My take on an old Welsh tale for Halloween.
Two childhood friends moved into adulthood and into love with each other. Their names were Rhys and Meinir and they lived near the village of Nant Gwertheyrn on the Llyn Peninsula in the North Wales county of Gwynedd.
The young couple’s favourite spot was under an old oak tree on the lower slopes of the mountains called in Welsh, Yr Eifil.
The wedding date was set on a chosen Saturday for Rhys and Meinir to be married at Clynnog church.
People started to arrive for the wedding the day before and celebrations were beginning. In those days, the people of Nant Gwertheyrn had a tradition of a ‘wedding quest.’ This consisted of the bride hiding herself away somewhere in the countryside on the day of her wedding.
So whilst the guests were gathering in the church, Meinir could be seen running for the hills.
Now of course, Meinir was supposed to be found. It was all part of the fun. But when Rhys and his friends began a search for Meinir, she was nowhere to be seen. At first, Rhys thought that they just needed to search harder, but as day turned into night he began to be dreadfully concerned.
And his concern grew and grew as the nights turned back into days and the days back into nights again. Soon the days became weeks and the weeks became months. Rhys concern for his beloved became obsessive and he started to lose his mind. His friends shared his belief in the worst and no one in Nant Gwertheyrn or in the surrounding countryside could console him.
Driven by his madness, Rhys began to wander the nearby land at all hours and in all weathers.
One stormy night when the wind blow a gale and the rain drove like nails into Rhys face as he vainly struggled against the tempest, he chanced upon the couples favourite tree and was moved by memories as much as the weather to seek its shelter.
The storm was getting stronger, the wind blew harder and the rain lashed ceaselessly on the earth as Rhys huddled beneath the rocking branches.
Suddenly, a bolt of lightening appeared out of nowhere from the sky and the old oak tree was split asunder as easily as a good table knife cuts through warm butter.
Rhys was thrown back in terror, but this was not as much terror as he then experienced when the stricken tree gave up its secret; a woman’s skeleton clothed in a wedding dress, a dress that Rhys recognised all too well. The skeleton fell to the ground, its eyeless sockets staring at the terrified man, its fleshless mouth formed in a smile and a bone where a finger had once been pointed at its former lover.
Next morning, the storm had passed and the sun began to appear from beneath the cloud. Within the hour, farmers on Yr Eifil above Nant Gwertheyrn would find two figures lying side by side, one a skeleton and the other a man from the village recently deceased but with horror contorting his face.