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Dance Card

Gothic Stories

By Christy MunsonPublished 19 days ago Updated 19 days ago 3 min read
Image created with Pixlr

You arrive. You arrive jostling solemnity and silence, balancing reticence and resolve, looking lovely and lonely.

I listen to your thoughts. Careful now, you think, lest eternity's tenants wake and all Hell breaks loose. I grin. You do still think of me from time to time.

You feel me here. You know my name. You've called to me in your darkest hours.

You've convinced yourself you've come for me this night. But I know different. You never act on tragic impulses. I see your strength.

You aren't here for me. You're here for her. And for yourself.

Place the white peonies and offer wise words, and do try to be quick about it. Gaze but a moment more upon the cold white face of her sparkling granite tomb. Careful now. You don't want to spoil that soft white dress in the tussled dirt.

How sweet her dress looks on you this night, its lustrous fibers twirling, catching the light, your lean tall body cutting lines so like hers, and so unlike hers in your own remarkable ways. It is a wonder, watching you dance with her ghost, the two of you nestling in night's great black arms. There's no room for anything—except me—to come between you.

If I'm candid, you surprised me just now. Passing for her as you do in the shadows. These long drawn years you've lived, with and without her. With her choices. Without her gravitational pull.

You inherited almost all of her. Grown into adulthood, you couldn't be more different. Reckless abandoned died with her. That wild side was never intended for you. How she loved leaning in too far, faltering and falling, seeking the riskier risks, the duskier shades of gray.

You have been sunshine cutting through darkness to all who shattered in her silvery wake.

I know. I'm ever watchful.

But, dear one, you should know. What passes for light here is just another dying star. Careful that you do not stray too far from your appointed path.

Just now I watched salt-tinged tears fall from your thousand-yard stare, and I discovered a truth I had not seen in you these many, many years. You welcome my deepest kiss. You long to take my hand. You want my caress to seep into you, marrow deep.

I do understand.

Time has not been kind to you. My sibling can be so wantonly cruel, callous, and indifferent. But I am unlike Time. I keep my promises.

She wouldn't want this for you, your mother. Any more than she would want your pity. Your sadness. Your regret.

She loved you. With all she could spare. With the infallible frailty of a mother, a mother who at long last crumbled beneath the cacophony of unending expectation. She was, after all, only human.

How unlike her you are, in every way that would have mattered to her. She'd be so proud of you. For finding your way. You remained steady. Out of the dismal depths that clung to her breast, you found your strength and you walked into life, nearly fearless.

Even now, you carry yourself with integrity, and heart, with such tremendous capacity for generosity. But then, her ghost dances across your grave and her dashed joy drips its percolating waters through the membranes of your hopes, leaving you a bitter roast.

May I remind you. You are not your mother.

Yes, you have arrived. Here. At my door. You've traveled all the way on this, the last leg of a fateful journey. My door is always open. But you must choose to walk through, for at this hour, my dear, you are most welcome but uninvited.

Since your mother arrived here, forty years have kissed the youth off your face. You've laid to rest countless friends, and lovers too, and a child whose face could be mistaken for your own.

I understand.

You've grown so weary. But there is beauty in living. A beauty that is denied to me, to all of us who wander into my playground. Time is cruel, but my sibling can offer you so many gifts I may never give you.

The choice is yours. Always, the choice is yours.

These last steps, you alone must take. Walk with me a while. The night is young, and your dress is divine, and your eyes twinkle with the light of a million ancestors. I'll put on my party dress and meet you in the spaces in between, but I know the rules. And I abide.

You still you have room for other suitors on your dance card.


Copyright © 05/26/2024 by Christy Munson. All rights reserved.


Author's Notes: Written for Kenny Penn's unofficial challenge, Gothic Stories. Word count: 764. Learn about the challenge and read all the wonderful entries at the link below.

FantasyShort StoryPsychologicalLove

About the Creator

Christy Munson

My words expose what I find real and worth exploring.

Top Stories: 🥳




Unofficial Challenge Winners:

Ask Me in December | Story of Humanity | Strangely Art

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (9)

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  • Novel Allen13 days ago

    So dark and foreboding-ly eerie. Choices made this will be very prophetic. Loving the mystery and nostalgic tones.

  • Hannah Moore13 days ago

    Brilliant piece. I love the bit about her light being a dying star. And welcome, but uninvited. I love also, how you holding sadness and joy together.

  • Lamar Wiggins17 days ago

    Wow! So many great lines. This one got me: -My door is always open. But you must choose to walk through, for at this hour, my dear, you are most welcome but uninvited.- 😮🤩

  • D.K. Shepard19 days ago

    This is phenomenal! The first paragraph with its alliterative intro was entrancing and death’s narration of this scene was exquisitely done. “My door is always open. But you must choose to walk through, for at this hour, my dear, you are most welcome but uninvited” left me speechless

  • Kodah19 days ago

    Incredibly written, Christy! Imaginative and creative entry! Good luck in the challenge!! 💌

  • Kenny Penn19 days ago

    My goodness, Christy, this one is amazing! I so love that you chose to make a character out of death. It is hauntingly dark and beautiful. One of my favorite lines, “What passes for light here is just another dying star”, that was so epic! Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece!

  • A nice writing to face the challenge. Loved it!

  • Oooo, this felt so heavy and intense. Awesome take of the challenge!

  • John Cox19 days ago

    I love using death as a character, and you have done it here exceptionally well. I love how you employed the metaphor of dancing with death at your stories end. Very subtlety done! Great story telling, Christy!

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