Wails in the Wind

Donovan didn’t want to be in Ireland. He wanted to be anywhere but here. Did he have friends here? Yes. Was he having fun occasionally? Yes. Despite these things, he had an implacable desire to go back home, as if something bad was going to happen. He talked to his cousins, uncles, and aunts. He didn’t hate any of them, but he wished that they weren’t seeing each other under such horrible circumstances. It was hard for him to be exuberant over visiting his family when one of their family members was sick. Just thinking about it made him queasy and ill. He dismissed these feelings as innocuous, and that he was just nervous rather than afflicted with anything malignant. The last thing he wanted was anyone worrying about him when his grandfather was dying from an illness whose name was so long that Donovan didn’t remember it. His grandfather’s doctors had reached a consensus about his well-being; he would either die in the next three days or he would recover. Donovan was upset when he heard this, and it had been three days since the decree. Donovan was overcome with compassion for his grandfather, but didn’t want to think about losing him.

On the third day, Donovan was in his room, looking out the window, pondering the senseless antipathy he felt about his situation. He felt extremely tired, and could barely prop his head up to look out of the glass. Among the hills, he saw a woman dressed in white, with a shroud. He could not make out much more than that, but the sound she made would be burned into Donovan’s head until his dying breath. Her keening was stentorian; Donovan thought his head would explode. Then he figured she was a banshee: a spirit that would come to the house of someone and weep as a sign of impending death. Donovan was beset with panic. He didn’t want to lose his grandfather! He didn’t want to lose anybody! His panic grew almost as loud as her wailing, with his heartbeats seemingly militating her scream. Then both grew quieter, until there was eventually silence. The banshee gazed up at his window, and if you were close enough, you could see the pity on her face as she walked away.

The next morning, everyone was astounded that Donovan’s grandfather was alive. They couldn’t wait to tell him, since he had been the most worried out of all of them. They went up to his room and knocked vivaciously. “Donovan, grandpa’s still alive! In fact, he’s up right now! Don’t you want to talk to him?” Donovan’s mother yelled enthusiastically. When their attempts of getting him to come out failed, they decided to unlock the door. All the prior calls of liveliness turned into wails of despair. Someone in that house had died that night, but it wasn’t the one everyone was focused on.