Friday, 31 October 2014

Write ... Edit ... Publish ~ GHOST STORY



First off, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! I hope you all a fun day. And I hope the world is kind to all the beautiful black kitties out there.

Secondly, it's time for the WEP, which I missed last month. WEP is hosted by my awesome fellow Aussie, Denise Covey. This month's theme is, fittingly for the time of year, "Ghost Story".

My story is actually from a novel I never ended up finishing, despite working on it across 2 years of NaNo (2004 and 2005, I believe). It's technically part of a greater epic fantasy work, but is currently a little bit disconnected from the "whole". Anyway, this is the scene as it stands after a few revisions done today. MS Word tells me it's 523 words long.

Somana stared at the ghost. She knew what it must see as it looked back at her—a face haggard and sagging, red-rimmed eyes with heavy shadows underneath. No doubt it also saw a withered, worn-out body, all planes, angles and shadows.

That was how Somana felt. Desiccated.

Soft orange-red light flickered all around, filtering through the ghost, playing tricks. The ghost stood silent, its power unspoken, undefinable…inescapable. It held Somana in its thrall, a trembling prisoner barely able to draw breath.

This had been one of the bad nights—the ones that always seemed to age Somana so dramatically. And it was far from over yet.

“Why are you here?” Somana’s voice shook. “You torment me!”

The ghost did not need her accusation. It knew.

It knew all her names: Zeille. Ereta. Joenne. Somana. It even knew the name she’d gone by as a child, a name all but forgotten now even by its owner. Best forgotten. Perish the thought of anyone speaking it aloud nowadays—such an act would surely seal Somana’s doom.

In her mind, she saw the ghost’s mouth open; saw the word, the name, slip out.

Her heart seized, stuttered. Her lungs constricted, and she was convinced they would explode at any moment.

Her life hung in the balance. Cradled in a ghost’s hands.

Empty bottles lay scattered about the room—at the foot of Somana’s chair, on every windowsill, and peeking out from beneath the thick, velvet curtains. Those glass receptacles glimmered in the firelight, mesmerising representations of the depths to which their owner had sunk. Usually a visitor wouldn’t see them, for no visitors came on bad nights like these. But the ghost saw them always, and drew them out.

Somana hated this ghost. She also loved and grieved, as she had done across all these bereaved years. The sickly feeling swelled in her breast, sweeping through her entire being, threatening to obliterate her the way endless bottles of elixir could never do. Why are you being so cruel? she wanted to ask, but her mouth no longer worked. And besides, she would never ask that question. Never could. The ghost was not being cruel on purpose. It was only fulfilling its purpose.

But she couldn’t help but wonder what sort of life this was. Could she really go on this way forever?

Her limbs had grown stiff to the point of cramping. She sweated, twitched, grimaced, whimpered, but did not move from her seat, huddled as she was against the great cushions. Sometimes she leaned forward, and always her eyes remained fixed on the spectre of her fascination. She wanted to run and hide, but she also wanted to spring forward and enfold the apparition in her embrace.

A motherly embrace...

The sun crept above the horizon but the light inside Somana’s room never changed. Only when the ghost departed would the shadows relinquish their hold on her. For now, the ghost held sway, and gained some measure of vindication. No comfort. Never that. No one could ever feel comfort here.

But when vindication was all there was to gain, it would have to do.


21 comments:

  1. A ghostly stalemate. . .which makes me wonder why the drinking - to forget? And who is the ghost? Nice teaser and ripe for expanding further. Enjoyed this excerpt.

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  2. What's in a name indeed! Clever stuff. Why does she grieve? Why is she haunted? Some lovely descriptive prose and an intriguing portrayal of a "dessicated" haunted woman. Hope you finish this story.

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    1. She certainly has reason to grieve (quite a few reasons!), but she also has a current-day purpose that keeps her going. :)

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  3. A true name is a powerful magic. This ghost must be a part of Sonoma.

    Well done with the emotion in this.

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  4. Enjoyed the excerpt, a great teaser. So many questions - the ghost, the previous name, the empty bottles.. excellent portrayal of a tormented woman.

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  5. Hi Trisha - very evocative and heart wrending .. the ghost her child? So many questions raised ... Somana's life experiences .. the elixir - does it conjure a new life ... so many bottles, so many lives .. I loved it - congratulations .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  6. Trish, this is awesome. Very polished piece of writing. If the rest of the fantasy is anywhere near as good you should finish it. I know, like me, you have so many unfinished works...I loved how Somana was so accepting of the ghost's presence, no question. I loved how you described the words coming out of 'its' mouth...very convincing.

    Thanks for posting for the WEP challenge. It is always great to have you, fellow Aussie!

    Denise :)

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    1. Thanks, Denise - my fantasy story is a big, sprawling mess I haven't really touched in years (except when I edited this piece for WEP :D ). I do love it, but I feel that it's so messy it's hard to know where to start. ;) But I do intend to pick it up again sometime... if only to finish that first novel, at least. ha.

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  7. What a lot of questions this raises. So very sad and tense at the same time. Very good description of inner conflict. Thanks for sharing...

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  8. What a powerful piece. Loved it. Thank you

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  9. Such torment and individual knowledge - so well done! I can imagine her history, but would love to know more of the story. Excellent work!

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    1. Thanks, Yolanda. :) Even I don't know all of her history yet, and I wrote her. :D

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  10. Hi Trisha
    This is well written. I loved how she couldn't move from the folds of the cushions. The story captures the imagination and drew me in.
    Nancy

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  11. An eerie and creepy story, well done.

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Thanks for your words, me hearties! and don't forget to leave a link to your blog somewhere I can find it!