Carol had inherited the house from her Aunt Nancy some 3years ago. It was a large foreboding place with a dark history as told by her other relatives, nothing specific, more innuendo than anything else. She had loved her Aunt Nancy and it had broken her heart when she died. Her aunt was a secretive person sharing very little information about her personal life; she had died alone as a spinster. Her aunt had brushed aside the rumors that surrounded her and seemed to live a very full and vibrant life. Carol spent many uneasy visits to the home she now owned, she did not know why she felt uneasy when she was in the home, she just did. Carol was only 29 but she had established herself as one of the top Home Decorators and she vowed to make this place her own.
The house had been under repair and remodeling for the last year and this was moving in day. It took three days before most of the new household things were in their place and some of the old items that came with the house were rearranged to Carol's satisfaction. In the mix of old items there were several old photos in nice Victorian frames so Carol had dispersed them around the house, she knew none of the people in the photos but they all mixed well in her overall plan for the house. One of the photos she particularly liked was of a very young man dressed in the clothing of the period holding a rose. She was drawn to the photo and looked at it several times until she finally put it on her dressing table in her bedroom and soon forgot about it.
Carol threw herself into her work spending very little time at the old house. When she came down with a very bad cold it forced her to stay home for several days. She stayed in bed most of the time fighting a fever; her sleep was restless and full of unwelcomed dreams. When she was awake she still felt uneasy. She had no Idea why, the house was secure with a new alarm system and she kept the doors locked at all times, yet she still felt uneasy. It was starting to play on her nerves. The strange sensation of being watched is what bothered her the most.
One night while taking a shower, Carol felt the presence of someone, or something. She whipped the shower curtain back so hard and fast that it tumbled down, but no one was there. She laughed at herself for being so stupid and afraid of nothing. Throughout the day the same feeling of being watched permeated her thoughts. She tried hard to shake the feeling but it would not go away.
The next night while taking a shower again the feeling that she was not alone came over her. She could feel the hair on the back of her neck standing up. Carol resisted pulling the shower curtain back as if the thin plastic was some sort of shield against what was on the other side. She stayed behind that curtain for over fifteen minutes until the cold drove her to slowly pull the curtain open. Head down, not looking forward for fear she would see something, she slowly stepped out of the shower, she moved forward then suddenly caught an image of someone in the mirror. She stopped dead in her tracks and slowly looked up to see a man standing in front of her, the blood rushed to her head and she fainted. When she woke she was lying on the bathroom tile and her head hurt where it had hit the floor. She immediately looked around, no one was there, and no sign of anyone ever being there. She cautiously got up and looked at the mirror. There was a large bruise on her head.
After getting herself together she went over the event in her mind; did she see someone, was he real, was it some sort of illusion, did she see him before or after she hit her head? She had long since checked all the locks and the security films and saw nothing out of order. She wrote off the event to her being sick and went through the motions of the day in a mechanical fashion until it was way past time to go to bed. Going upstairs she felt mentally exhausted and went straight in to bed.
The next day passed in the same fashion with nothing out of the ordinary, as she climbed the stairs she laughed at herself for being so stupid. She went into the bathroom intent on having a nice long hot shower. As she undressed she looked at her body in the mirror and thought not bad for someone who was sick, her ample breast, wide hips, and good looking facial features made her stand out against the average woman, and she had the confidence to know it. Carol turned and let the shower run on hot and then went into the adjoining bedroom to get a wash cloth. When she came back into the bathroom she stood in shock. Looking at the mirror, in big letters she saw written in the hot shower mist was the single word "SORRY".
Carol ran down the stairs with nothing on, not caring just wanting to put distance between her and the bathroom. Grabbing a coat from the closet she ran outside to a neighbor's home, pounded on the door and when they opened it she ran in and hid herself behind the old couple who lived there. She insisted that they call the police immediately and they complied with her request.
When the police arrived they searched the house and looked at the security tapes but found nothing. And when they looked at the mirror they saw nothing. For some reason they took her serious enough to search the house several times. It was obvious that they knew something she did not. When the police left, one stayed behind and told her that they had been called to this address with the same complaint before. Her aunt had apparently made those calls and now the situation was repeating itself. Like all the other complaints the police had found nothing but something told them that these were no prank calls.
Upon leaving the last officer told her to lock herself in and then he was gone. She started to climb the stairs and no sooner had she hit the third step when she looked up and there at that very moment she saw in plain view the very same man she had seen before. She turned to run but before she hit the door he was standing in front of it, she stopped in her tracks there was no escape, He looked at her and said, "I just wanted to look at you, I will not hurt you, I can't". He then evaporated in front of her eyes.
It took a full ten minutes for her brain to register what she thought just happened to her. She went outside and sat on the porch chair. When the neighbors saw her they came over and asked if everything was okay, she was far from okay, but replied that she was fine and just needed a little air. Hours later she was still sitting in that chair. Everything that grounded her, her entire belief system just went out the window, nothing made sense. She was not going crazy, she saw and heard what she saw and heard. It was real all right, no doubt about it, it was way too real.
Thoughts raced through her mind, what next? I could just leave and never come back, I could sell the place, I could do whatever it takes to get out. I would be financially ruined, I'll never get the money out of the house this soon, or I could just face this thing down and drive it out. Instead of me leaving, he would leave.
Carol got up from the chair and with grim determination walked into the house. She saw him standing there waiting for her. He gave her a disarming smile and disappeared. Well, he seemed friendly enough, and then she thought "what the hell am I going to do?" Days pasted then weeks, she never thought he had left. She felt his presence all the time but he never appeared. Then one night while stepping out of the shower, there he was just staring at her nakedness. He said, "You are very beautiful" then vanished. She just stood there and then started yelling at him every profanity she could think of, She was mad, damn mad. How could he invade her privacy, her home, her life, and think he could get away with it? Then she thought of course he could get away with it he was a ghost for Christ sake. She went for her towel and then saw it, A ROSE, A RED ROSE. Hurrying to pick it up fearing it would vanish she snapped it up. It was real, it had sweet fragrance and texture, it was beautiful, and it was the connection between reality and her sanity. It was real. She cried and sat on the floor.
When finally picking herself up off the floor, Carol realized she was still holding the rose, then it hit her all at once and she ran to the old photo she had put on her night stand. It was him! He was much younger at the time the photo was taken, but it was unmistakably him! Carefully opening the back of the frame she pulled the old photo out. On the back was written RICHARD 1923. No last name, just Richard 1923.
The weeks turned into months and her visitor if not welcome, was very consistent. He would always appear at least 3 times a week and always right after she stepped out of the shower. She told him, "I know your name, I've known it for a while," his only response was, "I know". At first her modesty made her hide her body in towels, but over time she accepted his presence and just let him see what he wanted to see. He always would say "very beautiful" and would leave the rose on the dressing table in the bedroom, often wondering where he got them. Carol started talking to him, and he seemed content to just listen saying very little himself, mostly just acknowledging her with smiles and gestures. She came to expect his appearances and started to look forward to them.
One night she was feeling lonely and had several drinks, she purposefully went to the shower and when she stepped out, just as expected, there he was. She posed for him; and he smiled. The more she posed the more he smiled, she was getting turned on and she hoped he was to. Finally she stopped and asked if he wanted to touch her. He said he wanted to touch her since the moment he laid eyes on her but he could not physically do it. She leaned over to touch him and he recoiled from her reach, but not before her hand went right through him. He hung his head and walked out the door and was gone. How stupid she thought, what was I thinking, now he will never come back, and she felt a great emptiness envelope her.
Richard did not appear for over a month and then, he was there like nothing happened. Carol started to say she was sorry, but he stopped her by putting a finger up to his lips and shaking his head no. He said "it is I that is sorry for not explaining the circumstances of my existence. Someday I will tell you but not now". He just looked at her and smiled then reached out to touch her cheek. His hand clearly was on her cheek but she felt nothing, she smiled none the less. He said "I know you do not feel me touching you but look into my face and you will see the love I hold for you". Looking into his eyes Carol did see love but she also saw profound sorrow. She reached for him not out of lust or pity, but as to comfort someone in need of human contact. This time he did not recoil, but as her hand reached for his it went through it to the other side. From the depth of her soul she said, "I need you, if I cannot touch you can I at least see all of you?" He slowly stood up and began to disrobe then stood there in front of her. She marveled at his sheer physical beauty. Stepping closer, Carol reached for his manhood. She tried to cup it in her hands but could not; her hand again went right through his body. Richard looked down at her and said, "I wish I could feel you too". She asked, "What are we to do?" and he replied, "There is nothing we can do. I am dead and you are truly alive." Carol looked away for a moment, and he was gone.
The very next night Richard appeared but not in the bathroom as usual. He was sitting on the edge of the bed that Carol was sleeping in, and as if by magic she awoke to see him sitting there with his head in his hands. She asked him if everything was okay. He said,"Remember when I said that sometime I would tell you the reason for my existence, this is that time".
"When I was alive I was not a very nice person, especially to women. I used them for whatever served my purpose. I made love to them and then threw them away like trash. Two of the woman killed themselves when they found out they were pregnant and I would not help them in any way. To satisfy my lust, I eventually started to rape them. I had no shame. Nothing mattered except that I get what I wanted. One day while I was on top of a struggling woman her husband came home and shot me dead."
"I was buried in unsanctified ground because no one wanted my body near their relatives. There is a judgment and a sentence in the afterlife, and God said to me, "you will wander until eternity able to look upon the beauty of women, but you will never be able to touch them or their soul until such time as you truly feel the pain of love lost. Then and only then will I call you back to Me."
Upon hearing the story Carol was repulsed and could not even look at him. He said to her, "I only hope that you could see the change in me and see that I am no longer that evil person. I am very sorry for what I did and over the decades that I have been wandering this earth pulling the chains of guilt behind me. I have never really known what love was about until I met you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for whatever wrongs I may have committed against you".
Before leaving he said, "I will not come back to you or ever bother you again unless you call my name." Looking back over his shoulder he looked like a man beaten to the ground, and vanished. The bed was covered in single roses. Carol jumped out of the bed and started sweeping them to the floor, all the while she was sobbing a deep sob, a sobbing that one only hears from mourners of the dead.
Weeks and months went by but not a day went by that she did not think of him. She ran over and over again in her mind what he had said. She could not forgive such atrocities no matter how much she wanted him near. Then one day a friend who worked for her was killed in a car accident and at the funeral alongside the grave a sermon was given that hit her in the gut like a hammer. It was about forgiveness, and how God would forgive anything as long as you asked for forgiveness and absolution.
Carol cried so hard on the way home she almost wrecked the car. Arriving at home, she was exhausted and laid on the bed. The last thing she said before she fell asleep was; "RICHARD, come to me." When she opened her eyes in the morning light, she could see him lying next to her. He smiled and said, "thank you." Carol fell asleep again a wonderful restful deep, deep, sleep with wonderful dreams.
Over the next couple of years, the same event happened almost every night when she would come out of the shower. She would be naked and so would he. They would pretend to hold one another night after night and every night there would be a new rose.
Thinking back and knowing that her aunt had never married, Carol couldn't help but wonder if that was because of her love for Richard? Almost as if he had read her mind, Richard convinced her to take a husband and start a family so she could have a real life. With the promise that he would never leave her, she married a wonderful man had four children by him and buried him after he died. She loved him but in a different way. All during that time the same ritual took place in the bathroom with Richard, it never changed, it was always the same with them pretending to hold one another.
While Carol grew old and feeble Richard never changed he looked as young and as handsome as the day she met him. She said to him, "why do you such a good looking man stay with such an old woman". He answered saying "because in my eyes you never grew old and because I love you so much I never want to be without you".
One night as she stepped out of the shower Richard reached for her. Instinctively she took his hand, as she did, a light surrounded their bodies, and for the first time she could feel his touch. Carol looked at him quizzically and he said, "God is going to allow us this one night of love in which we will be able to feel everything, because tomorrow morning, you are going to die, and he is going to allow us to be with Him together forever in eternity. Carol smiled at him and took his had to lead him to the bedroom. As they walked toward the bed, she became his vision of a young beauty.
One of her children found her that next afternoon, on the bed nude, she had passed away and was covered in Red Roses.