He was 1 of 4,
but an only child.
I was 1 of 2,
but rather than being loved equally
by both parents,
I’d been loved by one,
by the other.
My father had read me Bible stories,
poetry without pictures.
My mother had read to me not at all,
whom I’d misread all along.
A family was eternal
in life everlasting,
but my family
would undo what God
in our temporary lives.
My life, pre-Mormonism,
had been one of simplicity;
it became one of complexity;
it became what it should
have always been.
I wanted to drive,
I wanted marriage & children,
a college degree.
They had made me want more,
David’s love had been enough.
So I just entered The Saturday Evening Post’s “Great American Short Story” contest, and read on their site that as long as a story was only published on a personal blog, it would qualify for submission. That led me to inquire if it would be permissible for me to post my story that placed as an Honorable Mention in their contest two years ago (and published in their digital anthology); they said that was fine (and also appreciated the mention).
My short story was based on a cold case (literally and figuratively) of a grave-robber who haunted Pensacola, Florida, in the Fifties. It’s a mystery that spans generations and ends up answering the question, “Whodunit?”
I just posted the first several lines, and included the story in its entirety as a PDF for those interested in reading the whole thing.
The Ghoul of Whitmire Cemetery
“Grandma,” Ellie Dolan said, holding the birdlike, bluish-white hand of the woman who had raised her after her mother’s passing. “I have wonderful news. Mr. Trune loved the stories I sent him, and he’s going to give me my own space. He really dug the idea of a cold case column.”
She had expected her grandmother to look pleased, but she only looked troubled.
Where he was going,
she had never been;
from whence he had come,
she had never known.
Barefoot in blue jeans,
pertly pretty and fifteen,
the mirror, her mistress,
tells her in words sounding like hers
that she is the queen—
this somnambulist in the sameness of her life.
He appears as if in a golden chariot,
a childlike man on the spectrum with him;
he is ambiguous and all put-together—
everything and nothing,
from neither here nor there,
but from some other place
where music also plays.
The mesmerism of his voice—singsong and sad—
is discordant, yet she cannot close the screen door
that separates them as a bridal veil from the groom.
That day through the screen door,
on a Sunday barbecue afternoon,
the girl who knew no religion,
could not know the Devil when she saw him.
Twas when Pride met Vanity,
when Virginity met Debauchery,
only to lose herself.
She snaps out of her hypnotic state,
as her entire life crystallizes—
the father who spoke not at all,
the mother who spoke too much,
the sister of whom much was spoken of.
“For inasmuch as ye have done it unto
one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me,” Jesus said.
For the others, she has stayed;
for them, she will go.
The spell is broken, and it is all so
extremely frightening and incredibly real,
for this Arnold Friend is more real to her
than anything else had ever been.
Based on the short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates.
Also, an interesting analysis: http://sittingbee.com/where-are-you-going-where-have-you-been-joyce-carol-oates/
Karsen Wood drove from the Sunshine State to the Big Sky Country—
to the land that was bigger than her small, childish dreams.
She wasn’t running away, but to something she couldn’t yet see—
to something greater than the life she’d left and richly lived,
and would live again.
“This writing prompt made me think of you. I would love to see what you do with it,” a Facebook friend challenged me.
Write a story that begins and ends with the same sentence, but make the sentence have a different meaning by the end.
It sounded easy, but in reality, it took some mental gymnastics to execute. This is what I came up with.
Tarquin was stoned. He lay crumpled in a white-sheeted heap against the wall of the cave. Some “toga party”. He was freezing his giblets off, and it was dark, save for a single candle (potpourri scented), not to mention they’d taken his sandals. He hadn’t bothered wearing underwear. His heart was pounding, and yet, he saw everything with perfect clarity.
Kimberly, Andrea, and Dana had all lured him here for one purpose. Well, they had had their way with him.
He was black and blue from temple to ankle and covered with lacerations–stripes for the sins of Tarquin Oliver. He started to fade out, like he had when he’d given plasma. Suddenly, nothing was clear anymore. Tarquin was stoned.