Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wednesday's Words on a Friday

On Wednesdays, Delores, from Under The Porch Light, has a word challenge meme which she calls “Words for Wednesday”.

She puts up a selection of six words which we then use in a short story, or a poem.

I’m hopeless at poetry so I always do a story.

It’s a fun challenge…why not join in?

This week's words are:

1. indeterminate
2. spider
3. enhanced
4. spectral
5. dissident
6. mayhem 

and: "dreams and dusters"; "fluff and feathers";  which I used in a short paragraph in Delores's comments last Wednesday.

Here is my story:

The cottage sat alone and unloved on its allotment at the edge of town for many years. In vain, real estate agents had offered incentives to prospective buyers only to have each turn away. One was heard to mutter, "it just "feels" wrong." No one could pin point a problem, or if there even was a problem. 

One young agent, a dissident new to the firm, well-known for his unorthodox sales methods, offered to add the cottage to his listings. The elders in the firm watched in disbelief as the cottage was listed over the next few months as "a sweet little starter home; a knock-down and rebuild; a rental investment; a bed and breakfast opportunity."

It was currently listed as "a hobby farm". A distinct possibility, since the allotment also had several weedy, overgrown garden beds, separated by worn brick paths, leading to and surrounding a big old chicken coop. 

The agent, Mr Cooper, in his enhanced enthusiasm, arranged for a thorough cleaning and painting of the cottage and pitched in himself on weekends to help weed the garden beds. This was unheard of! The elders tutted and frowned, but admitted in the end, the place did look better in the new listings photographs. 

A few weeks later, while showing a young couple through the house, the wife was heard to say quietly, "there's something here, an indeterminate something; a spectral quality to the air. Has something untoward happened in the history of the place?"

Mr Cooper assured them that he knew of no such happening, but neglected to say he hadn't researched much beyond the past fifteen years. Resolving to do so, he asked the young couple if they would like a day to think it over and then come back for another look. 

Heading straight to the archives, Mr Cooper pulled out every file he could find on 78 Mortimer Street, and discovered the final owner, a Mrs Johanssen, had died a month before the first 'For Sale' listing thirty years ago. He phoned his friend Gary at the newspaper office and asked if he could view the microfiche files from the week Mrs Johanssen had died. Perhaps there was a story here, something he could use to romanticise the cottage with and possibly ensure a sale. 

Upon viewing the story which had made the front page all those years ago, he found out Mrs Johanssen had been cleaning the light fittings with an extended duster and had gotten a fright when she dislodged a big old spiderweb which then landed in her hair. According to witnesses she had rushed about screaming, "get it off me, get it off me!" and in the ensuing mayhem Mrs Johanssen had tripped over a small footstool and cracked her head on the  brick hearth. 

"Hmmm," thought Mr Cooper, "nothing much romantic about that, but maybe Mrs Johanssen is the indeterminate 'something' that has put people off buying all these years. He hurried back to the real estate office and asked the elder agents if they had known about this and if they had, why hadn't anyone said anything? The older of the two, Mr Williams, said it had been kept quiet because it was assumed people wouldn't want to buy a house in which someone had been killed, even by accident.

"Well, we'll see about that," said Mr Cooper. In the morning when the young couple returned for a second viewing, he told them the story of Mrs Johanssen and as he did so, all three of them noticed that there wasn't a single spiderweb to be found anywhere at all in the house or yard. Not even in the old chicken coop. 

"That explains it," said young Mrs Cullen. "Mrs Johanssen must still be here, keeping any spiders away so no one else meets the same fate she did."
Mr Cullen looked at her and what he saw in her face didn't surprise him much. "You love the place, don't you?" he asked. "I do," she replied. "I think we should buy it and give Mrs Johanssen permission to move on. We'll promise to keep the premises clean and spider free as long as we live."

In due time the contract was signed and a "Sold" sign appeared in front of the cottage. The elder estate agents, Mr Williams and Mr Erskine, were well pleased to finally have the cottage off the books and began to think that, just maybe, Mr Cooper's unorthodox methods might have some merit to them. Perhaps they should look at being a little less stuffy about things themselves. Get out of the rut a bit. Do things differently. What was that new phrase? Step out of their comfort zone?


  1. I love the direction this went. I was expecting a different ending, and this was instead a special closure.

  2. It's called thinking 'outside the box' er...cottage. River you write the best stories every week.

  3. Wow. And I would love to have a spectral presence to do some of my cleaning/household maintenance. And the smaller portion would be very, very, very happy to have something/someone which kept spiders away.

  4. I would like to keep the old boy ghost to keep all the spider webs at bay.

  5. Once again--I LOVE the way you write!!

  6. Truth is better than hid.den insinuation. Lovely writing

  7. Truth is better than hid.den insinuation. Lovely writing

  8. And the young Mrs. Cullen immediately cancelled her order for a new footstool after she'd first called the exterminators!

    Another good tale, River. :)

  9. Susan Kane; I wanted an unloved cottage to have new life with a young couple that would bring children into it.

    Delores; thank you! Maybe i should think outside the box a bit myself.

    Elephant's Child; wasn't the spectral presence; remember Mr Cooper arranged a thorough cleaning and painting!

    Merle; a woman ghost and she didn't stay once the Cullens moved in as she could see they loved her old home and would care for it.

    fishducky; thank you so much!

    Susan Kane; two visits in one day. I'm honoured. Truth is often better in cases like this.

    Lee; no exterminator necessary, no spiders remember? The new footstool went into the nursery by the rocking chair where Mrs Cullen would rock their new baby girl, named Johanna for Mrs Johanssen.

  10. ... Hi River... another great and interesting story..... I love the way you writ... Hugs... Barb xxx


  12. Enter the short story competition in the link above. The theme of the 2015 competition is ‘Privilege’, with a focus on women’s stories. Limit 2000 words, closing date 23 MArch, open to Australian Residents.

  13. Your stories just keep getting better and better. I second what mm said about that short story competition. Go for it!

  14. Barbara; thank you.

    mm; I'll check out the link and give it some thought. I actually have a story that hasn't been seen anywhere, not even here, but it is over 2000 words by 79.

    Susan; thank you too, I'll check out the link and see what is required.

  15. River, I am sure you can remove 79 words easily. Break a leg! You have nothing to lose. :-)

  16. Always enjoy stopping by your blog,