Thursday, December 24, 2009


The three words on this Christmas Eve are hinder, journey and rigid. Merry holiday season.


She should get up, throw together some hors d’oeuvres. Seth had mentioned something about people coming over. How long had she been sitting at the dining room table, fingering the doily, anticipating sunbeams across the oak grains?

His baritone carried to her. He was at the door, greeting his guests. She brushed strands of hair with her palms, smoothed her black dress, her favorite. Thank goodness for small miracles; at least she was dressed for company.

Before she could rush to the kitchen, Seth led his guests into the dining room. “And here we are. Miranda’s spot.” He cleared his throat. A petite blonde rubbed Seth’s back. Her manicured fingers caressed his back a little too intimately, in Randi’s opinion.

Seth used her birth name! Who were these strangers? Besides the presumptuous blonde, there was another couple and a black-haired woman draped in a sari and scarves and decorated with bulky jewelry.

Randi was about to lean in to ask Seth what was going on when the gaudy woman lit the centerpiece candle, asked Seth to dim the chandelier and waved her arms to indicate the others should sit. Randi sat again, decided to watch this soiree play out.

The stranger-man approached Randi. He placed his hands on her chair-back, pulled her away from the table and sat on her lap! She felt his body go rigid as a chill shivered through her body, drawn into his. He jolted up but his date glared him back to sitting.

“We are gathered today to help Miranda begin her journey to the other side. Taken so young, the victim of an undiagnosed weak heart, her soul is restless. Let us clear our minds.”

The medium, Randi realized, theatrically stretched her arms and laid her wrists, palms facing up, onto the table. Seth grabbed her left hand. The other woman took her right.

“Now, close your eyes and inhale, one deep cleansing breath.”

She sniffed in a noisy breath, held it for a five count, then blew out through pursed lips. "Join hands."

The man asked, “Do you feel a draft?”

“Bernie, shush!” his date hissed between gritted teeth as she grabbed his hand.

The blonde grabbed his other hand. “Five people in a séance or else it doesn’t work.” Her free hand latched onto Seth’s. The medium inhaled again. Seth and company closed their eyes and imitated the medium.

Randi sputtered, “Seth? Wha-what…?” but he didn’t notice. His hand, the one attached to the blonde, slipped below the table. The blonde’s lips parted; her breathing became shallow. He peeked across the table as the other woman opened one eyelid. Seth winked at her, she blushed and clamped her eyelids shut.

The medium’s face scrunched into lines. Randi realized the woman was peeking at the group, checking their commitment to this séance. Before the woman's third eye saw her, Randi ducked below the table.

“Remember, keep your minds clear and allow the spirit of Miranda to join our circle.”

The medium’s knee jerked up and bumped the underside of the table! Did Seth pay for… her consciousness screamed wrong question.

“Miranda is close, I feel her. I… I…” the medium stuttered. “I am opening myself to Miranda’s soul. Miranda, come forward, use my voice to tell us why you still haunt this room."

Seth’s hand rubbed the blonde’s pantyhose-covered upper thigh, and advanced under her skirt. The blonde was in a trance! Randi remembered. Seth's inbox, filled with texts from—

She felt her essence tugged toward the blonde. Randi grasped for the table leg, attempting to hinder the inevitable, but her fingers grabbed air. If anyone made googly-eyes again, she hoped they'd notice the pink-on-ruby line her heels were carving into the carpet's pile.

Her mind couldn’t wrap itself around the concept that a) she wasn’t technically alive so she could not feel the table cut through her mid-section as she was sucked into the blonde’s body; and b) she was a dead soul about to posses her adulterous husband’s date.

Randi popped into the other, settled into the blonde like a new suit. Seth's hand stroked the thigh, the strange heart raced. The other's chant zoomed into—

If her spirit is here I hope this gets rid of her. I sense her even if he says it's all in my head. Residual guilt from when she was alive, he says. I want him I want him I want him yes I love him oh that feels good keep at it Seth, yes, get over her, it's out turn....

“shut up shut up SH-UT UH-PP!” Randi shrieked through the blonde’s mouth. The blonde's shrill fear pushed at Randi. It felt as if the skull cracked.

The medium shouted, "Oh!" then "hmph. The spirit chooses the medium and tonight, Liz is the conduit.” The medium gazed at the ceiling for a moment before she commanded, “Miranda, speak through Liz. Let us guide you to the light.”

“Randi is here?” Seth paled. So did the medium.

“GO TO THE LIGHT. GO TO THE LIGHT,” the group chanted.

Liz’s hands flailed, breaking contact with her circle mates.

Randi was sucked out of Liz’s body, the sensation similar to sweaty thighs separating from a vinyl seat on a hot, humid day. She welcomed that familiar, instantaneous cool release. A spotlight from above dropped a huge, bright beam onto the center of the lemon-scented Pledge-polished dining death-site table.

Weak heart? No, broken heart. She remembered. He ruined her life, but like hell was she going to let him ruin her afterlife. She floated into the light.

The blonde bitch could have him.


ThomG said...

Powerful read, Peggy. I liked the pacing, the plot, the idea. You pulled off a story thet could have gone muddled with spiritualism.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool story. I'd say she made the right decision in leaving the guy. The afterlife has to be better than him, right?

Laura Eno said...

I liked this. Nice pacing as she slowly realized what was going on.

Dee Martin said...

I was hoping she would at least leave the blonde with a huge case of heartburn :) awesome story.

John Wiswell said...

I agree, that was a neat story. I wandered for the initial paragraphs, but the attitudes and mood really came together around “Do you feel a draft?” That's such an amusing line, not that the whole story is humorous. It just comes together.

quin browne said...

i never thought of the soul leaving a body with quite that exact sound.. now, i'll never think of it with any other sound.

it did come together with a tidy turn, leaving me laughing out loud.

Weezel said...

I so love a good seance! This one did not disappoint me. Nice take on this theme!

Tomara Armstrong said...

Great story... I was reeled in and holding my breath.

Chadwick said...

Yes! I love ghosts, mediums, upper-thigh rubs!

I liked how Miranda listened to the thoughts of the blonde. That seems like a pretty original concept to what ghosts can do.

Now I'm worried about my Grandma lurking about my mind. Great, thanks for the guilt!

Paul D. Brazill said...

OOOH! Good one Peg. Liked it a lot.

ganymeder said...

I really liked this story! I found some of the wording a little confusing at first, but I like where you took everything. The final line was priceless, though I still think she should have knocked the lamp on his head or something on her way out. ;) Hehe

Nice work.

livloveslit said...

This was a great premise and I liked how you moved through her various realizations. As the reader, I was moving right along with her. Great job. ~ Olivia

Tim Remp said...

Oh, Peg. What an enjoyable take on a ghost realizing itself and letting the living suffer their lives by taking the higher road. Each character was developed enough in this short to keep the readers interest and feel good about her ascension.

A wonderful read, my friend, you’re always surprising me.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Great work, loved the concept and how you unfolded it.
I'm glad she could move on :)

Laurita said...

I like how you started off letting us believe she was alive. I also like that you didn't continue to the end, but rather took us on another path. Loved the ending. :)