I live with ghosts. Ghosts aren’t spooks. They’re memories that you’ve clung onto so long they start to cling back. Hands you held so tightly, you can still feel their touch when they’re gone. Voices that ring through empty rooms.
Ghosts can be five years old with pokey toes jabbing you in the night as you sleep, and sixteen next morning, when a song comes on that she loved back then. Ghosts can disappear as you reach them, or hang around all day.
Ghosts can stay even while their souls go on living, having kids and grandkids of their own.
Wow, what a week (month, year) we’ve been having. I’ve fallen behind on reading and replying to comments from last week, but I’ll try to catch up when I can. In the meantime, here’s this week’s story, based on David Stewart‘s photo prompt. Your comments are very welcome (even when it makes a while to respond).
They appeared every night, as the sun shuffled out of sight and the crickets took up their own song. I crouched and listened as a silent tune filled the park for a few moments before they faded from sight in the darkness.
Then, when I was old enough, I took the job as park custodian. I rigged lights in the bandstand so that the darkness couldn’t hide them, and I waited a final time. As dusk fell, my orchestra shimmered onto the stage. I listened, entranced again by their unheard song, and as darkness fell, I reached for the switch.
This week’s InMon prompts are extra exciting because I think one of them will meld well with the Friday Fictioneers prompt for tomorrow. Check back then to see if I manage to fit both in. For now, however, I’m going with the prompt Haunted Word.
There’s a ghost in our family. You can’t see it, it doesn’t throw crockery and, unlike whatever presence lingers over our stairs, it doesn’t spook the cat. But it’s there nevertheless. It’s in a look that crosses Jerry’s face, a knot in my stomach, tears in our sons’ eyes. It hides for days on end, leaving us to pretend we live a normal life, then it jumps out and catches us unawares.
There’s a van I’ve seen in town sometimes. It’s black, with white writing and symbols etched on the side: “Paranormal investigators”. I looked them up online once, just to see. They specialise in haunted houses and in removing the ghosts of former occupants who died there. It’s not right for us, of course, because it isn’t the house that’s haunted. I almost feel as though it could be sometimes – I catch myself seeing a flash of dark ponytail out of the corner of my eye, or I go into her old room and think for a moment I can smell those awful concoctions she used to make by adding dried petals to my shampoo. My little chemist.
But she isn’t there – in human or in spirit form. The house isn’t haunted, though I sometimes wish it was. Our family is haunted, by memories, and by a word. Her name. Emily.
Once again, thank you to Madison Woods for a stunning photographic inspiration. I’m saving my introduction for after the story, as it contains spoilers, but I do hope you’ll read to the end.
It’s a night fit for horror. The full moon struggles to pierce gathering thunder clouds overhead and rumbles in the distance foretell a coming storm. Bat-like silhouettes flit briefly across the bright spot in the clouds, then disappear cackling into the blackness.
My teenage self would have feared ghouls and vampires approaching unseen in the gloom. As a child, I’d have been dressed as one and demanding treats. All Hallow’s Eve, the Day of the Dead.
But today there are no horrors. Today, I’m busy with the most important job of my life, and so is my brand new daughter*.
* * * * *
Clichéd, I’m sure, but the picture said ghosts and ghouls to me. However, the end of October has a special significance in our household at the moment, because we’re expecting a baby (*gender unspecified, but I had to pick one for the sake of the story), due 30th October! And what better way to tell you all than through a bit of Friday Fiction?
Our great leader, Madison (http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/first-contact/), is back from her vacation, and provided today’s inspiration with the picture below. If you head over to her page, do look at the comments below her story – plenty of other writers’ links there, you might find one you love!
I love pictures of people – everyone in the scene has a story to tell – but today it was the camera’s viewpoint that seemed most interesting to me. I hope you enjoy, but as ever constructive comments are just as welcome as positive ones.
The station master looked up at me. “Need a hand there, Miss?”
It was the end of the line. Brian was already off down the platform, hands stuffed in the pockets of his jacket, head jerking from one side to the other, looking for Mum. But I couldn’t move.
On the other side of the platform, between some luggage carts and a coiled hosepipe, stood the boy. Unnoticed, or unseen? He had just the same expression on his face as he’d had that day. Accusatory more than frightened. I thought I’d gotten rid of him, left all that in Boulder.