Short Stories
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An Absent Child

Author: G. Jefferies

 

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She had known something was amiss on the day her husband, Albert, gave a tour of the newly acquired property. Things moved in her peripheral vision but always ceased to exist when she turned to look directly. Then there was the smell; very faint and not always there. A scent that reminded her of lavender and something else that she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

“Why here Albert?”

“Because, my dear, it is a most splendid residence and it will be an excellent place to raise our child.”

Elisabeth could see the delight radiating from his face. It was soul destroying to see but the truth would destroy him. She smiled back.

“In that case we shall make certain everything is ready for our new arrival.”

It was four weeks to the day she became aware that she was avoiding one room in particular. At first it was just that, being at the very top of the staircase, it was not the ideal place to set up the main bedroom and nursery. This was settled to be the left wing with the right side being for guests. The room in the middle was therefore undisturbed and mightΒ  become a study at some later date. However, as time wore on she began to notice her path was actually swerving away from the door whenever passing in front of it and moving down the landing between the two side elevations.

As this thought distilled Elisabeth paused and put her ear to the door half expecting to find she was being rather silly. Unfortunately for her things took a turn for the worse.

Come in Elisabeth, we have been expecting you.

It was only a whisper in her head, but bore vitriol and carried a venom that fuelled irresistible despair. It was also hypnotic, encouraging her hand to turn a polished brass door handle despite her subconscious screaming no.

As she crossed the threshold time slowed. Elisabeth noticed the room looked much older than everywhere else and it was cold, very cold. She shivered. It reminded her of the cellar; dark, dank and dingy. This room was unloved and desperately in need of renovation.

“Is there anybody in here?”

She asked the question knowing the room was empty and that the voice had been in her mind. Idly she wandered toward the window tracing finger tips through the dust gathered on an old dressing table. The view from the window took in the Marshes. It was as if the apparent random planting of trees in the garden were not random at all when seen from this room. They provided a deciduous corridor taking the eye beyond the garden and across the wetlands to what looked like a folly. Distant and entombed in overgrowth but clearly visible from this room; almost as if it was the only place destined to be able to see it. From the grounds only an isolated copse existed far out in the Marshes.

Rumour had it that ghosts collected there. Unwary wanderers drowned in the bogs and pools whose souls crawled from the waters drawn to the tiny island of dry land. Elisabeth had considered this to be tattle designed to keep children from wandering into the Marshes. Staring at it, as she was now, made her rather more uncertain.

Not a folly Elisabeth, an unconsecrated chapel…a tomb.

The voice in her mind caught her by surprise.

“Who are you?”

Someone that can solve all your problems.

That made her smile. If only things were that simple she thought, turning away from the window and looking back into the room. The view turned from reflection into decay. On her right was a small bed covered in pink bedding that itself was overlaid in cobwebs and mould. The floor was wood and whilst Β solid there were signs that age and neglect were beginning to eat into it. The corner space left of the door was home to a mildewed rocking horse and on the floor next to it several clothes peg dolls. In places wallpaper had yielded to damp and unveiled the crumbling structure beneath. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, Elisabeth found it impossible to believe that behind the door nobody opened no-one even knew this room existed.

It was lost in time and filled with something not in keeping with the rest of the house. Walls to either side of this room showed no sign of what existed just beyond. They were warm, clean smelling and fresh. This was an impossibility and yet here she was. Inside her heart was racing. The atmosphere was filled with something when she walked in. It was only now that she could touch it properly and the accent was fear. Clearly it was a child’s room but the residue was not of happiness but neglect and terror. Questions formed in her mind. Who was she, what happened to her, why was this room keeping itself hidden and why had it called out to her?

Elisabeth turned back to the window. With the sun at a different angle she noticed something new. The trees were arranged to view the folly, or tomb as the now absent voice had corrected her, but there was now also a trail leading through the Marshes. She blinked. It stood out so dramatically that it was astonishing she had not seen it before. Then so did the very room she was in, maybe it was connected.

 


 

The above is a short excerpt from a short story linked to the very first post on this blog an age ago. It’s set in the 1800’s and I have considered putting this piece up in its entirety, just for the hell of it. Sometimes it seems that excerpts might just not be enough for enquiring minds. Not sure though. This is an early piece from a while ago. It may not live up to current standards.

 


 

Β© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in: Short Stories

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Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the blog will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career writing from home around children!

101 Comments

  1. Pingback: An Absent Child Revisted | Fiction is Food

  2. Although I have only read a couple of your posts I admit I like your writing style. I am able to visualize what I’m reading and I enjoy reading this genre, great combination. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much Fernanda. Feedback like that is very well received and provides much needed positivity that I’m doing things that appeal to at least a few people πŸ™ƒ

  3. Oh once I have had my 7 hrs then thats it…no going back and have had a busy day so another early night and early morning πŸ™‚

    • Seven hours ??? You get seven whole hours 😱 I just keep waking up πŸ€• Still, I hope you have agent day 😊

  4. Wow ..was just browsing your blog @ 4.53am and chanced upon this little gem of a story..love it! No chance of going back to sleep now πŸ˜‰

    • That’s no time to be reading things that might disturb the sleep πŸ‘» Mind you I’m glad you did read and like it. It’s been suggested several times that I put the whole post up… So I may do that shortly…in the interim, this room features in The Room That Swallows People. I reblogged that link not too long ago. Hope you catch up on sleep when it’s lighter πŸ˜‡

    • Thank you kindly Brooke…I’m often in the room but this time thing makes it really hard sometimes to comment as much as Ud like to. Seems the vote for more is gaining ground…. I shall reconvene my board meeting of CEO me and decide upon a time frame… πŸ€”

  5. I was scared. I figured the husband was going to kill her, but then I got to the part about the ghosts. You are a great writer– soul destroyer
    Janice

    • Excellent….try The God Strain….that has a twist in it too…one that has me a bit, oh heck…thank you for the accolade though….I just chuck words together and cannot be held responsible for what comes out…my other ruse is I’m just a schizoid biographer. Characters do stuff, I merely record what it is πŸ™ƒ

    • I agree with Melinda. A spooky story, but I guess stories with ghosts usually are!
      Hi BBFFM, funny meeting you here.
      BBFFJ

            • I could just put up warnings or spooky ratings…the memoirs would be a zero for example πŸ€”

                • I’ve toyed with doing that before…I rather think you’ve just made it essential πŸ™ƒ

                  • Yes, yes, I think I have! Great minds think alike, so if you’ve thought of it before, and I’ve thought of it now…
                    We’re both great!!
                    Yay, us!

                    • Just need to come up with a decent easy system that doesn’t hog up too much of the intro….maybe after my author name at the top? A letter code or πŸ‘»

                    • πŸ‘» rating as it were…but what do you call uber spooky? One needs a reference frame πŸ™ƒ

                    • Well where abouts would this one lie on the πŸ‘» scale??

                    • An 8?? Shoot, I thought it stopped short of the bit where it gets, umm, interesting πŸ€” Although psychological stuff…is that the real issue? I mean, say, an in your face I’m a ghost is just that, but paranormal inference is more using the reader’s mind to create the suspense and imagine things…or something like that….. Is this going to two ratings πŸ‘» for spooky and 😳 for psychologically disturbing πŸ€”

                    • Well, now that you mention it, we might have to go to 2 different ratings!!
                      And possibly, start rating my MIND, since that seems to be where the trouble starts!!

                    • Hmm, maybe feedback coukd be your rating of where it leaves your mind πŸ‘»

                    • Yes, that was the logic flaw in my idea πŸ€•

                    • What other colour could it be 😊 Oh, God Strain II is πŸ‘» 3. In my opinion anyway πŸ™ƒ

  6. kentuckygal50 says

    Hi Gary, here from the Blogger Collaboration Group at Mostly Blogging.

    “In places wallpaper had succumb to the damp” (I think maybe ‘succumbed’ would work better here.)

    I enjoyed this excerpt and it gave me the same feeling I would get watching those b&w horror movies from way back when, like “Fall of the House of Usher”.

    In terms of posting it all at once, or in several, my own personal choice would be for the several. That way, you would get your editorial calendar filled up more easily and (hopefully) get people returning to your blog several times.

    Hope you are having a great weekend!

    • Brilliant to see someone from there popping over…it was my first dip into that group and wasn’t really sure what to expect…it’s all still pretty new to me…great spot…no think about it, it should indeed be succumbed. Thank you for that, I get to the point where things are too known to myself and end up skim reading…familiarity breeding contempt in action kind of thing. Lovely to hear it reminded you of those movies too…I’m not a fan of gore for gores sake. I like the psychological effect of minds entering scenes and running with their imaginations.
      Great tip too…I shall take that one on board. Will certainly be visiting your blog soon too 😊

  7. Oh I love it!! Yes I would love to read the entire piece, this has made me very curious and once again intrigued.
    It’s ok to feel proud of your writing, in fact you should feel very proud! You have a gift, we all have gifts and we should embrace them. Now no more of this putting your work down…or I’ll send you to the room that swallows you!!! πŸ˜‰

    • Hmm consensus suggests full post then πŸ€”

      Scary lol…although I’d rather inhabit a room that doesn’t have dubious tendencies to consume its occupants 😊 Again thank you so much. It’s the comments and engagement that really provide the motivation to keep going. I’m rather humbled now 😊

      • Terrific!! Do something that scares you and it will no longer scare you…or something like that!! πŸ˜‰
        Much deserving!! πŸ™‚

        • I see through this reverse psychology ruse..face your fears thereby overcoming them and embracing the future… It might just work too πŸ‘»

          • Ah but in your case you can put your fears into your stories…I’m sure it will work…love the ghost!! πŸ™‚

            • I try…although flying is a pet phobia…and, oh yes…next post is another πŸ€” Speaking og ghosts….absent child…must get the rest of that up πŸ™ƒ

  8. I don’t normally like reading stories on computers or blogs because it hurts my eyes but, I took the time to read this and it was really good. Don’t stop writing.

    • Thank you so much and I really appreciate you reading it given what you said about your eyes. I chose this colour scheme because another friend has photosensitivity and she said it was easier on the eyes than white…can I ask if this in any way helps you? I’m in the process of trying to find the right theme but if readers have eyes that prefer a none white background I will certainly take that onboard when setting colour schemes 😊

      As for writing….unlikely to stop now…I’ve a book with a proofer right now and am hoping to start the publishing process later in the year πŸ™ƒ

      • It is definitely easier on the eyes. If it was white I probably wouldn’t have read it. I chose an offwhite/grayish/tanish color for mine because of how I know my eyes are.
        That is most definitely exciting! Congrats!!

        • Thanks for that…I never considered colour scheme until my friend said something…you’ve just reinforced that as a key consideration. If you had a colour preference on reading, say, a short story here….what would it be? Off white like yours? Something that just knocks the glare of white down a peg or two or something else?

          • Hmmm….I’d probably say the off white like I have bothers my eyes the least. I could read off a blue like you have but, I think all of the other colors drag my eyes away from what I’m reading. Anything that is for lack of a better word a “mellow” color helps my eyes.

            • Too many colours then…might try dropping the surround to black and leave the text background as is. Shoot this would be easy if I was arty πŸ™ƒ

  9. Pingback: The Room That Swallows People | Fiction is Food

    • Thank you for taking time to look and the follow 😊 Seems consensus is pressurising to put the rest of this up πŸ€” And there was me thinking of taking a time out πŸ‘»

    • Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read it πŸ™‚

      And it seems there is a voting contingent to see the rest of this one…I might have to reconsider it πŸ™‚

        • πŸ™‚ might reblog a revamped version of the first encounter with this room first and then follow it up with the full version of this one. Thank you for the confidence boost πŸ™‚

            • Trying to yes but I’ve decided all writers have blips so all good..mostly 😊 Thank you so much for dropping in too. I know I gets hard with tonnes of followers to keep up with and times precious but it means a lot πŸ˜‡

              • My pleasure Gary, and thanks for your friendly words. Yes it does get busy but I do try to keep up with my comments… though WordPress is misbehaving a bit at the moment keeps on freezing on me! Sigh….

                • Friendly words…how can one not be friendly here? All corners of the globe and being nice is so refreshing. Blogging is a leveller and I’m proud to know people like you 😊
                  I’ve had a few freeze issues too…really annoying mid reply…but it’s not just you it seems. Glad you took time to visit though 😊

                  • Thank you Gary, it seems more to be a problem when I’m writing posts which is quite frustrating! Can’t get my posts done very quickly. Ugh… Taking me at least double the time to put them up. Need a computer savvy person…

                    • Ouch…I get it in the notifications sometimes during replies. Not had it on the list creation thing yet but it can run slow. I tend to do my text in a wordprocessor then cut and paste it in then use the post editor to insert bits and tweak. If it hangs you could try clearing your internet web cache and history trails in case it’s a cookie thing.

                    • First port of call….it might work, but it might not….worth a try though πŸ™ƒ

  10. Wow, this is great 😊 Your style and description sucked me in and now I am left severely wanting! I’d love to read the rest of this, it’s got such an intriguing mystery about it.

    • Thank you so much…was a bit unsure with it being part of something I started a while back but got side tracked on another project. That’s at a proofers now so focus can move around again.

      I may put the whole scene up at some point to give a fuller picture of what this project skirts around…although my very first blog post (which needs a major edit) features the very same room in a different time….. πŸ˜‡

      • Well then, it was a worthy distraction it would seem! You’re welcome, it’s all very spooky and interesting.
        Ooh that sounds great! 😊 I’d love to read about how the room changes through time! I’ll look forward to the reblog ☺

        • You might be right! I got pretty bogged down in editing and going round in circles so sending it to proofer ahs been, shall we say, scary liberating! I’ll go back into the original over the next week and check it through then reblog it. Might even put this one out in full…although its not sequential to the first one. What started as an exercise in short stories kind of moved into several chapters… then paused for a bit…waiting for inspiration. Putting this one up has begun the need to finish it πŸ™‚

  11. I woke up when Justin came home from work (around midnight, my time) and stopped by to see what’s what…and, lo and behold, you…and, this…and, wow!!!!! Gary, your writing is so evocative and beautiful and rife with deep shadowy hues that make me want to come in for a closer look, even as the dark jewel tones retreat from searching eyes–pulling the reader ever further into the world you’ve created…so powerful and sooooo suspenseful…this is sooooo great….you can write no wrong, my friend….I love this and appreciate that you shared with us…thank you πŸ™‚

    • Once again I find myself somewhat lost for words by your kindness…you doing that challenge by the way? I think you should!

      I was a bit wary of this one…trying to get the tonation of the 1800’s is not easy….then see it flip to the present with the paranormal brothers is a bit of a mental where the heck am I thing….oh hang about I don’t mention them in this bit do I ?

      Their brother is in one of my other posts….Theate of Dreams….. A case of when worlds collide….nearly everything I’ve written has a connection somewhere 😊

      Thank you for commenting amidst your busy schedule. It’s always a pleasure 😊

      • I have been nominated for 3 or 4 things…so, this weekend I will start to complete them in the order of invitation…but, I will get around to it πŸ™‚ Also, I need to read Theater of Dreams….I can’t wait! “See you” after work….take care my wonderful friend πŸ™‚

        • That’s because you are a mad blog person and people always nominate those…personally I’m keeping my head down πŸ™‚
          Crumbs, you might find that one a bit guttural…but the character is what the character is !

          • I know I should be grateful…it is great to be thought of…but, I am stretched pretty thin as it is and I find that I spend my energy on reading/commenting on others’ posts, as well as working on my own…I’m not the type who can sit and write off the cuff…it takes me writing a bit over the course of a few days, and then spending several hours on the weekend days to wrap it all up. I think the fact that my job entails a good deal of note writing slows my desire to write anything that feels like an obligation…not to sound ungrateful…I adore that others care enough to want to hear from me… πŸ™‚

            • Crumbs don’t ever think it was an obligation. Time is a very precious commodity.. I think I said that before πŸ™‚

              Write what you can when you can and that’s fine by me πŸ™‚

              • I definitely will…I’m going to complete them in order of nomination…by the by, I’m reading one your posts right now….Poor Joe!

                • Which Joe.. Joe Stringer or Joseph Carmichael? Both are in a spot of bother and its only their intro in Chapter two πŸ™‚

                  How many things have you been nominated for? It sounds like you have a plate full of them…and your book too πŸ™‚

                    • He’s an intersting one. The whole bit after the first paragraph went entirely in the direction he chose. My input seemed to be the voyeur transcribing the scene. Very strange πŸ‘»

    • As per bit at the end, I was toying with putting the whole scene up but wasn’t sure if anyone would want to know more…so back to trailers with no spoilers 😁

      Thank you so much for commenting and my apologies for being absent for a while…the world has been harvesting my time πŸ€”

  12. Isn’t it related to, “The room that swallowed people? I remember Elisabeth πŸ™‚ I can also remember what else happens ( well what my memory deems fit to recall πŸ˜‰

    I also love your Paranormal Brothers story line too πŸ™‚

    I think your other amazing followers are going to want to read the rest πŸ™‚

    You really are an amazing story teller, my friend. I am so glad we had that serendipitous meeting on a creative writing course πŸ™‚

    Well i’d better get back to the edit process.

    • Good grief, your memory is better than mind !!! Mind you, that storyline is going to get a rejig. I decided I like it but it needs a few tweaks to bring it up to scratch.

      You are right though my arm of the community here is awesome every last one of them. Best move I made was to start blogging after a very long hiatus πŸ€”

  13. You never cease to amaze me Gary! I remember this story and I think this was one of the first I got to read from you.

    You know I adore this time period and your description evokes that era not to mention goosebumps as to who or what occupied “that’ room once before.

    I loved it. I love all your writing. πŸ™‚

    • Oooh….can you remember how it goes then? Good recall too. I think this is part three of the paranormal brothers tale. Do you think I should have put the whole piece up?

      And thank you for commenting…very much appreciated πŸ˜‡

    • Thank you 😊

      I had wondered about posting the whole piece but wasn’t sure it worked as well as my newer stuff. I plan to rework this series though because I feel the story is wanting to move onwards πŸ€”

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