Kelli J Gavin: Well Lit

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Well Lit


By: Kelli J Gavin



Sarah and Maddie had been walking for quite some time. Sarah was about twenty feet ahead when she turned and noticed Maddie wasn’t keeping up with her anymore.

“Maddie! Let’s get a move on! I want to get home for dinner and soon the sun will start to set.” Sarah originally was pleased when her best friend agreed to tag along for an outdoor adventure. Maddie had in recent months become a bit distant and aloof. She no longer enjoyed going to the movies together. She didn’t care when new music was released. She barely engaged in conversation with Sarah anymore and she altogether ignored all of their mutual friends. Sarah at first tried as hard as she could to figure out what may have caused these sudden changes in Maddie. But try as she might, Sarah was at a loss. Maddie was quiet, sullen and just chose to do her own thing.

“Girl, I am trying. I can’t keep up with you. Your stupid long legs make you take steps like a giraffe. I thought this was supposed to be a leisurely walk. Not a race to see who could get there first.” Maddie didn’t even make eye contact with Sarah as she continued her complaints. “What is so special about these stupid wildflowers you are searching for?”

“They only bloom for about two weeks every summer. I should have started checking on them about two weeks ago, but my summer job has taken over most of my daylight hours. They are so beautiful. I love placing them in vases throughout the house. I would hate to miss them this year,” Sarah explained.

“How long do they last once you have picked them?” Maddie asked, wiping a bead of sweat from her forehead.

“Usually about five or six days and then they wilt a bit and the edges turn brown.” Sarah’s expression changed as the memory of last year’s wilting flowers came to mind.

“Seems like a waste of time if they are just going to die right away.” Maddie, as always, was continuing on her negative streak.

“Do you hear yourself? I am sick of this Maddie. For the last few months, you have been a mess. You argue with anyone who disagrees with you. You turn down almost all invitations. You complain and complain and complain until I kinda want to punch you. The last time I asked you what was wrong and what was going on, you glared and me and told me to stop asking. You glared at me. I am your best friend. What is the problem?” Sarah sputtered as she finally spoke about her grievances directed at Maddie.

Silence. Actual silence. Sarah stopped in her tracks and waited for Maddie to stop next to her. Maddie looked up into Sarah’s eyes. Tears began forming and Maddie gulped for air.

“Sarah. My dad is sick. Like really sick. He has cancer, and surgery and chemo aren’t an option. The doctor has given him another couple of months. That’s it. Done. Just like that.” Maddie cried.

Sarah couldn’t believe what Maddie was explaining to her. All those times Sarah tried to stop over and Maddie wouldn’t let her in the front door. All those times Sarah said that her parents wanted to have Maddie’s parents over for dinner and Maddie said they were busy. All this crazy mean talk and complaining that seemed to be boiling over all the time. Maddie’s dad was dying. Sarah’s eyes filled with tears. She reached for Maddie to embrace her, not knowing if Maddie would even let her. Maddie’s shoulders fell. And she began to sob. Her entire body collapsed into Sarah’s loving arms.

“Oh Maddie. I am so sorry. And I am sorry that you didn’t tell me. I could have been praying for you. Supporting you. Loving you during this time. All I wanted to do was punch you because you were being so hateful and mean and standoffish.” Sarah wiped her own tears as she massaged Maddie’s heaving shoulders.

“It was almost as if I couldn’t. If I told you, if I said it out loud, that would make it real. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell you about it. It hurts so much.” Maddie sat down on a fallen log to catch her breath and wipe her tears.

“I understand and I am sorry. My sweet friend, I love you. Thank you for telling me. I want to help you in any way that I can. You tell me how, and I will do it.”

“Take me to see these flowers. Today is a fine day for beauty.” Maddie smiled as well as she could to enable Sarah to know that she meant it.

“Flowers here we come.” Sarah pulled on Maddie’s hand and brought her to her feet. She hugged Maddie tightly and pulled a tissue from her pocket. Sarah helped Maddie fix her eyes and then tucked Maddie’s willing arm into hers.

The girls increased their speed. No longer shuffling behind, Maddie kept in step with Sarah. Maddie and Sarah. Just like it had always been. Friends since the first day of kindergarten. Friends until the end. The path narrowed a bit and the sun shone through the tall treetops. The breeze increased which helped the girls cool down a bit from their brisk walk in the woods.

“There! There they are!” Sarah announced as she bolted forward into the opening in the woods. Pink and purple, yellow and blue and red. So many colors of wild flowers! An absolutely beautiful sight. Pure and simple. Natural beauty in God’s creation.

Maddie smiled at Sarah. A smile of thanks. She lay down in the middle of the opening. Surrounded by wildflowers, the gentle breeze, and the sound of birds speaking to each other. “Sarah. Thank you for bringing me to see your special flowers. This time with you has been so wonderful. Thank you for helping me smile today.”

Sarah was kneeling and gently cutting flowers and placing them in a pile. “I will cut a few extra for you. You will want a vase also I think.” Sarah smiled at her treasured friend.

The path home was well lit by the sun that would be setting soon. The girls walked arm in arm back to their neighborhood. When they exited the woods and turned to admire the sunset, both girls did nothing other than hug each other. Not a word was exchanged. Sarah handed Maddie an armful of flowers to bring home to her father.

That evening, Maddie and her father sat on the couch admiring the vase of flowers on the mantle above the fireplace. “Dad, Sarah cut those for me today. Aren’t they beautiful?”

Maddie’s dad smiled at her. “Beautiful, just like my baby girl.”

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Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin Blog found at kellijgavin.blogspot.com

Write the Story: March 2019 Collection


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Larry Stephens: Binnacue, Pennsylvania

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Binnacue, Pennsylvania

By Larry Stephens


A stunning morning in May in the deep, rolling hills of Pennsylvania; temperatures already holding at around 60 or so, with little puffballs zipping around on crests of swirling, late-spring winds.

Mabel — as she has done every day for the last 23 years of her life — wobbles shakily from the simple two-bedroom cape-cod she calls home and makes her way tenuously up a steep, evergreen-lined blacktop.

She’s not feeling well; head pounding and her tongue feels like a huge slab of raw meat stuffed in her mouth, causing her to occasionally gag. She halts in her progress to dab her left eye, which is tender and leaking and will likely be sporting a nice, deep bruise by mid-afternoon. She sighs deeply, turns a venomous glare back to the little house she stepped from, rolls her aged shoulders, lowers her head and pushes onward.

The graded blacktop gets steeper — it always gives Mabel trouble in her knees and she feels more rickety than she’s ever felt before. Mabel wonders if she’ll be able to die soon or if this will go on and on forever, as if this were her hell and she was already dead and God consigned her withered shell to Satan’s treadmill.

One step in front of the other, she tells herself.

But dear God am I tired.

Not tired. Weary.

Mabel pushes on, knees protesting, but determined to crest the hill where she’ll stop for a nice long series of deep breaths and flip her middle finger first at Satan and then her husband, Carl.

Carl of the Foul Temper. Carl, whose fists were sudden, furious and painfully hard. Carl, who has a penchant for pounding the crap out of Mabel without leaving any noticeable marks. That is, except for this morning when Mabel poured his stinky Iron City beer down the drain.

Hence the left eye issue.

Finally! Mabel takes that last step up — and it’s a doozy for sure — and grants herself a little smile in victory. Gotta take ’em when ya can get ’em. She slowly hoists her right hand to eye-height and cranks up that middle finger with a “That’s for you Satan, ya filthy bastard!”

She turns around slowly (lest she lose her balance and take a nasty tumble, although breaking a hip might not be such a bad idea) and pushes that raised middle finger emphatically toward her tiny cape-cod. “That’s for you Carl. Die already.” Mabel is pretty certain Carl didn’t hear her.

She turns and steps off the blacktop, which comes to an unceremonious end at a small plot of grass growing wild. At the other end of the grass lies the entrance to The Wood, and Mabel feels a longing to be in The Wood. She walks across the spongy grass that’s high enough to tickle her bare calves and the entrance to The Wood looms. Mabel darts into its deep embrace, belying her age and seeming decrepitude.


Her anxiety immediately fades, evaporating from her soul as she accepts and is accepted by The Wood. Her eyes close gently and she inhales the fragrance of The Wood with a longing akin to nothing she’s ever felt outside The Wood. Ever. She holds the breath and the aromas within before exhaling slowly, all the way down to the pit of her ancient belly.

Mabel steps on the cinder path that cuts like a great scar through The Wood and laments the sheer ugliness of it as she reaches deep into the folds of her bulky cardigan and extracts a chrome flask, which she’d filled shortly after Carl popped her and before taking her leave. The lid comes off easily and quickly, and she upends the glittering vessel, gulping its contents greedily, the sudden sear of Dewar’s scotch fries its way down her gullet to thump into her guts.

She burps, then chuckles at the burp, telling herself, “that was a good one!” and then pulls a pack of Marlboro reds out of another pocket of her clunky cardigan, made for her by some sanctimonious bitches at church. (They always seemed to be praying for Mabel and yet, nothing changes! So why bother?)

She lights up, drawing deeply, then pounds another swig of crap-scotch and begins making her way along the cinders, carefully avoiding the small logs that section off the cinders. Mabel — for maybe the millionth time in her miserable life — contemplates the reasoning or the logic behind those stupid logs. To keep the cinders in place? Maybe they’ve got something to do with the torrential rains that battered this little Appalachian mountain dump-of-a-town.

Another swig, and Mabel begins to lose interest in discovering the reasons for the regularly-spaced logs, striving instead to keep her footing amid the twitchy cinders.

Mabel has some really good shoes for this kind of walking. Doc Martin’s or Doc Marteen’s or Doc Dicken’s or Doc Dickeedoo or something-or-the-other; damned things take a licking and keep on ticking and it’s unbelievable just how much Mabel … Hates … Carl!

She stops at the sheer intensity of that last thought, surprised. She knocks back another Big Gulp then realizes that she’d best pace her consumption or she’ll be out before she gets to where she’s going. She finishes her cigarette, drops it then grinds it out with her heel, then stoops precariously to retrieve it, smiling as she resumes an upright position and continues her stroll through The Wood. That used and reeking ciggy butt always looks really fine in Carl’s meatloaf or pot pie, which gives Mabel joy.

Evergreens grow deeply here; their piney scent overlaying a slight smell of decay that accompanies millennia-old woods, and the silence vastly deep. Mabel glances back, then around her at the endless evergreens, ascertaining her progress through The Wood. About halfway.

She tips her flask again and is rewarded with just a few drops. She scowls in disgust, but then brightens and hurries forward several yards where she spies a small, mossy fir with a small down-facing arrow etched in the trunk and she smiles to herself. She crouches down and brushes moss and leaves aside to reveal an unopened fifth of Dewars, and Mabel is quite suddenly elated at the find. (She sort-of, kind-of remembered that she’d planted it there on an earlier run, although she’s not entirely sure which run.)

She sits on the damp earth and can feel moisture seeping through her frumpy black dress and soaking her ass, and cares not a whit as she refills the shiny flask, careful not to waste a drop of the amber love-liquid. Task complete, she caps the flask, takes a long pull from the bottle, reseals and replants it, then stumbles to her feet, deciding that it’s time for Carl to die.

Huh?

Mabel sets off along the cinder path a bit more wobbly than before, ruminating over the sudden inspiration. She rolls it over and over in her mind. Carl must die. Now. Today.

Her footsteps seem to take on greater purpose and Mabel feels that she’s actually striding, passing through The Wood like a timeless, old, frumpy wraith.

The Wood lay squarely between the tiny shire where her cape-cod sits, and the main town of Binnacue, and it takes about an hour to walk from one end to the other. Mabel makes it her singular venture each and every day while Carl sleeps off his latest binge and pants-pissing party (stinking up the house something awful, cuz the stench of sour beer and fermenting piss is enough to peel frigging paint).

Mabel would never have to deal with that shit after today, no siree. She applies flame behind her gnarled, leathery shaking hand to a smoke that bobbles between her lips. Yep, I’m about two sheets to the wind right about now. Just cognizant enough to buy what’s gotta be bought to do the job…

Of killing Carl.

Linoleum knife. One quick horizontal motion across the old buzzard’s grizzled throat and see ya bitch! Sayanara shit-heel! You’ve belted me for the last time.

Jack’s of All Trades Hardware on the corner of Mistletoe and Clause streets in Binnacue would have just what Mabel needed. (What city-planning douche thought it would be a good idea to name the town’s streets after Christmas stuff anyway?)

Another belt of scotch, another burned butt, and Mabel steps from The Wood, across another plot of lawn (this one neatly groomed, thank you), calculating the stops and amount of money she’d need to spend.

Liquor store. Convenience store for smokes. Jack’s of All Trades for one wood-handled linoleum knife with a sweet, curved blade, a nasty point, and sharp enough to shave old whiskers all neat and clean.

^^

Bags rustling in her arthritic fist, Mabel strides determinedly into The Wood; her mind entirely focused on her Mission. To kill Carl. Deaders. Finito. One. Dead. Assface.

A sense of melancholy suddenly washes over her that was completely unbidden and a total surprise. Would I miss him, she wonders. Nah. Well, maybe. Or not. And Mabel tries to remember ever being happy with him. Nothing comes to mind. Nothing, and she feels barren, empty, devoid of anything but sadness and a grim sense of purpose.

She shakes her head angrily, takes a healthy pull from the flask and then fires up another smoke. Fury rides shotgun behind her eyes, giving her an immediate headache. But oh how the rage seethes, and for the first time in the 23 years she’s been making this trek through these woods, she flings her still-lit ciggy away angrily, then stops and wonders why in the hell she just did that.

Because you’re about to kill your husband, you dip-shit.

She wobbles, unsteady on her feet, as she slowly comes to understand just how shitfaced she is. And then she laughs. Out loud, competing with the repetitive, happy splash of a near-distant stream for the ears of the bunched firs.

And she laughs louder, uproarious as the thought of calling herself a dip-shit trundles around in her soggy brain. She thinks, my liver’s gotta be a bag of crap by now, and that makes her laugh even harder, but the laughs suddenly turn into coughs, and the coughing hurts something gawdawful!

They rip through Mabel and she feels like something is uber-wrong, doubling her over. She drops to her knees, unmindful of the uncaring cinders gouging the tender flesh of her knees as wave after wave of spasms hammer her. The flask tumbles from her grip as another, more powerful coughing fit wracks her and she feels something deep inside her tear loose with a sudden, blinding pain and work its way up her esophagus, causing her to gag even more.

Tears stream from her eyes, her face reddens, and snot pours from both nostrils as whatever it is that shook itself loose sloshes out of her mouth to plop in the dirt. Mabel turns away, not wanting to see whatever it was; terror washes over her as she’s suddenly unable to breathe and a deep, throbbing pain blooms to totality.

Gasping, she sags to the ground, her face turning blue, frustration and rage exploding in her mind even as the lights gradually dim and then fade to a pinprick of gleaming light that might have been a spear of glorious sunlight reflecting off the blade of that wonderful linoleum knife.

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Please visit Larry Stephens on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011

Write the Story: March 2019 Collection


Stacy Smith: Insolence

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Insolence

By Stacy Smith

Gazing out through these tree branches watching the sun’s rays shine a light farther down this walking trail, I could not stop thinking about the fact that in just a few more minutes, SHE would be here!

I first noticed her at Gina’s Gourmet Deli only a week ago. There she was with her shiny blonde hair cascading over her shoulders with just a few wispy strands falling ever so softly around her strikingly beautiful model-like face. This vision before me just stood there peering into the deli window covering to decide if she wanted the spinach/feta/cranberry salad, or the roasted chickpeas with olives. Had hoped she would notice me, maybe even say hello, but she never looked up. When she finally selected her salad and looked up, she grabbed her phone out of her purse and rushed quickly by me up to the cash register. Ignored once again by someone who had no time for me.

I knew the torture of being ignored. As a little boy, I lived with just my mom. Dad? “You don’t have a dad, only a donor,” she always screamed at me. And my mom was too busy with the many boyfriends she brought to our house to pay any attention to me, her son.

“Mom, look at what I colored for you!”


“Not now, I am BUSY,” as she twisted my arm and locked me in the dark closet. I heard them laughing as I cried, not just about the pain in my arm, but the more permanent pain in my soul for always being ignored.

Anyway, after the first gorgeous woman who ignored me after I grew up, I vowed there would be payback, and I kept my promises.

Over the course of the past fifteen years, I lost count how many I made pay the ultimate price for their insolence, but this beauty was no different than all the rest.

Saturday morning … 6:30 AM … crouched low and waiting. Little did this beauty know, but my face will be the last one she ever sees.

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Stacy Smith is a voracious reader and occasional writer.

Write the Story: March 2019 Collection


Writers Unite! Workshop: Those Pesky Brand Names

Recently an author published a story on Amazon.com that included a brand name in the title. With the investigative algorithms that they utilize, Amazon caught it and politely asked the author, who complied immediately, to correct the error. Much effort ensued to change titles, ISBN numbers, and cross-references across the author’s extensive body of work.  

In this case, it was a simple matter of oversight. The author never considered there was an issue. The brand name was so commonplace, it never occurred that using it would be a problem. A lesson that illustrates the care needed to be taken when writing.

This is not to say you can’t use brand names. You can. However, the context that you use them in is essential.

In an article written by Michy and posted on the “Accentuated Authors Services” website, she notes the following:

•    If you have a character crying in your story, she should ask for a tissue, not a Kleenex.
•    If a person is cleaning the bathroom, they should be using bleach and not Clorox.
•    Babies should be wearing diapers, not Pampers.
•    When you order a soft drink, it should be cola not Coke.
•    If cleaning ears, one should use a cotton swab, not a Q-tip.    

The point is that brand names should not be used in describing a generic product that may have numerous other brand identities. However, don’t despair, brand names can be used when identifying something specific. Michy writes that if you are in a football stadium and the Goodyear Blimp flies overhead, it is perfectly acceptable to use its correct name. For a mystery writer like me, she also mentions that if you are identifying evidence in a crime, it is okay to use the brand name and type of a tire or an automobile or other items because it is unique to the situation.

What you must not do is use a brand name in a title. As we learned at the beginning of this discussion, algorithms exist to find such occurrences, and usage will be caught by the company or publisher through Internet searches.

There are times, however, when you can use brand names. If you mention that a character drove a Ford Thunderbird as a young man and loved the car, that is acceptable, but make sure it relates to the plot. The most important thing to remember is never to use a brand name in a derogatory way. Bad-mouthing a company or product is one quick way to receive a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney.

Another critical factor to remember is that brands are fleeting and can date your story quickly. That is why choosing the generic word for a product, if one exists, is essential. You want your reader to relate to the product more than the brand. The fact is using too many brands can lead to your story reading like a commercial. Brands can be distracting, so use them wisely and infrequently.

There is one other area where company names and brands are important. World building is not just a tool of the science-fiction or fantasy writer. All writers build their world, and it is essential to be accurate about location when setting your story in an existing town or city. Remember, some of your readers could live there, so be precise with places and street names, and especially business names. 

I tend to be quite careful about the names of individual businesses when I write. I often set my novels in New Orleans, and I will mention Jackson Square, Café du Monde, Preservation Hall, and other iconic landmarks or businesses but set the action of my story in fictitious locations. Again, this is to keep the possibility of any negative connotation being associated with a real business or brand. You should not, however, use the names of private companies. If your scene calls for action at a restaurant which is in a specific area and there is an actual restaurant there, make up a name for it.

Using the real names of well-known landmarks provides realism to your stories and enhances the reader’s experience. I once had a reader tell me that my description of a small town in California was exactly how she remembered it from growing up. She knew the town square, the ice cream shop I mentioned, and the corner drugstore, and said I must have spent a lot of time in her hometown. The fact is I had never been there, but I utilized Google Map’s street-level view to provide the ambiance and setting for that scene. Her reaction shows that an accurate representation to your reader brings them into your story.

Writing can be a challenge. With so many factors to consider, we must remain cognizant of the issues that can harm our stories. If you do, you will not have to worry about those pesky brand names.  

Resources:
http://accentuateservices.com/archives/567

Write the Story: March 2019 Prompt!


(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Here’s the plan:

You write a story of 3000 words or less (doesn’t matter, can be 50 words or a poem) and post it on the author site that you want to promote. Please edit these stories. We will do minor editing but if the story is not written well Writers Unite! reserves the right to reject publishing it.

We have chosen not to do full-editing. This project is based on the writer attracting new readers with their work. Therefore other than common grammar error editing, we will not edit content.

Send the story and link to the site via Facebook Messenger to Deborah Ratliff or email daratliff07@gmail.com. Put “Write the Story” in the first line of the message or subject line.

WU! will post your story on our blog and share across our platforms, FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. WU! will also add the story to the Write the Story page on our blog…where it be for all to read along with the other stories.

We do ask that you share the link to the WU! Write the Story page so that your followers can also read the works of your fellow writers.

The idea is to generate increased traffic for all. May take some time but it will happen if you participate. The other perk of this exercise is that you will also have a blog publishing credit for your work

DO NOT post your story to this prompt. The idea is to have your story or poem published on your site, the WU! blog and shared to gain followers for your writing. We will not accept a one- or two-line caption. For the most part, we are fiction writers and poets…. please write a story or poem, not a caption.

If you have any questions regarding this, you may ask the question in the comments. Please note: you do not need to be a member of the WU! Facebook group or follow the blog to participate. If you want to join us, however, that would be great!

Thank you.

(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Now… go Write the Story!

D. A. Ratliff: Family Remembrance

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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Family Remembrance

By D. A. Ratliff

I first saw her leaning against the rough, brick wall about a block off Bourbon Street.

She wasn’t particularly beautiful, but the word lovely kept creeping into my mind. Thick black hair pulled off her face, curled tresses tied with a purple ribbon cascaded down her back. I assumed she was a street performer, her purple and green striped dress and velvet shoes seemed at place in the French Quarter. I’d seen my fair share of burly guys in pink tutus and blue wigs wandering the streets. She was a pleasant diversion.

A large hand grabbed my forearm and spun me around. Liam Bronson, all six-foot-four of him, leaned over so we were face to face. “Listen, mate, we have two whole days before Fat Tuesday. That’s a lot of drinking to do. Let’s go.”

I sucked in the warm New Orleans air, then regretted it. The musky smell of the Mississippi River only a few blocks away, along with the smell of stale beer was a bit overwhelming. I followed Liam but not without a glance back to where the lovely woman was standing. She was gone.

My best friend, Dan Parker, fell in beside me. “Liam is going to kill us all. No one can keep up with him.”

I snickered. “You better not try. Don’t worry, he’s always ready for the game.”

It was Dan’s turn to snicker. “He only plays for the afterglow.”

I laughed as Liam turned, hearing Dan’s comment. In his thick New Zealand brogue, he replied, a huge grin on his face. “Alcohol and all those women, partying after the game.” He spread his long powerful arms out. “It’s why we play rugby, isn’t it?”

Indeed, it was. My buds and I were members of the Los Angeles Rugby club and were in town to play a charity exhibition match with the New Orleans club on Fat Tuesday. We arrived a few days before Mardi Gras with the sole intention to party.

It was humid and unseasonably warm in NOLA as the natives called her, and we hadn’t walked a block before the heavens opened up. Liam ducked into a bar and we followed. Lucky to find a table, along with an efficient server, we had beers in front of us within a couple of minutes.

Liam downed half of his beer, putting the heavy glass mug down with a thud. “I like this town. Got character.”

Dan tipped his mug at me. “Bert, didn’t you tell me you had relatives who lived here?”

“Yeah, where my name came from, it was my great-grandfather’s. There was some sort of tragedy and he headed to California where an aunt lived. I don’t know much about them.”

As he motioned to the server for another beer, Liam shook his head. “You’ve never been here, mate?”

“No. Never had the chance.”

“Foolish not to come here. I like this town.”

Dan was searching on his phone. “Just checked the weather, going to rain for the rest of the afternoon. I was thinking, the chick at the front desk was telling me about a tour of haunted bars and saloons. I just did a search. The next tour leaves in fifteen minutes not far from here. Wanna go?”

Liam smiled. “Got some haunted places back in Auckland, mum and my auntie took me with them once when I was a lad. And my uncle owned a pub, and I grew up in it. I’m in, mate.”

An hour later, traveling in the covered horse-drawn carriage that had been touring us around the French Quarter, we were in front of the third of six stops. Liam and Dan loved the tour. The first two haunted bars were open and provided free beer.

Ducking under the carriage awning as he stepped onto the sidewalk, Liam frowned. “Bugger, no skulls in this place. Better be a ghost.”

Dan turned to me. “I cannot keep up with Kiwi talk. What’s he going on about?”

I slapped my friend on the back. “Skull means drink.”

Dan wrinkled his nose. “Bugger.”

The bar was an old shotgun duplex located on the fringes of the less commercial area of the Quarter. Three sturdy steps with a railing led to a worn porch that ran the width of the house.

“This place could use a coat of paint.” Dan meant his words for us, but the tour guide heard him.

In a lilting Cajun drawl, the guide, a retired history teacher she had told us, responded. “That is part of the charm, young man. But this is the best stop of the tour. Lots of my guests have seen the lady ghost here. Now follow me and watch your step.”

We entered the building to find that the front half of both duplexes had been combined into one enormous room. Like the outside, the place could use a coat of paint. The last color painted on the walls was a teal green, but where the paint had worn off, a creamy yellow was revealed.

An ornate wood bar that looked like cherry to my untrained eye extended across the short side of the room. Behind it was a mirrored wall lined with several dusty shelves containing a few empty liquor bottles. Liam and Dan immediately headed for the bar, along with the twelve other people in the tour group, but I was drawn to the fireplace.

A fireplace sat off-center of the room in one side of the old duplex, the fire brick was old and stained from so many fires over the years. The only other furniture in the room was a straight-backed wooden armchair with one of those woven seats.

As I walked toward the fireplace, the guide began to speak.

“This bar known as Angel’s Tavern was owned by the Cormier family around the turn of the century. Oh … the twentieth century.”

The others were laughing at her feeble joke, but the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. My last name is Cormier.

It was hot and humid in the room, but as I approached the chair, it became noticeably colder. Each step seemed to lower the temperature until at the fireplace, it was downright frigid. I began to shiver but, rooted to the spot, I listened to the guide tell the story.

“Angeline and Bertrand Cormier were descendants of an Acadian family who were deported from Nova Scotia to France in the Expulsion by the British in the mid-1700s. Their ancestors were recruited by the Spanish to migrate to the Louisiana area that they now controlled. Many had family in the western area of the territory, but the Spanish forced them to live along the Mississippi. They wanted settlers to thwart the British from claiming the land. Not much is known about the Cormier family history before opening the Angel’s Tavern, I’ angle in French, in 1898.”

I was mesmerized by the story and only when she took a breath, did I realize Dan and Liam were staring at me, mouths agape. Yeah, mine probably was as well. I tried to take a step to get out of what I decided was a draft, but I couldn’t move. Adrenaline flooded my body as panic set in, but the guide began to talk, and I was lost again in her words.

“Angel’s Tavern was very popular. Only the finest liquors and wines were served, and the place was known for its gin fizzes! Angeline played the piano, and on weekends, the place was packed. Locals in Vieux Carré, as the Quarter was often called then, would pack this place. They were at the height of popularity when tragedy struck. A cotton merchant from New York arrived in New Orleans and took a fancy to Angeline. Bertrand tried to protect his wife from the man, but one night the merchant entered the bar and found Bertrand sitting in a chair next to the fireplace. He demanded Bertrand release Angeline from her marriage vows. Bertrand refused, and the merchant drew a dagger from his coat and stabbed his rival.

She stopped and pointed to the chair I was standing beside. “Some believe that was the actual chair that Bertrand died in but no way to be certain. But many who get close to the chair feel a slight chill which indicates the presence of a ghost. I don’t know if that is true. What is true is that the tragedy deepened.”

The guide turned back to the others. “Angeline, who had been playing the piano at the time, rushed to her husband’s side and pulled the dagger from his chest. Vowing she couldn’t live without her beloved, she plunged the sharp blade covered in her husband’s blood into her chest and died instantly. It is said that her ghost roams the French Quarter looking for her son.”

A woman in the group spoke. “What happened to the son?”

“No one knows for certain. The only mention of him was in the newspaper article about his parents’ death and in their obituary. He was 17.”

My voice quaking, I asked the guide a question that I wasn’t sure that I wanted the answer to but had to know.

“Do you know the son’s name?”

She flashed a smile, phony in my opinion. “Why, yes. His name was Fabien.”

My grandfather’s name was Fabien. I grabbed the back of the chair for stability. The wood was cold. I remember an episode of that ghost-hunting show I watched with a girlfriend. The temperature was supposed to drop around an apparition. No, not believing that. There are no such things as ghosts.

The guide began to lead the group through the remainder of the structure. There was a commercial kitchen, put in by a previous tenant who ran a restaurant here for a while. My friends started to ask questions, but I waved them off. Didn’t want to talk, too unnerved.

As we left for the next stop, I glanced one last time toward the bar and in the mirror was the reflection of the dark-haired woman in the striped dress. I nearly broke my neck looking behind me to see where she was. She wasn’t there. When I turned back to the mirror, she had vanished.

No, I will not believe in ghosts.

Monday morning, we were up far too early to practice on the rugby pitch. I had a hangover, and Dan was positively gray. Only Liam was cheerful. I hated him. I fully intended to go back to the hotel and sleep before we hit the streets to watch more parades. I showered after practice and was getting dressed when the guys joined me.

Dan sat on the bench next to me. “Man, I still don’t understand it. You never had any idea about your great-grandparents?”

“I told you a thousand times last night, I didn’t. Not even certain my dad knows.”

“Just wild, I mean you have the same name as your great-grandfather. That you didn’t know and then them dying like that. Just wild.”

I honestly wished he would shut up. My head was spinning and not just from the alcohol. Something more than coincidence was going on and I was not afraid to admit to myself that I was weirded out. Just wasn’t going to admit it to anyone else.

Liam slapped me on the back. “Come on, Coach is taking us to breakfast and then we can go watch some of the parades.”

I stood and grabbed my bag. “Okay, but after breakfast, I’m going to sleep.”

A hearty laugh roared from Liam. “We’ve got curfew, you can sleep then.”

Afterglow was in full swing. I had played a lot of sports but must admit, rugby players partied like no other. Rivals on the field, now both teams were in the same locker room, drinking beer with wives, girlfriends and random gals. No other guys allowed, just women. I still wasn’t used to running around naked or just in a towel in front of all these women, but it was part of the game. But I was preoccupied with Angel’s Tavern. I kept seeing the mysterious woman in my head and felt like she was luring me back there.

Trying not to attract attention, I got dressed and was attempting to slip out the door when Liam caught me. Towel barely wrapped around him, beer in one hand and both arms wrapped around two gals, he bellowed.

“Where do you think you’re going, mate?” He grimaced. “These NOLA boys are tough. Kicked me right in the acorns but we won and NOLA’s paying for the beer. Get in here and party.”

“I’ll be back.” Before he could say anything else, I left.

I caught the trolley to the French Quarter and walked to Angel’s Tavern. Standing in front of the door, I had to admit, I was shaking. I didn’t want to go inside, but I had to know.

When I first tried the doorknob, it wouldn’t budge, but as I was thinking of course it was locked, it turned in my hand. I swallowed a gulp of air and went inside. As if I had no choice, I headed straight for the chair, the temperature dropping with each step.

I touched the chair, and for a moment, the room became warm from a fire burning brightly, voices murmuring, the tinkling of piano keys, but then it was gone. The room dark, only pale light through the front windows and still cold.

“He let you see it as it was.”

The voice seemed to echo throughout the room. I instinctively looked toward the mirror and saw her reflection. Whirling to see behind me, I nearly fell to my knees. She was standing before me.

“Who are you?”

She reached out to run her fingers along my cheek. I felt the chill but not her fingertips. “I am your great-grandmother, Angeline. I have been waiting for you to return and sensed when you arrived. I know you are not him, but you are of him.”

“You said, he let me see. Who is he?”

“Your great-grandfather. He cannot come into this world as I can. He has joined the other side, but I have remained in this plane to someday find you.”

My voice cracked, and I could barely take a breath. “Why are you waiting for me?”

She smiled, and for the first time, I realized how transparent she was. It was as if she was there but not there.

“I was waiting for you. The tavern is yours. No one has ever known where the deed was hidden but I will tell you, and you claim it. I would hope you would want to open a tavern here and laissez les bon temps rouler.”

“Mine, but how … I can’t run a bar.” I said that, but the wheels were turning. Paid my way through college tending bar. Could I do this?

As if she read my mind, my great-grandmother’s ghost responded. “Bertrand and I loved this tavern. I know you will love it as well. The deed is in a box under that slate tile in the right back corner of the hearth.”

I knelt on the wood floor and pried up the tile. In a small crevice, I found a steel box and inside a wax covered envelope. My fingers shook as I pulled the document from the box and stood up. I turned to her, but she was gone.

A couple of hours later, Dan and Liam found me. I was sitting in the chair. It was no longer cold, and I knew my great-grandfather was gone. My buddies didn’t say anything, waiting for me to speak.

“Don’t ask me how I know or how I found this, but I think I own this place. If I do, I’m going to reopen Angel’s Tavern.”

Dan pursed his lips. “Move to New Orleans. Funny, we were talking about how we didn’t want to leave and go back to the craziness of LA.”

My pulse raced a bit. “You guys would stay here?”

Liam grinned. “I told you, my uncle owned a pub … worked there from the time I was twelve. Besides, the NOLA rugby dudes are begging us to join them, and they could use us.”

I stood up. “Then we do this together?”

The slap on my back from Liam almost knocked me over. “You got it, mate.”

Dan agreed and they started talking about what we needed to do. I glanced in the mirror to find the image of my great-grandmother smiling at me. As her image faded, I knew I would never see her again but her words, laissez les bon temps rouler, echoed in my head.

Yes, time for the good times to roll again at Angel’s Tavern.

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Please visit Deborah’s blog and follow her. thecoastalquill.wordpress.com

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Courtney E. Taylor: Ashes

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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Ashes

By Courtney E. Taylor

What had been a morning filled with the sweet, lemony smell of magnolias turned into an evening of dust and smoke. Every road was filled with soldiers, nearly every home too.

Already it had been a hard year. Only sixteen, young Master Cummins had gone off to join the Confederate States Army, following in the footsteps of his father who had been victim to the first conscription two years earlier. The missus had wept as she praised their courage and demanded that they win the war and be home by Christmas.

They were nowhere near December, but the end of the war didn’t feel close either. They had heard that Mister Sherman and his horrible army were marching across the state, that they would destroy every town they passed. Yet the citizens had little choice but to continue with life as normal.

The missus, her children, and most of the slaves had left barely a day earlier on the last train out of town to hide with a cousin in South Carolina. Those very tracks were now twisted beyond use. Ruthie wondered how they’d ever come home.

She had been left alone to protect the property. The army had poured into town midafternoon. Ruthie had screamed as the men burst through the front door, but they didn’t lay a hand on her. They were only three, yet they searched the house with the vigor of twenty. Not a drawer went unopened, not a pillow still filled. The missus had taken the gold, but what jewels she had hidden were gone. The kitchen and cellar had been ransacked. The garden had been overrun too, only a few rotting vegetables left to keep Ruthie’s hunger at bay.

Ruthie knew not if the family would return. If they had sent a telegram to their soldiers, the men might ride north after the war. Ruthie wondered what would become of her.

That didn’t matter. The house must be ready in case they came home.

She had cried through the night but spent the next day restoring the main room. Much of the furniture had been damaged. The rocker had been destroyed, the table was broken, and all but one of the chairs were in pieces. She had swept, dusted, and scrubbed, attempting to return the space to its former glory. She had dragged the wooden remains out to the slave quarters in case Mister Kitch could fix them in his workshop.

She needed to tackle the bedrooms while evening light still poured through the windows. After dark, she would build a fire and start on the kitchen, lest they arrive hungry. Miss Abigail wouldn’t tolerate a dirty workspace for preparing the missus’ meal.

Ruthie sighed, straightened the bow in her black, tightly-curled hair, and reached for the broom.

When would they come home?

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Please visit Courtney’s Facebook author page and give her a like! https://www.facebook.com/byCourtneyETaylor

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Stephanie Angela: The Pinto Without the Beans

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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The Pinto Without the Beans

By Stephanie Angela

Weekends spent at grandma’s and pawpaw’s were always a blast. I remember my small rocking chair in front of the fireplace. My cousins and I all had one and loved to rock together.

At their house, warming in front of the crackling fire, I’d often think back to when I was a small child. My mom was ill, mentally ill, and her illness flared whenever a family member died.

As a small child, I was left alone quite often while my mom worked or hung out with friends. Life was erratic then. Sometimes we lived in mom’s old, blue, hatchback Pinto. It was like a new journey every night scoping out dark areas of gas station and grocery store parking lots to camp in. To me, at seven, it was very mysterious and exciting.

While mom worked during the day, I had the whole car to myself and the entire area was my playground. I took extra special care to not mess up her car so she wouldn’t be angry.

During the hot summertime, she would park in the shade and bring me bagged ice and fresh cold water to stay cool with. As refreshing as it was, it was sometimes not enough even with the windows rolled down unless there happened to be a breeze which I would be thankful for.

I retreated at times to lying on the passenger floorboard under the glove box with my bagged ice because it seemed cooler there, I suppose because the air circulated enough through the cold engine to make it cooler.

During the wintertime, I’d be bundled up like an Eskimo with the windows rolled up parked in the full sun which I prayed would shine every day. Mom brought me hot meals and hot chocolate to drink. It excited me to see those coming, and then I would rest on the vinyl seats which always seemed to me to keep my body warmer, and then I would resume my playtime with dolls and toys in my own blue winter wonderland.

My favorite time was when we would have enough money to rent an apartment. We would have an actual bed to sleep on and a bathroom with real towels to use. I still shiver thinking about those god-awful cloth towels in the public bathrooms that you had to crank to get to a clean area of towel.

I still shiver at a lot of what happened then. Baths were difficult. We’d dry off the best we could and sometimes we’d use the the air hose that people aired up their tires with to dry our arms and legs. That air hose in the winter with semi-wet clothes on, still damp from my bathroom sponge bath, felt like a snowless blizzard being blown dry with it.

I loved being in our apartment where I could stay either warm or cool depending on the season. While mom was at work, I had entire rooms to walk around and play in. She did give me rules of what not to touch, and I obeyed them because I loved my free time and didn’t want to lose my freedom.

However, I did disobey one time. I skipped my happy self down to the pool and, of course, my big toe found the only broken glass piece around.

Ouch!

Mom was at work, but fortunately for me, a resident couple took me to the hospital. Unfortunately for my mom, she got in trouble with my dad and a loud policewoman for leaving me alone.

While the doctors stitched up my big toe, I shut out the arguing and my thoughts reverted back to our apartment. I didn’t want to lose living where I had room to imagine anything I wanted. Whenever mom had guests over, I was shifted to a smaller area—bummer—where I would imagine the apartment to be a whole community of neighboring cities.

I loved the bathroom the most. The bathtub was my ocean and the bathroom sink was my luxurious restaurant by lakeside where I could make as much instant coffee as I wanted and ate from my pudding cups, chips, and sandwiches from the cooler, also filled with those plastic drinks with the foil lid. There were different colors. I loved the green ones the most, and I could have as much of those as I wanted because they were very cheap back then.

It saddened me when the days came for us to pack up and move back again into the old, blue Pinto because I knew reality would hit me that I had been downsized. The fourth time this occurred, I remember feeling sorry for my mom who fell into a deeper depression each time. At least we never ran out of gas stations or grocery stores back then to sleep at because there were plenty, even if some of them didn’t want us back.

Still, mom tried her best to keep me fed and safe, and it was then I began to notice her expressions go more blank with hopelessness each passing night. She would give me doses of Creamulsion Cough Syrup so I’d go to sleep. She could think. I will never forget the look on her face as she watched me fall asleep on my favorite old pillow.

Then it happened, the tap on the window and the cries from mom as the Birmingham police picked me up and placed me in the police car.

My world shattered and my mom was gone.

I was taken by strangers with badges to dad. I knew it was ok and I’d be alright. Everyone asked me all kinds of questions, but all I wanted for them to do was to take me back to mom’s old, blue Pinto or our apartments.

I didn’t live with my mom anymore after that but I did get to see her some. We spent a lot of time together with my Aunt Adele who lived down the road from my pawpaw Brand, who we also visited a lot. My pawpaw still had my comfy rocking chair sitting in front of the cozy fireplace, and even though I was getting bigger, I still loved to rock in the tiny chair.

My sweet Aunt Adele—she was a wonderful woman and the sister of my grandma Lela, and she loved me like her own grandchild. It was at her house where my mom introduced me to something very addicting—a newspaper, silly putty, and how to smoke a cigarette.

Aunt Adele was a precious woman but not a smoker. My mom was not allowed to smoke in her house so we went on many walks. I treasured those moments, mom and me walking up and down Murphree’s Valley Road. We shared an imagination and both loved writing, and we would talk—we discussed my novice writing and her writing. Writers smoked, she said. So we smoked.

The fireplace and my small rocking chair are long gone but my memory replays those moments from time to time. I spent many sleepless nights rocking in front of that old fireplace remembering my life in the Pinto without the beans.

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Stephanie does not currently have an author page but you can find her on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/tjdsam

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Lynn Miclea: Returning Home

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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Returning Home

by Lynn Miclea

I glide into the room

Frosty coolness permeating the air

I circle around the chair

Trailing wispy, ghostly fingers

Along the seat and the back

Where I had taken my last breath

My body choking and gasping at the end

It had been a tough life

Remembering the heart attack

That finally set me free

Releasing me from my sick, earthly body

Floating weightless in misty light

A deep sense of peace

Greeted by my wife’s open arms

Warmth and love radiating from her

She had been waiting for me

Now one last good-bye to the chair

And I return to vast fields of flowers and euphoria

In a place of indescribable joy

And my wife’s warm embrace

Brilliant light

Endless love

Infinite peace

I am healed

I am whole

I am finally home

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Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Please visit Lynn’s blog, like the poem there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-og

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


D. L. Tillery: The Room Within

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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The Room Within

By D. L. Tillery

I guess the previous owner must have forgotten to lock the door. I enter even though a chill runs down my spine upon crossing the sill.

Wow! I can’t help but be impressed. Solid oak floors are what I find under my booted feet…hmm, the pictures had marble tiles throughout. I guess they were replaced for some reason. Everything is covered with dust, yet shockingly not much, considering it’s been empty for years.

“Beautiful. I can’t believe he let this go for only ninety grand.”

As I walk into the foyer, two carved pillars, framing the archway into the next area of the house, grace my sight. How romantic.

The curtain-less windows give me a little light to see, but not enough, I grab my flashlight from my left coat pocket. Damn it’s dark. I should have had the power turned on before this little visit. Walking under the archway the flashlight helps me see better, so I continue on.

Ahead I make out a large spiral staircase that goes up three flights with a landing on the second floor. Shining my light upward, I make the first step when that chill down my spine returns.

“Welcome.”

I quickly look toward the sound of the voice, to find no one. I know I heard…someone.

“Hello?!” I yell. Waiting, I receive no answer. It was a soft and feminine voice, I’m sure of it. I shine my light every which way yet I find no one. Must be my mind playing tricks on me.

Making my way up the long, spiral stairs, flashing my light all around, I find even in the dark this house is breathtaking. Amazing designs of angelic carvings and antique paintings hang from every wall on my way up. Soon I find myself on the first landing; the long hall that’s lined with floor-to-ceiling sized windows feels both ominous and inviting.

On this level I find silk, cream-colored drapes that hang to the floor. I could tell they have been hanging for many years as they are dusty and yellowing. I continue down the long hall until I come to a green door; turning the knob, I enter. I’m immediately met by a hail of dust. Coughing and waving my hand helps to avoid inhaling the rest.

“Thank God there’s a window here.” I try to open the window but it won’t budge. “Damn.”

Giving up, I walk toward the old hearth and a single chair that sits near it. I guess I know why the door was green. Taking note that the entire room is the same color as the door I entered. Part of the room is illuminated by the daylight streaming in from the window, but the rest is dark. Aiming my light around the walls, I spot another door on the other side of the hearth. I approach and attempt to turn the knob.

“Welcome… who might you be?” Says the same soft, feminine voice I heard earlier. Jumping away in surprise, I drop my flashlight, which I quickly retrieve. The voice is coming from the other side of the door. I wait … and wait, but I don’t hear anything. I press my ear to the door … still I hear nothing. Stepping back, I chuckle.

“Did I say something funny?” she asks in shock.

“Who are you?” I ask the disembodied voice.

“I asked you first, if you recall,” she replies in an annoyed tone.

“I’m Daniel Elliot and I own this house. Excuse me, why are you here? Who are you and where are you?”

“Ah, yes, a very likable name … Daniel. I’m locked in and can’t leave.”

The doorknob starts to jingle. Eyeing it, I step back. “I’m sorry but this is nuts, and clearly I’m nuts for talking to myself. I need to get out of here … like now.”

“Please … don’t leave me. I have to get out before he comes back! I’m being held against my will … please,” she begs. The pleading in her voice stops me.

“How’s it I can hear you as if you are right next to me?” I ask, stepping closer to the door again.

“I’m speaking to your mind … it’s odd, I know, but it’s something I could always do,” she says calmer.

“Odd? Yeah, ’cause that’s the word I’d use. Listen, I’m not doing anything until you tell me who you are? And who is ‘he’?”

“I’m called Dalidah,” she replies.

“Okay, and how’d you get here, telepathic Dalidah?”

“I was put here against my will … only you can free me, Daniel,” she says.

I feel hazy and out of sorts … something’s wrong, I want to open the door … to free her with no more questions asked. My hands move of their own accord, turning the knob. “What the Hell?!” Pulling away, I land flat on my backside.

I feel overheated, my mind still hazy. I pull off my coat and sweater, only my long sleeved black shirt remains, but I feel relief by lightening my burden.

“What did you do to me?!” I yell at the door.

“I don’t know what you mean … I have done nothing. How could I? I’m trapped,” she says, emotions choking her.

Shaking the odd feeling off, I come to my feet. “How would I get you out even if I wanted to? There’s no keyhole … not that I have a key. And what of the past owner … Is it the ‘he’ who put you here?”

I know I should run … everything in me says to run … but what kind of person would I be?

“Please Daniel …”

Grabbing the knob, I turn and pull. Nothing happens. Not that I’m shocked. I try again and again.

“I can’t get it open!”

“It’s held by a stronger force than either of us … believe me, you will never get me out by physical means.”

“What does that mean?” I ask in frustration.

“Simply that you must find another way to release me.”

“Let me think a minute.” I sit in the only chair available. I try to think of what to do. So many thoughts run through my mind. Why would the previous owner sell to me but leave her here to be found? Maybe I’m imagining it all. It’s all so bizarre … Dalidah, this house, the old owner. I really do want to save her; if I had my cell I could call for help. The only other option is to leave and come back with help.

As I am about to do just that, everything is darker … I can no longer see anything. Then, as if they have always been there, I’m surrounded by lit candles, the room all ablaze in firelight.

Jumping out of the chair, I look around. The room looks the same except for all the candles. No, no, no. The window’s gone. I run over to feel the cold wall where it once was. My mind screams to find a way out. The door! It’s also gone!

“What the hell is happening?!” I scream, banging both fists where the door should be. Heart racing, I turn all about the room … and there I see a woman’s figure standing in the far corner. The only part of the room shrouded in shadow.

I walk toward her. “Dalidah?”

Her head is down, but as I get closer, I can see she is watching me. From beneath her waist-length, cold black hair that looks like silky ink, a pale small hand reaches out to me. I don’t take her hand. Something feels wrong. I step back instead.

Her head comes straight up and she steps into the firelight. I can see her eyes now, they are as black as her hair and as cold. Her cream-colored dress hugging her frame, yellowing … much like the curtains from the hall.

“Where are we,” I ask, stepping farther away. “This isn’t the same room … it can’t be.” I look around for a second, my eyes coming to land back on her face.

She smiles, yet it’s sinister, and I know I’ve made a grave mistake in not running fast and far.

“He makes me feed …” she says, stepping closer still.

“No … stay back!” I yell, yet she continues her advance.

“Though I do love the taste of your fear …” Her tongue darts out, licking her lips very slowly as if she can taste my fear on them.

“My father … you met him. He sold you this house, or at least that’s what he made you see. He’s much like me you know … making people see things … so I can … eat.”

She’s so close now and I can no longer move. I can see the hunger in her eyes.

I attempt to run but can’t move. It’s as if my feet are encased in stone. She lays both hands on either side of my face looking into my eyes. I can’t look away no matter how hard I try.

“Please. I was trying to help you.”

She laughs. “You are helping …” Leaning in until I can no longer see her face.

I feel something like hot iron cut through my left shoulder. I grab for her hair, to stop what she’s doing, but to no avail. She grabs my wrist — fire and pain, I can hear the sickening sound … of my severed hand hitting the floor. Ripping, tearing, now my screams only bounce off the walls. The realization that I am dying hits me as she slides me to the floor.

Above I see my own blood dripping from what looks like fangs protruding from her mouth. She slides down my body, continuing the feast. The pain is too much to bear, yet I find the strength to scream one last time. I only wanted a place to call home, to build a family. Now I will never have it.

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After you get your breath back, please visit D. L’s website and check out her other work…. https://authordltillery.wixsite.com

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


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