Welcome Sandra Tilley for this special Halloween edition of Tell Tale Tuesday!
Not only is it TELL TALE Tuesday, IT’S HALLOWEEN! The time for ghosts and goblins and ghouls…
And in the spirit of Halloween, I’d like to introduce you to Neil Miller, the ghost in my book, The Ghost and Mrs. Miller. Neil is not your normal, scary kind of ghost. Some people might even think he’s sort of friendly. Think Caspar–without the pudge. Neil wasn’t always a ghost. He was an accountant with charts and balance sheets and lists. Lots of lists.
Neil trains throughout his childhood for his senior year’s Most Likely to Succeed yearbook spread. And shortly after graduation, he marries his childhood friend and sweetheart Libby Carlisle. For nineteen years their lives follow their carefully documented plans: finish college, secure career, buy home, have children, live happily ever after. Somewhere during the Happily Ever After, Libby catches Neil at his office lip-locked with his hot assistant. However, bad turns to unbearable when on his way home, Neil’s car careens off an overpass, shifting his status from human to …well…ghostly.
The Ghost and Mrs. Miller is written in Libby’s POV. In the following excerpt, Libby encounters Neil’s new, other-worldly status:
There’s been a mistake. He can’t be dead.
The cool light from the moon gleamed through the window over the sink. Neil sat like a still life painted in watercolors. The irises of his eyes, once warm and brown, faded to the color of desert sand. Blurred earth tones from the tile pattern on the back splash behind him softened the angles of his face. The hint of color in his blue, button-down oxford shirt and khaki slacks blended into a wash of pastels.
I reached out my hand. “Can I touch you?”
Neil held out his hands palms up. “You can try.”
I touched his hand. Only air. “Did you feel that?”
I leaned against the counter. “Are you a ghost?”
“I don’t believe in ghosts.”
I pushed my hand all the way through his chest. “How do you explain this?”
“Let’s say I’m a spirit.”
“So what is your spirit doing here?”
“I don’t know. The last thing I remember is hitting the overpass.”
I rocked my head back and forth. “This can’t be happening.” I pinched my arm, hard. “Ouch. What’s going on? I catch you with Sheri, and the next thing I know the police are banging on the door telling me you’re dead.”
“Don’t act so inconvenienced.” Neil squared his shoulders, and his eyes flashed a soft mocha. “Before I’m even cold, good ole’ Eli comes running to your rescue.”
I stepped into Neil’s glow. “What are you saying, Mr. Cheater?”
Neil sat taller and peered down his narrow, transparent nose. “We’re going there?”
I poked his chest but my finger stabbed air. “Oh, yes. I caught you with Sheri. And on our anniversary!” My voice reached its alto limit and scaled upward into the soprano range. “And you have the gall to accuse me of something? With Eli? Do you think I’m a complete idiot?” My pitch spiraled into a crescendo.
“That a rhetorical question?” Neil grunted.
I love ghosts and ghost stories. In elementary school, my favorite ghost stories came from 13 Alabama Ghosts by Kathryn Tucker Windham and Margaret Gillis Figh. Then I moved up to all things Edgar Allen Poe. And one of my faves is “The Tell-Tale Heart.” I took my 7th grade students to a live performance, hoping to engender a love of literature. Or maybe I went for myself. J
The Ghost and Mrs. Miller contains humor; but it also deals with the pain of loss, anger, guilt, second chances, and redemption.
“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.”
Here’s to hoping a diamond of an idea haunts you day and night. J
Happy writing, my friends!
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