Rite of Passage (Fiction)

Photo by JF @ Pursuit of Happiness
Photo by JF @ Pursuit of Happiness

The two boys crouched behind overgrown shrubs.

“This is stupid,” Turner whispered to his best friend.  “I can’t feel my legs anymore.”

“If it’s so stupid, why are you here?” Seth kept his gaze on the old house.

Turner didn’t say anything.  Instead, he shifted his weight to his other knee and stifled a groan when an ankle popped.  He thought about why he was there.  Mostly, he wanted to keep Seth from trumpeting down the school hallways that he was chicken.  “Maybe we should head back home.  It’s getting late.”  He glanced up at the moon, wishing the sun hadn’t surrendered to the shadows.

Seth snorted.  “You’re still afraid of the dark!”

“Am not!”

“Just like camp last year when you couldn’t sleep without a nightlight.”

“Shut up.  I was twelve.”

“If it’s not the dark, then you must be afraid of ghosts, or vampires.  Or whatever it is.”

Turner hesitated.  “That stuff’s not for real.”  He didn’t know if he believed in the existence of spirits or vampires, but he didn’t really want to find out.  “How do you know the house is abandoned?”

“Duh.  Have you ever seen anyone around?”

“Well, no, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

“Hey, is the video going?”

Turner glanced at his phone.  “Yeah, but I don’t see why.”

Seth rolled his eyes.  “I’m telling you, something funny is going on.”  He pointed to the railing, a patchwork of peeling sea foam colored paint and rust.  “She glides down the hill toward the lake almost every night.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Turner scrunched up his face in confusion.

“Supernatural phenomena rarely make sense.”

Turner burst into laughter.  “You’re a doof!”

“Shhhh!”  Seth frowned.  “You’ll scare her away.”

“I think she’d scare us more than–” Turner stopped talking when he felt something grip his shoulder.  He turned to Seth and saw the same wide-eyed look he imagined he wore.

Seth screamed and scrambled to his feet.  He bounded down the grassy hill toward the lake.

Turner swallowed hard.  His mind wanted to follow his friend, but his stiff legs refused to comply.

“What are you doing here?”

He glanced over his shoulder to glimpse the owner of the melodious voice that wasn’t scary at all.  He squinted, but couldn’t make out her face through the shadows.  She had something covering her head, too.

“Well, aren’t you going to run?”

“Do you want me to?”

She stepped into the open where the moonlight revealed she wore a dark-colored hooded cloak.  She shrugged.  “No matter what I want, they always run.”

“What’s your name?” He stretched out his leg so maybe the tingling would stop.

“Myra.”

“How long have you lived here?”

“My whole life.  Well, for as long as I can remember.”

“I’ve never seen you around.”

“I can only come out at night,” she said, lowering herself to the ground beside him.

“No way!  Seth couldn’t have been right.  You’re a vampire?”

She laughed.  “You’re silly!  Vampires are imaginary.”  Her smile faded.  “What’s your name?”

“Oh, uh, Turner.”

“Do you want to know a secret, Turner?”

“No.  Uh, not really.”  He cringed. He didn’t mean to sound so rude.  “I mean, I’m not good at keepin’ secrets.”

“You’ll keep this secret.”  She leaned over and kissed his cheek.  “I’m fifteen and I’ve never kissed a boy until now.”

“Oh.”  He pulled away, although it wasn’t entirely unpleasant.  He couldn’t wait to tell Seth.  “So how come you’re stuck inside all day?”

She dropped her hood and lifted her white-blonde locks from her neckline.  “Even a few minutes in the sun and I burn.  My Gramma says she’s scared I’ll get cancer.”  She tilted her chin down.  “I think she doesn’t like the curious stares.  I heard her say that Albinism is a curse and death surely follows.”

Turner shifted, uncomfortable in the silence.  “I’m sorry,” he finally uttered, unsure of what else to say.  “What about your mom?”

“Huh?”

“Does your mom think it’s a curse?”

Myra twisted blades of tall grass around her index finger.  “I don’t know.  She left me with Gramma when I was a week old.  She stayed longer than Daddy, though.”

The screen door creaked open.  Turner heard Myra’s name carried on the breeze, but he couldn’t see anything beyond the glowing porch lights, which created a halo around a blurred figure.

“I have to go, Turner.”

Turner stood up and attempted to brush the mud from the seat of his pants.  “Will I see you again?”

She averted her gaze.  “I don’t know.”

He watched as she climbed the steps to the house, her left hand trailing the weather-beaten hand rail.  He expected her to turn and look back at him but she didn’t.  Near the top, it looked like she just faded away.  Impossible.  Turner blinked several times, certain the porch light must’ve blinded him.

He turned to leave and remembered the phone in his hand.  The video had stopped recording but he hoped it captured enough.  He sat on a rock by the lake and pushed “play.”  The battery flashed low but after a moment, the video played.

Turner giggled when Seth squealed.  He listened for Myra’s voice, but heard only his.  The camera turned when he’d shifted after the kiss.  Nothing but trees!

“Man, where have you been? I thought you were right behind me.”

Startled by Seth’s voice, he shoved the phone in his pocket.  “Let’s go.”

“So what happened?”

Turner shrugged.  “Nothing.”  That was kind of the truth… nothing happened that he could prove.  He remembered her words:  You’ll keep this secret.  She knew.

“Wanna come back tomorrow?”

“No thanks.”

Seth punched him in the shoulder.  “You chicken?”

Turner shoved his hands in his pockets.  “Nah.  But I got video of you squealing like a Girl Scout that says you are.”

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

Okay, I planned to go unprompted again this week, but then I ran across a post by JF offering up a photo and a challenge to write of the occupants of a seemingly vacant house.  The photo, posted before the story, is credited back to his site.

My inspiration for this story:  the obvious inspiration is the photo.  The first thought that came to mind was to write of an elderly person who had died and the family planned to sell the house.  That seemed too obvious, so I tossed that idea out right away.  My older son loves ghost stories, so I decided it would be fun to write an ambiguous ghost story (was she a ghost, or were the oddities a product of an overactive imagination?)  I don’t write kid-type stories very often, so I do hope this is mildly entertaining.  Thanks for reading 🙂

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29 thoughts on “Rite of Passage (Fiction)

  1. JF July 31, 2014 / 5:18 AM

    Janna, thank you for writing this interesting story! I hope that this abandoned house will inspire somebody else to write about it. I am going to do it soon myself. Best to you!

    • jannatwrites July 31, 2014 / 5:50 PM

      I enjoyed writing for your photo, JF. It would be good to see other stories as well 🙂

    • jannatwrites July 31, 2014 / 5:51 PM

      Thanks, Mishka! Congrats on the new book release (I just stopped by your blog and saw that.) Odd, but my excitement for you makes want to get back into my own book project 🙂

  2. yarnspinnerr July 31, 2014 / 5:52 AM

    Excellent use of albinism here. Truly innovative.

    • jannatwrites July 31, 2014 / 5:51 PM

      Thanks, Yarnspinnerr! I thought it would be a good explanation for her not venturing out in the daytime… makes more sense than being a vampire, too 🙂

  3. Debbie July 31, 2014 / 8:39 AM

    Much more than “mildly entertaining,” Janna — I liked it a lot. You’ve really grasped pacing and description; I felt like I was right there! And what a neat twist, having the phone record everything but Myra!

    • jannatwrites July 31, 2014 / 5:52 PM

      Thanks, Debbie! I’m so glad you felt the story. I was thinking of writing more ‘youth’ pieces because there’s an idea my older son and I worked out last year… he fell away from it but I kind of want to see where it goes.

  4. nrhatch July 31, 2014 / 11:05 AM

    You sure do know your way around the keyboard, Janna. Fantastic tale and telling.

    • jannatwrites July 31, 2014 / 5:54 PM

      Thanks, Nancy! I always appreciate you taking time to read my stories 🙂 I like writing stories without an over-concern for word count!

  5. Stephanie Faris July 31, 2014 / 2:27 PM

    I love ghost stories, too. Awesome job. Very creative!

    • jannatwrites July 31, 2014 / 5:54 PM

      Thanks, Stephanie! I’m glad you stopped by to read the story 🙂

  6. Emilio Pasquale August 1, 2014 / 9:57 AM

    I am wounded. deeply. You write for other people’s photos? Get inspired? Janna, Janna, I thought what we had was special. Oh, the pain. That being said, you have not disappointed me in your story-telling ability. Another great one. One very minor problem for me- probably no one else: “She glides down the hill toward the lake almost every night.” That sounds a bit stilted, especially if spoken by a young boy!

    • jannatwrites August 2, 2014 / 2:27 PM

      Emilio, it was just this one time and it didn’t mean anything… your photos ARE special to me 🙂 (Really, I do look forward to writing for your photos!)

      Thanks for the feedback on that line. It’s helpful to know what ‘works’ and doesn’t work when reading it!

  7. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) August 1, 2014 / 11:35 PM

    That’s such a perfect story… And I love the perfect last sentence, I think Seth will stop harassing Turner…

    • jannatwrites August 2, 2014 / 2:28 PM

      Thanks for reading, Bjorn! I do think Seth’s bullying days are over, as long as Turner has the video 🙂

  8. Imelda August 2, 2014 / 5:22 PM

    I am glad that Turner does not want to go back. Myra spells trouble. I like this coming of age and summer adventure story. Do you intend to continue the story, Janna? I think mor can still happen here.

    • jannatwrites August 2, 2014 / 6:46 PM

      Thanks for your comment, Imelda! Right now, I don’t know where this will go…maybe I’ll write more, I never know 🙂

  9. subroto August 5, 2014 / 6:33 AM

    What a lovely story. The voices of the kids have come out just so right, especially the banter between the two boys. The ending is just perfect.

    • jannatwrites August 6, 2014 / 9:19 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Subroto – I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

  10. joannesisco August 15, 2014 / 12:59 PM

    I liked it a lot 🙂 You tell a great story!

    • jannatwrites August 17, 2014 / 10:00 AM

      Thanks, Joanne! I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

  11. pattisj August 20, 2014 / 10:38 PM

    I always enjoy your stories, Janna, and this is no exception.

  12. Sarah Ann August 24, 2014 / 8:59 AM

    Love the banter between Seth and Turner – very real – and then Turner’s sheepishness with Myra. I’m left wondering whether he’ll go back without Seth tagging along.

    • jannatwrites August 24, 2014 / 8:54 PM

      Thanks, Sarah Ann. I don’t know if he’d go back or not.

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