The Crossroads

Rain cascaded down the glass, obscuring her vision but it didn’t matter. She knew he was still out there with his eyes on the house, on the window, on her. Sarah had never regretted more than now extracting the promise from Jacob that nothing and no one would ever prevent him from returning to her from the war that threatened to split the country in twain forever, that tore brother from brother and tore men limb from limb. Now Jacob stood out there in the rain with his once crisp uniform stark with his blood and ragged. His held his head under his arm and stared with unblinking eyes up at the house. Backing away from the window, Sarah tried to think, tried to focus on anything but those unblinking eyes.
“Sarah!”
His cry hung in the air like the keening of a banshee and her hands began to shake. She had done this to him with her foolish crossroads oath. This was what happened when she tried to tempt fate.
“Sarah! Why won’t you let me in? I’m so cold, Sarah…”
She pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders, tears running down her cheeks. She leaned heavily against the front door, hearing him shift on the front porch just beyond.
“Jacob… Oh, my Jacob.”
“Sarah, I kept my word. I came home just as soon as the fighting was done for me. Now we can wed.”
She choked on a sob, throat tight.
“Jacob, love, we-we can’t. You died.”
The door shook as he slammed his fist into it and Sarah screamed.
“You wrote it at the crossroads at midnight, Sarah. Just the same as I did. And I’m here, just as I said I would be.”
Her blood ran cold and her whole body was shaking. She fell back away from the door as the knob began to turn.
“Jacob! No!”
“You promise me. You promised if I came back and let no one and nothing stop me. I didn’t even let my own cold grave stop me from coming back to you.”
She looked up from where she knelt and he stood there, still holding his head and looking at her with those wide, unblinking eyes. He knelt before her and she tried to scramble back.
“Do you remember when we were children and they told us never to make a promise you don’t intend to keep?” He brushed freezing fingers against the warm flesh of her cheeks as she cried. “You don’t get a choice in keeping this one, my dearest. The crossroads knows.”
As he said the last, fear and pain together gripped Sarah as a feeling like a hot poker lanced through her chest. She labored to breathe and then fell to the floor, unmoving. As her ghost rose, Jacob left his own broken body beside hers. Once again whole and handsome, he reached for her hand. Sarah only looked once at the two bodies lying together on the wood floor before she took his hand and they walked into eternity together as husband and wife, both regretting their deaths and a midnight trip to the crossroads to make a deal.

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