Monday Motivations

This week, I’m going to give you five words. This is a good way to get your creative brain thinking and the ideas for a story/poem to come flooding in. Here are your words:

  • Ghost
  • Caravan
  • News
  • Football
  • Shadow

Here’s my story, using all five words:

Unexpected

I was wrong. I thought finding a ghost would be exciting and fun. At the very least, I thought it would be scary.

Still, when Dad said we were going on holiday to Bournemouth instead of the Bahamas, I knew it was going to be a living nightmare. Mum tried to make Bournemouth sound exciting.

“It’s got a…a beach,” she said. “Well, at least it’ll be different.”

Yes. Very different. It would rain. It always rained when we went on holiday in England. Not that we’d been on holiday in England for a while. When Dad got a posh job at the London office of, ‘Cavendish’s Computers,’ we started going abroad. Benidorm became Bali and this year we were supposed to be going to the Bahamas.

“I’ve got something to tell you and your mum, Ollie,” Dad said on that terrible day.

I knew he’d lost his job. He didn’t have to say a word. Coming home at five o’ clock on a Tuesday afternoon said it all.

Mum cried. It meant she had to go back to work for a while. She hadn’t worked for years. Well, ten of them anyway, since I was born.

Dad did find another job, but it wasn’t as well paid. He kept saying computer firms were laying staff off and the staff they did want were young, with lots of fancy qualifications.

But worst of all, it meant we weren’t going to the Bahamas.

“I’ve got some exciting news,” Dad said, when he came home one night, “we’re going on holiday after all.”

I was just starting to think about the airport and taking my i-Pad on the long plane journey when he said it.

“We’re going to Bournemouth.”

I had images of caravans, tents and dodgy guesthouses going through my mind. When I first saw the house we were staying in it didn’t look too bad. At least we weren’t in a leaky caravan, holey tent or guesthouse with frazzled fry-ups being forced down our throats. But it was old and a bit musty. It smelt of wee, too. A bit like Auntie Joyce’s. Mum said she used to wear incontinence pants and everything. Ugh!

“It’s lovely,” Mum said when we arrived. “Why don’t you go down to the beach while we unpack? I saw a shop on the way. It’s not far. You can get a bucket and spade if you like. Here’s a couple of pounds.”

I bit my tongue. Bucket and spade. How old did she think I was? Still, the beach sounded better than staying in that wiffy house. I had to admit Mum was pretty good at making things nice, so I hoped that by the time I came back, it would smell half decent.

That was when I first saw him. Colin. He looked younger than me. He was so small. So slight. He was just staring out to sea. I wasn’t going to talk to him at first.  There was something weird about him.

“Hello,” he said, not taking his eyes from the sea.

I looked round. There was no one else on the beach. Only me. But then why would there be? Black clouds were whizzing across the sky and the wind was doing its nut. Why would anyone want to go to the beach? I thought about ignoring him and running back to the house before the rain came.

“I’m glad you’re staying in our house. I’ve wanted a boy my own age to come and stay for a long time,” he said.

“I’m ten. You’re much younger than me,” I said, standing as tall and straight as I could.

“I’m eleven,” he said.  

I laughed. Eleven indeed. Slowly, he turned to me. He looked so sad and I wondered what I had found funny in the first place. Then I saw his eyes. They were hollow. Great big, black holes. Ok, so finding a ghost was a little bit scary. And then he started coughing. A tiny, sickly sound and I wasn’t scared anymore.

“I’m Colin,” he said, in between his splutters, “do you want to play football?”

I looked at the football at his feet. I was sure it hadn’t been there before, but I supposed ghosts could do that sort of thing. I thought how cool it would be to tell the boys at school that I’d played football with a ghost. Dean reckoned he’d seen the ghost of his grandma. He said she’d come to give him a hat she’d knitted for him. It was a great big, brown one. It covered most of his face, too. Not that he cared. At least he’d seen a ghost, he always said. I couldn’t wait to tell him I’d played football with one.

Colin went to kick the ball and missed, falling flat on his face. I didn’t think I’d be telling Dean anything at that rate. Then Colin started crying. His shoulders were shaking and he just led there on the sand.

I walked towards him. I couldn’t leave him like that. Then I noticed the bruises. He was covered in them.

“Useless, useless, useless Colin,” he was muttering, over and over again.

“It’s all right. I do that all the time,” I said, reaching out to put my hand on his shoulder.

I hadn’t ever missed the ball, actually, but I thought it would make him feel a bit better. Though, I wasn’t prepared for my hand to go right through him. I realised that I couldn’t make him feel better. He was a ghost. Ghosts didn’t feel anything, did they?

“Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me. I didn’t do anything. Honest.”

Something was going to happen. The sand was jumping and the ground was jiggling.

“Colin,” a voice thundered.

I looked everywhere. It was still just Colin and me. I looked back at Colin. He was staring straight at me, with those sightless eyes.

“Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me. I didn’t do anything. Honest.”

“Colin!”

There was someone there this time. A dark shadow, snaking towards me. It split in two. A man and a woman.  Both with sightless eyes.

I started to back away, stumbling over stones and fumbling my way further up the beach. I couldn’t take my eyes from Colin. Not even when they reached him and started to hit him. But I felt the tears running down my face and heard his words once again.

“I didn’t do anything. Honest. Mum. Dad. I didn’t do anything.”

My feet hit the steps and I turned, my eyes free from him. I ran all the way back to the house, feeling the first stabs of rain on my face. By the time I got back, I was soaked, but at least Mum and Dad couldn’t see I was still crying. I didn’t tell them about Colin. They wouldn’t have understood. Grown-ups never do. 

I didn’t sleep that night. I kept expecting to hear Colin’s cries, followed by shouting and then worse. A lot worse.

I must have gone to sleep eventually because Colin was there at the end of my bed when I woke up. The sun was shining through the window, shining straight through Colin.

“I’m sorry about yesterday. I’ve wanted a friend for so long and I know you won’t want to be my friend now. Not after…” Colin said, looking away.

“Why didn’t you tell someone?” I said.

“I told my teacher at school. She came to see Mum and Dad. They were so nice to her. The teacher didn’t believe me. Though she did cry a lot at my funeral and I think she believed me then.”

I didn’t know what to say. I thought about Mum. She was a bit annoying at times, but that wasn’t so bad. Dad only seemed to have time for work, but he loved us. He loved me. They both did.

“We’re only here for a week, so I can’t be your friend for long,” I said.

I looked at Colin’s face and winced as I saw the jagged cut across his forehead and the swelling around his eye. And then I noticed something else. Something that I was sure didn’t happen very often. Colin was smiling. A great big smile.

He did that a lot during the week we stayed there. I hadn’t thought I could make Colin feel better. As I said, ghosts weren’t supposed to feel anything, were they? Colin did.

He showed me where he went fishing and to his very own secret cave. He laughed when I told him jokes and when we both fell over running into the sea. I’m sure I could see the whites behind the hollows of his eyes as I told him about my friends at school and all the holidays we’d been on. His bruises began to fade too when I talked about Mum and Dad.

It was the best holiday I’d ever had, Bahamas or no Bahamas. I’d never had a friend like Colin before and I was dreading that last day. I didn’t want to say goodbye. But I didn’t have to. Because Colin had gone.

I knew he had as soon as I woke up. The house seemed different. I wasn’t sad, though. Colin was in a good place now. And then I heard the voices.

“Colin. Colin!”

They didn’t stop all day. I didn’t care, because they wouldn’t ever find him. Not ever again.

“You seem as if you’ve had the time of your life, Ollie,” Dad said, as we drove home. “Would you like to come back next year?”

“No, thanks. I don’t think I do. It won’t be quite the same. Perhaps we’ll try Bognor next year,” I said and smiled.

Mum and Dad looked at each other with mouths gaping open. I don’t think they closed them for some time.

I was wrong. I thought finding a ghost would be exciting and fun. At the very least I thought it would be scary. But it was more than that. So much more.

***

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7 Responses to Monday Motivations

  1. Such a lovely read, Esther. A rather sad ghost story with a happy ending. You’ve proved that the UK can be a magical place for taking a holiday.

  2. Helen Jones says:

    Lovely story, Esther – it was so sad for a while, but the ending was wonderful 🙂

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