NPR’s fifth edition of their Three-Minute-Fiction contest comes to a close this coming Sunday. In each of these contests, contestants are given a hook to write to. In this edition we were given the first and last sentences. Each entry must be short enough to be read in three minutes and no longer than 600 words. I participated in the first contest, made a lackluster attempt in one of the intervening contests and the following story is my draft entry in this latest round. Thanks already to Anne and Don, for their editorial help. I won’t be officially submitting it for another day or so, so any further suggestions would be welcomed, otherwise just wish me luck.
The Old Doelles’ Place
Some people swore that the house was haunted. They were right and I should know, because I am the ghost that haunted it. You can call me Fred, or is it George? I really can’t remember. I’ll answer to either one or maybe not at all. I can’t recall how I got here, but I do recall where I come from. I come from the beach. The beach is all sandy and there is water there too. Sometimes I went out into the water. I swam. The sun was high up and it was warm. The sky was blue. I remember the blue sky. Now it is cold and dark and I don’t remember anything. I’m not happy now, but I do remember that I was happy once.
I remember bonfires on the beach. That’s where I come from, the beach. To make a bonfire you had to dig a hole, a deep hole. That took a long time. Then you needed firewood. My cousins and I would scour the beach for driftwood. We always got a lot. Come nightfall we would light the fire using gasoline and it would blaze. We always had enough firewood so that after smores, when the little kids and the old bags went back up to the cabin, we would still have wood to burn. Then it was the best of times. We were alone and we were free. The best bonfires happened on windy nights. It couldn’t be too windy and the wind couldn’t be blowing into the forest. Oh yeah, the forest, I remember the forest now. The sparks from the fire would dance in the air before it. The tall trees substituted for the departed old bags, looming over us, our fire and our beach.
Before the firewood was depleted, some of us would flee down the beach, out into the darkness. We would flee from the trees, but they in their numbers would keep pace along the shoreline, at least until we came to the old Doelles’ place. There we found respite. We tucked ourselves into a hollow in the sand and huddled together, boy-girl-boy-girl. The wind whirled and the forest rustled, but we were secure in our company. My buddies George and Fred and I would start to tell the girls ghost stories, just to get them to huddle closer for warmth and safety and our male lust. We would start with old saws like the man with the hook and then begin riffing from there, but our true inspiration lay just behind us, Doelles’. I seem to recall that it was once a lighthouse keeper’s place. It seemed all but abandoned back then and we would dare each other to peek into its windows. Our best ghost stories always involved Doelles’, either Fred or George or I would go up to the house and then come back with the most blood curdling story we could imagine. The girls would hold us so tightly then. I remember that night so well. It is the intervening years that I can’t remember. Somewhere along the way I became the ghost that we used to make up. I wonder what ever happened to Fred and George or are they me? That night was something special. Nothing was ever the same again after that.