Halloween Flash Fiction Event: Menna van Praag

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Thank you for joining us for this Halloween Flash Fiction Event story from Menna van Praag. I love Menna’s touching, whimsical interpretation of this picture. (Something I’ve come to expect from her, in general.) The image is a stock photo from a DeviantART artist who specifically allows it to be used on outside websites, with credit and links posted. Big thanks, to both the author and the artist, for sharing. Now… on to the story…

 

A Cambridge Cemetery

by Menna van Praag

 

The ghost enjoyed scaring people: mourners, the newly bereaved. Fear was the only emotion he could feel anymore. The shiver of it rippled the air right through him and, for the briefest moment, he experienced an echo of how it had felt to be alive. The echo was almost silent; he had to strain to hear it. It was the flicker of a fire long since burnt out, the memory of a sunset at midnight. And yet, it was all the ghost had.

One evening, one Halloween night, a hundred and seventeen years since he’d died, the ghost was being blown through swirls of autumn leaves, when he saw a girl sitting cross-legged at a graveside. It had been a few weeks since anyone had visited the little graveyard – the vicar was the only one who frequented the church with any regularity anymore – and the ghost was beginning to drift away at the edges, to forget that he had ever once been alive.

Taylor_Jackson_Cemetery_29_by_LinzStockHe waited until the wind settled, until the air was perfectly still. Then he swept up to her, sliding headfirst through her heart – the way he’d perfected to provoke the biggest fright. But she didn’t scream. And he felt no shiver. Frustrated, the ghost gathered himself and swept through her again. But, again, the girl’s face was calm and the ghost felt not a flicker of fear.

“You’re so full of sorrow,” she said.

And, for the first time, in life or death, the ghost felt the sensation of a smile tug through him. For the first time, in life or death, he had been seen.

“Most people are scared of sorrow,” she said. “They don’t understand – if you run from something it will run after you.”

Her words slid through his suddenly solid heart. And, just before he vanished, she could see his face: sorrow swept away by relief, his eyes glassy with gratitude.

The wind whipped up again and, with it, a shroud of tranquil peace – not felt in the little graveyard in one hundred and seventeen years – billowed up then settled over the gravestones, the leaves, the grass. It floated down into the girl’s lap. She felt it between her fingers and smiled.

 

About The Author

Fifteen years ago I wrote my first novel. Ten years later, with six unpublished manuscripts & a stack of rejections, I self-published my novella, Men, Money & Chocolate. Nine months later I sold it to Hay House and today it’s been translated into 26 languages. The sequel, Happier Than She’s Ever Been, followed a year later.
The House at the End of Hope Street was published by Penguin in 2013. Random House will publish my next two novels: The Dress Shop of Dreams (Jan, 2015) and The Cambridge University Witches (Jan, 2016). I’m currently working on my new novel, The Lost Art of Letter Writing.

For a bit more about my books and my writing workshops, click here.

 

About The Artist

Image: Taylor Jackson Cemetery 29

Artist Page: LinzStock http://www.deviantart.com/art/Taylor-Jackson-Cemetery-29-131483094

 

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