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Excerpt 1 – DRUMS – Prologue

Copyright 1997 Diana Gabaldon

I’ve never been afraid of ghosts.  I live with them daily, after all.  When I look in a mirror, my mother’s eyes look back at me; my mouth curls with the smile that lured my great-grandfather to the fate that was me.

No, how should I fear the touch of those vanished hands, laid on me in love unknowing?  How could I be afraid of those that molded my flesh, leaving their remnants to live long past the grave?

Still less could I be afraid of those ghosts who touch my thoughts in passing.  Any library is filled with them.  I can take a book from dusty shelves, and be haunted by the thoughts of one long dead, still lively as ever in their winding sheet of words.

Of course it isn’t these homely and accustomed ghosts that trouble sleep and curdle wakefulness.  Look back, hold a torch to light the recesses of the dark.  Listen to the footsteps that echo behind, when you walk alone.

All the time the ghosts flit past and through us, hiding in the future.  We look in the mirror and see the shades of other faces looking back through the years; we see the shape of memory, standing solid in an empty doorway.  By blood and by choice, we make our ghosts; we haunt ourselves.

Each ghost comes unbidden from the misty grounds of dream and silence.

Our rational minds say, “No, it isn’t.”

But another part, an older part, echoes always softly in the dark, “Yes, but it could be.”

We come and go from mystery and, in between, we try to forget.  But a breeze passing in a still room stirs my hair now and then in soft affection.  I think it is my mother.