Thursday, March 18, 2010

NEW LIFE

In the past 2 weeks, I've received four rejections for three different stories, but all were from professional markets, and three of the four encouraged me to submit again. Those stories are awaiting word from six more venues. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

On a sad note, Phat Cat, our deaf, declawed, fat and long haired cat passed. He's been a family member for over six years, the best cuddler, and quietest pet I"ve ever had. He's missed.

Here's my fresh 3WW and #fridayflash.

NEW LIFE

Sue sliced through the tape of another box and groaned. The movers marked this one "kitchen" but it contained Jake's video game system. At least she found it. If she heard "I'm bored" one more time, she knew she'd scream.

Come to think of it, Jake hadn't complained for over twenty minutes. Her mother instinct screamed too quiet. He was up to something.

From the kitchen screen door Sue stopped on the porch and gazed upon her yard. She never thought she'd be able to purchase a house, never mind a rambling farmhouse with a yard. The price was surprisingly affordable, one could even say cheap. Not quality cheap, but single-mom-with-limited-child-support cheap. Call it a lucky break. The real estate agent never offered a reason why, and despite disclosure laws, Sue chose not to ask the direct question. They both closed that transaction relieved.

Sue followed the wrap-around porch to the dirt yard between the gravel driveway and the encroaching woods. A tire swing lazed from an ancient oak. Squirrels chattered and chased, ignorant of the new tenants. Jake stared at the tree swing, moving in the faint breeze.

"Jake honey? Let me check the rope before you swing."

Jake started, turned toward her but kept his head down, Nikes kicked the dirt. Besides the trees, squirrels and tire swing, the yard held little else. Sue walked to the swing, examined the rope. It looked old, frayed to thin in some spots. She'd have to replace that.

"Hey kiddo, I found your X-Box. Wanna play a video game?" Jake peered at their new home. He cocked his head, whispered sure. A tiny blue vein pulsed against his temple. Sue touched his shoulder. He looked up at her and for a moment, just a tiny, singular eternity, Sue thought brown eyes peered back at her. Jake shivered, smiled and his eyes cleared to blue.

~~

Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are duh-one. Lay your weary head to re-est; Don't you cry no more….

Jake's voice sang pure, carried through the grating above the kitchen. Sue smiled, loving Rock Band and how Jake was learning all her music. She hummed along as she unwrapped newspapers and placed plates in the dishwasher. She tapped her foot in time to Jake's drum beat and bobbed her head to his guitar riffs. A plate slipped from her hand, shattered.

"Damn!" she whispered, wondering where she'd put the broom as her mind repeated, vocals, drum AND guitar? Something sharp pierced her sole. She screeched.

A plate shard was embedded in the ball of her foot. She hopped to a chair, flecks of blood scattered behind her. The music stopped. Sue gritted her teeth and yanked the shard out of her foot. She heard sniffing. She looked above her head at the grate, but saw nothing. "Jake?" she asked.

His voice sounded distant. "How do you unlock 'Eye of the Tiger'?" Jake asked, his voice distant, from deeper in his room and not from above her head. Sue heard a shuffle. "JAKE! Who're you talking to?"

Her son's steps pounded down the stairs. He made enough noise for two boys. Gooseflesh tickled Sue's skin.

"JC says you're bleeding."

Jake stared at the foot resting on her opposite knee. She heard a sharp intake of breath. Not Jake's. "Who's JC?" she asked.

Jake glanced to his left, frowned. "You're right. She can't see you."

Sue ignored his aside. "Can you run to the car and get the first aid kit? I haven't unpacked the bathroom boxes yet." Sue waited for her son to leave the room. Huh, she thought, an imaginary friend.

The move must have traumatized him. JC, that's what her ex had named her pregnant stomach ten years ago. Jake Christopher. Imaginary friends weren't unheard of in these situations, if she remembered her pop psychology from all those parenting books. She'd help Jake adjust to their new home. The car door slammed. Play along, she ordered herself, don't deny JC's existence.

Jake returned with the kit. She opened it, looked for the antibiotic cream when something touched her foot. Licked her foot. "Ew, gross!" Jake said, giggled.

Sue felt pressure on her foot, thought she saw an afterimage. She scrunched her eyes shut, told herself it was her imagination. Nothing was sucking the blood from her foot, probing into the cut, hurting her.

"Hey! Stop! That's my mom!" Sue opened her eyes. Jake yanked a boy's arm away from her. A brown-eyed boy wiped his mouth with the back of his free hand, grinned at her before fading. "Come on! Let's go play," Jake said.

In her head she heard, how 'bout Pearl Jam. Alive and then an echoing giggle.

28 comments:

Dorothy said...

Ooo, intrigue. I liked this story. Eerie and a bit creepy. Nicely done. Sorry about your Phat Cat. I have a six year old and one about 8 mos. I hate to loose either of them.

Dorothy said...

Sorry, it's late and I can't spell. I'd hate to lose either of them, is what I meant.

Diandra said...

Disturbing. Great story. I'd love to learn more about JC.

Al Bruno III said...

Very nice, and creepy too!

ThomG said...

I really like the feel of this. The way it builds. You've done a great job to pace this and it had me all the way to the end.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very creepy. Kind of hard to dismiss JC's presence now. Very cool story!

Sorry to hear about your cat. We lost ours last year, and it certainly hurts--a member of the family lost.

Marisa Birns said...

Really gives the shivers. Very good pacing, very good story.

So sorry about your Phat Cat. I know how much it hurts to lose a beloved pet. Many tears, too.

And, chin up about the rejections. Professional markets encouraging you to submit again is pretty damn good.

Good luck with those other venues.

quin browne said...

this was creepy for me in two ways... one, the pure delight of the story..


two? my taylor used to have a 'friend' called 'jake'. i was always pretty sure he actually existed.

John Wiswell said...

"don't deny JC's existence"

That just can't be an accident. You've got a humorous streak! I know you!

If imagination is real, then imaginary friends are real. Simple as that.

Kim Batchelor said...

Even though I sensed from the beginning there was something up with this house, I appreciate the way you build the tension. The fact that you're still not sure what happened at the end, but know that it's frightening, is a great way to write this story. Good work.

Kevin Michaels said...

Excellent! Eerie and haunting - love the way you built the story.

Sorry about the rejections. Just keep at it!

Chance said...

Very creepy indeed, and liked how you introduced the third characer via both parts being played on rock band

good stuff,

Linda said...

So sorry about your cat and your rejections, but will keep all my limbs crossed for happiness and acceptances.

Your story...whew. Very creepy. And an interesting take on haunted houses -- no wonder so cheap -- bring your own ghost?

As always, super writing. Peace, Linda

Laurita said...

Great spooky story. I like that there are so many possibilities with JC - good or evil.

I'm sorry about Phat cat. Fingers crossed for your submissions.

Donald Conrad said...

Wwowww, creepy. Well done.

windspiritgirl said...

Just once if moms with limited means could get a house that really is a good deal (not haunted or with other types of problems!). Lol! Great flash. I'm intrigued and would love to "hear" (read) more about the adventures in this house...

Laura Eno said...

Fun, in a very creepy way! Hopefully, JC will decide to keep mom around. :)

jimdempsey said...

great build up, right from the start I knew something was coming and wanted to read on and find out what. Really liked this line: A tire swing lazed from an ancient oak.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. And, good luck with the next submissions.

Your story is very intriguing and leaves me wanting more. It has a lot of suspense and is very well-written.

Why does there always have to be a really big flaw in a house that is a good deal? I think this one will definitely bring them much more weirdness and bad luck.

Jay Thurston said...

Peggy, very eerie and well delivered. One little part threw me into a bit of confusion...

"JC, that's what her ex had named her pregnant stomach ten years ago. Jake Christopher."

This implied a stillborn to me. Maybe I am way off. Jake and JC seem to be two different personas, but if JC was her unborn child... would this ghost have been with them the whole time? And would this ghost be a newborn.. I mean I suppose a spirit could mature. It sounds like this haunting is a new experience to them moving. I would have thought that JC was a ghost that loomed in this house prior to them moving in, if the excerpt above did not throw me off. Then again Jake had been traumatized with the move...

Beyond that, I loved it as always.

Very sorry about your cat as well as your rejections. Keep submitting, you'll get an acceptance... you have a great talent!

Skycycler said...

An imaginary friend called JC! Wonderful stuff. Even before JC showed up and started sucking blood from feet this was disturbing... Great job. Really enjoyed this. I'm sorry Peggy for your recent run of bad news and send wishes for better times. Your cat had a truly fabulous name.

Tumblewords: said...

Eerie. Name it and it will appear - Nicely done!

Dee Martin said...

I loved the tension and the build-up and that you left it open for more - I hope there will be. After reading this, I predict that rejections will only be a temporary situation.

Sorry about your pet as well.

ganymeder said...

*Brrrrr!*

There's something about ghost stories with kids in them that makes them extra creepy. Yikes!

Tomara Armstrong said...

Creepy Indeed!

I am sorry to read about your cat. Hopefully he will be immortalized in your writing.
~2

G.P. Ching said...

Loved it. Yes it was creepy but also somewhat hopeful that JC is a good ghost and a good friend to Jake. There is so much left unsaid. Was JC a lost twin? An imaginary friend brought to life by Jake's imagination? Terrific story.

Good luck with your submissions. Rejections mean you are taking risks and growing with your writing. That's how I like to think of it.

mazzz in Leeds said...

Sucking blood from the foot - coooooool!!
Loved the mutual relief at the sale of the house, that set the tone nicely!

Sorry about Phat Cat :-(

Cecilia Dominic said...

Creepy! I think the foot-licking and -sucking eeked me out the most, but it was a very clever way to get the boy to be corporeal. I'm with Laura -- hopefully he decides to keep mom around.

Well done!

Cecilia