The Washer Woman
Up until recently,
Jocelyn Cameron had been financially struggling as a model and actress who
supplemented her income with occasional escort work. But suddenly, she had
become the fortunate recipient of a sizeable inheritance, shifting the course
of her life forever.
Great aunt Tilda
had sadly passed away, yet her final gift to Jocelyn was a large old family
home (a 16th century Hall house of a type usually only found in the Lowlands,
or so she was told) and a tidy sum of money that gave her the financial means
to let go of her fears of the future.
in the city, always throwing money into the bottomless ravenous hole that is
But now, with her
inherited wealth, she was able to leave behind her worries and move on to her
great aunt Tilda's splendid Hall house near the Cairngorm mountains on the
River Dee, situated perfectly between heather-covered moorland and the
Caledonian pine forest.
Her mother had
come from Scotland, swearing she'd never go back. This may well have been some
of the appeal to Jocelyn.
Jocelyn had never
known her father, but her mother had recently married Bob— a small yet
cantankerous man who provided for her mother, and whom she seemed to
"adore". It was no doubt a father-figure thing, given Bob appeared to
be the spitting image of Jocelyn's grandfather. How strange, indeed.
Her mother was a
high-strung, superstitious woman who had often warned Jocelyn about the
Bean-nighe, a mythical entity passed down through Scottish folklore for
Bean-nighe was heard singing and seen washing clothing by the light of the
moon, it was a warning that someone was about to die. Those who were brave
enough to disturb her at her washing duties might receive either good or bad
fortune; the latter being more likely, and with the risk that the person to
disturb her, would most likely be the
future dead person.
Jocelyn had been
scared of the story when she was a child, but now that she was an adult and a
logical woman, she couldn't grasp why her mother would want to scar her with
tales of her grandmother's death, or why she felt the need to add extra
mythology to the story.
it," her mother had repeated to Jocelyn since she was six years old.
"I heard it, moaning a guttural song; it was like that old Scottish
lullaby, but with your grandmother's name sung in it! I was in tears, looking
for my mother, scared that the Bean-nighe was going to come and get me. Then, I
saw her. My mum. Hanging in the barn with her skin peeled off, bleeding, a wire
around her neck. It was a …..horrible sight."
often be petrified, unable to sleep at night imagining she could hear the
lamentations of the Bean-nighe and her mother's warning: "Don't ever go to
Scotland. But if you do, and you hear that song... run!"
It wasn't until
she reached her mid-teens that Jocelyn realized how foolish her mother had
been. It was obviously a deranged person who had savagely mutilated her
grandmother—a madman. Maybe her mother had been mad too, if she attributed her
grandmother's death to some phantom.
Her mother was
undoubtedly an educated woman, but her social skills were lacking. She was
nervous and condescending, and her grip on reality seemed so tenuous that life
seemed more slippery, positively lubricated, whenever she was around.
grandfather ever even been questioned?!
In place of
bedtime stories, her mother would often tell her tales of immense tragedy and
There were many
about the possible terrors that awaited her, and they all converged on one main
story—the gruesome death of her grandmother and the Scottish family curse, much
like egg whites surrounding a poached egg yolk. Jocelyn assumed that many of
the stories were
based on facts and served to keep her in a state of constant fear and
vigilance, a feeling she had become all too familiar with throughout her
childhood. But her mother's imagination had gotten too far-fetched; as the
reasons she offered for these tragedies had become more and more supernatural.
This made it easier for Jocelyn (and her therapist) to try and extricate her
from the irrational fear her mother had instilled in her.
And now, here was
Jocelyn, fearless and living in her mother’s
The air smelled
sweeter, and the rain looked like heavy diamonds.
Jocelyn wore her
auburn hair down and walked for miles every day. Whenever she visited the local
village, she would venture to the pub and slowly start to befriend the locals.
They were aware of her family's history and would exchange knowing looks when
talking about it, but nothing more than that.
One night walking
home from the pub, more than a bit tipsy, Jocelyn thought she heard singing.
She thought she recognised the song. Sort of a sad lament but a melodic
beautiful one. Jocelyn began to sing along. “Blow the wind, blow;
Swift and low.”
She began to
dance, turning slowly in the Moonlight as she grew louder, breaking into her
creamy mezzo soprano “Öbhan öbhan, Öbhan iri”.
She realised she
was singing in perfect eerie harmony. But with whom? A woman with a deep
contralto voice? A male tenor? She couldn’t place the timbre.
She gazed into the
darkness and spotted somebody by the river Dee, illuminated by the moonlight.
They appeared to
be busy washing their garments in the river. The figure stopped their rhythmic
washing in the water, their singing gradually getting louder and stronger with
each note. “'S MÖR MO MHULAD, ‘S MÖR, JO-CEE-LYN!”
off, as the dark figure screamed out the next few words in a grotesquely, deep
“GREAT IS MY
Jocelyn was rooted
to the spot, standing around 10 feet away from the figure, who was steaming and
dripping with water in the chilly night air, seemingly lit from beneath by the
will-ò-the-wisp. The silhouette may have been small, but still menacing, and
Jocelyn swore she could make out blazing eyes piercing through the darkness at
her. She now believed in the Bean-nighe.
“Go on… fuck
stupid bitch” the washer woman hissed. "It ain't me you need to be wary
of, it's that fucking Bauchan goblin you damned Cameron women keep cozying up
to shift away, but it felt like she was in a trance; her
limbs unable to budge, like in a dream.
“Can you not hear
me?” The washer woman turned around and held aloft an item of clothing that
looked like a dress that belonged to Jocelyn’s mother. Her mother was also
named Jocelyn; could the song have been for her mother?
woman took a deep breath and willed herself to move; at first, marching in slow
motion, and then willing herself to lean forward, and then running faster and
faster, flying through the fields until she got to her home. As soon as she
arrived at the house, she immediately jumped into the car and spun around in
her driveway as quickly as possible. She noticed the tank was just over a
quarter full, bloody hell, that wouldn’t get her very far. Driving
recklessly, she sped to the main road whilst trying to put her mother’s address
into the map app on her phone. She screamed in her mother’s address and was
answered “I’m sorry, I don’t have a location for numb.” She
screamed and raged and pounded the phone against the dash. Finally, pulling
over to the side of the road and typing in her mother’s address. And bursting
into tears when it auto-corrected incorrectly. But she got it. 8 hours
until arrival! She would drive through the night, but she had to let her mum
know. Let her know that she had been right all along. She shrieked at her phone
“CALL MY MUM”.
On her third
attempt, the phone complied and began to ring loudly through her stereo
speakers. It rang and it rang. “Come on mum answer the bloody phone for once.”
Jocelyn’s mother would forever regard mobile phones with suspicion saying that
she didn’t want to be at peoples’ beck and call 24/7
“Oh mum please!”
picked up, repeating the phone number back to Jocelyn at a glacial pace, and
giving her the agonising directions of how to leave a message, as if there was
anybody, who didn’t know by now… ‘beeep.’
“Please, mum, mum,
you were right. The Bean-nighe is real! I ran into her tonight. I saw the
clothes she was washing.
Mum, it was yours
it was your favourite dress. Mum, you’ve got to get away from Bob.”
down her cheeks. Oh, that woman that infuriating
woman that she loved so much!
“Please, when you
get this message, just run; go to the church. I’m on my way…..Mu-” Jocelyn was
cut off as she heard the siren and saw the flashing lights in her rearview
At the police
station, Jocelyn barely listened to the officers.
above the legal alcohol limit!" They reprimanded her, yet she didn't
appear to take notice. She pleaded with
them to telephone her mother. To help her, as they snapped her mug shot and
rolled her fingers in black ink, and then on paper to obtain her fingerprints.
She kept on imploring them to contact her mum. She asked for her mother as they
swabbed her cheek to collect her DNA. She kept begging them to please, send an
officer to contact her mother.
frantic, constantly raving about her grandmother being murdered and flayed, the
ancient Cameron family curse and the Bean-nighe. Her ramblings were relentless
enough that, despite her visibly intoxicated condition, the police arranged for
her to undergo a mental health evaluation.
confined in her cell, where she screamed and cried and pounded relentlessly on
the door, only to be disregarded. It was close to 3 a.m. when the psychiatrist
finally arrived and found Jocelyn, trembling, with tear-filled puffy eyes and vomit-stained
shirt, begging them to contact the police in Hendon, London to inquire about
in hopes to comfort her, requested this be done.
had been dead since earlier on in the evening before. So, Jocelyn could
not have reached her in time to save her. The notification of her frantic
voicemail was displayed on the old, rarely used, mobile phone with the Elvis
phone case. The phone was resting below the feet of her mother's body in the
kitchen where she had been strung up by a wire and skinned alive.