“Of all escape mechanisms, death is the most efficient.” – Henry Ward Beecher
I try not to loathe the place that I am expected to call home. My own self-pity will not benefit anyone, certainly not me. But, try as I might, I can’t stand the new town. A little town in nowhere Virginia. Being the new person in a town this small means that my every move will be everyone’s business and it just adds to the list of things I’ll have to repeatedly explain. The main thing that will be on each person’s mind is who is this new guy? And there I will be, standing there, trying to explain the process of…
“Stop it!” I say it to no one in particular. We have been here nearly 2 weeks and I am still complaining. There is work that needs to be done and probably a few messes to clean up and all I am doing is standing around going, “Poor me”.
“Poor Nate in his nice big house, in his small town where he can start over. Poor Nate with his steady family and rich heritage. Poor Nate with his car and easily acquired friends. Poor, poor Nate.” I mutter, mocking my own self-pitying behavior. “Poor Nate. Life is not all that bad. After all, I could be dead.”
It is a fact that I know a little too well. The old, the young, females, males, the sickly, and those in good health; death comes to them all. It is the one thing in this world that is 100% unpredictable. Invited or not, it comes. For those that fear death, it is a most unwelcomed visitor who drains every ounce of energy that you have. For those that invite death, well, it accepts the invitation and leaves no room for a second thought.
I try not to loathe the place that I am expected to call home, but it is just like everywhere else. The only escape from death is death itself. Unfortunately, I do not like either of my alternatives. If dying is the only way to avoid death’s shadow, then I assume my life will always be clouded in darkness. Perhaps it isn’t the usual outlook on life. I chuckle, thinking that it certainly is not the outlook of the other guys in my classes, but as I stand in the graveyard that night, it seems to be the only outlook option I have.
I guess it is around that point when I see her. To anyone else, she may appear to have a firm grasp on the situation – to know exactly what she is doing. On second thought, to anyone else, she may appear crazed or mentally unstable. She is walking around a graveyard in the middle of the night, talking softly to an invisible man to her side. From where I am standing, it seemes possible that even she can not see the man beside her. She is not quite facing him as she speaks to him, but, instead, stands fixated on an empty spot directly in front of her. At the late hour, I can not be sure if she can not see him or if she just chooses to avoid directly looking at what is left of the man before her. Either way, I feel a stab of guilt when I find myself considering whether or not her presence is key to my escape from dealing with the dead.
“Healing yourself is connected with healing others.” – Yoko Ono
"Someone is already helping me," the woman in front of me says. I can barely see her in the dark of the night. The storm from earlier had blown out the electricity for this block.
"I don't understand," I tell the confused ghost. "What do you mean someone else is helping you?"
"A young man - quite handsome if I do say so myself," she says with a small laugh. "He came to me last night and offered to help me move on. At first I didn't understand what he was talking about, but after he explained it, I agreed to his help. I didn't realize that ghosts aren't supposed to stick around in our world. I thought I was doing right by watching over the ones I love."
"A young man?" I ask when she stops to take a breath. It seemed there was someone else in town helping.
"He was about your age, I believe," she says looking around. "He seemed to know what he was talking about - it was almost as though he'd done this before. He made some comment about it being his job - something he thought he could escape in a new town."
Someone my age. Someone new to town. It doesn't take me long to put together who it might be. The only question left is how to confront him without seeming like the crazy girl in town.
"I guess I'll let him help you then," I tell the woman politely before heading home to formulate a plan of how to confront Nathaniel Grave.
“Healing yourself is connected with healing others.” – Yoko Ono
"Why would I talk to you? You're just a teenager!" The man standing in front of me is shouting at the top of his lungs but I'm the only one who can hear him. I thought about going home after I saw the boy in the graveyard, but lingered a bit longer at my father's grave. Now, I'm wishing that I had gone home. There is a spirit standing in front of me, yelling at me because I asked him his name. Angry spirits are no fun - I'm still wondering how Benjamin dealt with so many.
"Yes, but I'm also the only one that can see or hear you," I respond calmly. There's no use in getting upset with this man - he's just suffered the terrible shock of death after all.
"I don't understand?" He has sat on the bench beside me at this point. I guess he ran out of steam on the yelling.
"I don't fully understand it myself," I tell him honestly. Ever since the coma, I've been able to see things that I shouldn't. I guess it's because I was so alert in the in between where Benjamin lived. "I was near death myself a few months ago - a coma. I was lucky and pulled back into the land of the living, but ever since then, it seems that I can communicate with the dead as well - at least the ones that need help."
"The ones that need help?" He is looking at me with raised eyebrows. "Now you want me to believe that I'm dead and that I need help?"
"Help is probably the wrong word." Once again, I'm as calm as I can be. I wasn't expecting to deal with an irate ghost tonight. "What I mean by help is that you shouldn't be stuck in the in between unless you are holding onto something. The help you need is figuring out what you're holding onto and how to let it go."
"Oh." He seems to consider this for a moment. "Well, that's easy."
"Easy? What's easy?"
"Figuring out what's holding me here." He stands beside me and heads toward the town. I follow as quickly as I can. I debate whether or not I should say something and eventually decide that it's probably best just to follow this man. He seems to be on a mission.
We wind through the streets of downtown passing small shops and cafes and even the library before he comes to a complete stop at an intersection. I start to speak, but he veers left and keeps moving. I continue to follow him for the next three blocks hoping that I'm not making a mistake. The vibration of my phone tells me that my mom or grandma is probably worried about me, but I choose to ignore it for the time being. I have a ghost to deal with.
"This - this is what holds me here," he says with certainty. I have never seen or heard of a ghost being so certain. As I peer through the window, I realize why he is so certain. A woman is sitting in the living with a young girl curled in her lap.
"Your daughter?" I ask as I watch the little girls' eyes light up at the book in front of her.
"And my sick wife," he says into the night air. "She's dying of cancer. How am I supposed to leave them to fend for themselves?" I search my brain for an answer while trying to hold back tears.
"Is there another family member I can get in touch with for you? Someone who can make sure your little girl is cared for?" It's the only solution I can offer this man. I can't reverse death after all. My heart aches at the thought of the young girl growing up without a father. I know how hard that can be.
"My father - he disowned me ages ago, but he would make sure the girl is cared for. He always loved my wife more than me. Can you get in touch with my father?" He looks back into the window and sighs.
"If you tell me what to write in a letter from you and where to find him, I'll make sure he gets the letter." I want to promise to look after the little girl as well, but I know I should make empty promises. There is no way that I could promise each and every ghost that I'd watch over their loved ones. There's not enough time in the day for that.
After one long glance at his daughter, we head back to the graveyard. I pull out a notebook from my bag and pen the letter that the man says out loud. I print his name at the bottom and hope that it should suffice. I can type it up when I get home. The important part is that it sounds like this man. He reaches out his hand and I take pretend to take it. After a hollow handshake, he begins to fade before my eyes. I watch as Andrew joins the world that Benjamin now inhabits. It is only after he's gone that I realize I should have sent a message with him for Benjamin
“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” – Kyle Chandler
I'm sitting out front of the school reading the obituaries Maggie comes rushing over. She seems more excited than normal that the school day has ended. I'm guessing this means she finished the mission I gave her this morning.
"What did you find out?" I ask without looking up from my newspaper.
"Why are you so fascinated with the - " She stops as she looks over my shoulder. "Obituaries?"
"Just getting ideas for a project I'm working on," I say with a small smile. It's a lie - a well concealed lie if you ask me.
"You're back to your writing?" She seems interested in this small detail. "It's great to see you moving on."
"I guess," I reply quietly before deciding to steer the conversation away from me. "What did you find out about this new boy at our school?"
"Oh right! I found out his name - Nathaniel Grave. He's come here from another state and little is known about why. I'm going to have to find better sources to get more information."
"All I asked you to get was his name. I'm not really interested in any more details about him." I could care less about the details of a new boy at school. I don't foresee a boy being part of my future for quite some time. The pain of losing Benjamin is still too real.
"Maybe I'm interested in knowing more about him," Maggie says with a sideways smile. "Maybe it's my turn to have some fun."
"I agree - it's your turn for the adventure. I'm done with excitement for now." I'm able to say this with full honesty. Adventure definitely makes life more interesting, but sometimes simplicity and routine is more comforting. "Mags, can we make a stop on the way home?"
"Sure thing. Where'd you have in mind?" I'm sure she's debating the various fun places that we could stop when I've got something less fun in mind. Something that I know will be met with protests.
"Why the graveyard?" She asks carefully. She is one of the people who knows I've been avoiding the graveyard. It used to be a place of solace - a place to visit my father. Now, it's just a place of memories - a reminder of what (or who) I've lost.
"I want to stop by my father's grave. It's been a while since I've paid him a visit and I really feel that he's due one."
"I guess we'll be making a stop then."
* * * * *
When we arrive at the graveyard, I send Maggie on her way towards home. She protests and questions how I'll get home. I explain to her that I used to walk home from the graveyard all the time and no one questioned it. After a little convincing, she eventually agrees to go home. Everyone has been watching me like a hawk since I ended up in the hospital with that coma. I get that my head is a precious commodity, but I doubt I'll end up in a coma a second time. The odds don't seem to favor that option.
I watch as her car pulls away and then I head into the familiar graveyard. I go all the way in towards the familiar tree and headstone where I know Benjamin's grave waits. It is among the oldest of the tombstones and definitely shows its age. As I look at how bare the earth looks, I wish for a moment that I had flowers to put on his grave. Maybe next time.
"Benjamin, how are you?" I ask into the open air. "Are you passing the time in a better place than here?" I have never felt stupid talking to my father's grave. Benjamin's grave is different though. I never knew him in life - only in afterlife. It seems much less normal to be speaking to his grave. I lightly touch his tombstone before moving back to my father's grave.
I take a seat on the bench beside his tombstone and allow my mind to wander. There are so many things that I need to fill him in on but I don't know where to start. I'm wondering where to start when I hear a noise behind me. I turn around and find myself looking at a young boy about my age. I wonder for a moment who he is and why he thinks it's okay to intrude on my private time with my father when I see his eyes. They have a familiarity about them that I can't seem to place. I'm about to introduce myself when he turns away from me and heads deeper into the graveyard. I watch his retreating figure and wonder who he is and what secrets he holds.
Part of my goal when I gave Two to Write a makeover was to allow our readers the chance to get to know us - to get to know the authors behind the book. Up to this point, we've just continued with Friday postings of the sequel to Night's Final Hour. I thought I'd go ahead and get the "blog" portion started as well.
You will find two new headings under our "Table of Contents." These headings will be "Pam" and "Crystal." These will allow you to find the blogs that we each post if you are interested in learning more about a certain person.
Now that I've explained our purpose, I have a question for you - what would you like to see us blog about?
- our lives
- the way we decide what to write
We'd love to hear your input. After all, this blog is for your enjoyment!
Oh and on a secret note - I'm currently working on the final formatting for a Kindle version of Night's Final Hour! You'll soon be able to own it in ebook format! Isn't that exciting?
I think a giveaway should happen soon. What do you think?
“Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight.” – Marcus Aurelius
As I surf through the obituaries on Monday morning, I wonder what Benjamin would think of my newfound hobby. I can almost picture him telling me to let it go - to live in the real world now. I know I can't do that though. I can't escape this part of my life. I never expected to discover the existence of ghosts, but now that I know they are there, I can't just ignore them. I would want someone to guide me to peace, wouldn't I?
"Ivy!" my grandmother calls from the living room. "Maggie's here to walk you to school!"
I have done one thing that Benjamin would be happy about. I have reconnected with Maggie and rebuilt the friendship that I let fall apart in my adventures with Benjamin. We're stronger than ever. I still haven't confided the truth of Benjamin but I'm hoping I'll be able to in due time.
"I still say it's a shame that they never printed his obituary," Maggie says, coming up behind me.
"Whose?" I ask, closing the paper in front of me. I really don't want to try to make up excuses for reading the obituary section again. You can only get so many character names from him before someone is going to ask to read this story you're writing.
"Benjamin," she says, picking up my bookbag and handing it to me. "After you told me about the tragic way he died, I figured there would be something about it in the paper - if not in the obituary section, then at least somewhere else. Something to remember him by."
"He wasn't from around here," I respond, hoping this conversation changes topics soon. "Not enough people knew him. I don't really think anyone would have cared about the death of a boy they barely knew."
"I guess you're right," she says as we head out the front door. "But still, a stroke at his age? It's such a sad thing. And I guess in some ways a warning."
"That life is short. That we should enjoy it while we can," she says as we set off on our way to school.
"Well, then let's look to the future and not linger in the past. Much more joy in the future I hope," I say calmly. Maggie has mentioned too many times about how she's amazed that I'm handling things so well. I guess I should have grieved more than I did. Benjamin's last words keep ringing in my head though. Something tells me that was not the last time I'll see him.
"Future. Check." Maggie says with a small smile. "Have I told you about the new boy in my chemistry class? He's certainly someone that I hope we see more of in the future."
"Oh really?" I say with interest. Gossip about new students is a welcome relief from talk of Benjamin's made up death.
"He's polite, good looking, and seems quite smart," she says smiling wide. "Seems like a definite charmer."
"Seems like you've learned a lot about him," I say, doing my best to feign interest. "What's his name?"
"That's the one thing I don't know." I'm surprised by her response. Maggie normally knows all the small details if she's interested in someone.
"How do you not know his name?"
"Well, I was late to chemistry last week when he showed up and missed his introduction," she explains. "He's only been there a day."
"Well, then I have a job for you today," I respond as we reach the school. Danny heads in our direction.
"Is it an easy job?"
"Yes - find out the name of this new guy," I say with a smile. I know Maggie will love getting all the details she can. "And report back to me after school."
"Aye aye captain!" She jokes and heads into the school. Danny approaches and we make small talk on our way to history class.
Ivy Mae Carter “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” - T. S. Eliot
I look down at the soiled paper in my hand. It was a torn obituary of Louisa Court at one point. Now, it’s just a smudged mess of ink and parchment. The words are barely readable and I’m glad I no longer need them. This is the right place – I am certain this time.
The destruction surrounding the room is the only clue I need. Someone – or something – has been here searching for something. I’m guessing it was a less than happy ghost looking for the item she must be holding onto. I’m just not certain what the item is or where she may be.
According to the people I interviewed (presumably for a school project), Mrs. Court had spent the past two years in a retirement home on the outskirts of town. She hadn’t been to her house but a couple of times in those two years, but it was still listed under her name anyways. She wouldn’t let anyone in the family sell it, despite their attempts.
I look around the mess and try to figure out what she had been searching for. The jewelry boxes on top of the dresser are askew and the drawers are all pulled out. I can’t tell you if anything is missing because I’m not familiar with this room.
“There’s one item missing,” the voice of the girl next to me breaks through my thoughts. I forgot that I had to use a classmate from school as a way in. I’ll have to write an article about the mysterious break in for the school paper, but that’s okay if this brings me a step closer to helping out Louisa Court.
“What item?” I ask Sarah Donovan, who is one of six granddaughters of Louisa Court.
“Her wedding band,” she says, approaching the jewelry boxes. “It was always kept in the top drawer of the third box and now it’s gone.” She looks into the now empty drawer. “My mother was going to keep it for herself. It was the only item she wanted.” I see tears welling up at the corner of Sarah’s eyes. “And now it’s gone.”
“Who would want to steal her wedding band?” I play the part of the good reporter and ask the expected questions even though I already have a hunch of my own about who the thief may be. The only thing that doesn’t make any sense to me is why – why would Louisa Court steal her own wedding ring?
“That’s what we would like to know.”
“When is the funeral?” I ask Sarah, looking down at the soiled obituary. I can no longer make out the date for the funeral. It was the one thing in the obituary that I didn’t think I would need. My original plan was to have this mystery solved before the funeral took place.
“Today at 3 o’clock,” she replies, looking at her watch. “So, in a couple of hours.” She looks around the room once more. “I actually should probably go get ready if you don’t mind.”
“Of course,” I reply, trying my best to sound sympathetic. The truth is that I think this is the first time Sarah and I have talked since elementary school. “Thank you for letting me take a look around.”
“It’s not a problem,” she replies, sidestepping clothes that are strewn on the floor. “I can’t wait to see the article.”
“Neither can I,” I say with a smile before showing myself out. This hobby definitely keeps me on my toes.
* * * * *
“Ivy!” Sarah says, approaching with a smile. “I didn’t know that you were coming to the funeral.”
“I felt I should see the whole story before I write it,” I explain in a hurry. I have on thought on my mind – getting to the casket and taking a look inside. I nod politely at Sarah and head towards the casket as she greets family members. Lucky for me, the viewing is open casket.
Chills shoot through my bones as I approach the ornate wooden box. The funeral is being held in the oldest of churches in Nuitville – the one that sits atop a hill surrounded by a graveyard. It’s the perfect place to find a lingering ghost. I stare down at the face in the box. The paper hadn’t included a picture with the obituary and what I see shocks me.
Staring back at me is the made up face of an old lady. I stare for a moment envisioning the face without the layers of make-up and realize that I saw an exact duplicate on my way through the door. The ghost of Louisa Court had been standing at the entrance when I walked through the door and I hadn’t even noticed!
I turn and walk briskly back to the church entrance. Standing to the side, all alone, is a solitary woman with a bent head. I walk towards her, ready to soothe her fears and help her move onto her next place in life. She wouldn’t be the first ghost I’d helped move on.
As I approach her, she turns and stares at me. I hold her glare for a moment before walking closer. I am inches away when she rises from her chair and heads into the church. I follow behind her, watching her motions and wondering where she is headed. It is not until we pass the second stain glassed panel that I see the glint of gold in her hand. She was the burglar of her own house.
She heads straight for the casket and I follow slowly behind her, hoping I don’t appear too suspicious amongst the tears and reunions taking place. I watch silently as she reaches into the casket, ring in hand. A few seconds later, her arm is withdrawn and the ring is missing. Her purpose is clear to me now – she wished for the ring to go with her to the grave.
It has been six months
since you left this little town of Nuitville. Six months since I've seen your
face or heard your voice. I don't miss you the way I thought I would. Tears
didn't fall for long and I limited my wallowing. I have you to thank for that.
About five months ago,
I pulled out this old journal of ours and went stumbling through old entries.
It was the entry on hauntings that caught my attention. Do you remember it? I
asked you about the old barn on the back of the Silcox land. It has always been
reported as the haunted hangout of Nuitville.
I asked you, the ghost
expert, whether or not the barn was truly haunted. You responded by inviting me
to check it out. Turns out you had some fun with the outing and gave me a good
scare. You were the ghost who occassionally haunted the old barn. You told me
that you weren't the original ghost to haunt it though. I asked you what had
happened to the original ghost.
Your response stuck
with me. It's the reason behind my curent hobby. You told me the same thing had
happened to her that happens to all ghosts in Nuitville. You helped her move on
to her next place in life. This was the part of the entry that broke me out of
It was one question
that woke me up: Who will help the ghosts move on now that you're gone? I fear
Nuitville will get overcrowded with wandering souls without a Benjamin to help
them out. So, I set out to help the many lost ghosts roaming our streets. Let
me tell you - it's not easy looking for ghosts to help. And it's even harder
helping ghosts who don't welcome the help. I don't know how you ever did it
Okay guys, I have three BIG pieces of news to share with you!
I hope to have the update to the blog layout and set up completed by July 5th. Why July 5th? Well, read the second piece of news and you'll understand.
Second piece of news:
Ready for the sequel to Night's Final Hour? The prologue will be released right here on July 5th! This celebrates 2 years since we published Night's Final Hour. Can you believe it's been that long? I know I can't believe it!
And the last bit?
By the end of July, we hope to have Night's Final Hour released in an ebook version that you can download for Kindle!
I've got lots in store for the blog in the upcoming weeks, I hope you'll stick around and spread the word to your friends!
Hey there! Our lives have taken a lot of twists and turns in the past couple of years since we published Night's Final Hour and writing took a backseat for a bit. We've still got lots of stories to be told and we're looking to get back to it.
In order to do this, we felt it was time for a facelift for Two to Write. In the upcoming weeks, you will see the site taking on a new look. Don't be alarmed! This is all in preparation for the kick off of a new chapter for Two to Write! A new chapter complete with live postings of The Darkest Hour, the sequel to Night's Final Hour.
We hope you'll continue to follow us as we set off on this new adventure!