Together Again

My contribution to Loren Eaton’s annual Advent Ghost story telling.

 

Together Again

The light’s danced on the prickly spruce as she stared at it, blankly. Presents sparkled in the twinkling lights.

She held the letter in her now shaky hand and downed the strong liquid. She read the words again, “My only true love, if you’re reading this, I didn’t survive.”

“Didn’t survive?” She yelled at the tree as the anger welled.

The figure sat beside her, touching her hand. She was oblivious.

She picked up the pistol, placed it in her mouth. The ghost screamed.

She stepped away from her lifeless body and into the arms of her love.

 

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Halloween Flash Fiction

For a several years now, Eric Douglas, has been posting creepy Halloween flash fiction stories.  The challenge is 100 Words. No more, no lesss. Open to anyone. My answer to the challenge is below. 

Halloween Decorations

I felt I was being watched as I walked up the sidewalk and stepped onto the porch.   The deep autumn air gave me a chill.  The following day I noticed the Halloween display was off.   Things had been rearranged.  Again, I felt the eyes on me.  The jack-o-lantern had been moved.  Kids I figured.  The day after that orange pieces of pumpkin littered the porch and the chill returned along with that creepy feeling.  I stooped to clean up the mess and was unexpectedly grabbed from behind.  Terrified I turned, a gloved hand covered my mouth. The Scarecrow.

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A Time For Everything

Worrying. I remember worrying not only as a child, but as I grew into a young adult. Like most people, I worried about things I had no control over and sometimes I still do. Another school year is about to begin in our community and my oldest daughter approached me last night with some worries of her own.

“I don’t want a man teacher, mom.” She complained. “And we have a new Principal too, what if she’s not as nice as Ms. Moore.”

I listened to her then gathered my thoughts. After a while I grabbed my bible and sat her down. This is what I said:

“Sweetheart, I know you’re worried about having a new teacher and Principal, but change is a part of life. Things are constantly changing. The seasons change. Winter changes to spring, spring changes to summer, summer changes to fall, and fall back to winter. As you get older, you will change schools and classes, your friends will change and so will your teachers. As a grown up, your looks will change and you’ll probably change jobs and interests. Change helps us learn and grow. Change can be a good thing.”

I opened my bible to Ecclesiastes, chapter three, KJV. The chapter begins like this: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

We read through the chapter as it talked about change. “A time to be born a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted, a time to weep and a time to laugh..”

We stopped after verse eleven:

“He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

We can worry about change all we want, but it is a waste of energy and time. It’s hard not to worry about things out of our control, but like the bible says, He will make everything beautiful in his time.

Change is as constant as God himself.

Even though change is sometimes hard, it is often a good thing. We aren’t meant to know what is around every corner and like the bible says, change can be beautiful.

My daughter flipped through the thin pages of my bible.

“The answers are all here.” I told her.

She gave me a tight and lingering hug, like she would never let go and it warmed me.

That, I hope never changes.

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And The Last Shall Be First

A long-faced Lauryn sat on my bed with down cast eyes one evening as I busied around getting ready for the next day.

“What’s wrong sweetheart?” I asked as I put my clothes for the next day on my dresser.

She hesitated then looked up at me with sad eyes and said, “I’m always picked last, last for everything.  In class, in gym, everything.”

Her statement took me back to my own elementary school days, as I remembered those awful feelings of inadequacy.

So what! I wanted to tell her and go on a tirade about how those miserable kids in her class don’t know how wonderful she really is, but I didn’t. A grown-up view with grown-up words about how one day it won’t matter are not the kind of thing an eight-year-old wants to hear or can even comprehend. This rejection is her world, she lives it every day. To her, it’s not about the future it’s about the right now. I know she thinks she is only person who feels this way. I know I was.

She slides off my bed and I kneel in front of her. We are the same height. I look at her, smile a little smile and take her hands in mine. Her soft eyes meet mine.

“You know, when I was your age I was picked last all the time too. I know it makes you feel lonely and unwanted.”

She lifts her head slightly, realizing someone else understands how she feels. Lauryn is studious and serious. She has big dreams for an eight-year-old; lofty goals.

“I’m not sure your classmates fully understand you, sweetie.” I tell her. “You write papers in class about being a Chemist someday. You have a love for learning and reading while they day dream about being on the playground. Be proud of who you are and hold on to your dreams. Try not to let their choices get you down. I know it’s hard to understand, but this is temporary. You won’t be picked last forever. I promise; I know it. Remember, you are loved more than you know and you are first in a lot of people’s hearts.”

There is a verse in the bible, Matthew 20:16, that talks about the last being first and the first being last. I tell her about this and some of the heaviness lifts.

She gives me a tight hug and a sly smile and says quietly in my ear, “Poppy always says I’m number one.”

I give my parents first grandchild a wink, knowing she is feeling better and she skips toward her room.

The long face long gone she gets ready for the next day too.

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2014 Advent Ghost Writing Event

Welcome to Advent Ghosts 2014, the sixth annual shared storytelling event. Every year, a group gathers to celebrate the old Anglophile tradition of swapping spooky tales on Christmas Eve. We shake things up just a little bit, though. Rather than writing lengthy pieces, we compose 100-word stories — dubbed “drabbles” — and post them the weekend prior to Christmas.  Here is mine:

Home

“Where you going kid?  Nobody wants to see you.  Remember, you only get tonight.”  The voice said, trailing after him as he walked toward the street.

He stood under the porch light looking at the worn door.

He went in unnoticed and silently watched and listened.  His mother’s gaze went around the room.

When it came to him, he held her stare for a moment.  Her smile grew, tears welled in her eyes.  She placed her hand on her heart.

After making his way through the familiar streets, he heard the well-known, taunting laugh then disappeared among the headstones.

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A Small Gesture Sends A Big Message

Lindsey and I stopped in Kroger’s the other day to pick up few things. When we got in line to check out there was an older lady in front of us. She appeared to be in her seventies, I don’t really know for sure. The clerk gave the lady her total, forty dollars and some change. She swiped her card, as I put my items on the counter.

“There’s only twenty-one dollars on your card.” The clerk told the lady.

The older woman was befuddled and looked at the clerk blankly.

“What? What’s the most expensive thing?” She asked.

“Well, the produce.” The clerk told her

“Can you take that off?” The lady asked.

The clerk did, but still the lady was short.

“She doesn’t have enough money, Mommy,” Lindsey said quietly, standing in the buggy, watching everything.

Feeling embarrassed for the women and having been in her situation, I looked at Lindsey, then the clerk.

“Don’t take anything else off. I’ll pay the difference.” I said.

The woman turned to me and said, “But I can’t pay you back.”

“I don’t want you to pay me back. I’m happy to help.”

She moved over while I paid the clerk. She offered me a couple of bucks, which I refused.

“Thank you,” she said, looking in my eyes then shifting her gaze to the floor.

“You’re welcome,” I said smiling. “It’s not a big deal.”

She gathered her bags and left.

“That was so nice of you Mommy.” Lindsey announced proudly as she patted my shoulder, her smile wide.

It’s the little things that matter. Something so small as to help a stranger can make a huge difference in the life of another and not just for that stranger. I said it was no big deal and it wasn’t, but in the eyes of a five-year-old, helping that lady was as big as the sky.

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What Really Matters

All my life I’ve heard how impressionable children are. I never knew how true that is until I became a parent. Lots of things in our house are off limits to our children, particularly my computer, cell phone and tablet. My girls do not have the liberty to watch certain movies or shows enjoyed by my husband and I. They are also not allowed to wear my jewelry. I came home from work the other day and one daughter had on my Iolite, trillion–cut ring, while the other was wearing my ankle bracelet around her wrist. I’m the heavy at our house, the party of no. I say no more than John Boehner. I’m more than aware there are things I need to flex on, but when it comes to things that influence the behavior and attitude of my children, right now the answer is no.

My oldest daughter is older than her seven years. I’ve always said she’s advanced and to me, seems very much in the world. She has seen expansive and expensive homes on television decorated with granite counter tops and marble floors, open air living spaces and shapely, lagoon-like pools surround by stone, rather than concrete; the ocean steps away. She wants to be a princess and often complains that I treat her like Cinderella. In my defense, the child exaggerates. The only thing she has to do is pick up the toys she carelessly leaves in almost every room, pick up her drawings, clean up her art supplies, and keep her room tidy.

The homes she has seen on television is what she wants when she grows up, she says.

“You can’t have that unless you get a good education. You have to study hard and graduate college,” said her Grammy, my mother.

“I want to have lots of money and be famous,” Lauryn continues.

“Not without that college education.” Grammy presses.

Then off she twirls through the house, without a care, wearing her tiara. And I am envious. I wish I could have those years back…the many things I’d do differently.

My youngest daughter watches her older sister and lingers on my lap, the back of her head pressed against my chest.

“I’m going to be a hair fixer, Grammy.” She announces.

Grammy smiles and says, “You are? Hair dressers have to work hard and sometimes don’t make a lot of money.”

“Lauryn wants to be rich, Grammy, I just want to be happy,” Lindsey says as she squirms off my lap and runs to the other room with her sister.

The wisdom of this five-year old amazed me and my eyes began to dampen.

Money and possessions can bring happiness for a season. Big houses and fame can tumble and fade and in all reality, have no place in the big picture.

Having character and values, sweetness and compassion are worth more than any home or occupation. Being humble, grounded and uncompromising in truth and goodness will go further than any dollar.

Me too, Lindsey, me too. I just want to be happy and I think I am. Just remember the next time we go out and you ask for a new toy, the answer will probably be no.

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