Microfiction: Laying ghosts

100 words for Rochelle Wisoff’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt

PHOTO PROMPT © Karen Rawson


Paula squeezed Joe’s hand tight, as tight as her closed eyes.

“You should look,” he said. “You’d see then that there’s nothing left.”

With an effort she opened her eyes, took in the remains of the house on the hill, the broken steps down to the jetty.

“There isn’t even any water,” Joe said. “They damned the creek after they torched the house.”

He was still there though, her little brother. She closed her eyes and squeezed out the tears. He would always be there. It would always be that nightmare morning when she found his body in the water.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

57 thoughts on “Microfiction: Laying ghosts”

      1. I agree, Jane. Perhaps he thinks it will be some kind of closure for her. By the same token, I hate open casket funerals. The corpse never looks “natural” and I prefer to remember the person in life.

      2. There is this idea that there’s a magic button we can press to take away the pain. There isn’t. It doesn’t change anything having a last lingering look at a dead person in a casket, it has to be closed up and nailed down some time.

  1. A traumatic read, Jane, but you did it so well. Building the atmosphere, the dread of something awful we just know is coming but can’t escape. Makes me wonder what happened, how she survived, if she’ll ever find peace. Wonderful

  2. So chilling, and sad. How well conveyed, that your loved one may think he’s trying to help you cope, but he doesn’t understand how — and how could he, as I’m sure she doesn’t have the answer herself.

    1. I don’t know that there is a one size fits all answer for these things. I guess it’s impossible for a sensitive human being to ever forget such a loss, but we seem to want to believe that there’s a cure for everything.

      1. I think especially when it’s someone we love who is hurting, we desperately want to be able to heal them, to believe something we do could help. But you’re right, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and sometimes there’s no answer at all.

  3. The loss cannot be undone; the sadness will never end; but human love can eventually take away the despair, I think. Joe is being with her, in the place of her trauma, and by that fact he can lighten her burden.
    A good story, Jane, and well written.

    1. Thanks Penny 🙂 I’m sure you’re right. The best help in getting over a trauma is having someone to share the pain with. That and time. But I don’t think there’s a miracle ‘cure’.

    1. Thank you, Mike. For me, it would be impossible, but I know that for many people there’s a compulsion to go back to the place where they lost someone in a dramatic or violent way, like going to look at the bit of ocean where a plane went down. I can’t understand that at all, but I suppose they imagine that it will bring some kind of ‘closure’.

    1. We hear so many of these stories nowadays. I don’t think it’s because more children are abducted and abused that ever before, it’s just that the press makes sure we know about every single case.

  4. Jane, this is a very sad story. I really wouldn’t want to go back to see where my brother had died. Such a sad place to go back to visit. Nicely done!

    1. Thanks Nan. No, I don’t understand why visiting the place where a loved one died a violent death has become such a ritual. We don’t insist on visiting the hospital bed where someone died, do we?

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