Hey everyone! It's that time again, when we post for Denise Covey's Write ... Edit ... Publish monthly blog hop. This month's WEP is a little different though, as Denise explains:
Welcome to creepy Halloween! There are many blogfests vying for attention. I am combining the Write...Edit...Publish blogfest with Francine Howarth's Trick or Treat Blogfest where you either give or receive free books. (In comments, say if you want your name to go into a hat to win a free book - say TREAT!)
Those who participate in the WEP blogfest will be competing for a $10 Amazon Gift card from yours truly (for the entry that catches my , and Francine is donating a free e-book to a participant.
So, with all that said, here's my post (all 970 words) for October's hop.
In the days immediately after Brian Walters drowned, his wife Jeanna existed in a strange sort of limbo. She could neither believe the accident had really happened nor say definitively that it hadn’t. She had seen it with her own eyes—him standing up at the wrong angle, teetering for one endless moment, and finally sailing overboard. She’d seen it, yes, but she found it hard to trust her own mind.
After the news broke, friends and family flooded in around her, opening their arms and hearts and, unfortunately, their mouths as well. “She won’t talk about it,” and “The poor woman,” and “Such a tragedy!” were all the things she heard and wished she hadn’t. She craved peace and quiet—mostly, the quiet—but with a missing husband who was an important member of the community, she had certain obligations to meet.
Organising the funeral and the wake were the first on a long list.
So Jeanna called in favours, she used her very best business voice and she made all the necessary arrangements. She pulled it all together at a dizzying speed, and finally the day arrived when she would say goodbye.
The service passed quickly but lasted a lifetime. As Jeanna stepped out into the harsh, sweltering air of mid-February, she felt more sapped of energy than she ever had in her life before. Faces swam all around, turning their sympathy on her, and voices pecked at her from every angle. She was quite convinced they drew blood.
Her focus narrowed and the sounds faded away. She drew a breath that echoed, climbed into the backseat of the limousine, and slammed the door behind her, shutting out the chaos of a world that never stopped shaking.
Up on a miraculously verdant slope, with the hot air of a full-blown summer’s day leaching life from everything, Brian Walters’ coffin sank into the ground. It didn’t have him in it, but it was still his. A wide-eyed Jeanna watched it go down, and when it finally came to rest her lips moved in a silent farewell.
But she didn’t feel that she was really saying goodbye. Because he wasn’t in there. All they were burying was a wooden box, with nothing but mementos inside. And hours later, when the last of the dirt had been flung back in, sealing the deal once and for all, Jeanna still didn’t believe he was really gone.
Time passed, and Jeanna felt warm and watched over. She never really felt widowed, though she missed Brian’s ridiculous laugh, his dancing green eyes, his reassuring presence. She never really felt alone, and she couldn’t explain it. But while people kept a close eye on her, always expecting her to finally have the breakdown they all presumed was simply delayed, she managed to get through each day without shedding a single tear.
It didn’t really seem strange to her until the second year was halfway through, and she realised she didn’t so much feel watched over anymore as she felt watched.
Over the months, the ‘watched’ feeling persisted. When at home, Jeanna took to drawing all the blinds and keeping all the curtains closed. It didn’t make her feel better. No matter what she did, the surveilled feeling remained.
Was Brian here in ghost-form, haunting her? She’d never really believed in any of that, but the watched feeling was making her think twice.
One night, she got the feeling so strongly that she spoke aloud without meaning to: “Brian? Are you there?” She waited, but got no response. “If you’re there … please tell me.”
What she really meant was, Please leave me alone.
She was ready to move on, and wished he would let her.
She worked with a man called Jake Reynolds, who was interested in her. He’d asked her out a few times, but each time she’d declined. He respected her boundaries, but also assured her with a gentle smile that he wouldn’t give up until she told him to.
She hadn’t told him to yet.
Nor had she told him she was being stalked by her dead husband.
When she saw him at work next, he hinted once more that they should make a dinner date. As usual, she said no, but this time it was more a knee-jerk reaction than the old reluctance. So she quickly added more words to the mix. “But ask me again and I’ll say yes.”
“When should I ask?” he wanted to know.
She hesitated. “When you think the time is right.”
H asked her out a week later, and she said yes.
Their date went beautifully and Jeanna spent almost the entirety of it forgetting all about her dead, ghostly husband. At the end of the night the truth came rushing back in a dismaying wave as Jake walked her to her front door, his arm linked with hers.
“I had a wonderful night,” he said softly as they came to a halt in front of her doormat.
Something fluttered in her chest as she gazed up at him, admiring his chiselled jaw and bright blue eyes.
“So did I,” she whispered, and on a whim decided to kiss him. Just as she was stretching up on tip-toes, the front door to her house opened and Brian’s voice sounded out, loud and clear.
“I didn’t expect you to give up so soon.”
She turned to the doorway, fear seizing her throat, and realised he wasn’t dead at all. That man was very much alive, and wearing a seriously grave expression.
“Who’s this?” Jake murmured from beside her, his arm tightening on hers, but Jeanna barely heard him, because her attention was all on the thing Brian held in his hands.
It was a shiny, metallic thing.
It was a gun.
© 2013, Trisha Farnan.