I wrote my prologue back in July when I was going to do Camp NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have time to do much more than that. I’ve debated sharing any part of the story. Hell, I’m even debating doing this story this year. I still have to think about it. But for now, I’m going to share my prologue. I have shared it with one other person, a fellow NaNo writer. He said it was depressing. Good.

“Baby, it’s so cold in here.”

Declan Adams spun his office chair in the direction of the voice. It was soft, female, that of his wife. He rose from the chair, dropping the stack of papers he was reading on the desk as he stood. Only the glow of his laptop screen illuminated the room as he walked slowly around the large mahogany desk that had once belonged to his father, and before that, his grandfather. The original owner built the desk several generations before him, and no one in the family quite remembered just how many. Like Bibles, fine china and durable silverware, many things had been passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. Each item had been kept in pristine condition, and the desk was no exception. Declan was meticulous about its upkeep, and with every move he had made over the years, it was carefully wrapped in thick padding as it made its way to each new home. The desk was the only thing he wanted when his parents passed away. The other family heirlooms were distributed amongst cousins over time, and would someday be passed on to the children with whom they had been, or would be, blessed.

Except for the desk. Declan had no children and did not foresee any his future. At forty, he lived alone in the big house he had purchased in central Vermont six years prior. The two story farmhouse needed surprisingly little work when he bought it, though it had sat unoccupied for several years before he passed by it on one of his frequent drives to nowhere. The property included ten acres of trees, ponds, and grass, with a winding dirt driveway from the two lane highway that cut through the desolate part of the state through which Declan liked to drive when he needed to clear his head. The day he first noticed the FOR SALE sign, he parked at the end of the driveway and walked the muddy distance to the porch to peek in the windows. When he returned to his car, he called the number for the real estate agent. Thirty days later, he was unpacking boxes and hanging pictures on the walls.

“Dec, I’m cold,” the voice called again, low and far away.

Declan crossed the floor between the desk and the doorway in three steps and peered into the long hallway to his right. His eyes were not yet accustomed to the darkness before him, but he knew the path from his office to the master bedroom well, and did not need light. The was nothing on top of the hardwood floor to block his way. The hallway was empty and free of clutter. There were only three rooms on the second floor of the house. A bedroom-turned-office was large, taking up most of one side. At the far end of the hallway, a smaller bedroom remained empty, used at various times as storage space. Across from that, the door to the master bedroom was opened, and he turned to step inside.

To his right, a five-drawer dresser stood next to a walk in closet. The door to the closet was ajar, and he reached out to push it shut. It closed with a barely audible click, and Declan stepped further into the room. His bed was unmade in front of him, sheets rumpled and spilling off the mattress and onto the floor. The windows behind the bed allowed light from the full moon into the room. Though the window was open, the sheer curtains hung still. Outside, Declan could hear the crickets and frogs. It was early summer, and unusually humid.

Declan caught movement to his left, toward the master bathroom that adjoined the bedroom. He swiveled his head and saw Sophie standing in the doorway between the two rooms. She wore her usual bedtime attire – a ratty pair of boxer shorts with red lips on them and a once hot pink fitted t-shirt, faded from years of washing. Her chestnut colored hair, which hung just past her shoulders, was disheveled, as it often was. She never cared about her appearance, and had to make no effort to be beautiful. Her skin was unblemished and maintained a hint of tan year round, despite the Vermont winters.

She looked at him, her once luminous brown eyes now dulled with sadness. “I’m cold, Declan.”

Declan’s breath caught in his throat as he stared back at her. Sophie had been dead for three years, two years longer than she had been his wife. He did not believe in ghosts, but his heart skipped a beat at the vision before him. He blinked and shook his head, and still, she stood in the doorway looking at him.

“Sophie,” he breathed.

Sophie turned away and walked into the darkness of the bathroom. Declan forced his legs to follow her, and when he crossed the threshold, all he found was an empty room. The only trace of his deceased wife was her hair brush on the vanity near the sink. It had taken him a year to get rid of her things, but the brush was full of long, brown strands, and he could never bring himself to throw it away. He picked it up and gently stroked the nest of hair that wrapped around the teeth of the brush. Bringing the brush to his face, he inhaled deeply, hoping to catch a hint of her shampoo, but with all the years gone by, it held only a faint, dusty smell.

Setting the brush back in its spot, Declan sighed and walked back out of the room, his eyes searching the bedroom and finding nothing out of the ordinary. He sat on the corner of the bed closest to the bathroom and rubbed his face. He needed to shave. He hadn’t done so in several days and his scruff was almost a full beard. With a yawn, he laid back on the bed, his feet still on the floor. He rested the back of his arm across his forehead and stared at the ceiling.

Hours later, when the sun rose and daylight filled the room, he hadn’t moved and his eyes were still open. He spent the night thinking about Sophie, trying to make sense of what he had seen, but neither sleep nor answers came to him.