Fiction Friday: Ghost(?) Story

“Young lady, you’re getting a”

A moment’s anger leads to a tragedy, and deep, deep guilt.
Psychological drama, or ghost story? You decide.

Gina sat on the bench in her Granny’s garden, facing the tulips that were the pride of her Granny’s heart, the tulips Granny and Gina’s late grandfather had planted when they were first married.

Gina held a book in her hands, Carolyn Haywood’s “Primrose Day”, which had been one of her Granny’s childhood favorites. Granny had taken good care of her books.

Gina loved to visit her Granny because of the garden, because of the books, but most of all, because of Granny.

But Gina, just then, was not seeing the tulips. She was oblivious to the words in the book. She wasn’t thinking about her Granny. Gina was seeing and hearing the characters in a story that had suddenly, unexpectedly come to her.

Gina was a little girl of ten, but she was also a writer. She had known since she was eight that writing was her gift, her talent, her calling… yes, one might as well use the word… her vocation.

A hand passed in font of her face.

“Wake up!”

The characters vanished, and the story was gone.

Gina stood up, enraged. Enraged at her beloved Granny. Enraged enough to yell,

“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! YOU RUINED IT! I HATE YOU!”

“Young lady, you’re getting a “

But her Granny never finished her sentence. She clutched her heart, gasped, and fell.

“No.” Gina whispered. “No. No.”

She was vaguely aware of her aunt, her father’s widowed sister, coming into the garden.

She was vaguely aware of her aunt’s “Mama! NO!”

She was vaguely aware of her Granny being taken away.

She was vaguely aware of her aunt leading her inside.

She was vaguely aware of her aunt undressing her and putting her to bed.

She was vaguely aware of herself; she felt as if she wasn’t really there.

And through it all, the scene in the tulip garden was vivid in her mind.

“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! YOU RUINED IT! I HATE YOU!”

“Young lady, you’re getting a “

The next few days were a blur for Gina.

Her parents came.

Other members of the family came.

Friends and neighbors came.

Bits of overheard conversations whirled and swirled around in Gina’s head.

“I can’t believe she’s gone.”

“It was so sudden.”

“She was so healthy.”

“She was such a wonderful woman.”

“Gina saw her die?”

“That poor child!”

“Yes. She loved her grandmother so much.”

But all those whispers could not block out the voices, hers and Granny’s.

“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! YOU RUINED IT! I HATE YOU!”

“Young lady, you’re getting a “

Gina lay in bed, hardly sleeping at all. When she did sleep, it was not peaceful, not restful, not refreshing.

She didn’t want to eat, or read, or watch tv. She didn’t want to write.

All she wanted was for the scene in Granny’s tulip garden to stop playing and replaying in her head.

“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! YOU RUINED IT! I HATE YOU!”

“Young lady, you’re getting a “

Gina covered her face with her hands and whispered, whimpered,

“Make it stop. Oh, please, make it stop.”

And then, suddenly, she saw her Granny, or her Granny’s ghost, sitting on the side of the bed.

“Young lady, you’re getting a spanking.”

Without a word, with a feeling of fear, but also of relief, Gina crawled over her Granny’s lap. It did not feel the way one might expect a ghost’s lap to feel… like air, or like nothing at all. It felt solid. It felt real. It felt like the lap Gina had sat on so many times.

And the slaps that landed loudly and rapidly on her bottom felt real…very, very real.

Gina’s parents … her aunt had gone out…heard her yelling.

“OW! OUCH! OW! OW! OH! OUCH! OUCH! OH! OW! OW! OW! OUCH!”

They rushed to her room, and found the child squealing and squirming the way she did on the far-apart occasions when she was spanked.

Gina’s mother said in a low voice, “She’s having a nightmare,” and started to gently wake her. Gina’s father shook his head.

“Maybe,” he whispered, “she needs to go through the dream she is having.”

But… was it a dream?

Or was it an illusion triggered by Gina’s feelings of guilt?

A hallucination brought on by lack of sleep?

Or could it have been an actual encounter with her Granny’s ghost?

The truth may never be known, but when Gina’s parents checked on her half an hour later, they found her asleep. She slept peacefully, restfully, refreshingly, although with the remnants of tears on her face.

“Let’s let her sleep as long as she can,” Gina’s mother said in a low voice.

Gina’s father agreed.

“Yes. It’s the best thing for her.”

They softly, quietly left the room.

And when Gina woke up four hours later, she went right to the kitchen table and began writing a story set in her Granny’s tulip garden.

She wrote standing up.

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