KAREN: Karysa Faire is a writer of the romantic, the unseen, the other worldly and the horrific. She also hosts Snippet Sunday on Facebook, where writers come together to share a few sentences of their current project. She's here today with her spooky tale, The Ghost.
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The Ghost by Karysa Faire
Mary.Mary. He watched her longingly, secretly, his eyes darting from the basketball he dribbled in his driveway, to her yard across the street. She lounged in the old hammock, reading a book. When he caught her dozing in the shaded coolness of the maple tree, he stared longer, the basketball forgotten. Mary.
Yesterday, she'd smiled and waved at him as he came home from the last day of school. She’d been sitting on the white, wrought-iron bench that had been there for as long as he could remember. He’d somehow managed to wave back, forcing down the mix of thrill and panic that had bubbled up in his chest. Just then, Mary’s green skirt had shifted in a slight breeze, billowing up to show her knees. She’d pushed the fabric down, laughing as she did, as if it was the funniest thing in the world. “Isn’t that silly, Shawny?” he’d heard her say. At the sound of his nickname on her lips, his face had burst out in a grin, quickly followed by a mortified flush. He barely made it into the house, tripping as he fled the scene, as quick as a jackrabbit.
Shawn had known Mary his whole life. She used to be his favorite babysitter because she’d always play with him, pay attention to him, talk to him as if he were the most important kid in the world. But this summer, this summer his parents had decided he didn't need a babysitter anymore because he was growing up. And, he noticed. . . well he noticed Mary. He used to be chatty with her, but now he was silent. Words stuck in his throat and his hands shook when she was near. He couldn’t talk to her and hang out with her. Not now. Not since she’d become Mary.
So, he watched her during the afternoon heat of late summer as he shot hoops or mowed the lawn.
School started, nights came sooner, and the temperature turned colder. When the maple tree shed her leaves, Mary went indoors. Shawn still watched for her, peeking through his curtains, hoping to glimpse her shadow as she walked through the house.
Shaun hadn't seen hints of Mary for weeks. Her curtains were always drawn and the lights were never on. But as a habit does, he still looked for her, wishing for a glimpse of his Mary.
* * * * *
“How was school?” Mom asked, dropping the hot pan of cookies on the counter. Drool pooled in Shawn’s mouth as a waft of spiced pumpkin hit his nose. Most kids wanted chocolate chip or sugar cookies but Shawn could never get enough of pumpkin, a token of his favorite time of year.
“Good,” he answered, his hand snaking out to grab a steaming morsel. Mom slapped it away, tsking as she transferred the cookies to the cooling rack. A smile played at her lips. The teapot began to whistle. Knowing the routine, Shawn made his way to the stove to pour them both a cup of tea.
The third cookie was being gobbled before Shawn snuck a peak through the window toward Mary’s house. The naked tree stood watch, branches hovering over its deep litter of fallen leaves. A darkness seeped from the blank windows. The old wrought-iron bench was gone, dark circles in the ground where it had been planted for years.
Empty. The place was empty.
Shawn looked at Mom, eyes wide. She nodded, taking a distracted slurp of tea before speaking. “I’m sorry, son. She left.” Mom looked down, suddenly absorbed in tracing the vinyl placemat with her finger. “The mover’s came today.”
“Where did she go?” Shawn asked, a void opening in his chest. “Why didn’t she say goodbye?” Mom shrugged, still staring at her placemat. She took another swig of her tea, stood up, and left Shawn alone with his adolescent pain.
Shawn went to sleep that night, tears in his eyes, wishing he could see Mary just one more time.
Every night for a year, Shawn beseeched the Powers-That-Be with the same prayer.
* * * * *
Shawn grew four inches and the days grew shorter again. The leaves fell and All Hallows Eve arrived.
“Shawn.” Tap, tap, tap. “Shawn.”
Shawn tried to pry his eyes open but the lids refused to budge. It had been a long night of trick-or-treating with his kid brother in tow.
Tap, tap, tap. “Wake up, Shawny.”
Shawn’s eyes flew open, the sound of her voice in his ears. Mary’s voice. It was dark, dark, dark in his room, the glow from outside barely making it through his curtains. Silent.
“Shawny, help me,” Mary’s voice whispered in that silence. Shawn flew to the window, throwing back the curtain, and stared. There was Mary, hovering over the remains of her lawn, her wispy form floating a few feet above the dirt and sparse blades of dry weeds. “Help me,” she whispered again.
Shawn blinked and he was with her, his own wispy body standing beside Mary’s. He reached out, trying to wipe the tear trailing down her face. His fingers didn’t touch skin, only a chilled hint of fog as her image began to fade.
“Help me, Shawny,” she pleaded once more. Her voice echoed around him and then she was gone.
“No!” Shawn awoke shouting, his heart pounding. The open curtains threw moonlight and street lamp into the room.
Mom rushed in. “What’s wrong? Did you have a bad dream?”
“Mary?” Shawn said. The tears now streamed down his own face. “She didn’t move.” Mom came and sat silently on the bed. Her hand smoothed down Shawn’s hair. He looked at her, her sad eyes confirming what he now knew. “She died, Mom. Mary died.”
“And now that you know, Shawn, what are you going to do?” Mom placed a kiss on his forehead and walked from the room.
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About the Author:
Karysa is a writer of the romantic, the unseen, the other worldly and the horrific. Residing in Northern California with her daughter, dog, and cat, she reads when she can and cleans her house when she has to.
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