Romance set within a graveyard


Paranormal fiction / Magic realism


Annie Mitchell (United Kingdom)

A Ghostly Tale

Holding a single Red Rose a petite mature Rosie Gilmour, a Scottish lass, lifted
the sweet smelling flower to her nose taking in the aroma before placing it
down onto the front doorstep of the small village church a small place with not
many houses.
There is an old library now turned into a house where a local craft man makes
violins, where a stream flows gently through his garden and under an
ornamental bridge until it reaches an old Manse.
A large white house which belongs to a local couple Mr and Mrs Montgomery
who have lived there as far back as Rosie can recall.
The gates to the front entrance of the house had always been open each time
Rosie had passed by their way while out walking her dog but not today it was
A huge Oak tree lead up towards the long driveway before you reached the
long patio with shaded blinds which were also closed.
This got Rosie wondering to herself ''maybe they are away on holiday or are
selling up, ''I sure hope not'' she said to herself for the quiet reserved couple
always gave her a wave each time she passed by although they had never
exchanged in conversation at anytime.
It now being late Saturday afternoon on August 8th 2014 around tea time
where there appeared to be no one else around the church yard except herself
and her little cocker spaniel dog.
A short while later after walking around the church yard the sun still bright
in the clear cloud free sky Rosie shaded her eyes with her hand to see who the
figure was now standing a few yards away from he,far enough away she could
not see the facial appearance of the figure except she could make out a young
man in his late twenties.
A nice smart looking chap who she could see was smiling looking over the top
of his sunglass's at her.
Rosie turned to look behind her to see who he was smiling at but no one was
there but her and her dog.
She began to search further wondering which direction he had came from for
she had not walked away from the only entrance of the church yard which
was directly in front of the entrance to the church where she was standing now.
Thinking to herself ''I am sure I was the only person here today, strange''
Then she walked slowly towards where the young man was standing then very
soon realized each time she took a step forward to the figure to reach the
young man the further away he appeared to go.
Stepping carefully over the graves as she continued not wanting to stand on
the belated loved ones lying beneath the old gray headstones.
Stopping now and again to read one or two of them some barely visible to
the naked eye to read properly. Some were dated as far back as 1805.
She ran her fingers over the stones trying to use what was left of their names
as though she were blind and had learn' t how to read using braille.
While doing this she tried to imagine who these people were and what lifestyle
had they lead back then.
She allowed her mind to drift off into an unknown world for a short while until
the little dog began to run towards the back of the church yard, she tried
calling out the dogs name to come back to her but with no avail it kept on its
journey barking loudly enough to waken the dead she had thought at the time.
''What are you barking at'' she shouted at the little dog as though it would
understand what she was saying then she followed the dogs tracks around the
corner towards the back of the church building only to find herself back to
where she had started, at the church doorstep,where she had placed the Red
Rose,except now it was gone.
Turning to have a look around for the young man when suddenly the church
door opened and Rosie jumped back with fright not expecting the church to be
open today as it was normally closed all day Saturdays.
''oh hello Parson Peter's'' she said greeting the small Grey haired man with a
friendly face who always wore a big huge smile, but not today she noticed.
He looked very solemn, ''I never expected to see you here today ''
''No me dear, I opened it for a special occasion''
Rosie not wanting to appear nosy did not ask what the occasion was about.
Instead she said ,''did you happen to see my Red Rose here on the step for I
laid it right here a few moments ago''
''I never lass sorry ''
''I did see a young man here earlier on did you Parson Peter's'' she asked him.
He paused for a moment thinking before asking her ''can you describe this
young man to me''
''I could not say'' she said''I could not make out his features he was too far
away in the distance for me to recognize him''she stood looking puzzled then
said but''he was wearing sunglass's.'' as if this would have made a difference to
the answer he was looking for from her, then she said ''Why''?
Before the Parson could answer her Mr & Mrs Montgomery appeared at the
church gate entrance looking very sad and unhappy.
Rosie had never had an face to face conversation with them before so could
not tell if their eyes were always red and puffy as to her they both appeared to
have shed many tears and declined to ask them why.
''Hello'' Rosie said softly frightened to intrude into their thoughts which they
appeared to be far away into a world Rosie did not know about.
''Hello'' they both said back in unison. Then lowered their eyes to the ground
before raising them again to speak with Parson Peter's who's hands were now
clasped together by his waist with his head bend as though in prayer.
He said ''Come on in me dears it has all been prepared for you ''
Mrs Montgomery asked Rosie ''would you like to come to''
Rosie said ''yes OK'' not quite sure what she was going too, so she tied the little
dog to the fence just outside the church door and stepped onto the step where
she had laid her Red Rose giving another glance around to see where it was.
They all walked together in a line first Parson Peter's followed by Mr & Mrs
Montgomery then Rosie into the church which had a row of 10 pews on either
side of the isle then at the bottom of the vestry where a wooden coffin with lid
open was held up by stands.
Mrs Montgomery could sense Rosie's apprehension so leaned over to her and
whispered ''this is our son Rosie he died suddenly late Thursday evening in his
sleep so we both asked the Parson to hold a service here for him tomorrow
being Sunday,say you shall come please, he would have liked that, he often
remarked on you when you passed by with your little dog, I only wish I had
brought him flowers today it don't seem right being here today without any''
Rosie followed the little procession down the isle until she reached the open
coffin where inside lay a white faced young man a handsome man someone
Rosie knew but who she thought they may have met, how she did not know,
until she looked and saw the young man was holding in his hand a Beautiful
Red Rose exactly like the one she had laid onto the step.
the end

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1


Read Reviews

Review 1:

Compelling hook?


Strong characters?


Attention to Mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narrative - Internalizations
  • Consider how you might make use of stronger inner monologues. This allows the reader to hear the protoganist’s direct and private thoughts. Did he want to marry her? Not really.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • The balance between narration and dialogue might need to be reviewed. Dialogue can diffuse long claustrophobic text. You can show the reader by using natural-sounding dialogue. Remember not to overdo the narrative.
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me. We are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed. Rather than tell us about the characters, show us what they say and do. The reader should experience maximum sensory details in the same way characters do.
Character Conflict
  • The reader’s experience of the story is heightened when the characters’ goals, conflicts and purpose are clear. I found that this aspect of the story wasn’t as strong.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a difficult balancing act. Are you sure all the material is relevant to the plot, setting and atmosphere? Make sure each sentence makes sense to the reader, and each paragraph moves their experience forward.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
  • Sentence length and complexity help set the scene for the story. Consider harmonizing genre and language in your story, in order to create more atmosphere.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story creates a vivid picture. A feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ moods and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening paragraph and hook
  • In modern times we need to start our stories powerfully and keep the reader engaged with a compelling hook. Each individual word counts. Are you sure that you’ve baited the reader enough?