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Vocally Haunted

FYI: This is NOT another rant on Vocal - it's just a story

By KJ AartilaPublished 4 months ago 6 min read
Vocally Haunted
Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

*** To spammers, AIers and anyone else who feels entitled - DO NOT steal this content and present it as your own - doing so is PLAGIARISM, and plagiarism is against the law and unethical - so just DON'T - mine or anyone's - write your own sh*t!***


The woman/wife/mother had hiked a good distance on her own to breathe in the healing power of nature and listen to the wisdom bubbling up on the bank of the winding creek, replaying the final scene she’d had with her son, prompting this isolated trip.

“Go to your room!” she screamed as he walked through the front door. “You’re grounded!” She pointed a shaky finger firmly toward the hallway leading to his room. She knew it was irrational, but she was just so angry. He looked at her in wide-eyed confusion before continuing silently to his room.

The younger brother watched the unusual commotion from the safety of his own bedroom doorway. As the older boy walked by, the younger backed inside and quietly closed the door to his own room.

As soon as both boys were in their rooms, her senses seemed to flow back to her. She clapped a hand over her mouth, horrified at what had spilled out. And that tone! She stared at her reflection in the mirror and the tears streaming down her weary face. In a fit of anger, she growled and hit the face staring back at her, with the flat of her hand. She winced at the icy pain tingling her palm after the satisfying slap.

For the last several days, every time she spoke to her family, the tense and rash voice of her mother came out. She didn’t like it at all and needed a few days on her own to make peace with that ghost – that person she never wanted to be. She was concerned about the damage the disembodied voice had probably already caused. She had thought she left the confusion and drama behind years ago, now here it was, years later, stamping her own family with the same scars.

The power of a voice can be so much more brutal than a fist, leaving behind a haunting echo carried in silence for years. Why now? What triggered the ghost of a sheltered past to present itself now?

Her husband had begged her not to go. He said they could deal with it. But she didn’t want to “deal with it.” She wanted it to go away, and this is what felt right. A place where she could perform some kind of exorcism.

With a supportive hug from her husband, she drove away.

She parked the vehicle in the parking area by the location she chose to hike in. This was an area where she used to go with her husband and young boys on picnics. It had a long time since they had been here, though.

She began the rugged hike in, egged on by the voice in her head.

“Now look what you’ve done! You’ve left your husband alone and worried. And he probably won’t check on the kids' homework, either. He’s so worthless! I told you not to marry that college-boy,” the voice sneered.

The woman shook her head vigorously, attempting to dislodge those pervasive thoughts from her mind. She loved her husband dearly, and he was quite capable. And he was a great dad! They probably wouldn’t even miss her.

She continued the hike, determined to appreciate the nature of her surroundings, while concentrating on her footing to escape the insistent voice following her to her destination.

When she reached the secluded camp site, she decided to focus on erecting the tent and get a fire going.

Her own thoughts echoed the negative words in her head as she struggled with the tent. Why do I insist on doing everything myself? This is so hard! What’s wrong with me?

Finally, the tent stood, and the campfire flamed. She sat down by the fire, waiting for her tea to brew and thought about how she would go about doing what needed to be done. How would she silence the grating voice echoing in her head, now escaping and wreaking havoc on her family?

She drank her warm tea, contemplated and relaxed, breathing in the freshness around her. This was a beautiful spot. Peaceful and secluded. It would give her the privacy and strength to do what she needed to do.

First, a wade in the cool creek. At the bank, she set aside her hiking shoes and socks.

“Are you crazy? You can’t walk in there barefoot! Who knows what’s on the bottom? You’ll probably cut your foot on a sharp rock.”

The woman smiled to herself and plunged forward into the burbling stream.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you! You’re so clumsy.”

After a few minutes of enjoying the crystal-clear water flowing over her feet, the woman emerged from the creek, still smiling to herself and taking deep breaths. Her feet were unharmed. She picked up her shoes and socks and walked, barefooted still, back to the campsite. She pulled a granola bar from her pack to snack on. Yep, the pills were safely resting in their container.

When darkness fell, she enjoyed the brilliance of the stars on a pitch-black night. She began recognizing and reciting some constellations,

“Oh, that’s right. Showing off your fancy college-girl skills. Worthless. The only thing it got you was that useless college-boy husband of yours. You think you’re so smart! Better than everyone!”

The woman had to chuckle to herself at the hypocrisy of those statements. She shook her head, climbed through the small tent flap for a door and snuggled into the sleeping bag, but first she grabbed the container of pills and a bottle of water from her pack.

Sitting up, she poured the pills into her hand. She could only stare at them for a moment. Unmoving, she sat cross-legged while a frown creased her brow.

“Why would you do such a stupid thing?”

The woman spoke out loud to herself. “You know, for once Mother, I agree with you. I vowed never to be as selfish as you. This time, and never again: You. Don’t. Win.”

She wrestled herself free of the sleeping bag.

“I do love you, Mother and I tried for such a long time to make you happy. Well, no more. You made your choice, and now I’m making mine.”

She stood up, went outside, and launched the handful of pills into the meadow. She curled up inside the sleeping bag, resting soundly for the remainder of the clear night.

In the morning, she hiked out of the woods and drove back to her loving family of choice – her husband and her boys, whom each greeted her return with a welcoming hug.


The prompt: Write a story about someone who is haunted. Whether by a ghost or something else is up to you.


Short StoryPsychologicalHorrorfamilyCONTENT WARNING

About the Creator

KJ Aartila

A writer of words in northern WI with a small family and a large menagerie.

My Substack

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (10)

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  • Mother Combs4 months ago

    great story

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    From start to finish, it's a captivating story!!! Loved it!!!❤️❤️💕

  • J. Delaney-Howe4 months ago

    Great story telling. I loved the part where she threw the pills away from her. Such resolve. Great work!

  • This was soooo scary to me! It was so unsettling! That exorcism felt to liberating! Loved your take on the prompt!

  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    This is wonderfully written. Well done..

  • Wonderful story telling I think we’ve all had an internal monologue with a parent at one time or another

  • In times of stress, when rationality leaves us, we act as we have learned, been taught, know. This may be the best exorcism story I've read. I just don't know whether I can manage it or not.

  • Veronica Coldiron4 months ago

    I found this deeply moving! It's such a freeing experience that amid all the ghosts of our past, we can still find ourselves!! Beautifully written! 🤩

  • Colt Henderson4 months ago

    Good story!

  • marie e ehlenbach4 months ago

    It is good!

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