Long gone

by | Apr 4, 2011 | Fiction, Flash fiction | 5 comments

Another week, another story. What do you think of this one? (Like last week, pictures will come a little later.)

Long Gone
By Laura McHale Holland

Perched on the rickety wooden rail, I look down at the hound whining and pacing along the shore. In the water, a straw hat bobs against the rocks at the river’s edge. I stand tall, take a deep breath and dive from the bridge. I’m a strong swimmer. If the person who owns the hat is in distress, I figure I can help.

But the current is stronger than I’d thought, and the water far colder. I struggle to reach the surface, but each time I grab a short breath, I am pulled back under.

Finally, I grab a branch jutting into the water. I inch along the wooden limb to the shore and claw myself up onto the bank. I’m about a mile down river from the bridge. I pause to let my heart beat return to normal and then find a path running along the river and walk back to the bridge.

About half a dozen people are at the rail. They’re throwing rose petals into the water. I walk to the rail and look down. The hat and hound are gone.

I ask the person closest to me, a gray-haired woman chewing on a cigar, “Did you see a hound a little while ago, pacing along the shore?” I point to where the canine had been.

“Ah, sonny, that would be ole Buddy, best darn dog there ever was.” she replies.

“What do you mean ‘was’? I just saw it there before I dove in. I thought maybe the owner of the hat was down in the water.”

“You were right about that, ‘cept you’re ten years too late, kid. My Winston was fishin’ right here off the bridge, and he fell in. Don’t know how it happened. Nobody saw. But Buddy must have run down to the water and gone in after him. They were found two days later way down river. Buddy’s jaws were clenched tight on Winston’s shirt, but they were both long gone. Today’s the 10-year anniversary, sorry to say. That’s why we’re here on the bridge. Winston loved his rose garden. I keep it up the best I can, you know, in his memory an’ all.”

Suddenly aware of how wet my clothes still are, I start to shiver. I back away from the woman while reaching deep into my pants pocket, thankful my car keys hadn’t fallen into the river. I turn and see my Subaru parked where I’d left it at a pullout a few feet from the bridge. I press the unlock button on my keychain, dash to the car and get in. Without even pausing to put on my seatbelt, I start the engine and peel away from the bridge as fast as I can.

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  1. Lynn Henriksen

    What were you afraid of?
    You can write, woman, you can write!

  2. admin

    Thanks so much for stopping by Lynn, and for encouraging me!

  3. Dennis Blackburn

    A heart moving occurrence and very brave of someone to jump in. A most interesting short story, which does its work in holding you close, while you watch from afar. It is interesting when that kind of ghost story comes along. The first book I wrote was about a real murder. From the first few pages it is totally fiction with a twist, the girl murdered turns up and asks a man to help her.
    I was absolutely lost in learning what my ghost would do.
    My third book was published last Wednesday and people are already buying from Amazon. I did not think they had them in stock that quickly.

  4. admin

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dennis. Your first book sounds compelling. The use of a ghost the way you’ve described reminds me a bit of “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. That story wasn’t based on a real murder though, as far as I know. In my memoir, I employ short “quotes” from my mother’s ghost, so that’s a fictional device I’ve used to frame a true story written in first person. It can be very effective tool.

  5. Kate Farrell

    What a terrific and convincing ghost story!

    Just wanted to post about a memoir article I came across today. Plus I think you might want to enter some of the WOW contests: Flash Fiction/Short Story, etc.


    Reading Linda Joy Myers’ WOW article, “Beginning Your Memoir and Creating Your Narrative Arc,” was an aha! moment for me. As soon as I began scanning it, I realized I was reading something special in the field of memoir and I began to understand some of the mysteries about the whole process.

    It’s all in the amazing April Newsletter of WOW-Women on Writing that features the craft of memoir, journaling, and personal narrative. Linda Joy Myers, Founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, has condensed her considerable expertise into a series of simple, clear components.

    But the most important of these is how she directs the memoir writer to consider the message that she is intending to send the reader: the lesson, the theme, or the knowledge that might touch, move, or transform.
    What clicked for me is that personal narrative is both personal and transpersonal. It is an internal process with benefits to the writer and a public sharing that reaches out to inspire the reader.
    Of course, that all takes skill and devotion to craft. This article and many others in this very fine newsletter provides further tips and pointers for voice, character, and even more…
    I recommend any and all women interested in memoir to visit the link and peruse these articles!

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