A Ghost Story

I did it. I kindled.

If I’ve been absent from blogging for a week it’s because I was caught up in a new short story idea. I’m sorry – I can’t do both blogging and fictioning at the same time. Not and have a job.

I’ve loved writing fiction since elementary school – starting with a turkey named Tom whose true love got eaten at Thanksgiving while he was in hiding. (Spoiler: next Thanksgiving he didn’t hide. I was a morbid child.) Some switch flipped in college, though, and I stopped writing fiction. Maybe it was all the writing I had to do for my history degree – maybe it was that writing facts was being hammered into my brain week after week – or maybe it was that I found new delight in writing a snarky opinion column for my university’s newspaper.

I didn’t spend much time on fiction, other than jotting down cool ideas, until about a year ago, when a friend of mine asked me to join her on a project.

Since then I’ve done NaNoWriMo and started working on multiple short stories. Suddenly, I love writing fiction again. That selfsame friend who invited me on her project, encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo, and encouraged me to try short stories (my favorite genre to read), self-published a story on Kindle last week.

That prompted me to philosophical consideration: should I, too, try self-publishing? 

You can tell how much I respect this friend by how much I take her advice and copy her actions. (We’ve been writing buddies since middle school. We even had a writing club called Inklings. 10 points if you get that.)

I decided that, at this point in my life, playing around with self-publishing would help more than it would hurt. Maybe someday writing will be my livelihood (I can only hope), but right now it’s just my hobby.

So I churned out this little ghost story.

It’s inspired by the creepy lake I grew up on (a flooded valley, a la O Brother, Where Art Thou); an old swimming hole where my grandfather grew up; and the evocatively named “Lake Lurleen” off I-20 (who is Lurleen? So much mystery.*).

There’s just something unspokenly eerie about lakes in the South. I’ve also always felt that the South is a more ancient place, with pockets of stuck time and old legends. Like in the rush for Reconstruction, things got left behind.

Because you are a faithful reader, you get a wee excerpt of the story:

I hesitated at the lake’s edge, thinking of cottonmouths. The sun was going down anyway and it wasn’t as hot. I had to do it, though. I’d challenged her. I’d set myself up as fearless and if I didn’t follow through I’d be “that city kid.” It was bad enough that when I would get back to school at the end of the summer my friends would make fun of my “hick” accent I’d picked up.

I pulled my shorts off and then my shirt, bare child chest reveling in bravery and the setting sun. It was still plenty hot, and my clothes peeled off like a snakeskin. I was standing in just my britches by the water.

“You scared?” she said behind me, taunting me back.

“No way.” I waded in. God, please don’t let me get bit by a cottonmouth, I prayed silently, closing my eyes to make my prayer more fervent and acceptable to God.

If you want to read all of Sarah Gray, you can find it on Amazon under my penname, E.J. Gandy, with a lurid and enticing description full of dramatic cliff-hangers to tempt you.

 

*Wikipedia tells me it’s named after Lurleen Wallace, Alabama’s only female governer. The magic is gone – I never should have Googled it.

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