The Afterlife of Slaves


This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for February 13. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Melanie Greenwood. My story this week weighs in at 98 words.

Copyright Rochelle Fields

Copyright Rochelle Fields

Ghosts live in the bayou. Along the shores of the swamp, you can hear them moaning in the cypress trees.

Our house sits high on a hill, away from the waters of the swamp and the frightening sounds of the bayou. It’s an old house with a long history. In the day, it is the picture of southern charm. At night, it becomes quite another thing. House ghosts come out of the walls. Silent, unlike their bayou counterparts, they wander the halls, peer into cupboards and closets, seeking what cannot be found—relief from guilt, freedom from revenge.

Author’s note: This week’s prompt proved challenging to me, and I’m not particularly happy with the story yet. But the story did remind me of the great verandas so prevalent across Louisiana. Here’s a link to the true story that inspired this one: http://themoonlitroad.com/the-slave-girl/.

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35 thoughts on “The Afterlife of Slaves

  1. wildbilbo says:

    You might not be entirely satisfied yet, but I liked it. A lot. Big fan of ghosts, and your detailing both the restless slaves and the guilty owners was a treat.

    Well written too.
    KT

    • storydivamg says:

      You are too kind, KT. Thanks for the words of encouragement.

      What I don’t like about it is the rather flat story arch–that’s something I often struggle with, although I tend to find it easier in flashes than in longer stories.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  2. You’ve described the ghosts beautifully.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Dawn. This is more of a description than an actual story this week, so I’m happy to hear that the descriptions grab the attention of my readers.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  3. Dear Marie Gail,

    I agree with KT. It’s a story that makes you think.

    Funny how this picture inspired slave stories, isn’t it? I actually took the picture at the historic village in Upstate New York last summer. Although colonial New Yorkers did own slaves, it was less confusing to set it in the south. It seems my story confused people enough. 😉

    At any rate, GMTA. A good one.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • storydivamg says:

      Dear Rochelle,
      I was fairly certain the photo wasn’t taken south of the Mason Dixon line because the trees are wrong. However, this porch seems to scream “plantation”, and we don’t tend to think of plantations and big farms in NY (although a good orchard story might be in order now that I know the origins of the photo).

      I’m glad you liked this one. I had another Lauren Schrecklich story brewing, but it was too involved to fit into 100 words. Maybe this weekend I can put a tale or two about her together. It’s been too long since we saw her in action.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  4. draliman says:

    I can imagine a location lovely in the daylight becoming quite foreboding in the dark night.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Ali. This photo reminded me of a plantation tour I took with my family when I was a preteen. Of course, anytime one wants to tell a story from Louisiana, one simply must include the ghosts. (I think I saw that rule in a writer’s handbook somewhere.)

      Cheers!
      Marie Gail

  5. On the side as being a reader and not a writer, I enjoyed reading the strong images that you conveyed. They pulled me into your story and captured my interest. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be pleased with it unless it is because it is unfinished, because it is the beginning of something more. 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Dear Joy,
      You are too kind. I’m happy you liked the story. My primary reason for disliking it is the flat story arch and lack of driving action. But I did have fun with the descriptions, and I’m happy to hear that my readers are content.

      With any luck I’ll have a bit of time this week to put together some more fleshed-out stories that I can share here. There’s an FBI agent character, Lauren Shrecklich, from whom we haven’t heard in a while (not sure if you’ve read those stories or not). I need to write the rest of the story about how she burned down a pizza parlor to save her love interest . . . But that, as they say, is “another story.”

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  6. afairymind says:

    I like this – it makes you think. I love the descriptions of the two different types of ghosts, slaves and owners. Well done. 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Fairy. 🙂

      I enjoy hearing my readers’ takes on my stories. Two of you have taken this as ghosts of slaves and owners while I had considered them to be the ghosts of two different classes of slave–field hands and house slaves. Going back, I see that both readings are valid, and both are interesting in their own right. Thanks for shedding a new light on my story for me.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  7. Nan Falkner says:

    I love the verandas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. Your story if luscious and such a good memory. We’ve been to Oak Alley, near Baton Rouge, and I have a picture of it in my dining room. It is so beautiful and so was Jefferson Davis’ home right across the street from the Gulf of Mexico (however I know that a hurricane damaged it). It had a large porch too. I love the South (except for the heat). Nan

  8. History is full of sad ghosts, isn’t it. I really like how you brought it out with this particular story.

  9. rgayer55 says:

    My Dad’s ghost keeps pestering the renters who live in the house he died in. On one occasion, he unhooked the water line to the dishwasher (I don’t know how, I had put it on myself and know it was tight) and other times he just does little annoying things to let them know he’s around. I’ve tried talking to him about it, but he tends to ignore me. I think it’s his only form of entertainment. He seems to like the kids who live there now. They grow a large garden and are building a pen to raise some hogs–right up Dad’s alley. Who knows, he may hoe the vegetables after they go to sleep. They certainly grew some big ones last year.

    • storydivamg says:

      We have a parental ghost that hangs out with us here at home. He hasn’t started moving things or messing with the plumbing yet, but we like having my father-in-law hang out with us in the evenings while we watch TV. He’s a comforting sort of spirit, and I think it’s a little lonely on the other side for him since he left us so early.

      Thanks for weighing in. Good luck getting your dad to behave.

      Cheers!
      MG

  10. erinleary says:

    I enjoyed yours. I toyed with a similar idea for a story, but got stuck in the ionic zone.

  11. Apparently even the “righteous” can’t sleep in death.

  12. Sandra says:

    Guilt and revenge, the opposite ends of the spectrum. That’s an interesting thought, ghosts having different agendas. Good one Marie Gail.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Sandra. There are so many reasons that a soul might, in theory, get stuck. I had to play with it a little. Maybe there will be a chance to look at this issue again in future flashes.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  13. I like this this .. maybe not as much as a complete story but as a piece of a larger piece, it brings a marvelous setting for telling a larger story…

  14. It’s a very good start and a great title. The last sentence portends fascinating things to come.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Perry. It always chafes me when I don’t manage to deliver the complete package in 100 words, but this was an exercise of a different kind. I suppose that makes it worth the while.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      MG

  15. Sarah Ann says:

    You captured well the sense of those restless ghosts at the end.

  16. MG,
    I’m very late in both posting and reading, but I made sure to get yours. I like this piece; it sets a very nice mood and a good contrast between the day and night house. You could develop it more, to delve into the specific guilts of the ghosts, but of course, not in 100 words. 🙂
    -David

    • storydivamg says:

      Dear David,
      Thanks so much for making my work a priority. I truly appreciate it.

      I’ve been catching myself coming when I’m going these days. I organized my web content company into an LLC on January 15, and all the details of drumming up business while being a business owner have kept me hopping. Hopefully I will soon fall into a routine that allows for more interaction around here.

      Meanwhile, here we are. Thanks for the thoughts. I think this one may deserve a second look later and perhaps further development into a longer tale.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  17. Margaret says:

    I agree with David. I really like the contrasts here, and the phrase ‘house ghosts’ is clever because of its similarity to ‘house slaves’.

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