Haiku for a Rhododendron in Full Bloom

Pink trumpets, calling bees,

glowing with color, hiding

the abandoned nest.

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“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

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