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I am in a blog hop and chose to enter the flash fiction contest. The purpose was to write a short ghost story, with a bit of a romance element. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy my story, featuring to of my favorite characters, Jimmy and Jacoby Mortenson. If you enjoy this entry, please comment with the word “vote” as part of your comment. Thank you for reading!

Word Count: 995

I’m Going Slightly Mad

Every once in a while, Penny’s urn moves. I’m not sure if it’s my imagination but it moves. Penelope Marcella is my youngest daughter, who died at just forty five minutes of age. She and her identical twin Priscilla were premature, though Priscilla survived. It was a struggle for her, because her heart had problems, but she’s now a healthy grown woman.

“Jacoby, did you move Penny’s urn?” I asked, as I got ready for work. I was in the living room, looking at the mantel over the fire place, and her urn was near the end; it should be in the center.

There was, of course, no answer. And why would there be? He’s dead. He’s been dead for six months and he’s not going to get undead any time soon. Sighing, I put Penny back and wondered if it was going to move again. I’ve always believed in ghosts and I’ve seen ghosts, but I never figured Jacoby for coming back.

“Are you talking to yourself again?”

I turned to my sister Katie and sighed; she didn’t understand. She frequently came to check on me in the wake of my husband’s passing. It was appreciated but not when she questioned my sanity. Ignoring her, I gathered my camera, coffee, and an apple and moved for the door.

“Jimmy, it’s not healthy.”

Whirling on her, I swayed a bit with a sudden dizzy spell. “I don’t care. He’s moving her urn, Katie, I know he is. And don’t give me that bull shit about how it’s my dementia and I’m moving it when I clean. I don’t fucking move it.”

She raised her hands, shaking her head, as I moved outside, locking the house behind me. Moving to California was the dumbest thing Jacoby and I ever did, if you ask me. But my doctors said go, my health would be better.

“Fine. I’m going to clean your house.”

Anything else she might’ve said I ignored, as I got in my truck and hurried to work. My son-in-law would pick up on my mood, but I didn’t care. Everyone knows I can’t live without Jacoby, but they want to think I’m crazy. It’s not the dementia though, I swear. That urn is moving and Jacoby is behind it.

***

“Jimmy.”

Jumping, I stuck my head out of the shower. I was alone in the house, but I swear Jacoby just spoke to me. Maybe I am going crazy, maybe the dementia is starting to take over. Maybe everyone was right about me and it’s all in my mind.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen. And I’ll stop moving the urn.”

I shouldn’t get my hopes up, should I? But I looked anyway. No one was there. But I swear Jacoby just spoke to me, loud and clear. I rinsed the conditioner from my hair, then turned the shower off.

“I’ll come for you soon, I promise. Penny’s here, too.”

“I’m going slightly mad,” I quietly sang to myself. The urn moving is one thing, but voices are something else entirely. “Jack, if that is you, you’re scaring the shit out of me.”

It was quiet then, and I sighed. I just want my mortal life to end so I can be with my husband. We were rarely apart in our forty eight years of marriage. Now, we’ve been apart six months and it’s killing me.

“Jack, I didn’t mean you had to go away. I-I just…I can’t do this, you know? I can’t live without you. I want to die right here, right now, but it’s not working that way. Why did you go? And why aren’t you coming back?”

When there was no answer, I put myself down as crazy. Maybe my sister was right; I was just talking to myself. But I didn’t buy it. Once I was dressed, I moved downstairs, and sure enough, the urn was in the wrong place. Figuring it couldn’t hurt to try something, I looked at the mantel, prepared to be scared out of my skin.

“Jack, if you’re here, please, put Penny back. You promised you wouldn’t move her.”

If the urn moved, I don’t remember. I just know I woke up on my couch with my sister nervously hovering over me. She was a psych nurse for years and I know what she’s going to say.

“You seem to have passed out. What happened?” she asked. She was calm, but that’s the nurse in her. “Your breathing again?”

I shook my head and heard her disgusted sigh. “I swear, Katie, he spoke to me. Then, I asked him to put that urn back. I fainted because it moved, I swear it did. I know you think I’m crazy, but I swear I’m not. He’s here Katie, he is. Jack? Show Katie you’re here. Touch her, move something, just help prove I’m not crazy.”

I’ve never seen my sister so pale. She looked at her shoulder and then she looked at me. I nodded, hoping she understood now.

“Jacoby?” she asked, and the room seemed to brighten a bit. He could always light up a room when he was alive. “Is that you?”

She jumped, but she seemed to calm a bit.

“I told you. He’s here, Katie. My Jack is here, waiting for me.”

She nodded, then, hugging me. “So he is.”

I felt arms around me then, and a cool breeze on my neck, right where I loved to be kissed. That was my Jack, I was sure of it.

“I love you, Slim. I always have and I always will. And when your time comes, and it’s coming, I’ll be there to get you. Just don’t ever forget me.”

“I won’t,” I promised, and leaned back a bit, feeling those familiar lips on mine. “I love you, Jack.”

My husband returned the kiss and I sighed, sinking into the familiar embrace; my time needed to come soon.

***

#GUTGAA Blog Hop: Pitch Polish entry. All comments are welcome!

Author: Kel Heinen
Title: Driven
Word Count: 87,000
Genre: Commercial/Mainstream

A single misplaced strobe light could trigger a seizure and Jimmy Rickliefs could be a vegetable.

In the wake of a near-fatal accident, Jimmy’s shattered body might not be able to keep up with his career as a drummer. Once known for his turquoise hair and outgoing personality, he turns sullen and withdrawn on the cusp of major depression. When the band decides to start writing their new record, Jimmy isn’t sure he wants to go back. The thought of getting back on stage, knowing he could have a seizure, doesn’t help his lack of confidence. He isn’t comfortable with the fans seeing a broken drummer.

Jimmy takes some comfort from his pregnant wife’s survival. But when the baby is born twelve weeks early, his priorities rearrange themselves; his daughter is just as broken as her dad. Now he’s at a crossroads and he isn’t sure which path to take.

He knows that being a rock star again will bring in good money. He also knows that returning to the stage is a serious risk. But without marketable skills, he can’t just get another job. If he does get another job, he fears he won’t be providing for his family and that’s something he can’t abide. Faced with a quandary between what’s right and what’s safe, Jimmy has to weigh his options and choose between stardom and money or family and normalcy.

Driven is commercial fiction, complete at 87,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 150 words:

Sighing, Allison Rickliefs looked at the stick in her hand; negative again. It was the third time this month and she angrily tossed the pregnancy test in the garbage.

“Al?”

Rubbing her hands over her face, she went downstairs to meet her husband, Jimmy. He’d been at a friend’s house all day, writing a new album with his band Closure. She tried to muster a smile as he swept her into his arms, his turquoise hair brushing her cheek, but she couldn’t. She didn’t have to tell him what was wrong, he just knew.

“Another negative?”

She nodded, listening to him sigh as they sat on the couch. They were ready for a family, ready to have a baby, but she just couldn’t seem to get pregnant.

“It will happen eventually, Al, it will. We just have to keep trying.”

She shook her head, reaching for a tissue. “At this rate, Jimmy, it’s not going to happen.

***

I am entering this pitch contest. From Monday 11-05-12 until Tuesday 11-06-12, I will have my pitch up on my blog. Feel free to offer feedback on the pitch and be sure to check out the contest here to check out the other blogs participating in the blog hop.

My two three line pitches for Driven (commercial/mainstream fiction, 85,000 words):

#1: One green light, one drunk driver; that’s all it took to put Jimmy Rickliefs’ life into a tailspin. He loves the stage and knows the money will allow him to provide for his family. He also knows that a single strobe light could trigger a seizure and his career could end.

#2: One green light, one drunk driver; that’s all it took to put Jimmy Rickliefs life into a tailspin. Now, he has to decide if the risks of returning to the stage he loves outweigh the benefits of staying home. A single strobe light could end his career.

***

The always lovely Brenda Drake is hosting PitchMadness once again. I was one of the many who made it into the slushpile! Now, we are nervously watching the #PitchMadness hastag on Twitter, hoping to catch a mention of our pitches. I think I already saw talk of mine, but it’s hard to say. Here is my entry:

Name: Kel Heinen
Title: FIRST TOUR
Genre: Adult/Commercial Fiction
Word Count: 93,000

Pitch: Jimmy lives for the road and the fans….but will the road he loves be the death of his music career?

Excerpt:

Aldon Smith, lead singer for the band Closure, threw his microphone down and stormed the light booth. “We said NO STROBES!” He ran into the light booth, fists clenched at his sides. These guys had been with Closure since the beginning, and they knew about Jimmy. “He’s having a fucking seizure, thanks to you lot!”

“It says right here on your blue print, strobes at that moment,” Gary Trudo said. The blueprint lay on the table and the man jabbed at it in annoyance.

“Can’t you read?” Aldon jabbed a thick finger at the special notes box. “It says NO STROBES because of Jimmy’s seizures!”

“That song has strobes at the end of the drum solo. Always has, always will,” Gary said stubbornly, as the sound of running footsteps joined them. Aldon raised a fist to the tech and was about to swing when someone grabbed his hand.

“Aldon, I’ll take it from here,” the band’s manager said. Aldon puffed out a breath, dropping his fist. Finally, he glared at the tech. “Go be with Jimmy.”

Aldon stomped off, his middle finger raised to the light techs before he hopped on stage. Jimmy was still shaking, and had been pulled away from the kit, while everyone surrounded him, keeping him safe. Aldon knelt down next to him as well, and watched as the seizure droned on. Finally, at three and a half minutes, the shaking subsided, and Jimmy’s eyes opened slowly.

***

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