Short Story Sunday: The Cabin

Dad would walk ahead of us with the saw as we followed behind like troopers with the snow up to our knees. We’d been doing this since we were kids. It was a lot of work but always worth the effort, not so much in finding the perfect tree but in the time we spent together.

We were in search for the perfect tree. 

My brother Rod stopped and pointed. “What’s that? I’ve never seen it before.”

Through the woods was an old shack of a cabin.

“Let’s take a look,” said Dad.

The cabin looked as if nobody had been there in a century. The nails were square. The roof sagged. Dad and Rod pulled the door open.

Inside it was a time capsule into the 19thCentury. A table and four chairs were in front of a wood stove. A bed stood in the corner with a mattress covered with a red and green quilt. Jars of food canned years ago sat on the shelves in a small kitchen area. 

On the table was an envelope. I picked it up. On the front someone had written in a beautiful scrawling hand: If you are here read the note within.

I pulled out the paper and read aloud.

November 29, 1878

Welcome to the way station of the lost, the found, the curious, the tired, the cold, and the historians of time.

Make yourself comfortable. Take what you need. Leave what you don’t need. Leave extras if you have extra. 

I only ask you to leave this space with thoughts of love, hope, and good thoughts for other travelers who pass this way.

May many blessings come your way. 

TK

It looked as if this letter hand been read by many over the years. Others had left their comments on the back of the letter and on a second sheet of paper inside. 1880, 1897, 1906, 1918, 1920, 1937, 1943, 1972, 1999, 2001, and now 2020.

We took nothing, but left our initials and the date on the back of the letter. My dad pulled a extra pair of socks out of his pocket and left them there with a note saying wear these if your feet are cold or wet.

“When your grandkids are older you’ll have to bring them back here Dad,” I said.

“Yes, indeed,” Dad said.

As we closed the door and hiked off into the snow I looked back to see a man wave from the cabin. I almost called out then he waved back then vanished into the air as if he had never been there. Maybe it was just my imagination. I don’t know.

This year, with so much uncertainty treasure the mystery, the joy, the love, and the hope of the season. 

No matter where you are find your little cabin of peace and giving.  Believe.

~ end 

Cold Morning Coffee And A Ghost

My husband is rebuilding our lower deck.

That isn’t remarkable except for the fact that he is doing a beautiful job, and that the lower deck is where the Ghosts hang out.

On any given day I can see one of two of them standing out there looking out over the oak trees behind the house no doubt with hearts heavy with ghostly thoughts of what might have been. Or maybe they’re just enjoying the view in a spot where they know demons and excorcist alike are not welcome.

Most of them came to California during the California Gold Rush where they died along with their dreams of wealth and glory. Some of them just dreamed of getting away from the poverty, social restrictions, and other constraints of their former lives. They broke free from their own society only to die a few years later on the banks of the river a block from my home.

“I didn’t die here.”

Sitting across from me was Nigel, The Ghost. He takes my coffee cup in his semi transparent hand and slides it across the table, then takes in the aroma.

“There isn’t any blood in this cup is there?” Nigel asks me.

“No,” I say. “You would have smelled it. Why are you such an asshole?”

“I was just asking.”

“No you were being snarky because that is what Ghosts do.”

“Fine.” He put his face back in the cup, then looked up at me with his black eyes that suddenly turned to a bright hazel blue. He pushed his shaggy black hair out of his eyes and took a deep breath.

“My life was good before I died. It wasn’t always that way up until my foster family adopted me. Before then I didn’t know that you could put a turkey in the oven at home and cook it. I didn’t know that people could be nice to each other all the time. I didn’t know that some parents never went to prison, or passed out on the floor, or brought home boyfriends who’d try to… well, I just didn’t know. I suspected that there were other ways of living but it just seemed like fiction.”

He looked out the window then stood up and put his face close to the glass. “The deck looks good. Teddy is doing a great job. The Gold Rush Ghosts like to go up there and look at all of the tools. They’re kind of odd but I’ve gotten used to them. There is a big difference between someone who died in 1866 and someone who died in 1986. Did you realize that I would have been sixty one years old now? Sixty one. Six one. I bet my hair would be gray, or at least the temples might be white. A few weeks before I died I met a woman in an art gallery in San Francisco. We exchanged numbers. Had I lived we might be married now with a couple of kids going to college over Zoom. I left her a message, and she left me one. It was phone tag. Then it was Thanksgiving. Then I was murdered and I never saw her again. I don’t even know if she knew I died. I’m sure she must have if she followed the art world. She must have known.”

“What was her name,” I asked.

“I don’t remember. I was hit in the head so I don’t remember a lot of things. Or maybe it is just this ghost thing that scrambles my brain. I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t know. Do Vampires forget their former lives?”

“Some do,” I answered, “but it is usually intentional.”

“I understand,” said Nigel. “You need to warm the coffee up. It’s cold.”

“I’ll warm it up and make another cup for me,” I told him.

I made coffee. The cats circled Nigel’s feet. I watched him as he sat thinking about his former life and the woman he’d met back in 1986. Before the water even got to a boil he faded away and vanished back into his Ghost world, or wherever he goes when he fades away.

I made more coffee and looked out on the deck. My kids are still here from Thanksgiving. We’re going to help Teddy put up the stairs today.

The morning is still cold, clear, and everyone is asleep.

Right now I’m looking out over the deck and there are no Ghosts. Only a lone squirrel sitting on the edge where a rail will eventually go.

December is almost here. I guess if you’re a Ghost it never changes, but then again, I’m not a Ghost, and they aren’t too open about giving answers.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Halloween. Today.

I should have a big flashy post today because it is Halloween. Unfortunately I’ve been spending the day trying to get blood stains out of my favorite shirt and out of Teddy’s leather jacket. I’m also polishing my scratched up boots. Damn it. We’re also trying to locate my brothers Val and Andy who were with us. Teddy and I were running so fast we just lost track of them. I’m sure they were smart enough to call an Uber or Lyft and get back to Val’s house, or somewhere. Sometimes I don’t know about those two. Another night in the life of Vampires. Plus a huge group of Ghosts are gathering down the street in the park. Not always a good sign. I don’t even want to think about what the Witches down the street might be doing. Trashy bitches.

Happy Halloween everyone. Stay safe. Stay sane.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

She Taunts Me – Sleep, Ghosts, and Vampires

Sleep

It is like the ghost that haunts me

Only worse.

The ghost will listen to me.

Sleep never does.

She taunts me

Like a woman who wants to seduce my husband.

She gives him slumbers so peaceful

So silent and lovely.

She taunts me and pulls my dreams to tattered bits

Then keeps me awake for days on end.

My slumbers end in a dark prison room

Always cold

Always alone

Always awake.

We’re not  friends Sleep and I.

I used to think it was my nocturnal nature,

But now I know it is because

Sleep hates me for something I did

In the past 

And fired up her jealous heart

To the point where she is only thinking of revenge.

_______________________________________________

I fixed a pot of coffee,

As Nigel the Ghost said, “Sleep doesn’t give a crap what you do Vampire. You’re too busy and you drink too much coffee.”

Maybe so but I’m not going to admit anything to a ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Spooky and Fun Halloween Paper Dolls to Cut and Color

2020 has been so weird, even for an almost 161 year old Vampire like me. My creative spark is fading, my kids don’t live here anymore. Sure they visit and we talk every single day but it isn’t like when they were in Middler School and High School and there was so much to say. There is still a lot of say but I’m having a more difficult time saying it. Also Halloween is weird this year. We’re having a pandemic and we’ve all been wearing masks for months before our favorite holiday.

Halloween is almost here so to get you in the mood here are some color-and-cut Halloween paper dolls I drew a while back.

If there is a spooky creature you’d like me to draw and dress let me know and I’ll add it to my cut and color collection. Seriously, I’d love to do it.

Ghost Party

Ghostie Fashion Paper Doll. Color an Cut Fun.
Ghostie Fashion Paper Doll. Color an Cut Fun.

Punkin Heads

punkin-heads
punkin-heads suits
punkin-heads suits 1

Werewolf and Mermaid

h_creatures
h_creatures_evening
h_creatures_magic

Zombie Girl

zombie_girl doll
z_girl
z_girl 2

Alien Girl

space girl
alein togs 1
alein togs 2

Have fun, wear a mask, talk to your kids, walk your dog, hug your cat, call your mom, check on those who are ancient or need extra help, call an old friend, write a poem, don’t be a dick, and kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Autumn Leaves (aren’t falling quite yet) and a Ghost

Despite the unusual heat it still feels like fall. The cool mornings and placement of the sun triggers that fall feeling I love so much. The bird songs are also different with the transition between the birds who fly to the South and those who winter over here. 

Yesterday it was hot and dry. I can’t remember a 90°F day in October. 

The only leaves that are falling are on the oak trees that just turn brown and dump into my driveway. All of the other trees are still green. At least the trees are green. Everything else is brown. The photo here is from a walk I took yesterday with my dog Alice. 

Thoughts come to Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and birthdays. We already celebrated my mother’s 491st  birthday. Next comes my brother Val on the 22nd, and then mine on the 23rd. That doesn’t include the dozen friends who also have October birthdays. 

This morning I was cleaning off the back deck. Don’t raise your eyebrows, Vampires have to take care of their homes just like anyone else, especially now that we’re all staying home a lot more. 

As I swept dirt and leaves off of the top deck down below on the construction of the lower deck I heard a “What the hell? Are you trying to kill me?”

I looked down to see Nigel the ghost standing there. 

“Oh shut up, you’re already dead. It isn’t like anything is going to hurt you or even fall on you,” I said.

“Come down to the lower deck,” he said.

“What so I can listen to your insults?”

“No,” he said with a quick smile. “So I can make you feel like the seasons are changing.”

Construction is going on so the stairs are gone. By the time I went inside, through the garage, and out back to the construction site I could hear music. A band, literally a band of ghosts were on my partially built deck playing, Tahiti: A Summer Night At Sea.

Nigel held out both of his hands just like Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. “Dance with me,”

I was wearing dirt covered jeans, wet flip flops, and a worn out tank top without a bra. “Not now Nigel.”

He took my hands and suddenly I was in a sea foam green dress with a light twirling skirt, my hair was in a riot of curls fastened with a diamond clip, and my feet were bare on a floor of sand. 

I found myself being led around the deck, expertly stepping around any tools left out. 

“For a Vampire you have absolutely no rhythm,” he said.

“I never said I could dance,” I said. 

Suddenly he stopped and we were back on the deck, and I was in my old dirty jeans again. Nigel glanced at the ghostly guitar player.

He started to play, Autumn Leaves.

“Let’s try this again,” said Nigel.

“So any plans for Halloween?” I asked.

“Some major haunting. It will be awesome.”

“Anyone in particular?” I had to ask.

“I think I know who killed me.”

“What?” I stopped. Nigel pulled me close. He seemed exceptionally cold, and that is pretty cold considering I’m a Vampire. Then again it it was HOT outside.

“Don’t stop. Yes, I remembered her face. It was the last thing I saw as I lay there in under the shower with my skull smashed open.”

“She? It was a woman?”

“Yes, but I don’t quite remember who she was. My memory sort of went to hell after she killed me. So what are you doing for Halloween?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing at all?”

“2020.”

“What about your birthday?”

“I’m going to the art museum. It will be the first time since it closed in March.”

“Ohhhh I should go too.”

“You might as well considering it’s your birthday too. I have four tickets but since you’re a ghost you won’t need a ticket or a mask for that matter.”

He smiled. “I’d be 61 if I wasn’t dead. Hey, can we stop by my grave. It isn’t far from the museum. On my birthday people leave letters and drawings there. Some of them even pour Whiskey and wine on my grave. You know, sharing a toast to me. I bet my body is completely pickled by now and no doubt looking almost as good as the day before I died.”

Then he stopped, and the music stopped. “It is so damned dry around here. But do you feel like it might be fall yet?”

“A little,” I said.

I looked up and saw my husband Teddy on the top deck waving down. Nigel waved up and yelled, “be a good Vampire and take her someplace cool.” Then he vanished before I could tell him thank you for the short escape.

That’s all. Nothing else happened. The ghosts all vanished. Teddy and I went inside and caught up on our day and our kids, and the usual Vampire news.

I didn’t suddenly see any fall leaves fall out of the sky, but my trees are full of green oranges and lemons that will be ripe in December or January. 

Happy fall everyone and happy haunting.

  • Stay safe
  • Be kind
  • Wear a mask
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Give thanks
  • Vote
  • Talk to your kids
  • Check in on those who are ancient or need extra help
  • And kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman