“Hope Caudle wore a black wool gown in mourning for herself.
She’d died when she was twelve, that dreadful year the smallpox had cast its cold, vicious shadow over Cupid’s Bow. That community was too small for any death to go unremarked, particularly that of a raven-haired, dark-eyed beauty whose gift for singing and guitar-playing had brightened many a local occasion. But that year her death was merely one of many, and the town had its hands so full of battling the relentless disease that no one noticed her body never made it to the churchyard. Her mother and sisters laid her to rest in their back yard, a private ceremony in the dark of night. They’d mumbled solemn words over a mound of fresh-turned earth, their heads hanging and their hands crossed over their hearts, as was proper.
Seven years later the mound was covered with grass, with no wooden cross or symbol to mark it. No one but the mother and sisters knew the grave was there, and they never spoke of it, or of Hope, to any of their neighbors, as if they meant her to disappear from the townsfolk’s minds as she had disappeared from the earth. But one reminder lingered, wandering the house in her plain, coarse gown, putting her hand to any chore her golden lily sisters didn’t care to do — which meant anything involving mop, broom, scrubbing brush, or cooking pot. Hard work was all the ghost was good for, with her face so repulsively scarred. Everyone had been so sure Hope Caudle would grow into the town’s most beautiful woman.”
These are the opening paragraphs from “Neighbor Haint,” my short story published in Gilded Dragonfly Books‘ newest anthology, Finding Love’s Magic. Care to see the rest of it? The collection is now available on Kindle through Amazon.com for the sale price of $2.99, for one day only, Friday, May 24, 2015.