It’s Wednesday, and we all know that means it’s time for some flash fiction! Woohoo!
This was another “free” week so Avery didn’t have to worry about including a prompt. Her story meets the 500-1000 word count. So, good there. Last but not least, be sure to check out flash fiction pieces from other Wednesday Brief authors. Their links are at the bottom of the page.
Now, time for Part II of Two Girls and Some Ghouls
Last week, Private Mansfield politely asked if I could find out what became of his wife and young son after the war. I sensed the emotion behind his strong façade and gave him props for not shedding any ghost tears. Using the dates and locations he provided, I thought I might have a chance at finding what had become of his family. Needless to say, it didn’t take much convincing for me to help. His story had touched an unexpected nerve. He and his wife were newlyweds when he left his home outside of Staunton to fight for Virginia. They’d quickly married once she learned she was pregnant—bet that was a big oops back in the 1860s! Thankfully, the baby had been born healthy and had his mother’s beautiful blue eyes. I could tell Private Mansfield thought the world of his son, and not being able to hug and kiss him one last time before he passed was tearing him apart.
I promised Private Mansfield I’d see what I could do. I spent my two days off scouring library archives and old newspapers as well as talking with a number of knowledgeable ladies at historical societies all up and down the Shenandoah Valley. Late in the second day, I finally found the information I had been looking for. I hesitated to tell him all I had learned. While there was some good news, some of the family’s history was definitely bad.
My girlfriend Steph and I had many lengthy discussions about how I’d share the news. We finally decided I should give an overview of the good, slide the bad in quickly, and then end with recapping the good. Maybe the good stuff would be what lodged in his ghost brain—if ghosts even have brains!
So, tonight was the night I was to make my delivery. Private Davis agreed to meet me in the same spot around the same time. How he could tell time and the days of the week, I had no idea. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know so I took him at his word.
I grabbed Steph’s hand and tugged her along with me. The closer we got to “the spot,” the more quickly I walked. I finally slowed when I saw a glow off to my left. I pulled her to a stop. Quietly, I murmured, “Look to our eleven o’clock. Can you see two shimmery, white forms, kind of fading in and out?”
Steph squinted and then blinked. She shook her head. Sounding almost disappointed, she said, “No, I can’t. But you’re not messing with me, right? They are there?”
I was kind of bummed. Steph was really in tune with people’s moods and read them very easily. I had hoped she would be able to see the ghosts as well. I kissed her cheek before answering, “No, not pulling your leg, babe. Private Mansfield is here with his friend.”
Shaking off her disappointment, she took my other hand. Giving them both a squeeze, she asked, “You remember the plan, right?”
I nodded. “I do. Emphasize the good.”
She gave my hands another squeeze before dropping them. “You’ve got it. Let’s go talk to your ghost.”
We ambled toward them. I didn’t want to frighten them or have my walk give away my news. With a couple of steps to go, I raised my hand in greeting, a half-wave, half-salute. I opened my mouth to introduce Steph, but Private Mansfield spoke first. “I have eagerly awaited your appearance this night, Miss Alex. Please, do tell me that you were able to find some information for me.”
I hesitated. Beginning slowly, I started, “It took some digging, but I was able to locate your family’s history.” I licked my lips before continuing. “A lot of good stuff, but I do have some bad news.” I paused, and took a breath, preparing to launch into what my investigation had revealed.
He held up a hand. “Give me a moment to ponder this revelation before you begin telling me what you have learned.” His shoulders stooped and his voice grew softer. “In my mind, I always pictured my son growing up happy and healthy. My dear wife, while I perish the thought of her taking another, I did wish for her to be content.”
I looked to Steph and raised my eyebrows, totally forgetting that she couldn’t see or hear him, but I did my best to wait patiently. I killed some time by whispering to Steph, “He’s debating whether he wants me to share the news. I think he’s always had good thoughts and doesn’t want to potentially ruin those memories.”
She nodded and whispered back. “I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense.”
I turned my attention back to Private Mansfield and tried not to fidget. Waiting wasn’t one of my strengths.
Finally, he came to a decision. He cleared his throat, and then said, “Please, tell me only the good. I do not wish to tarnish how I have chosen to remember them.”
I quickly worked through the information in my mind. Here goes nothing! “Your son survived the war and grew up to be a handsome man, kind of like his dad. He took over your family’s farm, married, and his wife gave him three healthy children. They didn’t struggle, and the farm produced enough to keep them all fed.”
to be continued…
You’ll have to stop back next week to see if Alex keeps her word about not sharing the bad news. Maybe Private Mansfield will be tempted and decide he wants all the nitty gritty details. Only one way to find out! *wink*
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