THE FLAME OF LICK’S ISLAND
~an excerpt from my short ghost story in the ON FIRE Anthology from Transmundane Press.
Once upon a time, there was a flame on a candle, in a window, of a house, on an island, on a lake, on the Earth, in the universe…
Flashback to the flame.
Mike and I sat holding hands across the desk from our lawyer and best friend, Jeremy, when we got the news. The crisply burnt edges of the will should have told me something was weird. I didn’t say anything—I guess I was too excited.
Jeremy shook his head as he dotted the last “I” on the page. “I’ve heard about long-lost relatives coming out of the woodwork before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it happen.”
He stood and extended his hand across the desk. “Mike, Marissa, congratulations. You’re the proud owners of an island with a house and two sheds.”
“Thank you, Uncle Hubert, whoever you were,” Mike said.
“Will you move out there right away?”
“Yeah, we’ve decided.” Mike smiled at me. “We’re going to sell the condo. Assuming the place is livable…”
“I’ve been assured that it’s in great condition. Electricity, water… It’s even got great satellite service.”
“That’s perfect then,” I said. “Dibs on one of the sheds for my art studio.”
“Done. I’ll use the other one for my woodworking shop.” Mike smiled and squeezed my hand. He kissed my forehead with a sigh, and I let out one of my own, already mentally packing my art supplies.
Our trip to Lick’s Island began as an adventure. We were both twenty-four, had known each other for a year, had been in love for three-quarters of that time and married for half of it. We arrived in a speed boat, our guide a sun-browned old man with wild, straw-like hair and teeth that would rival a picket fence. When he dropped us off with the canoe he’d towed along behind us, he seemed nervous, his eyes shifty and his laugh like the rusty springs on a beaten-up car. He kept asking us if we were sure we wanted to spend the night.
“Sure as the sun’s going to come up tomorrow,” Mike told him.
So off he went, leaving us behind.
Capable of creation and destruction, fire burns within us.
Behind the thick, black smoke of our lives, we blaze with our own unique flame.
While love compels some, others feed greed and lust into their hearths.
A tool for the deft hand, used with magic or as a weapon, but irresponsibility leaves deep burns and promises dreadful consequences.
ON FIRE brings to light twenty-six tales that explore this unpredictable yet beautiful element.
Handle with care.
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