I have only one good ghost story and it's enough to make me believe in wispy souls who refuse to cross over until they get whatever they want, sort of like the angsty teenage version of the dead.
Now, let's just hope the ghosts in my neighborhood don't Halloween haunt me in retribution for comparing them to recalcitrant kids, ages 13 and over. And someday, I promise, I'll tell my ghost story. But today I'm going to talk about a different kind of ghost story.
What happens when you start a story and then it gives up the ghost, goes kaput with all the finesse of a bike tire slowly losing its air.
Most of my ghost stories don't do anything other than haunt my hard drive, but some of them, the ones I've made up for the kids in lieu of a traditional bedtime story, have taken on an ill-fated life of their own.
Last summer I created a story about a mother with four sons who were each given impossible tasks to complete before they could accompany her on a difficult journey. After we finished the third son's task of singing a beautiful song without ever opening his mouth, I lost interest.
The kids, however, did not. "Please mom," they begged. "What happens, what are they going to do on their quest."
"That was a vacation story," I told them, hoping that would buy me enough time so that they would a) forget it or b) I'd get reinspired to tell it, but sadly neither of those things came to pass.
"Time to finish the four sons and queen mother story," my daughter announced on our next vacation.
I tried to think of some way to wiggle out of it and failed. In fact the whole story was a failure since I ended it by saying something like "The mother was very proud of her sons and they all went home and had dinner together."
"Really?" said my daughter, a critic at age ten. "That's it. That's kind of a bad ending."
"I agree," I said. (Remember, NEVER argue with critics) "But I just gave up the ghost."
"Hmmm," she said, eyebrows knitted together, deciding if she was going to let me off that easily.
Fortunately for everyone she decided to give me a pass and demanded an actual ghost story, in lieu of the sad little unfinished stories floating around in my brain.
And so I complied. Happy endings all around!
Do you have ghost stories? Real or writerly. In the spirit of October share them below :)