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. : )
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
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