Posted in 1930s, Atlantic City books, Cinnimin, Historical fiction, holidays, Quintina, Writing

WeWriWa—Investigating a supposed haunted house

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This last Halloween-themed snippet comes from the book formerly known as The Very First (new and improved title a secret till its release), my chronological first Atlantic City book.

It’s set from August–November 1938, as young immigrant Katherine Brandt, nicknamed Sparky, and her family adjust to America. The Jewish Brandts are indefinitely living with the Protestant Filliards, and as Sparky attempts to become a real American girl without compromising her faith, her new best friend Cinnimin learns there’s more than one way to be a real American.

This is Sparky’s first Halloween, and Cinni has convinced her to wear a cat costume. Cinni’s using the holiday as an excuse to wear pants and dress like a boy, their neighbor Quintina (Tina) is a saloon girl, their other neighbor Violet (a real thorn in Cinni’s side) is a queen, and Cinni’s favorite sister Babs is a fairy with wings on her back. They’ve finished trick-or-treating and are now trying to find a supposed haunted house, which belonged to the descendants of the ill-fated Charlotte Lennon. They know it’s on Jennifer Street, and they’ve found a darkened house without any sign of life, nor any car in the driveway.

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Cinni shone her flashlight into the mailbox. “No mail neither.  Boy, this thing’s got a lot of cobwebs.”

Tina squinted her eyes at it in the dark, trying to make things out with the light from nearby houses. “It does look pretty old.  I ain’t no future architecture student, but I know this ain’t the type of house they made even a hundred years ago.  Maybe it really was made in the Colonial era like the haunted house.”

Cinni tried the front door. “Won’t open.  Is anyone brave enough to wanna try the back door, or any other doors?”

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The girls’ intent is not to break into the house, but just to try to find the house in question, shine flashlights on it, look in the windows, and try the doors. Sparky is very opposed to this adventure, but everyone else supports it. Later she suggests the old summer house of Cinni’s maternal relatives and the haunted house are one and the same, since they’re both on Jennifer Street and haven’t been occupied in years. Cinni laughs it off, but the reader knows she’s Charlotte Lennon’s twelve-greats-granddaughter. The identity of Charlotte’s line was lost to the ages because she deliberately had a child out of wedlock (whom she died giving birth to), and no one wanted to admit to being descended from an “illegitimate” child. The family secret won’t be rediscovered till 1985.

If you come back on Monday, I’ll be discussing The Big Parade, one of the all-time greatest silent films, whose 90th anniversary is on 5 November. This film is so amazing, I rate it a 6 out of 5 stars!

Posted in Atlantic City books, Cinnimin, Contests, Historical fiction, Writing

Charlotte’s Ghost

Today, 15 September, starts the Ghosts (and the girls who love them!) Blog-Hop and Giveaway, hosted by Jessa Russo, whose debut novel Ever is coming out via Curiosity Quills Press on the first of October. Participants are posting ghost love stories of 1,000 words or under for a chance to win some great prizes. Prizes include books, a query critique, and a first three chapters critique.

To vote, leave a comment with the word “vote.” You must have the word “VOTE” in your comment for it to be considered valid.

It was only natural to use some of the ghosts from my handwritten magnum opus Cinnimin. Though the work is intended as historical fiction (with the usual spoof and satire elements present in all my Atlantic City books), eventually stretching into the modern era and the future, there are sporadic paranormal elements in the form of ghosts. First and foremost, the ghosts of Cinni’s foremothers.

Charlotte is Cinni’s 12-greats-grandma, whom Cinni doesn’t know she’s descended from till 1985. Currently, late in Saga VI (the Nineties), Charlotte’s daughter Jennifer is playing a leading role in (non-malevolently) haunting and cursing Cinni’s insufferable granddaughter Daphne.

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Colony of New Jersey, 1645

Here Charlotte Rebecca Lennon, March 5, 1620-September 18, 1645, lies in state for all time and eternity.  She was born with a rare gift of prophecy, able to see her family’s future for as long as there is time.  When her far-off descendants discover her in their family tree, many secrets will be revealed and the identity of the ninth reincarnation of WTCOAC Woman will come to light.  Her book of prophecies will be hidden for 345 years, and will be discovered and read only by the ninth incarnation and her descendants.  Anyone else who shall find out will get his or her tongue burnt out.

She was the loving consort of Eliezer van Meter and the mother of their only begotten child Jennifer Sophronia Lennon, whose birth cost her her life.  Only when society abandons the cruel stigma against being descended from a free woman and her out of wedlock child will the mystery of her family tree be solved. 

This private grove and mausoleum are established and maintained by Charlotte’s consort Eliezer and her cousins Anijta Greenhall, Millie Turtle, Danila Fairfax, and Elsie Maxwell.  If you are here and reading this, you are of the Lennon-van Meter line.  Congratulations on solving a centuries-old riddle, descendant from the future.

“You did a very good job with the inscription.” Charlotte ran a ghostly finger along the finely-engraved letters. “Not bad for someone who’s not a professional engraver.”

“Did I have a choice?” Eliezer asked. “You were so insistent that this spot in the cemetery remain inaccessible and top-secret, and that only immediate family and future direct descendants can pass here and live.  Who else was going to do it, your cousins?  A woman’s hands aren’t created for a task such as engraving.”

Charlotte looked down at her body, her eyes growing sad. “It’s hard to believe that only a month and a half ago, I inhabited that beautiful physical shell and was a living, breathing person.”

“You look just the same as a ghost.  If we had a mirror, you’d see you still have the same orange-blonde hair and ocean-colored eyes.  You’re not some shadowy figure without shape or form.” Eliezer picked the baby out of her perambulator and tried to hand her to Charlotte.

“Don’t torture me.  Even if I physically look the same, I don’t have a real body.  I can’t hold my sweet Jenny any more than I could still make love to you, my darling.  Even if I went through the motions with you, I wouldn’t feel anything where it really counted.  You’d be coupling with a shadow.”

Eliezer put Jennifer back and laid a hand on Charlotte’s.  He looked at her with understanding when he saw his hand going right through hers.

“Now that I’m dead, is there any hope you’ll change our baby’s name to the name I wanted?  As a final tribute to me?”

Eliezer squeezed the baby’s hand. “It’s the same name.  Jennifer is just the Cornish form of Guinevere.  Either way, it’s a very rare name she won’t have to share with anyone probably ever.”

“But I wanted Guinevere.  I love the association with the legendary literary character.” Charlotte leaned over the perambulator and brushed the baby’s forehead. “I wish I could’ve held her for a little longer, before the Angel of Death took me.  Even with my gift of prophecy, I couldn’t see the most important event, that I’d die in childbirth at twenty-five.  Did I think I could avoid the fate of other women just by virtue of shunning marriage?  Childbirth is childbirth, be you married or unwed.”

“Well, I paid a very low fee to the midwife for letting you die, and if I ever have another consort, I’m not recommending her.”

Charlotte cast a dark look at him. “Sometimes these things happen.  Even a very well-trained midwife or doctor can’t save every patient.  You’ll feel a fool if I am her only death out of perhaps several thousand women she delivers over her entire career.”

Eliezer picked the baby up when she began fussing. “I suppose you can’t feed her at all?”

“With what, phantom milk?  Thank God I died so soon after the birth, so my milk hadn’t come in yet.  A postpartum woman leaking useless milk is not a pretty sight, whether she or her baby be dead.  Besides, a ghost has no bodily functions.  I can’t even cry.”

“Fine, I’ll take her to one of your cousins.  They’re taking turns wetnursing her.”

“There are still some things I can do.” Charlotte brushed his arm and kissed him. “I still love you, even if you indirectly caused my death.  I was just one of the unlucky ones who couldn’t survive birth.”

“Will you still live with me in the house I built and watch over Jenny as she grows up?”

“You’re my husband in all but name.  Just because I lived with you outside of marriage and had non-marital relations doesn’t mean I’m some harlot who goes from man to man.  You’re stuck with me.”

Eliezer began pushing the perambulator out of the hidden grove. “I suppose it wouldn’t be very chivalrous or smart to evict a ghostly consort anyway.”

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll find it most enjoyable.  I was already following a very different path in life.  Why should I suddenly adopt a supposedly normal personality in death?  I’d rather be different from the others and true to myself than do things against my nature just to fit in and pretend to be as everyone else.” Charlotte floated ahead of them. “And by the way, we will have a descendant named Guinevere in the twenty-first century.  Her mother will be a dead ringer for me.  And she’ll meet Guinevere’s father right here in this grove.”

“Do you have to spoil everything just because you can see the future?”

“Would you rather wait centuries to discover these things?”

Eliezer shut up and continued pushing the perambulator.