"Josette's been so sad for such a long time... I thought maybe she'd like to be happy again so I made her a present... when someone you love has gone away, when you put a candle in your window they'll come home. And I know Josette wants Barnabas to come home because I think she still loves him."

" Yes, I think so too."

"I miss Barnabas a lot... Mother, I love Barnabas, and I want him to come home."

" Barnabas is going to be away in England for a long time, Sarah."

" How long?"

" Oh, perhaps as long as the life till you're grown up."

"I don't think Barnabas wants to stay away from us that long. I'll wait until it's dark. And I'll light the candle and put it in Josette's window. And somehow Barnabas will know it's there. And he'll come back to us. You'll see!"

Sarah Collins & Naomi Collins in Dark Shadows, Episode 413, written by Gordon Russell.

Chapter 22: A Candle For Sarah

My daughter, once Maggie Evans, or Josette Dupres, take your pick or combine them as I've done in persona with myself, was now Margaret Josette Dupres. And no question, at least from me. As a bi-lineal accomplishment to the wonders of this new life in Collinsport, no doubt influenced by that rascally ghost Caleb Collins, we'd decided on an unusual but still culturally French solution to every blasted person around here being named a Collins. I was glad of this idea. There were plenty enough Collins' to go around and more is the pity.

So this lengthy tie-in to those two lives was her married name. It's easier for women to change their name upon marriage as things go, even to a name that isn't her husband's. The only thing altering that is social stigma. It's never been a law to do it as some believe. As Andre Dupres I was happy to sign the witness box on the license even if the name I signed was the common Sam Evans I have now. No shame in the common, of course. That was the whole point of this nation. To build oneself up from a schooner to a massive fleet, as long as good philosophy and hard work was its influence.

And I had been good enough to know when were the times to step into my daughter's business and when it was time to leave well enough alone. She was happy and I was happy knowing that she was. It had been nearly two centuries we both endured reliving old injuries of what should have been long ago and since much of this was healed, my art has never thrived better.

But the ghost of my son-in-law's sister continued to be ever present. Coming into corporeal form at times or being a wisp, still that spirit was alive and aching to be re-united with her brother and my daughter as seldom that the latter two really knew each other. Believe me, they'd bonded considerably by now. (And I had to relieve a chuckle from my heart knowing this little girl had touched Mr. Willie Loomis of all people. Lovely... lovely what little girls can do.)

Sarah Collins would stay with me much of the time when she wasn't playing with David. In the acknowledgement that she was family, the snoots of Collinwood had grown less fussy and accepted her wholeheartedly. Why not? They were usually more soused than I was and at more even intervals. Those Collins put up with a lot, anyway. Ghosts. What's the big deal? Besides, as it oddly turns out, my daughter was one of them. Funny how that worked out. Had to look through a lot of Asiatic tales to uncork the confusion it was causing us. It was high time they stopped denying all the good their spooks had to offer instead of fighting against them so very often!

Ah. I suppose it was at one time considering that blackened sketch I'd created of the main house in its gloomier aspects. I had felt a little embarrassment when Sarah found a copy I'd created. She pointed out that it didn't look that way to her and I confessed that she was correct, so we spent some time in the same area I'd made that tragic looking piece of art and I started another with more detail to its grandeur and loving beauty now than in days of old.

I wouldn't have Sarah be bored though, so I made sure to give her some tools of her own: crayons. She'd never seen them before or at least not this kind as the invention was far different in our old days. Heck, I likely don't recall them at all when I've let my mind wander back to that time. Sarah didn't draw the house, though. She kept her work on nature. She had a good talent for trees and flowers. The trees I especially appreciated because with the wildly colourful creations some kids like to make, this box was getting a rub down out of the usually wasted varieties of brown.

Due to this unique blend of happenings I found some even older crayons I'd kept on hand on the off chance a little one might arrive at the cottage. Later when Sarah asked for help with this project near the end of her time with us I pulled the fragments out along with the rest of the supplies I'd gathered.

I set an old skillet on the stove I wasn't too worried about ruining and filled it with water. Turned up the heat and let it get hot, as I discussed with my ghostly daughter-of-sorts what her plans would be.

"Well, you see," she began in her high lilting, Colonial accent, "I'd made a candle long ago for Josette's window because we both missed Barnabas and we loved him. So I thought... why not... make one... for myself?"

"Huh... had you, now?" I asked, "Why would you want to make one for yourself?"

"Because, I'll have to be leaving... tonight... and... I'd like to come back... but not this way. You see?" Sarah reasoned.

I stroked my beard, "Hmm... Sarah... do you mean... you'll be coming back the way Josette and I came back?"

"As myself..." she looked down, "I'm not sure how to describe it."

"Flesh and bones, you mean..." I offered her.

"Yes," she answered, "and... looks like the water is boiling, Monsieur Dupres."

She was almost right, it was ready. One had to simmer this water and I grabbed the pie tin with the hunks of beeswax I'd already placed on it. Then I set it down on the simmering water and the two of us watched it slowly melt in the pan.

"How will we create the wick?" she questioned.

"Ah!" I responded with no reluctance, "here is the twine I have. The thicker the better... although, my dear, one mustn't use rope."

Our little girl giggled, "Yes... and what do we colour it with?"

I ah-ha' d again bringing out the coffee tin of crayons. She'd wanted purple for some strange purpose she couldn't tell me, so we started with melting bits of red and blue. Not the greatest idea. Didn't turn as purple as she would have liked. So we found the various purple crayons and watched those melting in the pan and then a darker, fuller purple came about from the odd swirl of colour amidst all the wax and richness. Then came where to put this melted wax.

Somehow managing not to slice myself, I'd cut the top off of a can of beer, knotted the twine around a stick and let it set across the top of the open can as I asked Sarah why she couldn't explain herself as well as we all needed her information.

"Oh," she admitted with a sleepy grin, stirring the wax above the bubbling water underneath the pie-tin with an old paintbrush I didn't care about, "it's all like dreams to me, Monsieur Dupres. I see some things, I can talk about them, but I can't always understand them myself."

"Ah," I nodded, "perhaps you're looking forward to the day a-l-l of those faculties will be brought to you as a human being, Sarah Collins."

She turned from the stove and smiled at me, "I'm not sure what you mean, but I think you're right." Then she let go a vocal sigh and continued, "It looks all melted now."

"All right," I heaved, picking up a few unsentimental pot holders. I took two curves of the pie tin and poured them into the beer can with the twine. Sarah looked on, and watched the inevitable spills of wax, gathering them up with cotton cloths I'd set aside and should have thrown out months ago. Just as well to use them up this way.

It was a cool enough evening to take the wax filled beer can outside and let it harden more thoroughly. Sarah and I sat outside while we waited patiently, knowing the candle would have to set for hours this way and not caring, just enjoying the evening. I had a cup of Irish Coffee prepared for this time of contemplation anyway.

The stars beamed out toward us and there were golden, silvery silences as well as an odd interest of whatever wildlife decided to make noise between the stillness she and I were sharing. I dipped my finger in the cut beer can of wax and pulled back, flaking off the bits that had hardened on my fingertip to the ground.

"Sam Evans," she finally called me by my modern name, "what does it mean to be... reincarnated?"

I sipped my whiskey laden vessel, "Oh, well..." then I set the cup on its saucer and poured again from both the coffee thermos I'd set out as well as the flask beside it, "my dear daughter-in-law, reincarnation means to live again in a new body. Sometimes we remember what we lived before and sometimes we forget, but either way... you see those stars up there, my girl?"

"Of course," she told me, looking up.

"That up there, Sarah Collins, is the vast stretch of the universe, which we know little about. But it guides us, it watches over us and very likely it IS us altogether. Do you understand?"

"No... not exactly, but I think... I know what you mean... like those dreamlike ideas I can't understand enough to explain to anyone."

I chortled happily in my further intoxication, "Sarah Collins, I think it's time you and we were parted to become better people. Am I right?"

"Yes, Monsieur Dupres, I think you're very much correct."

I'll admit, I wasn't very sober when we left. Likely driving through the town of Collinsport to get to The Old House, where my daughter now lived with her excessively romantic husband, wasn't the brightest of ideas, but then again, I had Sarah's ghost to guide me through possible rough terrain, not that we encountered any. The best part, in all its dire heat, Sarah was able to hold on to the beer can with its still hardening wax as I drove and I winked at her as she did so. That would be something she couldn't do if it weren't for her supernatural aspects.

A familiar face in an austere butler outfit answered the door with a turned down grin. That man always knew what was going on and rightly so. He ushered us in. I relieved my coat on a hanger as Sarah pressed forward and Maggie gave out a surprised greeting.

"So," I teased, "honeymoon over yet, Maggie?"

"No," she laughed, "I have my doubts that it ever will be."

"And rightly so," I told her, "bizarre enough to share times of old and new in terms of being reborn. Plenty of other ghastly creations in this town. I'm just pleased for what you and Barnabas are; supernatural in ability but far more human in aspect and appearance."

"Well I wasn't going to go through with it if it was going to turn ghastly, I can tell you that." Maggie admitted in that chortling way she had.

"Ah," I said, "but I speculate there are times that it does."

"That's true, Pop... there are times. What have you got there, Sarah?"

"Another candle for you, Josette," the little girl explained, finding the ice bucket beside the davenport. It had almost been removed by Wadsworth before she reached in to place the can of candle in it to cool. I could see the wax had almost set.

"Another one?" my daughter asked.

"Oh, yes. We thought Barnabas had gone to England and we both missed him so I made a candle to put by your window for him. Then I saw him, of course. You likely remember the rest."

"No-o-o need to dwell on that, you two," I told them, sitting down, "How about you find your old brother and bring him out here, Sarah. You likely know where he is."

Sarah wandered to the staircase and padded up. Maggie sat down in the armchair and leaned forward, "How are the paintings coming along, Papa?"

"Oh, fine. Not always so dazzling when I lose a brush filament into the scenery, especially if it's a cloud or something, but that's what tweezers are for."

She laughed and then sighed. Leaning her elbows on her knees she folded her hands and rested her chin on them. Her demeanour became sadly concerned, "Pop. It's Sarah isn't it?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so. But I wouldn't be too worried about it. This is only the last time you see her as a ghost is all."

"Oh?" Maggie sat up with surprise, hands now in lap, "you mean like us, Pop?"

"Sure," I said, happily, "Why not?"

"Well," slightly flustered here, "whose having any kids around here? Carolyn's certainly not of the mind. She's enjoying her work too much. Is it... Victoria?"

"Margaret Josette Dupres," I gave her a grin, "why does it have to be somebody else?"

She stiffened further and rubbed her knees with her hands. Then almost gasping, "I'm... I'm not ready for that. I'm not even sure we're capable of that."

"Who said you were? What? Did you think you were going to instantaneously sprout stretch marks and balloon up overnight and suddenly spring forth a child tomorrow?"

She snorted a laugh, "No, no. I see."

"If you want it, it will happen, Maggie. But you've got to want it first and that might take awhile. We both know how these things work. It takes time. That's why Sarah has to leave now. That's what the candle is for. The last one she made you was to bring Barnabas back. This one is for her to come back... through you... and him."

Footfalls came down the steps and Sarah reached us, asking if the candle was done. I took a look at it and it had finally cooled. Then I carefully found a serrated edge to peel back the thin metal and the wrapping coiled off like a singular strip of potato skin, minus the difference in texture. Then I gave it to Sarah.

Sarah stepped toward Maggie in the chair, "This is for you, when you miss me, you can light it in your window. You won't forget, will you?"

Maggie took the candle and looked at it in all its uneven shape, the only splendour being the love it was made with. Her tears came and she hugged the child who'd come to mean so much to us, and God Willing, would do so again someday.

"No. I won't forget, Sarah... dear... you mean so much to us. You know that don't you?"

"I thought so, but it's impolite to boast, you know."

"Hardly a boast," I said, "to know what you mean to others?"

"Sarah," Maggie touched the girl's hair, "have you said goodbye to everyone?"

"Mmm-hmm," she nodded, "Wadsworth was very regal about it, of course. Willie was awfully sad but he understood. I'm not sure about Roger Collins. He says things and I don't know what they mean exactly. But I let David and Elizabeth know I'd try to come back. I just wasn't certain how."

"Saved up the hardest for last, I see," said I.

Sarah turned to me with some sorrow, "Yes. Barnabas. I told him to wait upstairs so that we could all go up."

And so we did. Right into Josette's room. Fitting again as likely this would be the place Sarah would be conceived. Not that I dwell much on what goes on in here. Our archivist and Victoria Winters can do all the dwelling they want to if it pleases them. Ahem!

Barnabas Collins stood there, as suited and vested as he normally is and with that same dismal expression we remembered from so long ago considering what was happening and how little he understood it. The woe on his face brought to mind the broo-ha of that mess with Jeremiah Collins and it's unfortunate results. I probably should lay off my wise-cracks on the guy now that even he'd redeemed his memory.

Sarah Collins took the candle from Josette and place it at her window. Not the same window nor the same room when she had done this before but the same feeling of beloved ritual. Barnabas knelt there before her stroking the long trailing of her brown hair.

"What does this mean, Sarah?" he beseeched, "Are you truly going away from us now?"

"I have to, Barnabas," she confessed, "or else I can't come back."

"Why not, my dear?" here he held her tenderly by the arms.

"Barnabas, the way I keep coming back is hard... and not just for me but the others helping me to do it. I want to come back for keeps but that's going to take a long time."

"Why will it take so long?"

"I need to... prepare... and you both need to be ready... to take care of me too."

"But we've taken care of you so far. Isn't that enough?" he slid his hands down her arms, gently taking her fingers.

"Not the way I need to come back. But don't be sad. Look forward to it. I am."

Here he let go one of her hands and in his kneel reached the other to his lips, "Every day and night, Sarah, I'll look forward to it every day and night."

She smiled to the point of a giggle. He had to ask what that was for, releasing his agonized look somewhat. Then she said, "I don't know if you've kissed my hand like that before. You always do it with all the other ladies."

A sad but pleasant look dawned on him, "Yes, and they're usually grown ladies. But you have taught us to grow and that makes you the finest of ladies in the world, Sarah Collins."

Sarah then embraced her brother and her eyes became misty as his brimmed. We were all in danger of tears now as my own view of the scene clouded. He held her strongly in return which was both touching and painful, reminding me of the deaths of my wife and for whatever reason she left us both times.

"And I'll be good, my dear," he uttered shakily, "I promise you... I will be."

"I know you will, Barnabas. It's because you have her. That's why I came back."

Sarah released him and then reached out toward Maggie and she stepped by their side. Sarah let go and pedalled backwards closer to the curtain. I love you's were spoken brokenly and she and I exchanged delicate waves, although mine likely appeared more like a salute in my weakening state. Then she began to fade as she had often done before but in this instant there was a light that shined, becoming a group of iridescent orbs trailing into a mist which shed itself from sight.

She was gone.

The home of Barnabas Collins and Margaret Josette Dupres was childless once more, but the two stood holding each other softly and stroking each others backs.

It must have been one long minute before anyone spoke, and I knew from the usual manner of my son-in-law that naive question would come out.

"What did she mean by coming back?" he questioned her, "Why would we need to be ready?"

Maggie would likely tell him, but this was my cue to step out of the room. You see, I was biting my tongue with how obvious it was to me and ought to have been to him. In the preternatural scheme of things around here it was clear to me that their conceiving a child would be no easy task, but that was what Sarah, Maggie and I had all understood. No question of it.

I closed the door of her room to let them alone and finally breathed aloud, "Go to bed with your bride one of these nights, Barnabas Collins... and y-o-u'l-l figure it out."

A dark figure stepped out from a shadow with a knowing grin.

"Yes, sir," nodded the butler, "he will."

Please leave commentary. Sam was talking to me detailing all of this out when I was standing in line at the market buying my grocieries and I didn't understand. Now I do, and I hope you do as well. Thanks