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And the Banshee Cried

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When I was little, my gran, who was born in County Antrim, present day Northern Ireland, used to tell me stories about the banshees. According to her, the banshees were sort of like the Irish versions of the Grim Reaper. They were beautiful fairy women, but their eyes were always red from crying, and they had an unearthly, piercing shriek that they used to foretell death. If you only heard them, it meant that someone in your household (possibly you) was going to die. If you saw them, but they weren't crying, it was a sign of good luck. But there was one other condition. If you both saw her and heard her wail, you were going to die a horrible, violent death.

Fairy girl

As I grew older, I put such superstitious notions behind me. People had many strange beliefs in the old country, and I was too old to believe in fairies. Anyways, I had a nagging shrew of a wife named Tessa to take care of. The lazy bitch would never lift a finger to help me out or get a real job, but God forbid I should try to pick up any fucking overtime at the plant. "Where were you?" she would nag. "I bet you were out fucking someone else. You better fucking hope you weren't, because if I ever find out that you were, I'll get every last penny you've ever made, you worthless bum."

After awhile, I started to wonder why I had married her. She had been a looker, but she was always insecure. She had started out nice enough, but all the delicious cooking and her meticulous housekeeping went bye-bye after we got hitched. I had come to the conclusion that I'd been bamboozled. She sucked as a wife, and as a human being. I started fantasizing about murdering her in many violent ways. One night, I thought about my gran's stories and I said quietly, "I wish a banshee would come and cry in Tessa's face."

The next day, after I got home from the meat-packing plant, she was nowhere to be found. I looked at my landline, and saw five missed calls on the caller ID. They were all from the sheriff's department. I returned the calls, and after they asked my name, they informed me that a drunk driver had run over my wife. She had been walking down the sidewalk, the man told me, and the drunk woman in the car had passed out and swerved onto the sidewalk and smashed her into a building that housed a coffee shop, where about 27 people were kicking back with a cup of joe. I was stunned. I agreed to go the hospital the next day to identify her.

I turned on the news, where it was running the story. "...but later died at the hospital. Police say that the driver was identified as 47 year old Sheryl Montagna, (a picture of a fat woman in her late forties appeared on screen) who died on the scene. Police say Mrs. Montagna had a BAC of .42, over five times the legal limit. One pedestrian was killed, and twenty-six out of the twenty-seven customers also died when the coffee shop burst into flames, trapping them inside. The lone survivor, who was there with her husband, had this to say: (cue a video of a thirty-something year old woman talking) 'I heard a strange piercing shriek, and the next thing I knew, I was running for my life from the flames.' (The video cut back to the reporter) And now..."

"Fuckin' left me wi'me hands full, ye did! Ah well, I been lookin' ta make someone pay for their stupidity fer a while now," came the woman's voice from the chair beside mine. I jumped halfway out of my skin, before I looked over. "Who the fuck are you?" was all that I could manage to ask the extremely beautiful, pale woman with dark hair in the chair next to me. "Ah, me name. Funny thing is, I never 'ad one. Strange, innit? Ye'd think after a few millenia, ye'd get one! But look at ye, ye cheeky bastard. Why don't ye give me a name befittin' of yer 'elpful family banshee?"

A banshee? Was she kidding? My first instinct was to ask her to leave, but something stopped me. "Here's the deal. Magic or not, can you stop with the cheap accent? I can tell it's bullshit three miles away. My gran was Irish. You're fucking around with me. Secondly, if you're a banshee, where's my good luck at? I see you, and you're not wailing. I should be very lucky right now. Third, I think I'll call you Eileen for the sake of simplicity. Regardless of your real name, that's what I'll call you until you come clean. Fourth, how the fuck did you get in here?"

"Okay," she replied, "You got me. I can sound like whatever I want, and I was just having a laugh. Would you like good luck? Go look in the bottom of the tampon box in the back of the bathroom cabinet. Not the one in the front, but the one in back. I actually don't have a real name, but I like the name Eileen. And as for how I got in here, I'm a banshee. I can go wherever I wish. I'm here because I heard you last night. You asked for me to ruin that harpy you married. I think I did a splendid job. A little collateral damage, but otherwise, not too shabby."

"Alright," I said. "Come with me to the bathroom, Eileen. We'll see if you're telling the truth or not. I'm going to look in the cabinet, and if you're telling the truth, I'm going to find something good." She obliged. We walked into the bathroom, and I opened the cabinet. In the very back was a Tampax Pearl box. "Alright, here it is." I opened it, and I found a few papers in an envelope. One was Tessa's will. It said that she had approximately $250,000,000 in the bank, and $50,000,000 in stocks, and it all went to me. Another paper was in there. It was a life insurance policy for $500,000. I was the beneficiary. I was shocked. When we married, she never did tell me that she was loaded. Come to think of it, I never knew a lot about her. She was very quiet whenever I asked about her past. There was also a newspaper clipping that stated that she had won a large lottery before we met.

"So you're really..." I started. "Yes. I'm a banshee," Eileen replied. I saw her eyes for the first time. They were pure red. "The wailing sound that the woman on the news heard was me. Everyone in that shop but her looked at me when I started keening. That's why they're dead." I stared at her. "Thank you, Eileen. You are the best thing that's ever happened to me."

She smiled. "You know, Alex, you're kind of cute. I think I'd like to get to know you better. May I stay with you? I've been watching you from a distance since you were born." I agreed. I was happy to have a woman who was pretty, sweet, and brought me perfect luck. After Tessa was buried and I got my inheritance, I started openly dating Eileen, who adopted the surname "Airlie". She was a model partner, and a few months later, we married in St. Roisin's Cathedral. I was thrilled. There was only one warning; it was to never break her heart. "If you do, I won't be able to control my abilities. You'll die," she told me. I never wanted to hurt her, so it was an easy rule to follow.

We lived a lavish lifestyle, and we moved to a nice neighborhood where we became the envy of the neighbors (some even to the point of pure jealousy); and as the years passed, we had three pretty little girls, and two handsome sons. She was such a great wife that we rarely argued, and when we did, the minor problems resolved themselves quickly. I loved her, and she loved me. She became a soccer mom, and her eyes started becoming clearer. They turned out to be greener than emeralds laying in the grass.

But as I got older, she never changed. I was subjected to the natural aging process, which, even with her abilities to bring good luck, was seemingly unavoidable. Shortly after my 73rd birthday, I found out two things: that my daughter Patty was pregnant again, and that I had lung cancer. I was dying.

I told her about the doctor's diagnosis when I got home. She sighed. "I told you never to break my heart, but as a mortal, you were always destined to do it. If you hadn't have told me that you were going to die I could have made sure you lived. I could have even made you immortal and ageless like me. You just had to keep your trust in me. I'm in charge of life and death for you, remember? And you telling me that you're going to die is like making a wish to do so. Even a banshee is entitled to heartbreak when someone they care for chooses to die. Why couldn't you have asked me for immortality? I'll always love you, Alex, but..." She kissed me, and I could see her youthful eyes tearing up. "Goodbye, my love." With that she started wailing.

I never saw our jealous neighbor take aim at me through our kitchen window with his .44 magnum.

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