I like to think of Friday the 13th as a little Halloween. And I love that it happens this time in the middle of winter. Winter is a great time for spooky stories.
Years ago, I wrote and recorded a spooky flash story about one of my biggest fears for Weekend America. Unfortunately they’ve since dropped the sound files from their website, but I still have the text:
I hold the reading lamp out in front of me as I approach my bed, its tiny glow illuminating the pool of dark at my feet, that vulnerable space between bed and floor. I tell myself that, even in death, my beloved would not hide beneath my bed to frighten me. But the light isn’t enough to keep him away, and when the spiny bones of his once-tender hand seize my ankle, my heart freezes in my chest. He is still strong, and pulls me under, under, to share the icy comforts of his lonely river grave.
Are you subscribed to my email list? Last month in my newsletter I wrote about ghost stories in winter…
There’s a line in the holiday song, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, which mentions ghost stories:
There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago
Every time I hear it, I wonder about the tradition of scary tales at the winter holidays. We are all familiar with Charles Dickens’ tale, A Christmas Carol, which has plenty of ghosts in it. If you think about it, winter is the perfect time for tales of death and things that go bump in the night. In much of the world, the trees are barren, the chill in the air is bitter, and if we don’t stay inside by the proverbial fire, we might die. Back in 1611, Shakespeare wrote in A Winter’s Tale, “A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one of sprites and goblins.” Even before Dickens’ Victorian tale, there was Washington Irving’s 1819 story, Old Christmas, which tells of a parson coming to visit to tell tales of the supernatural, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The tradition didn’t end with the Victorians. Henry James’ 1898 Turn of the Screw is told as a Christmas Eve tale, and is still taught as a British Literature classic. Two of my favorite contemporary winter chillers are Peter Straub’s 1980 Ghost Story, and Stephen King’s 1977 The Shining. And, btw–I’ve written some spooky books myself. A delightfully bleak midwinter, indeed.
Happy Friday the 13th!
January 12 Words
Journal: 440 words
Long fiction: 1368 words
Short fiction: 0
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 100 words
Exercise: 50 minutes treadmill, 15 minutes Kinect Fitness