Mythical Monday: The Mistletoe Bride by Mae Clair

Hello and welcome to another Mythical Monday! Today I’d like to revisit an urban legend that seemed perfect for the month of December – – that of the Mistletoe Bride.

bigstock-Young-Tender-Bride-44377663According to legend, a young bride suggested a game of hide-and-seek during the merriment of her wedding reception. The groom would be “it” and she and the guests would hide.

Most tales place the time near Christmas, the reception held in an elaborate country home or mansion decorated for the holidays. Several famous houses in England claim origination of the tale, such as Marwell House in Hampshire. Marwell was once owned by the family of Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour (not that Jane – – although I’m a huge fan!!).

In each retelling, the bride is dressed in her wedding gown, flush with the excitement of the game and the glow of being a new wife. She scampers off to find the perfect hiding place while the other guests join in the fun. After a suitable time, her husband locates each participant but is unable to find his bride. At first he thinks she is only playing, but as the hours wear on and she fails to appear, he grows worried. The guests help him search but are unable to find the missing bride. Eventually, they leave and go home, their hearts heavy with misgiving. Days pass, then weeks, and the heartbroken groom muddles through, forced to go on with his life.

Many years later a cleaning woman stumbles upon a locked trunk in the attic while tidying up. Curious about the contents, she breaks the lock and peers inside. To her horror she discovers the skeleton of a woman clothed in a moldy wedding dress, a piece of mistletoe by her side. Apparently, when the clever bride climbed in the trunk, the lid fell and struck her unconscious, locking her inside. When she awoke, she was trapped, her screams never heard by those who searched for her.

Freed from the trunk by the cleaning lady, her ghost now roams the halls of the mansion, fumbling at locked doors.

This is an extremely old tale that has had several variations in setting and time, but in all, the unfortunate bride is trapped inside the chest. It makes you think twice about hiding in anything with a lock, doesn’t it?

Mythical Monday: The Spooky House by Mae Clair

Happy Labor Day, everyone! It’s a holiday and the three day weekend has me feeling lazy.

I cheated with today’s Mythical Monday because I originally ran this post on June 6, 2012, before I’d begun my weekly feature. Since only four people saw it (and it was a Wednesday), I figure I’m safe in posting it again. 🙂 I hope you enjoy!

The Spooky House

There’s one in every neighborhood. When I was six, the spooky house was two doors down, part of the urban tree-lined street where my family made their home. A brooding three-story structure of gray stone with a sprawling covered front porch, white columns, and side bump-outs, it oozed mystery. The adults might have been oblivious, but all the neighborhood kids knew it was haunted.

No one actually lived there. It had been converted for business offices with a huge parking lot in the rear that butted against an alley. The lot was sectioned off with lengths of heavy chain strung between squat cement pilings. We’d see people come and go, swallowed up inside, but there were never many cars in the lot, Naturally, we were suspicious.

My friends and I were convinced a coven of witches met there, and that if you ventured too close to the sides where the shadows were thickest, you’d be sucked up into a coffin tucked beneath the eaves. No one would ever know what happened to you because an evil twin, capable of fooling everyone, took your place.

bigstock-Ghost-At-The-Window-tint--23502128The house also had a resident ghost who lived on the second floor. We knew this because the south facing room had a trio of beautiful stained glass windows and that was the perfect place for a ghost to languish.  Our phantom was female. She was a melancholy soul who’d been separated from her true love and imprisoned by the witches because they were jealous. She spent her time listening to an old-fashioned music box, weeping for her lost love, and looking romantically tragic in a flowing white dress. It’s amazing what six-year-olds can envision, especially when inspired by Dark Shadows and Quentin Collins!

Once when we were swinging on the metal chains in the parking lot (kids do dumb things when adults aren’t around), one of the neighborhood boys fell and cracked his head on the asphalt. It was a traumatic experience with a lot of screaming, crying and blood splatter. I remember following the trail of blood down the alley and across a connecting street to his house a day later. The evidence stayed there a long time before the rain washed away the grisly reminder.  Although Chester recovered, we were sure the witches had caused his fall, angry that we’d discovered their secrets. I don’t think he ever swung on the chains again. I’m not sure I did either.

Not long after that, my family moved to the suburbs where I made new friends and found a new house to invent stories about. Why is it that old homes twine so ideally with the paranormal?

What about you?  Was there a spooky house in your neighborhood that still resonates in your memory? I’d love to hear about it!

Mythical Monday: The Ghosts of Time Revisited by Mae Clair

timeIn April, I wrote a Mythical Monday post called the Ghosts of Time, in which I included a long-standing legend in my family. If you didn’t read that post it involved a grandfather’s clock which belonged to my father.

While my dad was living, he always said that when he died as a way to communicate, he would stop the clock if it was running and start it if it was stopped. And yes, it did stop the first time the family was gathered together several months after his death. See my Ghosts of Time post for the whole story.

Because of my father’s promise, clocks have a profound place in my family.

There is another occurrence that took place sometime after his death. My mother and I went to the theater to see The Omen. Why, I have no clue. I certainly couldn’t/wouldn’t sit through it today *shudder*

Anyway, after my father died, my mother gave me the watch he was wearing when he passed away. As a way to keep him close to me, I wore it a lot in those days. My mom and I were headed into the theater when she asked me what time it was. I think we were running late and were worried we would miss the opening of the movie. I honestly don’t remember the exact time, but we usually went to a “twilight” feature, so I’ll say it was
5:30 PM.

When we came out of the theater and were headed for the car, chatting about the movie, my mom again asked for the time. I remember glancing down, dismayed to realize the watch had stopped. At precisely the moment we originally entered the theater—5:30 PM.

That’s not really a huge deal. Parts fail, batteries expire, watches stop. I remember saying, “Oh. Dad’s watch stopped.”

Now for the odd part…the the part that is a huge deal. As I was watching, the second hand started moving again and the watch began working. To this day, I’m not certain what that signifies other than my father had moved on to a heavenly existence and perhaps didn’t like the taint of the movie. It’s one of those vivid memories that stand out when I look back over my life.

Recently, something similar occurred.

Vintage Wood ClockI’ve told you how I love grandfathers’ clocks because of my dad. I also have a love of cuckoo clocks because of my mother. She grew up with one and pretty much instilled that love in me.

Many years ago my husband and I purchased a cuckoo clock. It’s now over twenty years old and hasn’t worked in several years. I had it repaired once during that span, but when it stopped working for the second time, I didn’t bother. The repairs were too extensive. Despite that, I kept the clock on the wall in the kitchen, because I like the look of it.

I recently hosted a party for my family. I used to host one every May for my mother’s birthday. Last weekend was the first time I’ve had the entire family together at my house since my mother passed away. The last time was to celebrate my mom’s birthday in May 2012.

As the last three party guests were leaving for the night, I glanced toward the kitchen and realized the cuckoo clock was ticking. The same cuckoo clock that hasn’t worked in years. I can’t begin to describe the feeling I had when I saw the pendulum swinging back and forth and heard the steady tick-tock, tick-tock.

The next day I checked with everyone who had been at the party and no one started the clock. I had been in and out of the kitchen multiple times during the party and the clock wasn’t working. And yet, when everything wound to a close, it was ticking along as though it had always worked.

We stopped it and it hasn’t started again. I don’t believe it ever will. Once was enough, a message from my mother to say she had been there with everyone in spirit.

At least I like to think so.