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Our visit to the field left us chilled, so we decided to warm up in the living room. The paprika colored walls reflect the warmth of the fire, and every now and then someone cuts through the room, dragging the cold outside air along behind them like a ghost. We’re on the couch, sipping scotch and pretending that it is only the temperature making us shiver.
When the party gets quiet, as even the rowdiest parties do, we can still hear the distant screams. The sound steals in through the chimney, moves through the flames, joins us on the couch. As the one who set the mood by telling a ghost story in the middle of a haunted field, I feel obligated to lighten things up a bit; like any writer, the only thing I can think to talk about is writing.
The most I can promise is that this particular story won’t involve ghosts. It might go for the gross-out, but that’s just the risk you take. I top off our drinks, set the bottle on the end table and move slightly closer to you.
Not everything in Stolen Climates was inspired by other artistic creations. A bit of it was lifted from real life. From my life.
In the backyard, near the door, there is a flower bed. The first year we lived in the house, a plant that looked like a cross between a sego palm and a philodendron grew in that flower bed. We thought the drought of the following summer killed it; there were no more leaves, just a cactus stump no more than a few inches high. That fall, I crouched to pull weeds and fallen leaves out of the bed; my knees were pressed into the dirt, my gloved hands seeking. It is possible I was listening to music, and it is possible the wide sky was blue. All I remember clearly is the pain. A sudden, literally stabbing pain.
I peeled my glove from my left hand.
A thorn was shoved under my fingernail. It was a quarter inch long, and I could see the thick line of it under my nail. It stuck out of the tip of my finger, a fat wooden stake.
Apparently, the sego-philodendron grew a crown of thorns and, apparently, I had bad luck.
The thorn hurt, but it was too strange and too unbelievable not to share. I went inside, to where my husband sat in his office. I think I asked him if he wanted to see something cool.
I added that scene to Stolen Climates, although I amped up the supernatural causes for it. You can win a copy just by commenting, and every comment is another entry to win one of my Scream-y prizes. Don’t be shy!