The original tale that this is based upon is featured under the above title in Dale Jarvis' book "Haunted Shores: True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador". My thanks to him for the inspiration and the title.
The characters of Furuba belong to Natsuki Takaya and are used with neither permission, nor profit.
Our story begins - as so many do - on a dark and stormy night. The wind howled and the rain drove and Japan huddled indoors to keep the chill off.
Within the quiet halls of the Sohma Household, Shigure and his small tribe who chose to live away from the main house - as well as a few that had been caught there unexpectedly - were huddled into a single bedroom, lit brightly with candles that sent shadows dancing across the walls. The rest of the house had long ago been plunged into darkness as the wind carried power lines to the ground.
Hatsuharu, with all the maturity of his age, was draining the batteries of the sole flashlight by holding it under his chin and making spooky faces. At least, he had been, before Hatori removed it from him with a dire warning about broken necks and bathroom trips.
The little group of bodies were all clumped together in a circle on the floor. It would have been the perfect campfire scene, but for lack of a campfire. Ghost stories, though, were certainly on the menu. Torhu and Momiji sat upright, their blankets over their heads and cocooned around their bodies. They were next to each other, listening to Kyo's story with wide intent eyes. The others listened politely, or not at all.
"...sat up in bed, woken by the terrible screeches of a woman. There, at the end of the bed was a woman she knew had died several years past. Most terrifying to the young woman in her bed, though, was that the screaming was coming from the other ghostly woman in the room.. the one that the first woman was dragging across the room by her HAIR."
Torhu and Momiji both let out little shrieks of fear at this. It wasn't that any one thing was frightening alone; it was the atmosphere of the entire event, and the fun of a good shriek after an equally good ghost story.
Eventually, though, as all such nights do, this one drew to a close with the exhausted party falling into sleep one at a time, still huddled in a circle in the room, keeping out the dark and the cold.
The morning was as beautiful as anyone could hope to ask for; the sky pink and cloudless with the dawning sun. Only Tohru was awake to see it, having left the house early in the morning to see to chores and assess what damage the typhoon had wrought. Fortunately, the damage was relatively minor, and after writing off a quick checklist of things she needed from the shop, she set off to get to work before the lazy boys were even stirring in their sleep.
The beauty and calm of the morning lent itself to walking by the ocean, she had decided and so she made a detour off of her usual path to walk near the edge of the water - though not too close, as the waves might be high!
The rocky shore was as calm as the rest of the morning, though the waves of the storm had littered the shore with debris. A branch of a tree here, a handful of shells there, a dead fish mixed in and the most wonderful pair of sailors boots, yards away from each other.
"These would be perfect for the school play!" Tohru was not one to let such a find go to waste so she picked the soggy boots up and carefully tied the laces together to bring home. She took them along on her shopping, and the struggle home ended up with more bags and items in her hands than she'd bargained for.
She returned home to find Kyo lounging on the house's porch. He eyed the bags in her hand and then the boots. She could tell exactly when his eyes reached the boots, as his nose visibly scrunched up. "What are those?"
Tohru smiled at the cranky cat. "Boots! For the school play. Aren't they perfect?"
Kyo's nose turned up even further at this. "Sure, if you can convince anyone to stick their feet in them. I wouldn't. Don't take them into the house, Shigure will kill you."
Tohru set the boots down next to the bottom stair, her cheerful countenance not the slightest bit phased by Kyo. "Okay!"
She vanished into the house to put her purchases away before putting the Sohma household to work, clearing up the minor damage of the night's storm. While it hadn't initially seemed like much work, it quickly piled up and it was well after dark before they were able to settle down to dinner and bed.
The evening itself would have been uneventful, if not for Kyo waking in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and falling over something in the hallway with a yelp of surprise. He'd walked to the bathroom without the aid of a light. Who needs a light in their own home? He flicked it on, irritated, to find Tohru's boots sitting in the middle of the hallway, in a puddle of water. "Nnng. Tohru, what did I tell you about bringing these in the house. Just like you to be so absent minded to forget them in the hallway too."
He picked the filthy things up and walked to the front door. He opened the door just enough to lob the boots out past the porch to the ground, then went to the bathroom and back to bed.
Again, the morning brought perfect pink skies and one moderately annoyed Shigure trying to figure out who would leave wet, muddy boots sitting in the middle of his kitchen floor. "Honestly, Hatori, I don't know what to do with them sometimes. You think they'd at least have the courtesy to take their shoes off before they come into the house, especially when they're muddy."
He turned to hand his old friend a small cup of coffee, letting his fingers linger fondly over the skin on the back of Hatori's hand. The quiet Sohma doctor's cheeks turned to match the sky, his reply completely ignoring the subtext. "They're young and impulsive. They're wont to make mistakes. They'll grow out of it eventually. Just put the shoes outside and let the mud dry."
Shigure made a great show of picking the boots up with as little of his hands as was physically possible. He opened the door of the house and set them against the outside wall, right next to the door to dry, then returned to his tidy kitchen to clean the unsightly mud off of the floor while serious conversation floated over gentle flirting between old friends.
Lunches were made, uniforms donned and eventually the house was quiet and empty, standing silent, the door closed and the porch bare. At school, Tohru suggested a pair of boots for a character, but apologised that she had not been able to find them that morning, and promised she would bring them tomorrow.
Shigure returned home that night to find his young charges working determinedly at their homework, and the pair of boots absent from the doorway, having obviously been cleaned up and put away by their owner. In fact, not a trace of the mud remained in the spot he'd set them, which, to his thinking, pointed immediately at Tohru as the cleaner.
Dinner, homework, quiet conversation and line-learning dominated the household in that quiet evening. Dusk turned to dark and wakefulness to sleeping and all was quiet and peaceful.
Aside from the heavy footfalls in the hallway that woke Kyo, then Shigure, and finally Torhu. They each came into the hallway, still half-asleep to tell the elephant-footed walker off, only to discover that the only thing walking down the hallway were a pair of wet, muddy boots that had washed up on shore after slipping from the feet of the drowned sailor that last wore them.. and was apparently wearing them again...