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A Grave Longing

Hello all!  My two words for the flash fiction challenge were:  longing and inscription.  Take a look and see how I did! “Blimey, it’s bloody cold tonight!” hissed Samuel as he shoved his spade into the dirt.  “Reckon, Dr. Van der Veran ever come out he’self and dig these up?” “Doubt it.  Now get back to work, ya bleedin ninny before we freeze to death,” Arthur replied in a stage whisper. Arthur was sure to keep his ears peeled for any sudden sounds or rustling noises.  The penalty for body snatching was imprisonment and a large fine.  Best not to be caught when you barely have the money to eat. A loud thunk sounded as Arthur dug his spade into the frozen ground. “There she is!” Samuel smiled. As Samuel reached down to move the dirt aside and open the lid of the coffin, Arthur took a look at the gravestone.  The light of the full moon illuminated the inscription on Miss Clara Berry’s stone: Remember Me As Thou Pass By As Thou Art Now So Once Was I As I Am Now So Thou Wilt Be Prepare Thy Way To Follow Me 1809-1827 A sudden chill raced through Arthur’s bones as he realized Miss Berry was his age.  He had read of her death in the papers.  She was found strangled in the garden of her home.  No suspects.   “You gonna help me or am I gonna have to lug her back to the Doc’s lab me’self?” Samuel hissed, his breath fogging in the chilly night air. Shaking himself out of his stupor, Arthur jumped down into the hole and came face to face with the eternally young Clara Berry.  She looked familiar to him.  Had the article in the paper included a picture?  Her strawberry blonde curls could not draw his attention away from her angelic resting smile.   “She looks like she’s asleep, don’t she?” Samuel asked. “Don’t matter none now.  Let’s get to work,” he replied as he began lifting her out of the coffin.  His eyes caught on the golden, heart-shaped locket hanging around her neck.  It was small and delicate, with roses surrounding a simple gold heart in the center. “Bet that’d catch a pretty penny,” Samuel stated. “Ai,” Arthur grunted as he worked to purge all personal items from her body to be left in the coffin.  It was a felony to take belongings from a grave, even pricier than taking... read more

The Candle

Another WWAT flash fiction. This time a tale for Halloween. My words were hand-picked and candle.   Thrift stores are a trove of the undervalued, unappreciated, and unwanted treasures of the world – kind of like me. I used to love them. As the middle daughter of three girls, I was invisible. My oldest sister was the valedictorian. My younger the musical prodigy. I was nothing. My parents barely noticed me. When they did, it was to reprimand me for not being like my sisters. That was my life. My life before last October. “Hello Ophelia.” Beatrice, the wrinkled shopkeeper’s thin lips curved upward. She was bundled up as if she were on a trek through the great white tundra. It was the warmest October in history. “A brand new donation came in today. I saved it for you.” “Thanks, Beatrice.” The bell on the door jingled with the arrival of other teen girls. I knew their faces. They went to my school and, like everyone else, they never noticed me. Beatrice welcomed them. They ignored her and moved toward the wall of costumes. Amateurs. I knew the best stuff was past the out-of-date prom dresses and never re-worn bridesmaid gowns. In the far corner of the shop, behind a gingham curtain was a room lined with dusty old books and shelves of cracked porcelain curios. I smiled at them like old friends. Then, I saw it. Not the typical cardboard box donation, but an ornate black lacquer trunk. The silver clasps were cool to the touch. My mind fantasized about the hidden treasures inside – precious jewels, ancient tomes, gold coins. The lid lifted with ease. My heart sank. A cheap rubber clown mask stared up at me. The hideous face sat atop a trunk of equally ugly costumes. I dug through them, looking for anything of interest until I reached the red velvet bottom. “Anything good,” Beatrice’s voice startled me. Before I could say no, she clapped her hands. “Oh how fortunate. Costumes!” She bundled them in her arms and shuffled out of the room. I sighed, “At least the box looks nice.” I leaned over the side of the trunk. My eyes caught a glimpse of a black satin ribbon poking up from the side of the velvet. It beckoned me to pull it. The bottom popped up, revealing a secret hiding place. I gasped. A black candle carved with roses and thorns was nestled in... read more

The Ancient Kiss

Okay so my two words in our short story exercise were ancient and (yuck, ptooie…ahem—sorry) kiss. Here goes: I was pretty much the only one in the hall on the last day of school—the last day of fifth grade. Next year, we would be in middle school. The big kids.  And I would be one of them. I pulled the magnet that said Property of Mason Jones from the top of the locker. Next year, for the first time in forever, this locker would belong to someone else. Now, I’m not a real emotional person. Take those movies…where somebody’s dog died and everybody cried. I didn’t cry. Wasn’t my dog. But here I was getting a little sniffly as I dug through my locker tossing stuff into my dad’s army duffle bag brought just for the occasion. Yeah, it would take more than just a year’s worth of stuff to get to me. And more than just my last day at Gomer Jones Elementary at that. But this was something more. My locker was in the corner of the blue hallway, and with my dad’s cousin’s best friend being the janitor, he not only kept it off limits to everyone else, meaning I’d had it since first grade. But more than that, he let me keep my stuff in it all year. I’d never cleaned it out. While next year’s locker would have a real lock, with a real combination, this wasn’t easy sticking memories from my whole life into a canvas duffle bag. I heard her before I saw her. “I’ve changed my mind,” she said. “I’m not taking your name when we get married.” I only thought I was alone. Kinzie Papadopoulos leaned her bony shoulder against the locker next to mine and stared through her thick-rimmed glasses.  “You’re slow. You know that right? You may as well be a no-legged Testudinata. Know what that is?” I sighed. “Kinzie is to annoying as water is to wet.” “Cute. But no. What you just said was an analogy. What I used was a metaphor, and that’s not even what I was talking about.” I tossed a pack of papers and notebooks from this year in my bag. “What’s a metaphor?” “For making you look dumb, Testudinata. Now when are you going to ask me out? Moving on from Gomer Jones, I can’t promise I’m going to wait on you forever.” I shook my head and pitched a crumpled... read more

WWAT Flash Fiction – Summer & Antiquity

Welcome to the next installment of WWAT Flash Fiction, followed by book recommendations! Our subject matter for each short piece has to do with an archaeological word and romance word. My pick from the hat: antiquity and summer. Oh boy…here goes. “Once Upon A Curse” There were a few things that bugged me about Dad. First of all, he snored like a lawnmower. Seriously. I knew this because I’d been spending a lot of time sharing a tent with him. Side note…if you can help it, don’t share a tent with your snoring dad. Second thing, and this was turning into a real problem, but I’m pretty sure he was falling madly in love. So. Not. Cool. Look, I’m pretty mature for a twelve year old girl. I understand that adults need to fall in love a time or two. Maybe I know a little about it. I mean, I may or may not have kissed Jason Greenbriar behind the monkey bars because my best friend Jojo dared me to do it. I also may or may not have a boy band poster hanging on my bedroom wall. (Oh my gosh, the one with the spiked hair is so cute.) That is, the bedroom I never see because Dad has dragged me on this Godforsaken ancient Easter egg hunt. Okay, it’s technically called a dig and some academics hear the word, puff out their chests, and get really worked up about it like normal people get worked up about football. But I don’t care. I’m with the normal people. Despite all the grunting and hoorah, I at least like watching a football game better than what I’m doing now. Digging endlessly in the dirt? Who can call this a career? The real problem with Dad is that we were halfway around the world, sleeping in tents and eating things I couldn’t pronounce, and we were not even close to modern conveniences like toilets. And he had completely lost his mind. Completely. I wasn’t convinced of this at first. At first, I just thought maybe he was really excited to be doing “field work.” It was like the Department of Antiquities at the university was giving him a pat on the back and saying, “Go, little minion. Get on out there. Find something big, and then we’ll take credit for it.” But Dad was buying it hook, line, and sinker. That is, until I realized he wasn’t .That he wasn’t... read more

Tenderness Tomb

At conferences we are sometimes instructed to play writing games. So our critique group decided to try one on the blog. In Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Vonda N. McIntyre suggested an idea she had learned at a writer’s workshop. She said to make two subject lists and write a story using a word from each list. The WWAT crew chose the categories romance and archeology. Together we constructed two lists and then we pulled a word out of a bag from each category. Lastly, we had to write a short blog story including those two words. I got to go first and my two words were: tenderness and tomb. My story is below. Alvin Schwartz collected legends and retold them In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories. That childhood book inspired me to want to try to retell haunted tales. Then a couple of weeks ago I went on a Ghost, Murders and Mayhem Segway tour in Pensacola, FL ( One story told was about the now Children’s Museum and it gave me a tale to try to retell. I hope you enjoy my retelling! Here it is… It was at 115 East Zaragoza Street Spouses Eugenio and Fannie took retreat. An unlucky fire burnt it to the ground. So they rebuilt upon the ashy mound. They named their new tavern the Gulf Saloon. Tobacco, girls, booze and a hidden tomb. Who was it that’d been bricked into a wall? An idea was easy to recall. A decade prior, Eugenio was a convicted killer. He served very little time for murdering a cigar maker. But where had he hid it all those years? Another body? Some had their fears. Rib remains were found sharply grooved. Stabbed in the chest was all that proved. For Eugenio, Fannie’s tenderness had gone. She said the Arbona marriage did not last long, He signed over the tavern, and fled to Spain. Convenient. Dead men also do not complain. For more hauntings in Pensacola you might want to check out: Brown, Alan (2010). Haunted Pensacola. Charleston, SC: Haunted America. He gives the history of the Arbona... read more