Another week, another story.
This week, I really wanted to write a ghost story, but I wanted something a little lighter than last week. I got a few comments about how dark it was. It won’t make me change anything, but I did figure it was good to try something else for a week.
As far as the rest of my 1000 Day MFA progress goes… I’m making slow but steady progress with my novel. I’m meeting my 1 essay, 1 poem, 1 short story goal so far. But I’m feeling behind with my novel and my book on writing craft. There’s only one week of March left, and I don’t think I’m going to finish them both. We’ll see. Either way, I’m really enjoying the progress I’m making and the short stories I have to show for it.
Jacey was at an age where she spent most of her time having tea parties with her teddy bears and her imaginary friend. One day, her friend stopped being content with toys and pretend.
It started with a broken lamp.
Clomping down the stairs like a mini herd of elephants, her daughter peeked at her through the white railing, like a prisoner staring at her jailor. “Yes, Mom?”
“How did this lamp get broken?”
“Caerise did it, Mom.”
“Caerise? Really? Don’t lie to me, young lady.”
“Really, Mom. She said she wanted to know what kind of sound it would make.”
Megan folded her arms across her chest. “Imaginary friends can’t knock over lamps.”
“Caerise isn’t imaginary, Mom.” Jacey’s whole tiny face wrinkled as she frowned. “She doesn’t like when you say that.”
“Well then, maybe she should be the one to clean up this mess?” Megan asked.
Jacey looked to a spot just below her on the stairs. “She says she doesn’t want to,” her daughter answered forlornly with a frown.
“Well, that’s perfect.”
“Caerise, that’s not nice.” Jacey paused. “No, Caerise. You should clean it up. You can’t just go around breaking things.”
“It’s fine. I’ll get it. But you let your friend know that any other items I find broken will get you in trouble, since I can’t punish her. Do you both understand?”
Megan walked into the kitchen and retrieved a broom and dustpan from the closet. With them in one hand and the trash can in the other, she spun on her heel and headed back to the living room and the broken lamp, mumbling things she wouldn’t say aloud in front of her daughter.
She pushed her shoulder against the swinging door.
Megan saw the broken lamp’s twin hovering a foot off its end table. The garbage can, dustpan, and broom all clattered to the floor, forgotten, as she raised her hands towards the lamp. She took a cautious step forward.
She had no idea what she would do when she reached it. Grab it? Somehow prove to herself it wasn’t floating in the air?
“Caerise, put it down,” Jacey said with a muffled sob. She still sat on the same step where she’d been a moment ago. Her fingers wound tight around the wood railing, making her knuckles white. Her head was down, hiding her face with her hair, refusing to look. “You’re going to get us in trouble.”
Megan was still a few feet from grabbing hold of the lamp–whether that proved to be a good idea or not–when it bobbed and shot through the air past her. She covered herself with her arms, and it smashed against the wall next the the swinging door.
At least now they match again, she thought without humor.
Jacey flinched and continued to whimper.
Megan was speechless for a moment, staring at one lamp, then the other, then her crying daughter on the stairs. “Go to your room,” she said, her voice flat and calmer than she felt.
Jacey jumped up and disappeared up the stairs, no stomping, no reply.
Megan heard a creak of floorboards near the end table, only a few feet from her though she hadn’t moved. The bottom step groaned a moment later.
Noisy old houses, Megan told herself without conviction.
Falling to the couch with a whoosh of sinking cushion, she shuddered out an exhalation. She ran shaky hands back through her hair and tried to deny what she had just seen. It was impossible.
Megan sat in shock. The tools meant to clean the original mess waited in a tangled heap, and both lamps lay broken on the floor. She began to wonder whether an imaginary friend was a healthy thing for her daughter, or anyone else in her house.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.