering fog swallowing ships and people are only tall tales from sailors who’ve been living too long at sea and drinking too much rum.” He drew his shoulders back against the slats of the straight back chair. His eyes squinted giving her a strong look. “The stories aren’t real. Maybe the movie we watched at the drive-in last Saturday night stirred up your imagination.”
“No, the movie didn’t bother me and I know real from fiction,” she snapped back at him getting annoyed. She studied Johnny’s exasperated face and knew she was pushing his patience telling her tales about what she’d seen on her cliff last night. A foolish feeling came over her; it was silly to be so concerned about a silly dream and a foggy night. She’d spent hundreds of foggy nights on her cliff, so why did the fog last night worry her? Maybe her Granddad Elias’s story about a mysterious whispering fog was making her imagination work overtime and Johnny was correct. No one would be out in the sea on a foggy night. The answer of what happened last night was simple. The shadows she’d seen swishing on the water were from the light of the lighthouse bouncing off the fog, and the soft muffled sounds weren’t whispering voices at all, but the sound of the wind whistling up the side of the cliff.
Johnny didn’t say anything else and finished slicing two oversize pieces of birthday cake.
Belinda ate every bite of her piece of cake, opened her gift from Johnny, a gold charm bracelet with a perfect replica of a golden lighthouse dangling from the bracelet. She sat quietly at the kitchen table in Johnny’s parent’s century old farmhouse. Her eyes became hypnotized by the golden lighthouse swinging gently in a pattern on her wrist in the dull glow from the round ceiling light with one of its bulbs burned out.
“Belinda, you’re doing it again.”
His words floated in her mind and her head shook as she gathered her thoughts. “I’m sorry Johnny.” She paused. She couldn’t stop herself as the words came out of her mouth. “I keep remembering what your Granddad Evert said earlier when I told him about seeing the whispering fog last night on my cliff. How it appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared just as fast.”
“I knew it was a mistake to let you talk to Granddad Evert, he’s full of old wives tales.
“But,” she blurted out; “he said my great, great grandfather Finnegan Augustus Brady went missing for six weeks in the year of 1846 and when he returned home…” She watched Johnny’s reaction. “He told strange stories about the whispering fog rising up the side of Franklin’s Cliff and taking him away.”
“Yep, but you heard Granddad Evert’s explanation of what really happened back then.”
“I know, then again…” Johnny interrupted. “Everyone in town said Finnegan ran off with the widow Harris, since she left the same day he went missing, and when it didn’t work out with her… Finnegan made up the story of the strange fog, so he could come home with some dignity.”
She arched a brow and irritably waved her hands in the air as if they could do the talking. “That’s just speculation!”
Johnny leaned his long body back in his chair crossed his hands over his head wiggling his fingers. “Maybe there’s some wildness hidden in your family tree,” he snickered watching and waiting for a reaction.
“Fiddlesticks,” she responded puckering her face into a frown.
“Oh, I give,” she declared throwing her hands in the air, “I guess you’re right.”
“Finally,” he moaned lowering his elbows to the table and placing his head in his hands staring at her. “You know you are pigheaded.”
Anxiously, she sat quietly for a few minutes and twirled the golden lighthouse charm hanging from her wrist. “Anyway, how could someone just disappear into a fog?” She narrowed her eyes and looked up at him. “And I’m not pigheaded,” she snapped.”
He laughed showing his crooked grin knowing she had to have the last word in any disagreement.
Later that night, Johnny’s black 1954 Ford pickup crept slowly, twisting and turning along the winding dirt road, leaving a trail of dust behind. They were headed to Franklin’s Cliff where the Harbor Towne Lighthouse had sat next to Belinda’s home for centuries. Johnny gripped the steering wheel tightly, for a moment he gazed over at Belinda sitting on the seat next to him only inches away. He took in her perfect size oval face, soft creamy skin, cute nose and a smile that melted him into a pile of jello. She was the most beautiful girl in the county and had the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. He took in a deep breath smelling the fresh lilac scent of her perfume. His mouth tightened when her eyes lit as the truck’s headlights illuminated the tall stone lighthouse in front of them. This Christmas, Johnny was going to ask Belinda to marry him whether she was ready or not, but he knew the truth; he couldn’t compete with Belinda’s other love, her lighthouse standing tall on the rugged cliff.
The pickup pulled to a stop in front of Belinda’s old Victorian home. Johnny quickly jumped out of the truck. Belinda slid past the steering wheel, climbed out of the truck, and stood next to him. He grabbed her shoulders spun her around to face him as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders letting his fingers gently play with her long, blonde hair. “Happy birthday, Belinda,” he whispered in her ear. He leaned down and their lips met, as he kissed her with passion.
“Thanks, Johnny, for my birthday dinner and charm bracelet,” she said. Her fingers gently stroked his face as she stared into his kind eyes.
“You’re welcome. Now, you be careful walking around out here in the dark,” Johnny offered. His voice crackled and his face became taut.
“I’m fine out here, stop worrying it’s a beautiful calm night, and…” she grinned, “no fog is in sight, but…” Her hand gripped Johnny’s muscular arm from years of hard work on his daddy’s fishing boat. She whispered in a soft voice. “I wish you’d stay for a while longer and go for a walk with me.”
“Don’t tempt me,” he chuckled. “I wish I could, but it’s getting late and I have to be at the dock before sunrise to meet Daddy, and later in the afternoon I have a couple of classes at school. I still don’t like you being out here on this cliff all alone.” He paused; “maybe you should go inside and forget about your walk.” He became quiet and his eyes panned the rocky cliff. “There’s a strangeness in the air that I don’t like and it seems very muggy, not a normal October night.”
“Now, you’re the one talking silly, it’s always damp by the sea,” she answered. Her fingers brought his face down to her face and she gave him a long kiss goodbye. “You sure you can’t stay?” she teased.
Johnny chuckled. “Belinda Brady, are you trying to seduce me?”
“Well, is it working?”
“Ohhhhhhh…” His head shook a slow no. “Gotta get going, it’s getting late,” he replied stepping back from her. He slid from his pocket a wooden handle pocketknife and handed it to her.
“What’s that for?”
“Look, I don’t like you being out here all alone; keep the knife with you tonight.”
“That’s your granddaddy’s old pocketknife, I can’t take it. Johnny, stop worrying I’m fine out here. Remember I can handle myself.”
“That karate stuff you do doesn’t work.” His head swung from side to side. “But a knife will protect you.”
“You’re sounding silly. I don’t need protecting.”
“Take it; at least it’ll make me feel better.”
“Fine,” she answered. Not wanting to argue with him anymore, she slid the pocketknife into her jean pocket.
Neptune, her playful Irish setter, ran up nudging her leg. “See, I’m not alone, I have Neptune,” she laughed, “and daddy is in the house.”
She turned from Johnny and followed Neptune down the path towards the cliff’s edge. She stopped walking and waved her arm in the air. “Goodbye Johnny, I’ll see you tomorrow when you’re finished with school,” she shouted at him.
Johnny swung his arm out of the pickup’s window and waved goodbye. A trying smile was on his face as the pickup gradually drove away. The old truck’s headlights disappeared down the dirt road leaving only the bright lights of the harvest moon blending with the yellow glowing light of the stone lighthouse, as the light circled in a constant rhythm.
Belinda watched the pickup as it vanished into the darkness of the night, already missing Johnny, and wishing he’d stayed with her for a while. However, little did she know that their kiss goodbye would be their last kiss.
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