Christmas Short Story Teaser

So, I know it's insanely early for Christmas, but it's, like, almost here...right? Anyway I'm putting out a Christmas short story around the beginning of November so I thought I would post the beginning here. It's going to be available on most major e-book sites, and I'm going to be serializing it on Wattpad (also, if you're interested I'll be writing later posts on how that works out). Essentially, the story is about finding true love in time for Christmas.

15839175619 7663ba40b4Is it weird to be afraid of the dark but crave it like a hunger? To fear going out at night, but to love sitting in a house all alone, no lights, curtains wide, night rapidly falling, cool air rushing in? I feel like the night is the only time I can breathe. The daytime only reminds me of my misery. The night is when I can finally relax.
Alicia stopped writing in her diary. Her cat had crept over to her and demanded to be petted. It purred to life under her, nuzzling its soft head against her hand. She loved Tony. He would always be there for her. She slid off the bed to go make some tea when she hit something. Something that was not there before. That had just appeared. Out of thin air. Alicia shrieked.
“W-who are you?” The wall met Alicia’s back. This, whatever this was, she didn’t want any part of it. Tony leapt onto the bed in front of her, hair rigid, hissing at the intrusion. The intruder, seemed unperturbed by this reaction. He’d had it many times before. Although he hadn’t had too many run-ins with cats.
“Why, my dear, I believe I am a ghost,” the intruder said. He didn’t really look that different. His clothes were outdated. He wore a double breasted wool suit that looked to be from the nineteenth century, and his skin was quite pale, but other than that he looked shockingly normal. Rather cute, actually. His soft brown hair curled up a bit at the edges, and he had a gentle, unassuming smile to him. After watching him for a few moments, Alicia stopped trying to become one with the wall. But there was one thing that puzzled her.
“Why are you British?”
“What?” the ghost gasped, holding a hand to his heart, “what do you mean ‘why am I British?’ That’s bloody rude, dear. That’s like me asking you why you have black hair.”
“Sorry,” Alicia muttered. She didn’t think it was that big of deal, but he was obviously sensitive. “It just struck me as odd for some reason. But, why are you here? I know it’s getting close to Christmas but if you’re the ghost of Christmas past or present or something, then you should go find someone else. I don’t have enough money to be a scrooge.”
“That’s a good question, my dear,” the ghost said, letting the previous comment go. He walked towards her. Alicia watched him sit in an armchair but didn’t tense or move away. The ghost seemed kind of funny to her now. “I’ve no idea why I’m here. I’m too old to have any unfinished business, but perhaps there is something I’m supposed to help you with. I am a therapist.”
“A therapist? If the universe was trying to get me to see a therapist wouldn’t it make more sense to send me to a living one?”
“Maybe,” the ghost considered, “but I am here, and it must be for some reason.”
“Well, what were you doing before this?” Alicia asked. She sat down on the bed and petted her cat, trying to get Tony to calm down. He was still glaring at the ghost but had stopped hissing.
“You know, I don’t know,” the ghost said, “I did notice you didn’t have any Christmas decorations up, is there a reason for that, dear?”
“I don’t really do Christmas.” Alicia’s tone was flat. She didn’t talk about Christmas. She didn’t mention it to anyone. Too many horrible memories. Everything bad that had ever happened to her was at Christmas. It was as if the holiday was her own personal curse. She didn’t even put up a tree anymore.
“Why do I sense there’s something more to it?” the ghost asked, then shook his head. “No, no, it’s too soon to be asking questions like that. Please forgive me, my dear. I can see you look rather tired so I shall leave you alone for the night. I’ll stay in that guest room that I saw.”
Alicia cocked her head to the side. This nameless ghost who was so polite had just invited himself to stay in her guest room. He had obviously looked around the house before appearing in her bedroom. How long had he been here? Did he even sleep? She had too many questions. But she didn’t want to ask them, so she asked his name instead.
“I go by Timothy, and what may I call you, dear lady?”
“Alicia,” she replied, not quite meeting his eyes. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before. She’d never had a supernatural encounter in her life. She hoped it was all a bad dream and when she woke up in the morning he would be gone. But as she watched him walk out of her room and heard his ghostly footsteps tread lightly down the hall, he certainly didn’t seem like a dream.
Once Timothy was in the guest room he sat heavily on the bed and sighed. He didn’t know how he was going to help this Alicia girl. Woman, he reminded himself. She was nearing her thirties but he’d been around for so long now that almost anyone seemed like a kid to him. Still, he didn’t know what he was supposed to do with her, but he knew he had to help her.

Her house was too perfect. Every single item she owned had its place. When Timothy had checked out the living room he’d thought she was selling the house. Every surface was shiny. She had hardwood floors that gleamed as if they were brand new. There was no cozy throw rug, but instead a pristine gray one that would be found in stuffy offices. The room was missing a homey scent. No dinner baking in the oven, no flowers, no people. He didn’t know how she managed to mask any evidence of her cat. There should have been fur everywhere, or at least that horrid smell from the litter box. The litter box smelled like roses. Bloody roses. How does one even get that to happen? There was not a trace of disorder in the house. It was if as she followed her cat around spraying disinfectant and picking up fur. The cat was a positive note, though. Timothy saw the way that thing protected her, and how she soothed it. It meant she wasn’t completely heartless, she was just lost, and Timothy could understand why.

Update: This short story is now available on Amazon here and is called Last Chance for Love.

Photo Credit: Susanne Nilsson Glass via photopin (license)