I am understandably excited to share this update with y’all. You might recall a ghost story I was working on in the last few months, if you’ve been keeping up with my Tuesday Teasers. Now I’m proud to announce the release of “Other Days” an anthology edited by colleague and friend, Jessica Augustsson. I first discovered Jessica in early ’12 while searching for an editor for my sci-fi novella, Qeya. Since that first project, I’ve seen the value of her impeccable sense of pace and taste in the art of storytelling. She is one of those first-class, rare editors who not only cares deeply about the craft, but the people. Without her, my writing would not be what it is today.
“Other Days” is a cumulative project spanning continents and the realm of speculative fiction. If you’re looking for stories that go above and beyond your imagination, look no further!
READ IT TODAY
Visit the following links to read in both ebook and paperback formats:
To learn more about Jessica Augustsson, please see her webpage at: www.jessedit.com
I cannot remember what I am or who I was before. I am different from the ones who talk and take. Not that I can’t talk, you see. But it has been so long since I needed to know how.
My memory of her is fading now, like paper worn too thin. Eventually it will crumble to dust like the others. But some memories are vivid and clear to me still. From the start the girl learned to look and listen rather than talk and take. Her eyes found my hiding place, could see through the wooden wall. Rather than screaming as she should have, the child spoke to me. It had been so long since anyone had spoken to me. She asked me questions I couldn’t answer.
In the beginning was the most obvious, “Are you a ghost?”
“No,” I replied. I most certainly am not a ghost, not like the ones they invent.
So she pretended I was her special imaginary friend and called me Una because she thought it pretty and I have no name. When she gave me a name I began to feel more solid and less fluid. Instead of fading easily from wall to wall I found I must squeeze tighter between. And the creaky old house became less scary, she told me, less alive. So for a short time I knew happiness. A dangerous feeling.
The family moved away soon after. I heard the father’s whispers to the mother, concerns for their only child. Even her teacher at school had expressed concerns.
“She needs children her own age, Maude,” Father insisted the night before they left.
“Adele is fine. She has not been so happy since the diagnosis. For heaven’s sake, Harold, it is only an imaginary friend,” Mother pleads.
I told my little friend what her father said. She cried about it with her tiny hands pressed against the painted wood over my heart. I told her to pry it open so she could hide her special things inside for safekeeping. She begged me to come out of the wall and come with her and I tried. The struggle sucked me back deeper, so I couldn’t even tell her goodbye, couldn’t speak to her this last time.
Her screams pierced and stabbed the walls as they dragged her away forever.
No matter how many times this happens I cannot fade my sorrow and pain away with my shape. They linger sometimes like a cold spot in the air. After a while, the others make me feel alive, even if they never learn to look. And they always leave, sometimes because they see their little children talking to empty corners or because I am not careful enough to fade quietly through the walls of their house.
For the first time in a long one, I felt angry at the wood that bound me, at the others who gave me such foolish hope. I forgot how to take shape after this. For years I slept and no family came to share my roof.
I forgot the little girl’s name, but I never forgot the name she gifted me.
Occasionally, I would hear the others who dared lingered outside the house begin to speak of strange things.
“They say he went missing a week before he was murdered in the house…”
“She broke her neck on the front steps three days after moving in…”
All of this is ridiculous, of course. Ghosts are dark spirits that thrive on the fear of the others. I had seen haunted houses advertised on television during Halloween—places where chandeliers flickered and rattled, doors opened and shut on their own. I was honest when I told the little girl who had named me Una that I was not a ghost.
Still they always left. No families came to look or claim my home. The only live souls I saw were the children who threw rocks at the windows, and dared one another to enter the “haunted house.” And eventually this ceased too.
The house had grown musty, filthy and fragile. It was a very old house, added onto and polished every generation by families I only saw as candlelit shadows in my memory now. So dead and peaceful was it that I too forgot I was still alive.
Until they opened the front door.