They never asked her where she went. Neither did I.
It was November the first, if I recall, and an unusually blustery day at that. The wind was that special kind of sharp, and the sky that deep shade of purply-grey. The leaves had all but lost their autumn splendor, trading the crimsons and golds for deep, sick browns. They blew in little cyclones, the dry rattle of their husks making a unearthly backdrop for the evening's happening.
Dinner had been ham and potatoes, the good old-fashioned Sunday dinner courtesy of her mother, and dessert was chocolate cake and sweet wine. I was clearing the table, blowing out the candles, turning off the dining room lights. Her parents were washing dishes in the kitchen, and Gail, she was looking out the window into the yard.
I found her a few minutes later, pulling on her jacket and mud boots in the front hall. She asked if I wanted to join her for a walk, that it might be romantic, and smiled her little grin with sparkling eyes. No, I said, the wine was getting to my head and I might just turn in. Laughing, she slipped out the door, assuring me that she'd be back before I knew it.
As the time passed, and she did not return, I began to grow suspicious. Gail had grown up in the Appalachian mountains, and was no stranger to them. Her mother brought me a cup of tea and informed me that she and her husband were going to bed, and we said goodnight.
I sat on the porch then, enjoying the crispness of the air contrasted with the hot spiced drink that kept my hands from getting numb. The moon was high - it had been full the night - so I could see a good deal away down the lengthy driveway that wound its way through the hilly forest. The bare trees bowed over to create a sort of tunnel over the path, casting branchy shadows on the gravel.
It was then that I heard her, shuffling along the drive. Gail was far away, and my glasses were inside on the bedstand, but I could tell something wasn't right. The wind picked up and grew to a frightening force, whipping leaves at me and chilling me to the core.
I stood and began to approach her, fighting against the gale. In the moonlight, she looked pale, but as I got closer, it was not the light that made her so. Her skin was white as the snow that would soon fall, and her eyes sunken and deep. She seemed utterly unaffected by the storm - her hair was motionless in it's disheveled state - like she was in some mystic bubble.
I called her name, but she just continued to shamble towards me, towards the house. When I reached her, she seemed unaware of my presence, and unaffected by me wrapping my jacket around her. As I led her to the house, I looked back down the drive. There was something there, or maybe there wasn't, I can't be sure.
Gail was never the same. She barely talked, barely ate, and her health dwindled until the day she passed, exactly two years to the day.
I never asked where she went. I didn't want to know.