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November Eve

Denis took one last look around the storeroom, hung up his tally sheet, then closed and locked the door,he was late, later than usual, he had buried his mother the day before and had to work extra hours to make up for the day he took off.

As he walked down the road to the gate he could hear Patrick, “Hurry up Denis, it’s cold and I don’t have all night.”

Denis had an accident ten years earlier while working in the fields that had left him with a severe limp that made him move at a less than normal pace.

”Get a move on you little crippled bastard .” Yelled Patrick. “I don’t know why they keep you around, I would have gotten rid of you years ago!”

Denis ignored him, after all, he was only the gateman, not as lofty a position as Patrick thought it was.

As the gate clanged shut behind him he heard Patrick one last time, “it’s Halloween Denis, don’t let the fairie’s get you!”

Denis just smiled, it was only another way for Patrick to ridicule him.

He pulled the collar of his coat up around his neck to help ward off the cold late October night air. He then began the long walk back to his home.

As he approached the dark gray walls of the ‘Estate’ he slowed down, and a long forgotten memory came back to him. It was here that he first met Una.

It was his first day working at the castle, he was on his way home when he saw her standing by the gate in the wall. She was the most beautiful, radiant girl he had ever seen.

”Hello” she said, in a voice that sounded like tiny bells chiming in the wind, then she smiled.

He felt his knees grow weak, muttered “Hello” dropped his eyes to the ground and kept walking, wondering why such a radiant girl would even speak to him.

The next day after work as he approached the Estate, he saw her again.

”Hello” she said in that same melodious voice, “I’m Una, and you are called?”

Denis stopped, eyes to the ground, muttered “Denis”

Well, hello Denis, can you stay a while and talk?” she asked.

“I have to hurry home.” He replied “My mother is waiting for me.” He then started walking.

“Perhaps tomorrow then?” Una called after him.

As Denis walked home he was full of regrets for not staying a while and talking with Una,

The following Day, he saw Una as he walked down the road.

"Hello Denis, can you stay a while today?" She asked

He replied that he could but, was very unsure of what to say.

Una took him by the hand and led him to a small stream nearby. Una did most of the talking, asking where he lived and worked, asked about his mother, but, she seemed to know the answers before he gave them. Soon he indicated he had to leave, it was getting late and his mother would worry.

”See you tomorrow then?” she asked.

”Yes” replied Denis.

For weeks after that he spent more and more time with Una. But, his mother was becoming more and more worried about how late he was coming home. She began to question him about it, asking who he was with and where was he spending his time. Denis was unwilling to tell her but knew he had to sooner rather than later.

The next evening, while he and Una were talking, he told her about his mother’s concerns. He said he was going to tell her about her, and that because of spending time with her he was so late getting home.

”Oh Denis,” Una cried out. “Please don’t do that! She will not understand and, you’ll ruin it for the both of us,”

”Alright, Una, I’ll wait a while before I tell her, but, she will not wait long.” He told her.

When he arrived home, his mother was at the door waiting for him.

”Sit down!” she said. “Nora’s mother saw you this evening with a girl. Who is she and where did you meet her?

“I was going to tell you mother.”

”Oh, just how long before you told me?” She asked.

I was going to tell you tonight but Una thought I should wait a while.”

”Una is it? She asked.”And just where did you meet this Una?"

”By the Estate.” He replied.

”The Estate? Does she live near there?”

I think she lives there” he answered. “She goes in a gate at the Estate”

”No one lives at the Estate, the place is haunted, and, there is no gate in the wall!”

”But I’m telling you mother, there is a gate and she enters it at night." He said.

"Heaven help me!” she exclaimed as she crossed herself. “My son has taken up with a Fairy Woman, You’ll not be seeing her anymore” and with that, she threw holy water on him.

Unseen by either of them, a hooded figure turned away with tears in her eyes.

The next morning as he was leaving for work, his mother sprinkled him with holy water. As he passed the Estate, There were only gray walls. That evening there was no Una and again no gate. Maybe tomorrow, he thought The next day was the same, days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, he never saw Una again and, slowly, the memory of her began to fade with time.

He remembered how once people said they heard music from the Estate, he had scaled the walls, finding nothing on the other side but over grown fields.

Overcome with the emotion of those memories, he staggered to the bank of the stream where he and Una spent so many hours together. He wondered, why all these memories came flooding back now. He held his head in his hands and began to weep, “Una, Una" he cried, “I miss you so.”

Then suddenly like tiny bells on the wind he heard his name

”Denis, ,Denis, I’m here.”

Jumping up he turned, there was Una, as beautiful and radiant as before.

”I’ve been waiting for you Denis.” She said.

”But, but,” stammered Denis, ”You're still so young and I’m old and can barely walk.”

“Do not worry Denis, all will be alright, just come with me.”

Taking him by the hand, they walked together to the gate. As they passed through the gate, the years fell from Denis and he was a young man of twenty again.

The gate closed behind Denis and Una and disappeared and Denis was never seen in this world again.

- James Browne -