Flash Fiction : Ghost Story – just in time for Halloween!

I am officially trying my hand at Flash fiction!

Sorry, no spankings today. 🙂

But I did have a lot of fun writing in a  new genre in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction 2014 Challenge.

Contestants receive a prompt set, and write a 1000 word story based on that set.

My contest story is a 900  word piece with the following prompts:

genre – ghost story

location – rooftop terrace

object – ladder

(Oh! Did I mention, it had to be done in 48 hours?)

It was a lot of fun to write. I even stayed up after midnight so I could start as soon as I got the email !  (Anyone that knows me, knows that 10 pm is usually my end time. :))

I also tried something new. First Person POV.  🙂

Well, that’s about it . Wish me luck!

Here’s the piece if you are interested in reading it. 🙂

flash fiction challenge pic

 

The Spirit of Friendship

***** A mother has issues with her young daughter’s new friends.*****

“Mommy, I’m going outside to chat with my friends!” my eight year old calls, running out the door of our new apartment.

“Hold on a sec, Polly girl. Which friends?”

“Oh mommy,” She rolls her eyes and grins. “It’s Suzanna and Collin, remember?”

I remember. She has mentioned the same friends, ever since we moved to this new apartment building in Grand Rapids. The largest in the city, boasting the most beautiful rooftop terrace with a lush garden and hydroponics.

John would have loved the garden.

Polly does. Every day, before and after school, she escapes into her own little imaginative world of garden fairies and gnomes – and beautiful, abundant life.

I’m happy she’s thriving – laughing, enjoying life, chatting with her friends; she talks so fast, she never gives them a chance to respond.

Later, I’ll go up to the terrace, and meet her friends. But I’m still not ready for social interaction.

“Have fun, sweet girl.” I give her cheek a kiss, which she immediately rubs off, squinching her nose. “Tell your friends they’re welcome to come down to our apartment for dinner sometime.”

Polly giggles, her chubby cheeks flushed and dimpled. “Mom says we can invite them to dinner,” she tells the invisible friend next to her.

I’m sure she’ll grow out of this phase someday. Having real friends in the apartment will help.

 

#

I have finally emptied all the moving boxes, and found a place for each item – all except my husband’s old gardening supplies.

He won first place in the Marne Spring Garden Festival.

I killed the cactus.

We always laughed about my black thumb.  I wish I could find his secret potting soil.

The pot I had placed on the corner of the table, falls to the floor with a loud crash.

I’m not going to keep a cactus alive that way.

I should go up to the terrace to check on Polly and meet her new friends.  Maybe the garden will help dispel the dark, emptiness inside me. Polly says it’s abundant with life.

I can’t hide in the apartment forever.

 

#

I climb the steps into the lush expanse of greenery.

Polly’s chubby, little body shakes as she reaches into the empty air, inching closer to the edge of the roof. “Don’t leave, Suzanna!” she wails.

A sickening fear clenches my gut as I stride carefully toward her.

“Polly Girl.” I call softly, and she turns to me, her bright brown eyes wet with tears.

“My friend is leaving!” she cries.

I snuggle her into my chest, understanding all too well the anguish of losing someone, but she pulls away.

“There aren’t any moving trucks.” I try for careful conversation to lull her back to safety.

“They don’t take trucks.” She sniffles. “They always take the ladder.” She points into the open blue sky, but all I can see is the clouds, and the Grand River.

“Honey, you must mean that ladder.” I show my little angel the small fire escape ladder leading to the ground.

“No!” Her eyes widen. “No one wants to go down. Collin says you should go up.” She points again.

I see nothing. The hairs on my arm stand.

“Polly honey, where is Collin?” I barely croak the words.

“Oh, mommy.” Her eyes light up and she dances away from me again. “He’s right here. He says he’s sorry he broke your pot.”

My heart lodges in my throat.

“There’s no one here, but you and me, honey.”

“Of course there is, mommy. There’s always someone here. Can’t you see them?” Her young eyes narrow in confusion.

I reach for her, but she skips closer to the edge.

“Please, come back to me, Polly girl,” I say, tasting blood on my lip.

“But Collin is going, and says I can go too – up!” She dances in a circle, twirling and leaping closer to the edge, her eyes a distant glow, seeing yet unseeing.

My vision swims, as I fight not to expel the contents of my stomach. My body feels like lead.

“I just need your permission.” She beams hopefully, giggling as she is tugged toward the edge.

 

#

“No, dammit!” I shout to no one and to everyone, enraged by this intrusion. “This is MY daughter, and she does not have my permission! Please. Help me.” I choke.

A warm, soft stroke caresses my cheek, and the scent of Polo surrounds me.

Polly reaches for the sky, in tippy-toed delight, cooing and laughing at something only she has heard.

Suddenly she stops and furrows her little brow as happy recognition dawns on her face.

She shuffles from the ledge, back to the sanctuary of the tulips and raspberries.

Her lower lip trembles, and tears fill her eyes as she listens and nods in a one sided exchange.

“Okay.” She hiccups her reply and wipes her runny nose on her sleeve. “I love you too.”

I surge toward her, and hug her so tightly, neither of us can breathe.

 

#

“I’m sorry about your friends, Polly girl.” I lead her down the stairs, to our home.

“It’s okay, mommy.” She smiles. “They went up the ladder. More friends will come.”

More. Friends.

“Oh! Daddy says to tell you the special soil is in the brown bag marked with a green smiley face, at the bottom of the kitchen cabinet.” Polly grins.

She giggles, “He also says to stop over watering the cactus.”

 

The End

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