“A Change in Perspective” – Flash Fiction for Friday Fictioneers

This post is in response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, furnished by Rochelle on her blog, Addicted to Purple.  Check out her blog and click the blue frog below to read other stories and to add your own.  We get the photo (this week from Marie Gail Stratford) and up to 100 words to tell a flash fiction story.  Mine this week is more of a character than a story, but I hope you enjoy anyway!

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Photo Prompt copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Change in Perspective

(99 words)

The city always seemed confining—towering buildings, people rushing around…and the noise creates walls even where there aren’t any.

It’s strange to look at it, now that I’m dead.  Everything is muted, manageable, and  I can pass through the walls.  I simply walk into this apartment or sit down in that cab.  I watch the father put his child to sleep.  I listen to the executive on the phone with her mother while walking to a meeting.

There’s one place, though, that I cannot go: back.  I can’t talk to those who knew me.  I can’t make it right.

I’ve also finished the final installment of my short story, “Spring Spirit.”  If you’re interested, here are links to all three parts:

Spring Spirit, part 1

Spring Spirit, part 2

Spring Spirit, part 3

“Spring Spirit,” part 3 (The End!)

Here is the conclusion to my short story, “Spring Spirit.”  If you missed parts 1 and 2, you can read them here:

Part 1

Part 2

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copyright Emily Livingstone 2016

Spring Spirit, part 3

When Dahlia returned to her home, Laura was just bidding farewell to another gentleman caller.  He was still a bit drunk, and was protesting that he’d like to stay until morning, but Laura was insistent.  Dahlia rolled her eyes as she watched the man stumble into the dark.  And then she had an idea.

Before she could think too much about it, she went inside, careful to remain invisible.  She’d noticed that now, as it got closer to spring, if she really concentrated her energy, she could appear to Laura.  She’d done this a few times for fun, appearing in the mirror behind Laura and that sort of thing to give her a start.

Now, she had something different in mind.

She followed Laura up the stairs.  Laura seemed to sense something.  She tilted her head back for a moment as if listening, pausing, but then she continued.  Just as she reached the top step, Dahlia grabbed her ankle and pulled hard, using all her energy and will.  Laura tumbled down the stairs hard, and landed on her neck.

There was a moment of sickening nausea for Dahlia, looking at Laura as the life drained out of her, thinking of what she had done.  But the moment passed.

It wasn’t too long before Laura’s breath ceased to come and her pulse stopped.  Then, a familiar ghostly form rose from the crumpled corpse.

“You idiot!” Laura shrieked.  “Now we’re both ghosts.  Well done.  Did you think you would get your life back this way?”

“No,” Dahlia said.  “I didn’t.  I would never do what you did.  I’m not going to kill someone who doesn’t deserve it.”

“So high and mighty,” Laura said. “Still a murderer, though, whatever you may tell yourself.”

“I can live with that—or, I suppose, I can exist with it.  Looks like we’re going to be roommates.”

Laura glared at her.

It took some time for the body to be discovered. Eventually, the house sold cheaply to a young couple just starting their lives together.

Laura did all she could to disrupt their lives, and Dahlia was there to thwart her at every turn.  It drove Laura crazy that Dahlia could, at any time, choose to try to coax someone into performing the ritual, and could get her body back.  Dahlia was certain she never would, but though she didn’t admit it to Laura, she did take satisfaction from the fact that she could, one day—especially if she found someone who deserved the consequences.

THE END

“Time to Move On” – Flash Fiction, Friday Fictioneers

This story was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge, provided each week by Rochelle, on her blog, Addicted to Purple.  Writers get 100 words to write a flash fiction story inspired by the given photo prompt.  Click on the blue frog below to read other stories and to add your own!

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image – copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Time to Move on

(100 words)

At midnight, the clock ceased ticking, and the magician appeared.

“Hello, Evan.  Time to pay.”

“My soul.  It’s wrong to take it.”

“No matter what deal was struck?  Let’s proceed.”

Evan held out a locket.  “Take this.  It’s my soul, as much as anything.”

The magician opened it, amused until his hands disintegrated.  Soon, he was a pile of dust.

Evan retrieved the locket, smiling at his wife.  This was for her.  He’d learned one more trick than the magician knew.  Now, he’d join his love.  Locket around his neck, heavy clock in his pocket, Evan descended to the river.

By the way, I’ve posted the second part of my story, “Spring Spirit.”  Part 3 is coming soon!  Click here to read part 1, and here for part 2.

“Spring Spirit,” part 2

Here is the second installment of “Spring Spirit,” a short story about a ghost, a curse, and a misguided desire to help others.  Click here to read part one.  There is a link to the conclusion at the end of part 2.

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copyright Emily Livingstone, 2016

Spring Spirit, part 2

Dahlia watched as the gray woman took to her stolen life with gusto—sold Dahlia’s possessions, bought new clothes, took men home to Dahlia’s upstairs bedroom.  She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself, but Dahlia got few hints about who she might have been before or what had gotten her into this situation.  With little ability to affect the physical realm, Dahlia started to explore outside her home, searching for the key to her escape.

There was an old cemetery a block away from her house.  The house itself dated from the Victorian period, and Dahlia thought the gray woman might have come from then.  Her dress had been torn, but had the structured corset of that time.

She did see spirits wandering here and there among the stones and trees.  A few looked at her curiously, but most seemed lost in their own thoughts.

When she found a section of the graveyard with graves from the right time, she started looking around.  A woman in a purple Victorian gown caught her eye and made a beeline for her.

“Here for a visit?” she asked, taking in Dahlia’s modern attire.  “I’m certain I don’t know you.”

Dahlia sighed.  “I’m hoping you can help me.  I’m in trouble.  You don’t know me, but I’m hoping you might know the woman who got me into this mess.”

“I’m Isabella,” the woman said, gesturing gracefully to the tombstone in front of them with the assurance of a well-practiced hostess: Isabella Walters, Beloved Wife and Mother, 1832-1881.

Dahlia told her story and Isabella listened.

“And where is the house?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.  She started nodding as Dahlia described it.

“Laura Hutchinson,” she said.  “Thought she was better than everyone else.  Invited Henry and me over just to put on airs.  She tortured that husband of hers—always nagging at him and bringing down his confidence.  She was a tyrant to every servant in the house.”  Isabella leaned in confidentially.  “And that’s what did her in, in the end.  The maid had been studying witchcraft, people said, and cursed her.  Laura was out in the garden—that was the one thing she seemed to genuinely enjoy, they say—always brightened a little when the crocuses came up in Spring—and she pricked her finger on a thorn.  Shouldn’t have caused any trouble, but she falls ill, and can’t be cured.  Later—when it was too late, you understand, they found strange symbols drawn on the wall in the maid’s room and books no respectable woman would read.”

Dahlia frowned.  “This must be the same woman, but how do I reverse the curse?  How do I get my life back?”

Isabella shrugged.  “No one really knew what the curse was exactly.  No one was going to read those blasphemous books.  I’m not sure you can undo the curse.”

Dahlia clutched the woman’s wrist, and the woman looked alarmed.  “So you’re saying I’m stuck like this?  And she gets to just keep on living my life?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying.”  The woman leaned in again with a whisper.  “I’ve been wandering around here for some time, as you might suppose.  I’ve learned a few things—general things about the way these things work.  I’ve no idea how to undo the specific curse, but I think I know how you get back in the flesh.”

“How?”

“Get someone else to do what you so foolishly did.  Then that person will take your place, and you can go back to the world of the living.”

“But I don’t see how Laura would do it—she’d know it was a trick.”

“Oh, not Laura, dear.  I agree that would be quite impossible.  You’ll have to find someone gullible and well-intentioned, like yourself.  I’m sorry, dear—but you must see you’ve been rather stupid.”

Dahlia sat down and leaned against the tombstone.  Tears came to her ghostly cheeks.

“I can’t do this to someone else.”

“Then I suspect you’re stuck, dear.  Give Laura my regards.  Perhaps she’ll come see my stone—hers is rather shabby in comparison.  I think her husband took pleasure in its plainness.”

Dahlia thanked her and left the cemetery.  She had a lot to think about.

***

Click here to read part 3.

“Broken Silence” – Flash Fiction – Friday Fictioneers

The following was written for Friday Fictioneers, run by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted to Purple.  She provides the photo prompt (this week from Sean Fallon!) and you have 100 words to tell a story.  Click on the blue frog below to read other stories and to add your own.

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copyright Sean Fallon

Broken Silence

(97 words)

“Pop-pop broken again,” Hannah said.  Aside from the electronic music, the toy lawnmower had balls that popped up and down inside as it moved.

Mother opened the compartment.  “No batteries!  I could’ve sworn…  I don’t know what keeps happening.”

Hannah whined.

“All out, sweetheart.  We’ll go to the store later.  Let’s draw.”

Hannah soon settled in with only the scuffing of crayon on paper to announce her presence.

“Need anything, Jack?” Mother asked.

“I’m fine,” said Jack, returning to his book.  He smiled, thinking of the jar of batteries under his bed and the quiet hours ahead.

By the way – I’m working on part 2 of “Spring Spirit,” and should be able to post it soon!

Short Story: Spring Spirit, pt. 1

It’s been a little while since I last posted on the blog.  As I work to reclaim my writing life, I went back to a writing exercise that’s been inspirational for me in the past.  Here’s part one of the story that resulted.

If anyone else wants to try making a story with the same parameters, I’d love to read it!  Post the link or story in the comments section.  : )

My challenge:

Use at least 10 of the 20 words chosen at random from A Wild Swan and Other Tales by Michael Cunningham: lucky, convincing, bluffing, red, cross, board, insisted, modesty, rose, flayed, effort, stalked, gratitude, recognized, fingers, reminds, offer, generations, conjurings, envy, crocus, strangled, branches

Spring Spirit

The crocuses had just begun to show, green and new, amid the dead leaves and the remnants of the last snowstorm.  Dahlia couldn’t help the feeling of gratitude that rose in her when she saw them, despite what they signaled.

That night, Dahlia woke up to fingers gripping her arm and a strangled whisper in her ear.  Whose conjurings had originally brought forth this ghost, she didn’t know, but as sure as spring came every year, this frantic spirit returned and stalked her nighttime hours.

This year, Dahlia vowed, would be the last.  She took out a spirit board and placed her hands lightly on the planchette.  “I will do whatever it takes to help you,” she offered.  “Tell me what you need.”

What came through in the series of swipes across the alphabet on the board held no hint of gratitude or modesty.  The spirit laid out instructions and insisted they be followed to the letter.

Dahlia spoke words she didn’t recognize and blew out a candle as she stepped into a design she’d drawn in chalk on her kitchen floor.  A cold wind blew through her.  This is it, she thought.  The end.

In front of Dahlia, a woman appeared, dressed in a tattered gray dress and wearing a smirk on her red lips.

The cold didn’t leave Dahlia, but instead seemed to deepen until it was all she felt.  Dahlia looked down and realized she could not see her own body.  She spoke, and the voice was only in her own head.

“It took me three generations to figure out how to escape the spirit realm and find humanity again,” the woman in gray said.  “I wonder how long it will take you.”  She laughed and Dahlia felt a sinking feeling.  She clutched at the woman who slept in her bed, clawed her way into the woman’s dreams, found ways to move small objects, but none of it helped.

When spring turned to summer and the days were hot, Dahlia’s power to affect the world dwindled.  She knew she had to wait for the crocuses to reappear.  Until then, she would watch and listen.  She would speak to other spirits, if she could, and ask after this strange curse.   

TO BE CONTINUED…………To read Part 2, click here