Hey hey. Here's my first post. It's a flash fiction I wrote up for a contest over on terribleminds.com. It's a great site for beginning writers, regular writers and unicorn fetishists of all stripes.
The story itself is pretty dark for less than a thousand words. Don't say I didn't warn ya.
It was three days after Jake's birthday that his mommy knocked her head against the counter and stopped moving. He'd just turned seven years old.
He didn't see what happened. He was playing with his toys in his room when he'd heard her cry out and then a dull smacking sound. When he went into the living room to check on what had happened her eyes were fixed blankly forward and the blood that was pouring from her head had already pooled and soaked into the carpet. There was a spot of blood and a crack on the side of the coffee table.
Somebody should clean up that spill was Jake's first thought. His second was realizing that it was his mommy who always did the cleaning. His third was that she wouldn't be cleaning up anything now.
He thought of people he could and should call. The police. A doctor. His dad who lived very very far away. But none of them would be able to help him. None of them could bring his mommy back. So he stared down at her body, not knowing what else to do. That was how he passed the first day. And the second.
By the third day he was dimly aware that he'd been sitting in the same position without moving for a long, long. He was aware that he was hungry, and that his legs were cramped and that he should be tired but wasn't really. He also aware that somebody else was in the room with him.
He looked up and saw a strange boy who looked to be about the same age as him. He was also sort of see-through.The boy looked back at him with same blank staring eyes as Jake's mommy and smiled.
"Hi,"the other boy said. "My name is Georgie. I'm a dead person."
Jake smiled back. After three days it was nice to talk to someone else, even if they were a dead. His mommy didn't talk though. He would have to ask Georgie about that.
It took Jake a full day to ask Georgie about mommy. They talked about regular kid stuff first; their favorite shows on TV (Georgie's favorites were stuff Jake had never heard of, like something called a Howdy Doody), favorite toys (Jake had never heard of any other kid who really liked hula hoops) and favorite foods (they both enjoyed wheatey-o's cereal so that was nice). While they were on the subject of food Jake's tummy grumbled loud enough for Georgie to hear it.
"Ohh you must be really famished," he said. "Wait here. I'll be back."
Georgie faded away into nothing. An hour later he faded into something and was holding some sort of weird fruit in his hand.
"Here you go." He offered the fruit to Jake.
Jake took it and bit into it. It tasted weird but good.
"What is this?"Jake asked, his mouth full.
"It's a pomegranate,"Georgie said.
"Oh okay. I've never heard of it."
"Do you like it?"
Georgie's smile got even bigger.
After Jake finished eating he cleared his throat.
"Umm, can I ask you something, Georgie?"
"Oh course,"Georgie nodded, his head bobbing up and down like a spring. Jake didn't think he could move his head like that. His neck wouldn't let him.
"If you're dead and I can talk to you like a normal person,"Jake took his time on the next part, made sure to fully pronounce his words like his teacher at school at taught him."How come I can't talk to mommy the same way?"
Jake's head stopped bobbing.
"Have you ever heard of a wake?"the shadow boy asked.
Jake shook his head.
"It's what living people do when someone they love dies. They stand watch over the body and make sure that nothing bad happens to it. It's also a time for living people to grieve and start to move on.
"On the other side of it, a wake does a lot of weird things with the dead. Sometimes it traps the dead person's soul to its body and won't let it move on, and sometimes it actually draws back a spirit from the other side to the land of the the living. Sometimes when there's a special person, an irregular person like you doing the wake both things happen."
Jake rubbed his eyes, and for the first time realized he'd been crying.
"You're saying that my mommy is stuck here, and you're here because of me,"Jake said. It wasn't a question.
It was Georgie's turn to nod. He pointed a bone thin finger to the ceiling light, the only illumination in the whole apartment.
"The bulb burned out two days ago. She's been keeping it going ever since, making sure you're not stuck alone here in the dark."
Jake knew the answer before he opened his mouth. He had to ask the question anyways.
"Is there any way to bring her back?"
"No. The only thing you can do is end the wake and send her on to the other side. And when you do I'll have to leave too."
They sat together in silence for a long time.
"What do I need to do?"Jake asked, his voice barely over a whisper.
"Go to the bathroom and wash the tears from your eyes. Don't stop until you're finished and don't look back until you feel the light go out."
Jake did what Georgie had told him to do and washed his face until he living room light flickered twice, then went out. He looked out to see a dark room and his mother's body laying crumbled on the floor.
He heard a knock on the door and a voice asking if he was alright. He recognized it as Mr. Peters', the superintendent.