Welcome back to another edition of
Flash Fiction Friday! 😀
Hey there, Arrowheads! Thanks for coming back to visit with me today! The piece I’ll be sharing with you today is a short story I wrote for a Halloween writing contest at the University I attend, which earned first place and scored me a Barnes and Noble gift card (hallelujah! 😄 )! I’ll never admit to being a horror author (I can’t even watch scary movies!), but I had fun writing “Ember” and it’s successor, “Redford Creek Road” for the contest the past two years. So, here we go! Brace yourselves for the chilling tale of Ember!
As a child, Kenna always loved to flip through her grandparents’ old photo albums. Within the multiple albums were shots of her grandpa when he was based in Germany during WWII, snapshots of Kenna’s aunts and uncles, along with newspaper story clippings that were featured over the years about friends and family. However, one day as Kenna was thumbing through her favorite album with her grandma, a black and white photograph fell from one of the pockets. A little girl of about seven or eight grinned widely in the image, standing in front of a weathered shack.
“Grandma, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this one before. Who’s this?” Kenna questioned, passing the photo across the kitchen table to her grandma.
Grandma Ava adjusted her spectacles on her nose, squinting until she recognized the person in question. A soft gasp escaped her mouth as she replied, “that looks like Ember.”
“Ember? Was she related to you?”
“No,” Ava murmured lowly, flipping the photograph over, “she was a little girl who used to live in the house next door.”
Kenna absent-mindedly looked through the window. “You mean where the Houstons live now?”
Ava shook her head, “on the other side. A peculiar family, they were. They rarely ever left the house, and we never knew their names. When the parents finally did leave the house one night, the poor girl was left on her own and tried to heat up some supper on the stove. She ended up setting that whole ramshackle house on fire; burned it and herself to the ground. The parents never came back and the police couldn’t identify her, so everyone just remembers her as Ember.”
Kenna nodded sullenly, choosing to study the photograph in silence for a few minutes before placing it back where she found it. She continued flipping through the album, when she came across another interesting find. “Was Ember around when Uncle Sherwood and Aunt Atlee got married?”
“I don’t think so. Their wedding was in 1985, and she died about ’65.”
“Well, this sure looks like her…” Kenna pulled out the photograph of the couple, pointing to the grinning flower girl standing behind them.
Ava’s eyes bulged in disbelief, her hands shaking as she grabbed the Polaroid from her granddaughter, “they didn’t even have a flower girl at their wedding! They got married at the courthouse; only your grandpa and I were there.”
Chills went down Kenna’s spine as she shut the album, tucking the Polaroid inside. “Well, I better get going, Grandma. But first, do you want to take a picture with me for Facebook?”
Grandma Ava agreed, posing for the selfie. Later, after posting the picture, Kenna logged on again and noticed that someone had commented:
Cute! Who’s the kid?
“What are they talking about?” Kenna said to herself, before scrolling up to get a better look at the picture. Behind her and Grandma Ava stood a young girl, grinning manically, ashes dusting her face, with her hair singed.
©Allyson Kennedy, 2017. All rights reserved.
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