As part of this year’s One Read program, we invited you to take inspiration from “The Turner House,” and tell a story about a haunting in 250 words or less. It could have been about a haunting by a ghost, the haunting consequences of a past decision or some other type of haunting entirely.
We received many entries about ghosts and ghouls, but a few were a different haunting all together. All of the writers shared their stories in less than 250 words. Thank you to everyone who entered and shared your stories of hauntings!
Our two winners are Denise Felt and Leah Allen. Honorable mention goes to Wyatt Wilkerson.
We are excited to share with you the winning stories.
A Mother’s Work is Never Done
By Denise Felt
What could she do? Her son wouldn’t listen to her anymore. He had even taken to wearing those awful headphones in order to shut her out. Teenagers!
She’d encouraged him to go to counseling. And eventually Trevor had gone, dragging his sneakered feet the whole way. But as far as she could tell, it hadn’t helped him. He still spent all his time in his room, playing video games for hours and ignoring everything else. He often refused dinner, and that really worried her. Starving himself was no way to deal with his problems.
Something had to be done.
She’d tried talking with him. He ignored her. She’d tried hiding his gaming toys. He’d simply searched until he found them again — no matter where she hid them.
It was time for a more direct approach.
She stood by Trevor’s bedside while he slept. How young and sweet he looked asleep! Not at all like the withdrawn boy he’d become in the months since the accident.
She reached over and brushed a lock of his hair off his forehead. He stirred and opened sleepy eyes.
“Trevor, we have to talk,” she said.
He began to cry. “Mom, you need to leave!”
“Because you’re dead!” he sobbed.
She frowned. “But you’re so unhappy.”
“Because you haven’t gone on to heaven! You’ve got to stop haunting me!”
By Leah Allen
Snick. The noise of a camera shutter makes a very distinctive sound. Not the digital sound you hear on cell phones, a recording played when an area on the screen is pressed. This is the unmistakably mechanical opening and closing of an iris.
The cameras sit in a line on a shelf above my desk. Thrift shop specials, older models but good quality, intermingled with strange looking cameras from an earlier time. The strangest belonged to my grandfather before they were passed down to my sister, vertical boxes with lenses and dials covering the face, emblazoned with long forgotten brand names like Reflekta and Yashica.
The newer ones are my sister’s thrift shop finds from the 1990’s, when photography was film canisters and darkrooms and processing chemicals. When she died, I found the cameras packed in a hat box from Sears along with random lens covers and slide boxes. The prints were in a large art portfolio – a punk blow drying her mohawk, half-naked children peering solemnly out of a window
Now the cameras sit on a shelf in my office with the lenses uncovered, dimly reflecting the overhead lights. I think somewhat guiltily that my grandfather and sister would both be appalled by the unprotected lenses.
Snick. Sometimes I hear the sound of a shutter from an old camera that sits on a shelf and has too many buttons, none of which are on a touch screen.
My sister always enjoyed taking pictures.
By Wyatt Wilkerson
He wished for a ghost, anything would be better than nothing. He would have preferred a banshee’s shriek or a voiceless whisper to the stifling silence that had fallen about the house. He would have preferred if the rocking chair where she read the paper or knitted or simply enjoyed his company would rock and spin and dance about the room of its own accord rather than simply sit there empty and dumb. It would be better to wake up hearing footfalls in the attic than to wake to the creeping cold where once was warmth. But there was no spirit or soul, the only ghost was the black suit he wore, haunting the empty closet.