Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, The Ghost by MD Smith IV

“Of all ghosts the ghosts of our old loves are the worst.”

― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes

Window Reflection, Dallas Public Library

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Thursday, March 28, 2002

Walking at night

I worked late each day this week to build up enough time to leave early today. I’ll take a day of vacation tomorrow – the kids are out of school for Good Friday. We’ll try to get in a camping trip – taking along one of Nick’s friends and meeting another family with three kids at the campsite – a couple of kids from Nick’s soccer team and some extra brothers and sisters. We didn’t want to drive very far so we decided to go back to Bonham, a small State Park (only twenty or so campsites) that we visited back in October.

The drive out and setting up the camp was uneventful – I’ve finally figured out how to hook up the new popup, work the hitch without an hour or so of cussing and struggling.

We set up and started a big campfire. I showed a kid how to write his name in the air with a glowing stick – shove the end in the fire, down in the red glowing coals (the hottest part) and then flick it around in the dark night of the woods. I know I’ll regret that – kids can’t resist messing with a campfire – they don’t need any encouragement.

As everyone settled down for the night, I left the smells of the campfire to go walking along the road that circles the small lake in the park. One of my favorite things to do when camping is a long walk in the dark. I like to let my eyes get used to the dark and let my ears get used to the subtle sounds of the nocturnal forest. Most of the road was closed to vehicles – metal gates locked across the tarmac (I don’t know why) but I can walk around a gate. With the full moon mostly out, surrounded by a ghostly ring (storms are predicted) and only a few clouds skidding past – it was a nice bright flashlightless stroll. The peaceful quiet was broken by an SUV that roared off the highway spitting gravel and sped around the dark roads for one circuit before squealing back out of the park. Otherwise, it was quiet with branches waving against the sky, slightly rustling as the dark shadow of an owl flew out.

As I reached the far side of the lake, a spot where some low, swampy woods border an open pasture beyond the fence that marks the park boundary a dark shape shuffled across the road ahead of me. I’m not sure what kind of animal it was. A skunk? It looked sort of like a skunk but after I walked past something splashed into the lake with a loud sploosh so maybe it was a beaver or a muskrat or even a nutria.

If I had brought a flashlight I could have shined it on the creature and figured out for sure what it was. I sort of like not knowing, though.

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

The Ghost by MD Smith IV

from Flash Fiction Magazine

MD Smith IV Homepage

They Went That-A-Way

“Instead of the macho, trigger-happy man our culture has perversely wanted him to be, the cowboy is more apt to be convivial, quirky, and softhearted. To be “tough” on a ranch has nothing to do with conquests and displays of power. More often than not, circumstances – like the colt he’s riding or an unexpected blizzard – are overpowering him. It’s not toughness but “toughing it out” that counts. In other words, this macho, cultural artifact the cowboy has become is simply a man who possesses resilience, patience, and an instinct for survival. “Cowboys are just like a pile of rocks – everything happens to them. They get climbed on, kicked, rained and snowed on, scuffed up by wind. Their job is ‘just to take it,’ ” one old-timer told me.”

― Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

Fair Park, Dallas, Texas