Ghost Walk – Part II

The next time I saw her, I called out, “Dara.”

It was my second journey around the circle, and I started to lose hope when she appeared in front of me like a spider floating down woven silk.

“What do you want?” she whispered, her eyes glowing a bloodshot red. It was the first time I saw her motionless. She looked smaller than I expected.

“I…I just want to make sure you’re okay,” I said, feeling short of breath.

“I’m fine,” she said, resuming her pace.

“No, wait. I hit you,” I said.

“That’s what this is about?”

“What else would it be about?” I grabbed her fragile frame and peered into glaring eyes, her skin powdered with purplish flecks. At that moment, she seemed ageless like a manic pixie dream girl. I questioned not whether she had a husband, but if she had graduated from high school, astonished how I could have misjudged her.

She turned on her heel then.

“You don’t have to be such a bitch,” I whispered under my breath.

She flipped me off, the rhythm of her step unaffected.

I watched her until she diminished to a dark smudge, still not convinced she could vanish at will. I dismissed any obligation to her at that point. I hit her, she was fine, she walked like she always had. Like before, I slowly began to not see her.

Weeks later, my concern for her creeped back as I waited behind her at the grocery store. There she stood in her hooded cape, her face entombed in folds of fabric. The couple between us discussed their ice cream choice.

She set her red basket of grocery items on the belt for checkout, not bothering to take them out. I could see crackers, tampons, toothpaste, among other things. I felt guilty for snooping; her contents were between her and the shop clerk, who barely registered she was there at all.

“That comes to $22.18,” he stated to the black vision before him.

“Oh, I, uh…” she trailed off and wandered out of the store.

“Dara,” I called to her.

She glided out the automatic doors without looking back. I bought her groceries after the ice cream couple. Taking a closer look at her purchases, my prying eyes noted a possible taboo item: a pregnancy test. I ran out into the darkness of the parking lot, shouting her name, not knowing if she walked or drove. I had never seen her in a car.

“Dara. Dara,” again to the emptiness.

I searched cars for movement hunching in the shadows. I reasserted my stalker identity, peering down each row of cars. I finally gave up and drove, her small frame undetected along my route.

Ivan rifled through the brown bags of groceries when I plunked them down on the counter, moving too quickly before I could stop him from sampling the bags.

“What do we have here?” he asked, waving the pregnancy test in my face. “Something you’re not telling me?”

“Oh, no, no. It’s not mine. It’s Dara’s,” I said, hoping to quell him.

“Who?” His eyes widened at the mention of her name.

“Dara. The one who walks, you know, I…”

“Can’t you just let things go? Are you still trying to talk to her?” he laid into me.

“No. It’s not that. I was trying to help. She couldn’t pay for groceries,” I said.

“Do you have to get involved in everyone’s problems?” he slammed the pregnancy test on the counter, and then one by one threw Dara’s groceries across the floor, a cacophony of cracks and thuds, the shattering of the cranberry juice signalling the final blow.

“Mind your own business,” he said, slamming the door.

I stood amidst a sea of glass and red liquid spattered at every angle. My cell phone rang and I jumped. As I crossed the floor to retrieve it, glass crackled beneath my shoes.

“Don’t let him find me,” said a muffled voice.

“Who is this? Dara? Where…” I had never given Dara my number, but I knew it was her.

For hours I drove in circles until a thick fog descended, rendering my search worthless. As I opened the front door to my house, the darkness engulfed me and I stumbled to the couch. I fell into a restless sleep, a stabbing pain clenching my stomach. A tightness engulfed my neck, fleshy tendrils pressing, pulsing, choking on fragments of air, shorter and deeper until there was nothing but a dark stillness.

A burst of coldness and wetness on my face, I returned from the abyss, panting. Dara sat across from me, shrouded in her black hood, a translucence glowing from within.

“What happened Dara?”

She clasped my hand and guided me outside, rain pelting my face, until we approached a muddy ravine, outfitted with mangled tree roots. Ivan trampled waist deep in water, his foot caught between two branches, splitting his skin each time he moved. Behind sheets of rain, I heard his cries with disdainful reverence.

He reached toward me, “Take my hand.”

I watched him writhe in pain, and then moved toward him. Dara swooped between us, hurling herself at Ivan. Their bodies twisted into into a shapeless mass, convulsing and sinking into the watery depths.

The marks on my neck, revealed to me by a first responder, vindicated me from any wrong doing. The purplish imprints upon my flesh remained far too long, a reminder of my husband’s weakness and that I, perhaps, had defeated a monster. Dara hovered in the shadows throughout my pregnancy to reassure me that I had. The life inside of me kicked eagerly, willing herself out before her time.

It was no surprise that she did everything early, including walking.

Photo Credit: The Nick Page, Flickr Creative Commons

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57 thoughts on “Ghost Walk – Part II

  1. Wonderful! I was thinking it was going in a different direction, but then I got a surprise. I love to be kept guessing. 🙂

    By the way, your blog really looks great. Love the contrast of the black and white, and I love the header. Very cool and unique.

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  2. “The next time I saw her…” maybe an idea of how much time passed, where you physically were, weather, time of day, not necessarily all of these things but one or two.

    “and I started to lose hope when she appeared …” because of “I started…” that means her appearance caused you to lose hope. What you need is to say “I HAD started to lose hope” or “I WAS starting to lose hope until she appeared…”

    I don’t have a visual of where the two of you are. In the street, sidewalk, not sure.

    “ I grabbed her fragile frame…” I find it unusual that karen would so easily touch her when she seemed so mysterious. I would think she’d have a bit of awe and not break a physical barrier so easily.

    “I watched her until she diminished to a dark smudge,” does this mean she was far away in the distance or she actually vanished? I’m not sure.

    “I could see crackers, tampons, toothpaste, among other things. “ until now I had a mystical frame of mind about her. Partly because of her behavior but also the skin description. Now that she’s buying these things, I just think of her as a weird neighbor. Is that what you’re going for? I’m not sure.

    “She glided out the “ consider “through” instead of “out”

    “I searched cars for movement” I selfishly need a time reference. Light out? Dark out? Dusk? Cloudy? Sunny? Day or night? Just one is necessary.

    “then one by one threw Dara’s groceries across the floor, “ this is rather extreme, so I have to think this foreshadows a revelation for later. Perhaps he knows more about dara than Karen. If not something like that, then this makes him look like a jerk, which is fine if that’s what you’re going for.

    “ I fell into a restless sleep…” all that follows this is appearing to be part of a dream/nightmare, but I can’t be certain. And maybe you don’t want us to be certain, which is perfectly fine.

    It’s not clear to me what’s happening at the end, but maybe it’s not supposed to be clear. It seems Karen is pregnant, but I don’t know where that came from, but maybe I’m not supposed to really know until part 3.

    Looking forward to the rest. Thanks!

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    1. Rich, first of all, there may feel like there are things missing due to a limited word count. I think I will work on this again, incorporating many of your suggestions which I liked.

      Time of day, etc. that makes sense.

      “I HAD started to lose hope” or “I WAS starting to lose hope until she appeared…” – agree.

      She’s in the circle, i.e. the block of their neighborhood.

      Far away in the distance…

      I agree I bring her to reality in the grocery store. One of my main reasons is because of her contents, specifically the pregnancy test. This is why Karen wants to track her down. Dara is a young woman who can’t afford a pregnancy test, so Karen is sympathetic.

      It’s dark…agree on this.

      He is extreme, because of the pregnancy test. It hits him that he might be responsible for her pregnancy…Awwww…he’s involved with Dara. If you didn’t get that, I failed!! Maybe too much for this short story. But this is his motivation for this scene and the next…

      In her dream, Karen is visited by Dara. When she feels choking around her neck, Dara has then died (this probably is not clear)…I know this is a real stretch, but Dara becomes a part of Karen, i.e. her baby becomes Karen’s baby, which is why she’s an early walker in the end! I realize that I’m asking for you to suspend disbelief. Yeah, I know!!

      And, this is all of it. You convinced me to release it all.

      Thank you, Rich. Any ideas about how to make the end more clear. This obviously needs a little work!! Thanks again for your critique.

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      1. quick response, more later, that was my guess, that ivan had some kind of interaction with dara which made him angry.

        part of my problem is that i pictured dara as an elderly woman, not sure why, not someone young enough to buy those items. and the way the story started, i made the assumption that dara was going to turn out to be an apparition, so that was my own assumption i was reacting to, and that was unfair to you. i think you might have left it open enough, and that’s the direction i chose.

        i have to read the dream sequence again. if there are things i didn’t get, i might not have read it carefully enough, and for some reason i thought it was going to be three parts, so i was thinking that blanks would be filled in the last part, and that might have caused me to not think enough about it.

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      2. I’m going to work on this one, so you’ve given me a lot to think about. I think there are a few holes and characters need more development. I wrapped up the last part too fast.There needs explanation. Don’t worry about it. A lot of people were confused there. Again, thanks for your comments! I really appreciate it.

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      3. and i appreciate that you and i (not everyone) understand that being told “great job” never improved anyone’s story. the story has excellent guts. just needs more flesh to hold all those guts in place.

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      4. That’s a good way to put it. I knew that it needed work, although I was proud of parts of it! That’s something, right? It’s kind of skeletal…especially the end. I think it’s okay to have different interpretations of a story, but there should be certain things are understood, generally speaking.

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  3. Ooooh my gosh, this was so good! Totally had me, I didn’t even see it coming. I was thinking the husband was an ass and possibly assaulted Dara or something but daaaaang that was a proper twist right there.

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    1. Thanks, Aussa. So, let me let you ask you a question…Did you get that Ivan was with Dara and he got her pregnant? Just tell me honestly. Thanks. I threw a lot in there.

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      1. It was going to be in 3 parts and I decided to put it all together for the remainder. Thanks for asking. I decided it was too short to break up! I think I will definitely rewrite it and then see if I want to do anything with it. I always approach any writing as practice.

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      2. I think this story has a ton of potential. I think the ending could be stronger, and this whole piece could be really amazing! These characters really get in my head, and the beginning sets a strong mood… I’d love to see what you do with this. Very compelling story.

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      3. I’m definitely going to work on it some more, especially the end. Initially, I wrote this story with a word limit which obviously impacted my ending. Now, I will just write it as I need to. I’m really happy to hear you liked the characters. I’m inspired to make it better. Thanks!

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  4. I think I was surprised that Ivan was such an ass, throwing the stuff across the counter like that… more of a build-up of him might have made it less sudden… but he had it coming, in the end, and I’m glad he got what he deserved.

    I loved this, Amy. High applause for a spooky, heartfelt story – Dara is a great character, described to perfection, and not a character I’ve ever even come close to seeing before. I had no idea where this was going till the end… thanks for showing, not telling, and letting me move with the story. Great fiction. Absolutely great.

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    1. Awww, thank you thank you! I will rewrite some parts of this story as well as add more of parts that are missing. It’s great to get this feedback from you. Truly. Thanks for taking the time out to read it and think about it. Absolutely, it’s so thrilling to get such wonderful, flattering comments!! I’m touched.

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      1. You’re talented. Write more.

        Yeah, build Ivan up a bit, but don’t worry about throwing his assholeness at us, make it all become abundantly clear when we hit the twist.

        And when you’re done, submit this somewhere. It deserves to be read.

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  5. So good!! I had to re-read the second part a few times to make sure I picked up all the things I missed. I was absolutely enthralled!! I didn’t get how Ivan was involved until I re-read it and I was confused about the pregnancy but once I’d gone through it a second time it made a lot more sense.

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  6. I was intrigued by this Amy – overall, I really enjoyed it. I have to admit I was a bit confused by the ending, but I think you’ve addressed that in your other comments & replies. I appreciate how hard it is to put everything across in so few words, but for me, it would have been even stronger with more understanding of Dara’s motivations. Why the constant walking, for example? Also, I agree with an earlier comment about Ivan potentially being stronger – although I’d be tempted to make him a little more sympathetic, so his eventual undoing comes as more of a jolt. I don’t say make him likeable, but readers tend not to care for out-and-out w*nkers, which is how he comes across in this version.

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    1. Jon, thank you for reading and for all your feedback. I was going to let this just be, but I think I really want to work on this and extend it. It has some holes and needs work. Your comments are really helpful. Thanks!

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  7. I was very impressed with the first half. The tone was eerie and I had the impression that Dana was an apparition. It ended on a note that made me want to read the second half. The pacing of the second half seemed rushed to me. So much was going on, I was surprised that Dana was young, but that’s not a criticism. When I think of someone walking around shrouded in black, I suppose I think the character could be in mourning or something mysterious is going on, which I realize was the case. I thought that Ivan pitching a fit and then throwing Dana’s groceries around had something to do with his irritation with Karen throwing out money on the neighborhood nutjob. It wasn’t clear to me that he had knocked Dana up. The dream sequence and Karen somehow giving birth to Dana’s baby confused me further. That said, I think it’s all here, but as you’ve said to other commenters you have to keep working on it. But if Ivan is the father of Dana’s child that Karen somehow delivers into the world, well, then this guy must be quite … a devil.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. Initially, I wrote this with a word limit and it shows. I agree I have tried to fit too much in a short space. It’s tricky to do. Some of the things you have said have been echoed by others, so that is really helpful when I go about rewriting, and I think I will try. I’m going to be taking a few notes from my comments and I have a better feel now for how I can improve it and it will, undoubtedly, be a longer piece. Maybe he is the devil! Ha! Thanks again.

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  8. This is a very well balanced and interesting story that keeps everyone guessing, your words keeping the reader riveted, wanting more and I think that splitting the story into two segments enhances the outcome, keeping your reader base in suspense is a good idea.

    I am surprised to read one persons analysis where none were needed, but then feedback results offer all kinds of observations, even the negative responses show us that not everyone reads one’s work has the full grasp on writing, or indeed reading stories.

    I for one have thoroughly enjoyed your ‘Ghost Walk’ story Amy and do keep up the great work; from all the other comments added here I can see that your inventive writing has been a complete success. Well done you…

    Andro xxxx

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    1. Ah, thank you thank you, Andro for all your wonderful comments. I think there is some guess work here in the story, and at the very least, room for different interpretations, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all. I’m thrilled you enjoyed my story! I think breaking it up into two parts can be effective, too. People can wonder about it for a day. Hopefully, I can write a story worthy of that. I’m proud of what I have so far, but know it needs to be stretched out and reworked a bit. Thank you so much for reading. It means a lot to me. Amy xox

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  9. I liked this. Dara is quite an interesting, complex character. I don’t suppose you’ll do more with this, but I’d like to read more with her. I’m not sure who she is exactly or why she hates Ivan so much though. Is it just because he was a jerk to the main character?

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    1. Thanks, David. Dara is definitely the most developed character. I actually think I will rewrite it and extend it. There are too many questions in its current form. Basically the story is this and it’s ok if you didn’t get it. It’s confusing. Ivan gets Dara pregnant (pregnancy test makes an appearance as a clue). Ivan kills Dara in the end, she comes back as a ghost and gives her baby to Karen. Ha! I’m going to rewrite and maybe even rename it. Thanks so much reading and commenting.

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