Friday, October 31, 2014

Was He, or Wasn't He? October Ghost Story

Please feel free to visit the other blogs on this blog hop and read their take on the custom of ghost stories in October. Just click on the link below the image...
The old wooden house looked ready to cave in on itself, yet it still stood, worn and weary, against the havoc of time. It still sheltered. Calling the house hard-headed would be appropriate since an age had passed from when it had been built. It called to me like a beacon through the forest surrounding it, or maybe it was the colors that did that, those of the folks that inhabited it now. I don’t know if they were of the family that built the place, but they inhabited it like a worn old shawl over the shoulders, comfortable in the thin shell that exuded age yet comfort.
Red was his name, hers was Violet. They had no children but it didn’t bother them. They had time, they said. I visited them only that once. I couldn’t go back. Not after… well, anyway. The minute I walked up to the place I felt different, like the air had shifted and I breathed someone else’s. Like time shifted and the oxygen was as old and parched as the house. A faint hint of Rosemary settled in with mint as its sidekick, like there was a garden somewhere close that I couldn’t see.
Out on the back porch that afternoon, after a tour of the tiny three room cabin, the main room—with a kitchen running along one side of it—a bedroom and newish indoor bathroom, I sat drinking iced tea with Violet and my mother, who was Violet’s friend and the reason we were there. Violet had asked Mother for a reading. Mother reads tarot cards, but not like most folks would. She doesn’t “see” the cards the same way one is taught to. She sees only what the person she reads for wants—or needs—her to see.
So Mother did the reading, with confusing results. Mother had seen what she thought was a split, a fork in Violet’s path, one shadowed the other bright; a decision Violet seemed to understand, but wouldn’t explain, as was her right. Mother had also seen a great change coming. Violet wouldn’t talk much about her understanding of that either, until later. The air I breathed still held the taint of rosemary and mint, and a hint of pumpkin? It mixed well with the iced tea but did nothing to alleviate the strange awareness I’d had since we’d arrived. “Do you have a garden, Violet?” I asked because I’d seen all sides of the house and found no garden.
“No, not yet. We’ve thought about putting one in over there,” she said, “just past that old tumbledown shed.” She pointed past a heap of dead boards.  That’s when I saw him.
I sat up and placed my glass of iced tea carefully on the table. I didn’t want to spill it or break the glass. A small boy, perhaps four or five, stood just past the deadwood pile looking down at his feet. He wore jean overalls with a faded red shirt under them and a blue sweater. He was blond, like Violet was. Same shade, same wave to his hair, which grew down to his shirt collar. I looked at the ground wondering what he was staring at with such intent. A small orange pumpkin lay at his feet. He stooped down and picked it up, tugging with resistance against the vine still attached. He glanced toward the house as if looking for help. “Do you see him?” My voice came breathless and low.
“Who? See who, darling?” Mother’s tone said she knew not to move. Violet didn’t move either, but she glanced toward the pile of wood.
“The little boy right past the deadwood.” No answer from either of them. “He’s trying to pick a pumpkin but it’s still on the vine.”
The little boy stopped pulling and looked at Violet, grinned as if he saw her, and then disappeared. No boy, no pumpkin, only the pile of grayed wood remained.
“Whoa, that was weird,” I said.
 Mother asked me to explain so I did. Violet started to cry.
“Perhaps it was someone who lived here before. A child that died or something.” I took a sip of tea. “Is that why you’re crying Violet? I don’t think he’ll hurt you. He didn’t seem malevolent.”
“No. I think he is my son.”
“What?” Mother and I asked at the same time.
“I’m pregnant, but haven’t told Red yet, because we’ve already lost two babies who never made it past the second month. I don’t want to hope, but I felt him when you saw him.”
“Hm,” Mother sounded thoughtful. “Well, the cards make a little more sense, still...”
She looked perplexed but smiled when Violet said, “Until this moment I feared to lose another child and so kept my heart on hold. Now I know he is here to stay.”
“Yes,” I said. “He was quite at home. You’re going to have to burn that pile.”
“We will, right away. Obviously that’s where the garden has to go.”
“You’d better tell Red.”
Violet smiled, really smiled and wiped her face. “No more indecision. No more forks in the road. I’ll tell him as soon as he gets home.” Mother and I left. I was happy thinking of Red and Violet and their new little son on his way. Mother still pondered some greater issue. Turns out she was right to ponder. I couldn’t go back with Mother when she returned, though I knew why she had to.
Because early on the morning after the reading, that ancient tinderbox of a house burnt to the ground. Red and Violet, their bodies burned beyond saving, were found together outside, on the other side of that deadwood pile, which lay untouched by even one spark. By all accounts, Violet held a small pumpkin in her arms.  A perfect, healthy unburned pumpkin.


  1. What a sad story. I thought it was well paced with that wonderful hook near the beginning. I was wonderfully drawn into the story with its lovely prose and could really see the setting and feel the atmosphere. Haunting indeed!

  2. A creepy story that seemed as if it would turn out well, but instead ended in tragedy. Now perhaps all three are together? Well done, Lisa. I was surprised at the ending.

  3. Ooh, chilling. I live mysticism.

  4. Hi Lisa .. brilliant ghost story … I certainly felt that I was sitting at the table with you … and feeling the sensations of life, stories … so sad – but so so well told .. congratulations – cheers Hilary

  5. Oh my gosh this was so creepy and also so sad! Your writing is so well done, I felt like I was there in the house with the narrator. Great work!

  6. OMG Lisa! Here I was all settled with the happy ending looming when kapow! No happy ending for these two, or I guess depending on how you look at it. Quite the creepy story for Halloween! I like the way Mother still pondered some issue and she only said what people wanted to hear. Well thought out story and twists!

    Thanks for participating in the WEP challenge, Lisa. Your posts are always well considered and entertaining.

    Denise :)

  7. This is so good. Sadly, I didn't have time to finish mine this week. I'm so glad I got to read your entry, though.

  8. That gave me chills! Literally! So well done, descriptive and beautifully sad. Loved it! But I think it was the pumpkin that made it come full circle!

  9. How spooky and sad! Your writing is amazing. Thanks for sharing this story with us so we could all get chills and tear-eyed. ;)

  10. Yolanda is right: it is the pumpkin that made it come full circle. Great evocative prose.

  11. Love this story because the house and the burnt bodies at the end parallel my WIP. Thanks!

  12. How sad...and perfect for Halloween. Well done, Lisa!

  13. What a tragic story! so saaaad.

    and definitely creepy!

    Thank you for sharing - this was a great, emotive read. I could really picture the house and its surrounds so clearly. great description.

  14. Creepy and evocative at the same time. Loved the ending, unhappy as it was. Thanks for an excellent read.

  15. Poor Violet, I wept for her. Perhaps they are together in the great pumpkin patch in the sky. Well written and decidedly scary.

  16. Well written, drawing the reader right into the atmosphere of the house and the seeing of the apparition and then, wham, you hit us with the ending! Well done.

  17. Hi Lisa,

    Firstly, I want to apologise for my absence. I know who is this guy? Thus, at gone four in the morning, I shall now endeavour to formulate some semblance of a comment.

    Such a sad, yet provocative story, my dear friend. The mention of the unburned pumpkin really enhanced your alluring story. Thank you, Lisa.


  18. Eew. Creepy and sad. Love it.


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