Tag Archives: creative-writing

Flash Fiction: Burning Bridges

Author’s Note: wow, has it really been 17 days since I last posted anything? Ok, well here’s a short piece of flash that I wrote the other day, just trying to keep my writing chops somewhat sharp. I know there must be more to this piece buried in my head somewhere, but right now I’ll leave it here in its original form for your consideration. Hope you enjoy!

The covered bridge was in flames. We could see it from the hilltop. James watched it through his binoculars, a gift from his dad before the older man took off with the babysitter.

“I don’t see anything,” the fourteen year old said. James was the youngest of us, but in some ways the most inquisitive.

“You mean you don’t see him?” Darcy asked, a slight tremble to her voice.

“Correct. He must still be under the bridge.”

“Then we’ll have to go down after him,” I said, trying to sound brave. But everyone knew I was scared shitless. After all, I was the only one who had seen the troll face to face.

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Resurrection Diaries Entry 30: The Baptismal Pool

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Entry 30: The Baptismal Pool: Saturday August 6 continued

After Shaedra left, I cleaned up the glass. Putting the shards in the trash, I thanked my lucky stars (and Mischa) that things turned out like they did. I am glad things didn’t go further with her. I know if they had, I would feel much too guilty and would never be able to look into Donna’s eyes again without being overcome with shame. A man’s desire for physical contact is sometimes hard to contain, even harder when such temptations are placed before him on a platter in the way Shaedra offered herself to me. Thankfully, Mischa wasn’t about to let that happen. She wasn’t going to let me get deterred from the task at hand. But what task was that? Remaining faithful to my wife? Or delving further into the mystery that has taken over a large part of my life?

I had some lunch, just a dry sandwich and some chips. Trying to take my mind off all the questions that swirled in my head, I sat in front of the TV and watched a game show. It’s funny how people on those shows seem so stupid. A question is asked, and no matter how simple it is, they stand there dumbfounded, not knowing the answer. Maybe under normal conditions they’d probably know, but with the stress and pressure they just go brain dead. I feel the same way about the Mischa mystery. I know the answer is right in front of me. I should be able to see it, but for whatever reason, I am missing something vital. But what is it?

I went back to work at two-thirty to check on the baptismal, to make sure I hadn’t overfilled it or anything. As I walked over, I thought of the apparition I’d seen earlier after my encounter with Shaedra. I am certain it was Mischa’s spirit breaking that window, brushing past me, and returning to her “home” in the church.

When I got to the church, the baptismal pool was almost filled. Another thirty minutes and it would be at the right depth for tomorrow night’s service. I went upstairs, then down the back steps to the pool. I knelt down and put my hand in the water. It was starting to warm up. By Sunday night it should be at the right temperature.

I briefly wondered about all the people who’d been baptized here over the years. The former lost souls who had stepped into these waters, and come back out feeling refreshed and new. I know baptism is considered by some as just a symbol, a Christian practice that represents how the saved are washed clean by the love of Christ, but still I wonder how many people really felt different after being immersed in the water. Did Mischa feel changed when she was baptized? And what was it about this place that held her here, even after death?

I stood up and started back up the steps. Then I heard a sound behind me. Something disturbing the water. A splash, followed by a gasp of breath. I spun around and almost fell backwards from the scene in front of me.

She was in the baptismal pool. Mischa. Her Easter dress floated around her in the water, spread out like a bridal train. Though she was only a few feet in front of me, I could not see her clearly. Her hair, wet and matted, hung down in her face, partially hiding her features. I could see her eyes though, displaying a look of terror and fear. A line of blood ran from her blonde scalp and down her obscured face. Through the blood and damp hair, I could see her mouth was moving, as if she were saying something, but no sound came forth. Still I could read her lips, as they mouthed the words “Help me…”

I backed away, not knowing what to make of this. She didn’t look like a ghostly wraith. She looked real. Solid. With form. I could even smell the blood. But It wasn’t the blood coming from her forehead. No, it was from somewhere else. Blood surrounded her in the water, as if coming from some other injury. And as I looked more closely, there was something else mingled with it. Something like flesh. The crimson flow appeared to be coming from beneath her billowing dress and that’s when I realized the horrifying truth. Miscarriage. She had been pregnant and she lost the child. She had lost it right here in this baptismal.

Again she opened her mouth in sorrowful plea: “help me…” But this time she had voice, her lilting southern accent pronouncing it as “help may.” She held her arms out towards me. I wanted so badly to take her in my own arms and hold her. Let her cry on my shoulder and carry her out of here. I started towards her. Her eyes grew wide and her feet seemed to slip from beneath her. No, not slipped. It was as if an unseen assailant had pushed her, forced her backwards in the water, in a violent caricature of being baptized. She sank beneath the water and I could see her struggling on the bottom of the pool, trying to get back to her feet, but unable to. Her hands tried to grab purchase, and I saw her fingers scrape against the metal wall, trying to find something to grab hold to. She was drowning, I had to do something.

Without thinking, I yelled and dove into the pool to save her. I went under the water in search of her, but there was nothing there. She was gone. My eyes opened under the water. It was as if she were never there. No girl in the baptismal. No blood in the water.

I came to the surface and wiped my eyes. The only disturbance in the pool was me. I was a bit shaken, but not afraid. I looked around me, trying to find some trace of the girl I’d seen struggling in the waters. But she wasn’t there. I was alone.

I climbed out of the pool, my clothes drenched. I looked back, wondering what it was I had just seen. A mini movie from the past? A remembrance captured in the fabric of time and space? A message from Mischa? Maybe it was all these. What I had just seen must have a bearing of truth. I believe now she lost her child somehow in this place, and she herself may have died here, too, I don’t know. But at least now things seem to be coming clearer. The truth was clamoring to the surface, just like her ghost rising from beneath the baptismal waters.

Looking down at my wet clothes, I knew I needed to get back to the house and into something dry. I started up the stairs, my soaked shoes squeaking with each step. I looked up and stopped. There was a shadow at the top of the stairs. I froze and tried to blend in with the surroundings. With my back against the wall, I stared up to the landing. Mischa was at the top of the stairs. She stood in the doorway, her back to me. She seemed animated in conversation, and though I could hear her, her voice was garbled like an old audio tape playing in reverse. But who was she talking to? I couldn’t see anyone else up there, unless they were out of my line of sight, somewhere on the other side of that doorway. She tried to walk forward over the threshold, but something or someone was stopping her. An unseen antagonist, an invisible barrier. And then, instead of moving forward, she fell backwards. No, it was just like it had been in the pool moments ago; She didn’t fall, she was pushed. She tumbled backwards down the stairs towards me, trying to catch hold of the railing, but to no avail. Her momentum was carrying her right towards me and instinct made me come out from my hiding place to attempt to catch her. But her falling body, ethereal and no longer solid, passed right through me and continued on its mad tumble down the stairs, ending with a splash in the baptismal pool. Then she was gone, vanished beneath the waters before dissipating into nothingness.

My heart was racing fast, and I realized what I had just been shown. I had been a witness to the past, though slightly out of sequence. And so I put the pieces together in my head. Someone had been talking, maybe arguing, with Mischa at the top of the stairs. She tried to get around them and leave. They pushed her down the stairs and she tumbled into the shallow depths of the baptismal pool. In the fall, she lost the child she’d been carrying, and the blood I’d seen in the pool was the result of her violent miscarriage.

But what happened after that? Did her assailant come into the pool and hold her under? Right before I’d dived in to “save” her, she’d been on the bottom trying unsuccessfully to rise to the surface. I turned and looked at the baptismal pool. Did Mischa die right here? Drowned and in helpless anguish over her lost child? Who had killed her? Why? And was he still out there, having escaped justice?

I don’t want to consider it, but I have a feeling I will need to talk to someone about all this, in order to truly piece it all together. But Tommy Blaine is out. I can’t get back into the state hospital to see him. Mrs. Shiflett is out of the question, too. She wouldn’t tell me the truth even if she knew it, especially if her nephew is involved. But if someone had died in the church, wouldn’t the church elders at the time have known it? Not if it was kept from them. Not if the killer covered his tracks. It had to be someone who had access to the church. The Pastor’s nephew, with his alleged violent background, makes him the prime suspect. But what if it had been the former Pastor Shiflett himself? What if it was the custodian at the time? What if this nephew was just a case of me barking up the wrong tree? No, I don’t think so. It was him, I know it. But I have to find him first. Then it occurred to me; certainly the church had old membership records somewhere. In there, maybe there was a full name and last known address for the nephew. If I could find it, I could give it to police and have them go and question him. But where were those records? Maybe locked up in the secretary’s office. I’ll ask her Monday morning if I could have a look.

But until then, there were other questions to consider. If only Mischa could talk to me, tell me what had led to all this and why. Only she can tell me. Then it occurred to me. Her father, Mr. Martin. He doesn’t believe she’s dead. Doesn’t that stand to reason he would keep her room the same way, waiting for her return? If I could get in her room, maybe her voice could be found there. Maybe there was a diary, letters, something to put the missing pieces in place. But her father won’t let me in there. Last time I saw him, he had punched me out, I can’t go talk to him again. But I could wait for him to leave, then sneak in and take a look around for myself.

I can’t believe what I’m thinking. Breaking the law. I saw something weird today and now I’m ready to be a criminal. I know it’s wrong, but this is never going to be resolved in conventional ways. I am going to have to get my hands dirty to see the truth come clean…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 28: The Nephew

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 28: The Nephew: Friday August 5

I thought about Wednesday’s night dream all morning. It wasn’t really the images of the dead kittens floating in the pool that bothered me, but the question of who had done the drowning. Did Mischa’s mystery friend really do such a thing? And if so, did that automatically classify him as a murder suspect? And just who was he anyway? Tommy Blaine said he was the Pastor’s nephew, but even he couldn’t remember his name. But was Tommy even telling the truth? I find it hard to believe he would forget the name of the boy who may have been competing with him for Mischa’s affections. I really wanted to know who this guy was, and if he was any way responsible for the girl’s disappearance.

So after doing a little cleaning this morning at the church, I thought I’d check its library and see if I could find anything on the Pastor’s elusive nephew. I went through all the photo albums from the seventies I could find. I tried to keep it to seventy-five and seventy-six, where I had once located the picture of Mischa herself. There were a lot of pics of the Pastor by himself, and I glazed these over, not even paying attention, until I finally came across the nephew’s picture by accident.

I had flipped a page and the photo came loose from the paper, falling to the floor by my chair. I leaned over and picked it up. Looking upon the picture at first, it meant nothing to me, but as I was putting it back in its place on the page, I saw the writing in the empty spot it had come from: “Pastor Shiflett, wife, daughter, and nephew. Easter portrait 1975.”

In the picture, the preacher was smiling, as his wife held a newborn baby in her arms. Beside them, a gangly teenage boy with pimples grinned at the camera. The boy had kind eyes and was a good-looking kid. But who was he? What was his name? And then something struck me about the caption. Pastor Shiflett? Could that be right? I looked closely at the woman in the photo. She was standing in the picture, but sure enough, it was the wheelchair bound woman who had told me to never come back to visit her.

So that’s why she has been lying all this time. Her own nephew was connected to Mischa. I found myself wanting to get in the car and go back over there to confront her. Instead, I flipped through the photo album some more, hoping for something else. Within a dozen or so pages, I found it. A picture of a Sunday school picnic. The pastor stood smiling, his arm around his nephew: “Pastor Shiflett and nephew Eric.”

Bingo! His name was Eric, his uncle was the preacher at the time of Mischa’s disappearance, and his aunt was the Mrs. Shiflett I knew. Now all I needed to do was find him. I knew the only way of locating him was by going back and confronting Mrs. Shiflett again. I didn’t look forward to such a thing, after my last visit there, but it seemed to be my only option. Either that or forget it. But something told me that Mischa would find a way to not let me forget it. I have learned she is a very persistent girl.

I sat in the car outside the Shiflett home for ten minutes before I could work up the nerve to go up the porch and knock on the door. As one could imagine, when Shaedra opened the door she looked pretty surprised to see me.

“Mrs. Shiflett is not receiving visitors,” she said.

“You mean she’s not receiving me,” I mildly corrected her, remembering the outcome of our last visit.

“She’s not receiving visitors,” she stressed.

I stood there for a moment, the silence stretching between us, as if one were daring the other to say something else. “Tell her I need to ask her about her husband,” I finally said. “And her nephew.”

Shaedra seemed taken aback for just a moment, but she told me, “Wait here.” Then she closed the door and was gone.

I had to wait there a little while. I think they both did that on purpose, but finally the door opened again. Shaedra had a smirk on her face, as if she were privileged to a private joke, most likely concerning me. “Come on in,” she said, and led me to the parlor where her mistress waited in her wheel chair.

“So what is it now?” the old woman asked. “Come here to blame my husband or nephew for that girl running away?”

“No ma’m, I’m just wondering where they fit in.”

“Fit in? Well, that’s easy. One was her Pastor, the other her friend. And like everyone else that cared about her, she let them down.”

“You had told me your late husband had worked in the barbershop. Why didn’t you tell me he was the Preacher at Resurrection, too?”

“You didn’t ask,” she grinned. “And what would that have mattered anyway?”

“It would have helped fill in the picture a little.”

She leaned forward in her chair. “I’m afraid your picture is made of conjecture and opinion, not facts nor the truth.”

I ignored her snide comment. “What of your nephew?”

“What of him? He’s a nice boy. He’d been friends with Mischa. Then when she ran off, his school studies slipped and he didn’t handle her leaving every well.”

“Why not?”

“Because she was his only friend. He never fit in with the rest of the children. Being the new kid isn’t easy, and teenagers can be cruel to each other at that delicate age.”

“Why were they cruel to Eric?”

She looked hard at me. I think she knew I was fishing around, trying to get her to admit something to me. “I think you already know,” she said.

“Because of the kittens?”

She nodded. “Rumors can follow you all your days.”

“So it was just a rumor then,” I prodded. “He didn’t really drown a bunch of kittens in a kiddy pool back home?”

She looked disgusted. “What does it matter now if he did or not? That was before he came here and stayed with us. That was before Jesus came into his life. It was a child’s prank that went too far, nothing more.”

“So it did happen?”

I could see her temper trying to flare behind her eyes, but she held it in check and smiled. “Have you ever done anything you regret?” she asked. “Something you knew was wrong, but you did it anyway?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

“What happened with my nephew and the kittens was just like that. He felt bad about it, but he got over it and went on with his life.”

“And when Mischa disappeared?”

“He didn’t want to stay here anymore. We sent him back home.”

“Is there some way I can reach him, maybe talk to him? A phone number or an address?”

She looked at me incredulously, as if I had just asked her the dumbest question in the world. “Are you trying to bait me again?” she asked.

“No ma’m, I’d just like to talk to…”

She held up her hand. “Stop,” she said. “My nephew adored that girl, and she broke his heart along with everyone else’s. He has done his best to forget her and live an exemplary life. If she is dead, as you seem to think she is, then let the dead rest and the living live.”

There was a hard look in her eye as if her pent up anger would spill over any minute.

“Sometimes the dead can’t rest until the truth is known.”

That did it. Her face turned beet red. “And you know the truth! Mischa was a bad girl. She got pregnant, she ran away, and that was that.”

“She didn’t run away.”

“So YOU say.”

“I doubt she was pregnant either.”

“Whatever.”

“And I’m having a hard time believing she was a bad girl.”

“Well you didn’t know her, now did you,” she spat.

“No, not then. But I know her now.”

“As I said before, your picture is guesswork and your own opinion. But the truth is, she wasn’t the good little girl you have placed on your pedestal.”

“Why do you dislike her so much, Mrs. Shiflett?”

She hesitated for a moment, and then answered. “She broke our hearts.”

I reached into my pants pocket and pulled something out. It was a Kleenex. “Here’s a tissue,” I said and dropped it in her lap. “Sounds like you’re the one who needs to get over it and move on.”

I turned around and left. I kept expecting to hear words of rage aimed at my back on the way out, but it was silent. Even Shaedra was quiet as she followed me to the door. As I stepped out on the porch, I thought of something. I turned around and Shaedra was standing in the doorway, leaning against the doorjamb, one hand on her hip.

“You don’t know her nephew, do you?” I asked.

“Not very well,” she replied. “Over the years he has come to visit on occasion, but I don’t know much about him.”

I nodded and turned to go.

“…But I may remember more over a candlelight dinner,” she suggested.

I stopped and looked at her. She was smiling quite seductively.

“It’s amazing what candlelight can do,” I replied.

She continued to smile and raised an eyebrow.

“But most of all, it reminds me how much I miss my wife,” I said. Her smile vanished and I went down the walk.

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 27: I Dream Of Kittens

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 27: I Dream Of Kittens: Thursday August 4

I woke up this morning more groggy than usual. Last night was a restless one, full of waking thoughts and haunting dreams. Oftentimes I can’t remember my dreams very well, but last night I experienced a vivid one that I feel like must have a meaning in there somewhere.

In my dream I had been walking through a neighborhood. I don’t know where it was, just one of those suburban landscapes you find all across America. For some reason I had decided to take a shortcut through someone’s yard. Cutting between two almost identical houses, I passed below a window and could hear the strains of piano music behind the glass. It sounded like an old church hymn. “There’s Power In The Blood” I think it was.

Emerging into the backyard, I saw a swimming pool. Not one of the big ones, but a children’s pool with about two feet of dirty rainwater filling it up. But what stopped me in my tracks wasn’t the water itself, but what was in it. Kittens. Floating dead on the surface, about two dozen little felines, all drowned and bloated.

For some strange reason, as things often happen in dreams, I climbed into the pool and slowly lowered myself into the water. I sat there, surrounded by all those dead kittens, as if we were all just lounging around in the sun. Suddenly one of the kittens cried loudly. It was alive! I made my way across the pool towards the animal. Reaching for it, the kitten lashed out at me with its paw and hissed. I saw something was attached to its paw. It was an anklet. The initials “MM”.

I jolted awake and nearly jumped out of the bed. Penny looked up at me from her place at the foot of the mattress as if to say, “Are you OK?”

I sighed. It was just a dream. But there was something to it. I’m sure it was brought on by my talk with Tommy and what he’d told me about Mischa’s unnamed friend, the one who’d been rumored to have drowned cats before moving here. Would I have dreamed this if it hadn’t been for my visit with Tommy? Probably not. I told myself it was just a dream, but the fact that the anklet had been in there bothered me. What did it mean? Had Mischa been drowned? Or did it mean anything at all? Were these thoughts just silly things that were at the front of my mind when I went to sleep?

Because I missed a whole day of work yesterday, I spent all day at the church cleaning. No ghosts today, but the phone did do its little trick again. I was collecting trash in the office when it rang. Out of habit, I picked it up.

“Resurrection Church,” I said in greeting.

There was nothing on the other end of the line. It was silent. But within a few seconds, the sound came. Air escaping a pipe with a hiss. The same sound that had led me to seek out factory stacks in the industrial park. That had led me to Roger Blaine, and eventually to Tommy.

It sounded again: air, steam, the release of gas. I couldn’t quite place exactly what it was, but I knew it was a message.

After work, I decided to break down and call Donna at her parents. After all, she had been gone since Sunday. Her mother answered and of course, she didn’t seem too happy to hear it was me. But she did let me talk to Donna, for what it’s worth. Donna’s voice was quiet as if she didn’t have any privacy and was just trying to talk low so her parents wouldn’t hear.

After our hushed hello’s, I told her that I missed her. “I miss you, too,” she replied.

“How do you like it there?”

“It’s not home,” she confessed.

“Yes, I guess it’s not.”

There was a brief pause and then she spoke again in a quiet tone. “I want to come home.”

“I would like that.”

There was a momentary silence before she spoke again.

“Are you still interested in her? You know, the..um..ghost.”

I could tell she never believed a word of my story. “Mischa needs me..” I began. I didn’t get out the rest, for she had hung up.

I could have kicked myself. I don’t know why it is, but when it comes to Donna, it seems I never say the right thing. At the rate I’m going, she’ll file divorce by the end of next week…

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“Resurrection of Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 26: Visiting Tommy Blaine

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 26: Visiting Tommy Blaine: Wednesday August 3

I went to go see Tommy Blaine today. It is my conclusion that if he is crazy, then I am just as mad. I feel sorry for the man. Because of things he says he’s seen, he’s been confined to this hospital off and on ever since Mischa’s disappearance in the late seventies, and it’s taken its toll. I guess I got off lucky. I just lost my wife in all this madness; he’s lost his freedom. But I fear I may lose mine too if I don’t find out what happened soon. At least now I feel a little closer to the truth. But I’m getting ahead of myself here; I need to back up to this morning.

I called Larter this morning and asked him if I could have the day off. I explained I was having some marital problems and wanted to take a day to try and work things out. He didn’t need to know I was really going to the state hospital, so the marital strife excuse was going to have to work. It’s not like I was lying; my marriage had gone south. He said go ahead and take it off, but he did tell me that Sunday night they were having a baptism service and he needed me to fill up the baptismal pool no later than Saturday afternoon. I told him I’d take care of it.

The drive to the hospital took about thirty minutes. It’s out in the country, bordered on all sides by wide-open fields. It reminded me of some prisons I’d seen, where the area around the place was all open spaces and escapees were easily tracked upon their flight.

I had Roger Blaine’s ID, and lucky for me it wasn’t a picture ID. It was a standard visitor pass, had his name and address and other pieces of info. I had made it a point to memorize everything on the ID just in case I was questioned.

Another thing I did was park as far out in the parking lot as I could, away from the hospital entrance. I took my license and any other forms of my own identification and locked them up in the glove box. Then I walked across the lot to the front entrance. I presented them with the ID and just as I thought they would, they asked me for another form of identification. I complained a little about going back out to the car to get it, seeing I was parked so far away, and finally they let it slide with a few questions like my full name and address, and my relation to the patient. By the time I answered their questions they believed I was Roger Blaine, brother to Tommy.

They led me to a day room, a sort of common area they used for visitation. There were tables and chairs scattered around the room, and in one corner was a television that several patients huddled around. They sat me at a table towards the back of the room and I waited for them to bring Tommy out.

When he came through the door escorted by an orderly, his eyes scanned the room briefly before settling on me. Something in his eyes told me he recognized me, and he sauntered over to where I sat. After he had taken his seat, the orderly left and took up a position by the door.

“You’re not my brother,” Tommy said.

I smiled apologetically. “No, I’m not. But you don’t look too surprised to see me.”

He nodded. “Well, she told me you’d be coming.”

“She? Who told you that?”

He looked at me like I was stupid. “You know who,” he said. “You’ve seen her. She’s shown you things. In fact she’s even kissed you.”

I touched my cheek, remembering not long ago how Mr. Martin had slugged me. On the drive home, I’d felt what I thought to be a breeze graze my cheek, though it had left traces of lipstick on my face.

“I thought it was the breeze.” I replied.

“Her kisses are like that.”

“She told you these things about me?”

“Yes. She tells me a lot of things. And then there’s a lot she can’t tell. I guess that’s where you come in.”

“What do you mean?”

“Once I realized she was dead and her ghost was haunting the Resurrection, I tried to get a job there. This was back around eighty-one, several years after she disappeared. They wouldn’t hire me, said it was a conflict of interest. They hired some old geezer from out of town instead. He didn’t last long though. Died of a stroke they say. So I tried again to get the job. I knew if I could get in the church like that, I could find out what happened to Mischa. I was going to the church then regularly for every service, and sometimes I’d see her sitting in an empty pew or standing in a corner. I made the mistake of telling someone and they thought I was crazy.”

“I don’t think you’re crazy,” I said.

He didn’t seem to hear me, so intent he was on telling his story. “They hired a lady custodian next. She lasted a little longer. By this time, I was trying to convince everyone that Mischa was in the church and that she hadn’t run away. Finally, my family had me put here, said I was a danger to everybody. I admit I did attack a few folks who aggravated me, but I was under heavy duress. After I got here, she started talking to me.”

“Is it just a voice, or do you see her?”

“Oh I see her,” he smiled. “And she’s always just as young and beautiful as she was when I last held her.”

I could see him trying to fight a tear, so I tried to get him to think of something else other than how he missed her. “Do you think she tried to show things to those other custodians? I mean, I can’t help but wonder, why me? I never knew her. I’m not even from around here.”

“She tried to communicate to them, but they weren’t very open to such things. She came to me first, but I couldn’t really help her. Stuck in here, there’s not a lot I can do. The few times I’ve been out, I’ve tried to find out things and it’s just landed me right back in here. No one trusts you when you’re certifiable crazy”.

“Well I may not be certifiable, but sometimes I feel like I’ve gone crazy.”

“She told me your wife left.”

This should have surprised me, but I just nodded. “Yes, Donna thought I was having an affair with a young girl.”

“Well maybe when this is over, you can try and get her back.”

“Do you think it will ever be over?”

“Well, she’s not going to leave either of us alone until it is. And it’s gotten much worse lately. It’s been quiet the past six years or so. Every now and then she’d come to me. She wasn’t talking. I’d just see her or feel her presence. But about a month and a half ago, she started showing up more frequently, almost urgently, trying to tell me things and show me stuff. I managed to get out a couple weeks back and I went back to the church. She led me to the old playground. I think there was something there she wanted to show me. But you were there. You and some other guy. So I took off. They locked me back up before I could return to the playground again.”

“I remember that. Matt and I thought we were being watched, then we heard someone take off through the woods. So that was you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I think I know what she wanted to show you. My dog Penny found a duffel bag in some bushes and thorns. I think it may have been buried, but she dug it up. In the bag was what I believe to be her dress, a sweater, and some other clothing items.”

He nodded. “How do you know they are hers?”

“Well the sweater had initials marked on the collar. But the dress I’ve seen her wearing before. Or her ghost anyway.”

“Where do you see her?”

“Upstairs in the hallway. Running down the hall chased by…wait a minute.”

“What?”

“I recognized you the moment I saw you come through the door. I have seen you before.”

“Oh yeah?” he asked curiously.

“Yes, you are the one who chases her ghost down the hall every time I see her.”

He nodded as if he understood. But I sure as hell didn’t.

“How can that be?” I asked. “You are locked up in here. And you aren’t a ghost. Yet I have seen you as one, laughing and chasing her down the hall to hide out in one of the closets.”

“What you see there is a different kind of ghost.”

“What do you mean?”

“Some ghosts are the manifestations of a particular person. You see a solitary figure; it may speak to you, lead you somewhere, show you something. Much the way Mischa does with me. And I imagine with you, too. But some ghosts are nothing more than memories engraved in a location. They could be special memories or traumatic experiences and for whatever reason they leave their imprint on the place where they occurred.”

“I think I follow you.”

“Imagine it like this. What you are seeing in the hallway is like a movie reel playing over and over. It never changes and it always ends the same way, right?”

“Well yes. Each time it has led me to the closet where I find the anklet.”

“The anklet?”

“Yes, it’s an anklet with the initials MM engraved in it.”

“MM?”

“Yes, at first I thought it was Mischa’s. But now I’m not so sure.”

“That’s not her initials. Were those the initials marked on the sweater, too?”

“Yes.”

“Then the sweater’s not hers.”

“Then who is MM?”

“I don’t know. Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Did you recall anyone referring to her as Mischa Martin? I know now her real last name was Boudreaux, but is there a possibility someone thought it was Martin and bought her a gift? Or maybe she herself had wished Mr. Martin would adopt her, and so she had taken on the name herself and had an anklet engraved with those initials on it?”

“I guess it is possible.”

“But if MM isn’t her, I wonder who it could be. The one responsible for her disappearance maybe?”

“It could be. Maybe she’s trying to identify her killer. But if that’s the case, being the initials are on an anklet and sweater, then that means the killer is a girl.”

“Did she have any female enemies that you know of? Maybe someone who had a crush on you?”

He laughed. “Oh, nobody had a crush on me. Except Mischa.”

“No girls who had disagreements with her?”

“Not that I’m aware of. Everybody liked her. She was a nice girl. Good student. Faithful churchgoer, a friend to everybody, even to the kids everybody else thought was weird.”

“Weird?”

“Yes, there was this guy, a bad boy really, you know the type, always getting in trouble. He was the nephew to the pastor I think. He came here from New York to live. I heard he’d gotten into trouble up there.”

“What kind of trouble?”

“He killed some cats in the neighborhood.”

“Cats?”

“Yeah, the rumor was he drowned them in a little kiddy pool, about twenty or more cats and kittens. So his parents sent him here to live with his uncle.”

“What was his name?”

“I can’t remember. I didn’t pay him much mind. Nobody did. Well except Mischa. She felt sorry for him because everybody avoided him.”

“Were they friends?”

“Yes.”

“Was there something else there besides that?”

He stopped and looked at me, the first time I’d seen a flash of anger in his eyes since our conversation. And then it was gone. “I thought there might have been, but I asked her about it and she said they were friends. She said I was just jealous.”

Briefly a thought occurred to me. Was he jealous enough to hurt someone? Jealous enough to hurt Mischa? I decided to go for the big question I’d been wanting to ask, but I slid my chair back a little first just in case it got ugly.

“Was she pregnant?” I asked.

Again, he looked at me and I could see something akin to anger just under the surface. “No, she wasn’t pregnant. One of the rumors was she had gotten pregnant and ran away to have an abortion, but I never believed it. Her own Sunday school teacher started that one. And if there is truth to the rumor, if she did run away, why didn’t she come back after the abortion or birth or whatever was done with the baby?”

“Maybe she was ashamed of it. Maybe it was because the baby wasn’t yours, maybe…”

This time the anger came out and he slammed his fist on the table. “Mischa loved me!!! If she was having a baby, it would have been mine!”

I backed away from the table. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply…”

He jumped up. “You think she was sleeping around with everyone?! She was an honest girl, a good girl. She wasn’t a tramp!!” He reached across the table and grabbed my collar. “I thought you was here to help. She said you were a friend. That we could trust you.”

“You can trust me,” I tried to reassure him. “I am here to help.”

“No you aren’t,” he snarled. “You are just like the rest. Poor little tramp got pregnant and ran away. Couldn’t face her family or her boyfriend, so she took off.”

“I don’t think she ran away.”

“Damn straight she didn’t! Somebody killed her and now she won’t rest until she drives us all mad!”

A voice interrupted us. “Is everything alright over here?”

I looked up. The orderly was standing over us, and Tommy’s hands were clenched up in my collar. Tommy let me go and sat back down.

“Yes there’s a problem,” he said. “This man isn’t my brother. Take me back to my room.”

The orderly looked at me. “You’ll have to leave now, sir.”

I nodded and got up.

Tommy glared at me. “Cover not thou my blood,” he said.

I knew those words. They had been written on the office wall in our cottage. “What does that mean?” I asked him.

He shook his head. “Don’t come back here again. You can’t help us.”

“Why can’t I?”

“You have no faith.”

I didn’t say anything. He was right. I had never been a big church person, or into bible stuff. But I was in a state of surprise how the conversation had deteriorated so fast. The mention of Mischa’s possible pregnancy with another guy’s child and bam! Tommy had gone ballistic. And now, here he was calmly telling me to get lost because I lacked faith or something.

I turned around and left the dayroom. I didn’t look back. I could feel Tommy watching me. I almost got the feeling he was disappointed, and I knew I wouldn’t get anything else out of him. I was on my own once more. And Mischa was still something of a mystery…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 7: The Playground

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Main Page

Entry 7: The Playground: Sunday July 17

The church lot was full this morning. It looks like attendance is good at Resurrection, so I guess if there were any bad things or scandals, it must not have been too awful. Yesterday’s warning from the waitress was probably just local superstition. We didn’t attend the services though. Instead, I fixed breakfast for Donna and I, a Sunday tradition in our marriage, and we had a quiet meal together.

 

Later on we decided to take a walk through the neighborhood. Just a little weekend leg exercise. The neighborhood seems pretty typical. Small ranch style houses, even smaller yards. I noticed here you could lean out your window and practically touch your neighbor’s house. Some houses had garages, others kiddie pools. I noticed children playing in the street as we walked. Girls playing hopscotch, boys street football. It was then I realized there was no playground here. Kids were playing in the street because they had nowhere else. So what had the pastor meant about the playground?

When Donna and I returned to the house, the dog was back again. He wasn’t on the porch this time though. He was just on the edge of the woods that lined our “backyard”. Our lot is bigger than most of the others in the neighborhood. It stretches far behind the house, ending in a line of trees that separates the church property from the next neighborhood over. The dog stood under these trees watching us.

“You think maybe we need to call the pound about our friend?”

“No, I think he’s harmless, hon,” Donna replied. “Probably belongs to someone around here.”

I looked at the dog. He wasn’t big, just an average size animal. A little bit taller than my knee and seemingly well fed. His coat was tan and a little mangy, as if he’d been crawling through brush and bramble.

“She says you’re okay,” I called out to him, before following my wife inside. But as I took a bottle of spring water from the refrigerator, something about the dog began to nag me.

“Honey, I’ll be back in a minute.” I went out the back door and there he was, still standing at the woods’ edge. He looked right at me, barked once, and then wandered into the woods. A little voice in my head said, ‘follow the dog.’

He went through the brush, and I followed, shoving vines and stickers out of my way as I went. We emerged onto an old trail that went in two directions. Each way disappeared around a bend. The dog went left and I was right behind him. The trail had grown over in places. I could tell nobody used this path much anymore, except maybe rabbits and dogs.

He kept a good pace. I picked mine up a little in an effort to catch up to him, but the faster I walked, the quicker he trotted ahead. He disappeared around a curve in the path and when I came around it, I noticed the trail had ended in a small clearing. But the dog was nowhere to be seen.

The clearing was dotted with clumps of bushes and brush. Vines and kudzu hung from trees, creating canopies in which you could almost hide. In the middle stood a gazebo, grown over with all this foliage. I stepped under it to get a closer look at its framework, but looking more closely, i discovered it wasn’t a gazebo at all. It was a jungle gym, what we as children called ‘monkey bars’.

I looked around the clearing. I approached what I had first thought was just a clump of bushes. It wasn’t. Closer inspection revealed it to be pieces of a swing set, discarded and left to be swallowed up by nature. And not far from it, the bare remains of a sandbox pit, now hidden by weeds. Suddenly it hit me. I’d found the playground.

I heard the dog’s bark behind me. I turned around and there he was, sitting on his haunches in front of something half hidden by a thick stand of trees. I walked over and the dog moved away, keeping its distance. He’d been sitting in front of an old sliding board. A covering of vines and leaves had protected most of its surface it seemed. The steps were rusted, but the slide itself still had a little shine left to it. I could see there were words etched in the metal, most likely carved by kids with pocketknives, rocks, or some other sharp instrument. “Billy Cobb is a loser,” read one. “Jason was here” declared another. At the bottom of the slide a scratched-in confession read “Tommy + Mischa” and I smiled at these mementos from someone else’s childhood.

For a moment, I stopped to wonder what their lives had been like. I imagined at one time this was a popular place to play. But it sure didn’t look like kids played here anymore. It had been abandoned for a long time, left here for the woods to swallow up and claim.

So, now I have to ask myself, why is it here like this, forgotten and unused?

I don’t know, but I aim to find out.

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 6: Waitress Beatrice

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Main Page

Entry 6: Waitress Beatrice: Saturday July 16

Donna and I went downtown today. Resurrection church is in a small neighborhood about a ten minute drive from the heart of Kingston Corners.

The downtown area itself is nice, almost like a picture postcard of small town life. It’s not exactly the kind of place where everybody knows everybody, but the people do behave friendly and familiar as if they’ve known you their whole lives.

In the shops, Donna bought a few things for the kitchen, as well as a picture frame to put a collage of photos in. “Now we’ll just have to take some pictures,” she laughed.

“We’ll have to get us a camera first,” I added with a smirk.

At the hardware store we picked up a light for our outside porch. There’s one there already, mounted right by the front door, but it gives off little light. This one should shine out in the yard. Donna spent about half an hour agonizing over which shade of baby blue she wanted for our back room. Finally she selected something called “angel blue”. I told her that sounded appropriate considering the wallpaper we were replacing.

“I could always paint it devil red if you prefer.”

“Angel blue is fine,” I grinned.

We ate at a nearby diner for lunch. A place called “The Counter”. It’s appropriately named for it’s really nothing more than a lunch counter and a few booths, but the food is excellent. The waitress asked us if we were new in town.

“Is it that obvious?” I asked. I went on to tell her I worked at The Church Of The Resurrection and asked her if she’d heard of the place. She nodded.

“Everyone’s heard of Resurrection Church,” she spoke a little softer.

“Why?” asked Donna. “Is it the only church in town?”

“Oh no, There’s several churches around.” She paused for a moment as if choosing her next words cautiously. “But you be careful up there.” Then she walked off leaving us confused and curious.

Before we left, I approached the waitress again. I looked at her name tag. “Excuse me Beatrice, what did you mean about being careful up there?”

She gave me a sideways glance, as if she was checking to see if we were being watched.

“Bad things have happened at The Resurrection,” she replied.

“What kind of things?”

“I can’t rightly say. There’s been so many stories over the years, I don’t know what’s true and what is talk. Just be careful, sir.”

No matter how I tried to coax her, she wouldn’t give me any details. All this unnerved Donna quite a bit and we discussed it on the way home. In the end, I convinced her not to worry.

“It’s just small town gossip, nothing more,” I reasoned.

“I hope so. I really want this to work for us.”

“It will.”

Still I wonder what the stories were Beatrice had mentioned. She had said to be careful. What could be so dangerous about a church?

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Origina text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017.