Here’s my entry for the Fall Writing Frenzy, a fun contest of Halloween-inspired picture prompts for children’s writers.
The first story is my official entry. The second story (which should be ignored by contest judges) is the runner-up that I ultimately didn’t select for official entry.
I love ripping pumpkins apart.
Daddy says it isn’t real necromancy, but I don’t like plucking brains out of skulls. Especially not dead ones. Mommy and Daddy say that’s what we do, we breathe life into dead things. Gross. Dead things ought to stay dead.
That’s why I like pumpkins. When I split them open, they’re full of life. Full of potential. Not like the potential Mommy says about the rotting things she digs up in the cemetery. Not like the potential Daddy talks about when he tries to make lightning hit the metal rods. I mean real life. In every one of the little seeds. As long as we don’t cook them and eat them.
And then, when I’ve extracted all that new life, I don’t throw away the empty shell. I turn it into something beautiful. Something that smiles at the world and says, “Hello, I’m here!” Well, not literally. I’m still working out how to make them talk.
This story is my runner-up, just for fun. I had fun playing with the image prompts. But it’s not always easy to choose which piece to enter.
My little sister’s been begging me to take her back. Says she can’t sleep. Dad’s worried about the bags under her eyes. What do I want with an old church in the middle of nowhere? But I take her anyway, just to get her to shut up.
There’s a silence around the church that’s more suited to a funeral, like a fresh coat of snow is pressing out the sound.
“This is it,” she says. “This is where they hanged me.”
I freeze. What does an eight-year-old know about being hanged?
She skips like she’s off to school and shoves open the door.
It’s a typical church, except the wooden crucifix has fallen and split in two. Everything’s coated in dust. My sister’s footprints would be the only thing to disturb it, but she’s not making footprints.
Excited whispering slithers from the empty pews.
“Can you hear them?” she asks. “They’re all here.”
Cold creeps across my neck, like fingers slinking down my spine. “Who?”
“My sisters,” she says, smiling at the air around her.
This is nuts, I’m done with this joke. “Let’s go home.”
She looks up at me, her eyes suddenly old, infinite. “I am home.”