Hey, guys! I am so sorry that this blog is so late in the day. I’ve actually had people over all day, and I haven’t had the chance to get to writing. However, I’m getting to it now, and I’m really excited to bring this blog to you, because the story is really interesting. I gave another list of words for writing Prompt #10, and I really hope that you guys are enjoying it.
I really do think that this is a great practice for NaNoWriMo. You’re getting into the habit of writing, you’re getting into the habit of thinking about writing and getting into that mind frame. That’s what is super important. You have to get your brain geared for it – you have to get yourself into the habit of at least sitting down every day and preparing to write, whether your prompts are long or short. You just want to make sure that you’re going to get to it.
So, without further delay! Here is my writing prompt response to Prompt #10.
The funeral had left them all feeling empty. To Sarah, however, Michael seemed to be the most broken. It had been his little sister, after all, No one blamed him for the death of the child, but the self-blame was evident around him. He hadn’t known that she’d slipped out of the house, and the gate to the lake had been left open. It only took him a minute to realize what had happened, but that minute was long enough. The lake was deep, and the water was murky, and by the time that he’d pulled Isabella out of the water, she wasn’t moving.
She’d tried to do it a thousand times before – she loved the water. That was why his mother had insisted that they build a gate. That was why his parents were fighting – because it was Michael’s father who had left it open. He swore that he hadn’t, but it was his job to check that it was locked every morning… and that morning, it wasn’t. They never once turned their pain filled eyes in accusation to their son. Isabella was five years old; he should have been able to go to the restroom without worrying about something happening.
The gate should have been locked.
Michael blamed himself for the whispered talked of divorce that spilled through his house. Nothing was final, and it had only been a week since Isabella had died, but the words were still there, and they lingered in the air like a black blanket – proof of the fact that her death had left a stain behind. Death always left a stain behind – it was like the place that it had happened was cursed. Michael could still hear her laughter spilling through the air, even though it didn’t echo in the hallways anymore. He kept finding her toys, a tiny sock, a teddy bear that she’d hid in his bedroom in hopes that he’d bring it back to her and read her a story in her room. He was sixteen, but he’d been really close to his little sister. She’d made him happy, and she’d always looked up to him. He’d been her hero…
And that was why he blamed himself the most – because she’d called out his name in joy, and then she hadn’t called out his name at all.
The funeral had left them all feeling empty, but Michael was the most broken.
For a while, his friends weren’t sure what to do about it. Sarah was the one who thought that trying to get some closure for him would be a good idea – he didn’t really believe in psychics or demons, and neither did they… but maybe just the action of putting a message out there could give him some kind of peace, some kind of solace. There had to be something that they could do about his guilt…
And maybe if he could just apologize, even if it wasn’t his fault… and even if Isabella couldn’t really hear him. Maybe he could apologize, so that he could feel like he’d finally given her the message that he wanted to give… the message that couldn’t be delivered through one fo the smallest coffins that they’d ever seen.
It was pink, and it had her favorite flowers – Michael had put her favorite bear inside of it, folded between tiny fingers that would never reach up to hold his hand again.
He’d apologized then, but her eyes hadn’t opened… he’d apologized over and over to her small body, but he could tell that she wasn’t there anymore, and the apology meant nothing if she couldn’t hear it.
That’s why Sarah bought the Ouija, for ages 8 and up.
Isabella coudn’t have played with it – and now she would never be old enough to do so.
She got their friend group together, and they were all willing to do whatever they needed to in order to help Michael; Colton was aloof about the Ouija board, but Tina was leery about it. She believed in ghosts, but she thought that it would be good for Michael to talk to his sister through eternity. The fact that there was one person who believed in all of this was something that they weren’t upset about – in fact, it was something that gave it more of an air of believability when they showed up at Michael’s house with the board tucked beneath Sarah’s arm.
“Guys, I don’t know about this…” His voice was deadpan, sad, and it was full of all of the depression and sorrow that he was clearly feeling. Still, he didn’t stop them from coming into the house. His parents were out – talking to a lawyer maybe, looking at apartments, maybe trying to rekindle their relationship. They’d told Michael, but he hadn’t heard it over the music that was playing, and the way that he concentrated on tuning out their yelling, and their fighting.
All that he knew was that they’d been gone until late in the night, and that they’d left him twenty bucks on the counter to order pizza if he wanted. All he knew was that his house would be free for he and his friends to do whatever they wanted to do, as long as they were done before 1am.
It was already getting dark, but Sarah assumed that any time was an okay time. She didn’t need ambiance, she just needed Michael to believe that he’d gotten his message out to his sister, so that he could go on to the next step of the grieving process, instead of forever being caught in some limbo of guilt.
She loved him, just a little bit. She’d always loved him, though… and it had seemed like he was finally starting to realize that he cared for her, too, when all of this had happened with Isabella. It had put breaks on everything, and it had broken her heart to see him so sad. Even if it didn’t re-spark whatever had been building between them, if she could just fix the brokenness in his eyes, the way that he seemed to hold himself huddled, as though his center was gone and he was just a shell… if she could just bring back the old Michael, that would be enough for her.
She just wanted to see him smile again.
They set the board up in the den, and they all gathered around the retro coffee table that they’d always made fun of – Michael’s parents had spent entirely too much money on it, but they loved it. Now, it was just a perfect flat surface, and the den had lights that could be turned down to match the mood that they were going for.
It was good enough, and they ripped the fresh plastic off of the board that they’d bought in Wal-Mart and sat it out on the table.
It looked innocuous, like something that was just a toy. It made sense that it had such a low age rating. It looked harmless, and Tina was the only one who looked at it with any apprehension.
Michael wasn’t looking at it at all – his eyes were on the family portrait that hung above the fireplace. In the picture, Isabella was in his arms, and she was smiling. Soft ringlets of blonde hair stuck to her forehead. He could remember that day, and the board in front of him… his friends around him… it all seemed so far away in comparison to the pain that was slowly welling in his chest from being in the room. His parents had taken down quite a few of the pictures of them together… it was too painful, too much. They were going to put them back up later.
But they hadn’t touched this room, and this was one of the only places that he could go to easily see a picture of their family. It was on his facebook, his phone, but this was different. He’d sat with her in this room, read her stories, played games with her.
He didn’t look at the board, because he was too busy missing his little sister.
“All right, guys. We’re just supposed to put our fingers on this plank, and then as our questions.” Sarah’s eyes slid to Michael, who still wasn’t looking at the table at all, “Or say what we need to say to Isabella.”
That got his attention – her name, not what Sarah had said. He turned his eyes to her, and for just a moment they were laced with pain and regret… sorrow. And then, slowly, they slid back into a mask of nothing, because nothing was better than whatever he was feeling inside. He put his hands out automatically, touching the plank on the table and then staring at the board like he didn’t really see it at all.
“Should we read the instructions?” Tina’s voice was small, soft, but Sarah shrugged.
“We’ve seen it done on TV, right? You just ask questions. I don’t think you have to do anything special.” The instruction paper was left in the box, and it was only Tina’s lingering gaze that acknowledged its presence at all. Colton, on the other hand, looked bored. The only indication that he was here by something other than force was the way that his eyes continued to flicker up to Michael, and the soft expressions of concern that crossed his features when he did. The boys had known each other since they were young – little four-year-olds, playing games together in the back yard.
Michael hadn’t had a lake in his yard then, and there’d been no gate to leave open.
Tina was the only one who was new to their group. She’d transferred to school the year before, She was soft and sweet and shy, and they’d instantly accepted her into their fold, because no one else had taken the time to get to know her. It had been MIchael’s idea, and Sarah had only been jealous for a few minutes. She’d realized quickly that Michael was just being caring, like he always did.
She’d realized quickly that Michael was just doing what he always did, and trying to protect people. He didn’t want Tina that way, so Sarah had been able to care about her, too.
But now, everyone’s focus was on Michael, who was staring at the shiny surface of the Ouija board as though it wasn’t really there at all.
“Are you ready, Michael?” Sarah touched his arm gingerly, and he jerked as though he’d been jolted by a livewire. For a moment, his brown eyes remained blank and shocked, but then he nodded.
“Sure.” He didn’t sound as though he was ready. In fact, he didn’t sound as though he cared. Sarah could only hope that once he started saying the words, it would mean something.
“Okay then, everyone, fingers on the board.” Obediently, the group replied, and Sarah nodded, turning her eyes to Michael. When he didn’t say anything, even after a nudge, she gave a small sigh.
“Is anyone here – is anyone listening to us?” The lights were low, and even though she hadn’t really believed that anything would happen, there was something a bit unsettling about talking to the air – about inviting some spirit in, to do whatever it wanted to at their behest, at the behest of the planchet.
“Is there anyone listening…” Sarah took one careful look at Michael, who was staring into the board as though waiting to see if anything would happen at all – it was just a circle of their fingers, though… her own tanned and manicured, Michael’s grubby and dark. Tina’s were trembling slightly.
“Isabella?” It was Tina’s small voice that spilled out into the air, and she wasn’t looking at the board. She was looking at the photo – the family photo. At Isabella’s Tiny face.
The disc beneath their finger trembled, and they all looked at it. Colton’s brows snapped together, but it was Tina who let out a small gasp. Sarah noticed that Michael’s eyes were fixated on the board now.
“Isabella?” It was Michael’s voice this time that spilled out, and the planchet instantly jerked on the board.
Tina let out a small, gasped sob, and Sarah could feel her heart thundering in her chest. It was Colton who spoke, “Who did that?”
Sarah opened her mouth to answer that it certainly hadn’t been here, but the planchet was moving again.
Michael’s eyes narrowed, flickering dark in the low light.
“Isabella, he’s here. Michael’s here. He wants to say something to you.” Sarah’s eyes turned to the boy beside her, but Michael was looking at the board, and there was something in his eyes that was nearly manic.
“What? Isa…” Tina’s voice was careful, soft. “What are you talking about?”
“Guys – this is stupid. Stop it.” Colton’s voice was angry, but there was fear behind it, and the planchet moved again.
“Isa, stop it.” It was Michael’s voice. Soft, careful, smooth. Sarah turned her eyes to him, to see what he could possibly be thinking about all of this, but the disc under her finger moved again, and she jerked her eyes to the board.
Fear flooded through her, and she felt the movement beside her a moment before Michael lifted the board and threw it hard into the fireplace – his face… his face wasn’t the boy that she knew, the boy that she loved. His face was the face of someone who had done something awful, and tried to get away with it. His face was the face of a man crazed.
His face was that of a killer.
So, there it was! I actually cut it off a little short, because it was starting to get pretty long. I have an issue with writing shorter stories, but I was really enjoying myself with this one. I might try my hand at doing a compilation of 5-10,000 word stories and turning it into a novel. and I’ll more than likely do some of these prompts for that. If you guys are interested in seeing one of my longer stories, I can keep myself from cutting them short for one of the coming up prompts. Just let me know! Also, make sure that if you end up doing the writing prompt, you tell me! I really want to see what you guys can come up with, and I’m going to make a compilation post at the end of the month, so that everyone can see what we’ve all created together.
I think it’s going to be pretty amazing, and I would love to see as many of you as possible participating, so just link back to me whenever you do the prompt, and I’ll make sure to include you and a link to your blog!
Until next time guys!!! Keep reading and writing, and keep being absolutely awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick
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