“Party Talk” – a ghost story by John Gaskin

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It’s October and time to read some ghost stories. I was quite fortunate in my first choice. I still had a handful of stories remaining unread in my collection, “Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead,” which features many great, scary stories. Some of those I’ve posted about before are linked below (my favorites were “Is There Anybody There” and “City of Dreams”)

Grandfather’s Teeth and Grandmother’s Slippers

Is There Anybody In There?

City of Dreams

The Door

Our narrator in the story is a party guest and writer of ghost stories. He allows himself to be trapped into a conversation with an old lady at the party who, reclining on an old-style chaise longue tells him, “Sit down. I have a tale you must hear.”

She relates a story from her youth where she, after committing an indiscretion with a youthful gardener, is shuttled off to live with an aunt, out of the way and out of the view of public shame. She is kept busy with many tasks, one of which is planting some roses amongst some old graves near the transept of the local church. During her shallow excavations, she unhappily discovers she has uncovered several bone fragments. She stores them behind the old tombstone of one Elenor Ward. She learns from a young rector that Elenor was a victim of a local knave also known for getting other young girls “in trouble.” The young ward walks her partway home to her aunt’s residence (“Toburn Hall” – described by the author as being “large and untenanted by youth or laughter”). On the remainder of the walk, she notices a discomfort in her boot and when reaching home is shocked to find the suspected “pebble” to in reality be a tooth from among the bones she had unintentionally disturbed. She resolves to return it to rest with the others the next day and places it on a mantelpiece in her bedroom. This, predictably, sets up a night of terror that completes the story of the old party guest.

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(photo from http://julieannchristian.wordpress.com/)

Gaskin’s not done with us yet, though, as a further, added twist left me with not a few goosebumps on my arms this Friday morning…

I highly recommend this story and the book which includes it. It may be found for sale at amazon.com  or Barnes and Noble

Author Gaskin lives in Northumberland in the U.K. And is also the author of a story collection called The Long Retreating Day: Tales of Twilight and Borderlands, which I may want to check out now that I’ve read this story.

This post is also written in conjunction with the R.I.P. VIII Challenge.

Will YOU be reading any ghost stories this month? What are your plans?

(below: a “chaise longue” perfect seating for a ghost story, wouldn’t you say?)

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