Friday, October 24, 2014

Laughing with the Dead (a 600-word Halloween flash fiction short story) by Oren Shafir

Halloween horror graveyardIn my country, cemeteries are just like parks, she says.

Lately, she’s started calling it her country, like she didn’t leave when she was zero-years.old. They’re more in touch with death in her country, she says. The living and the dead all together laughing and celebrating. Go say hello to your dead relatives’ ghostly spirits, she says.

Listen, I don’t want to say hello to them any sooner than I have to.  In my country, the dead are just dead. I hate being late, but I’m not cutting through a fricking cemetery in the middle of the night.

But she keeps at it. Don’t be such a baby, she says. It’ll save you like 15 minutes, and you're already late. Embrace the moment, she says. Typical new age cliché garbage from Lisa.

I straighten my tie, square my shoulders and enter. From the moment, I cross the threshold, I'm sorry. But by the time I regret it enough to want to turn around, it's just as far back. Or at least it probably is. I don't really know where I am anymore, and I have to use my phone as a flashlight to follow the path. Then wouldn’t you know it, the battery dies, and everything goes pitch black, but luckily I remember that I have one of those portable phone chargers in my bag.

I find it, set it to charge and let my eyes slowly adjust to the dark. As I make my way cautiously forward, there's a rasping noise like a door creaking – but there couldn’t be a door, could there? Then I have to duck. Something flies straight at my head. A bird? A bat? Jesus.  Shadows dance. Am I still on the path. I trip on a gravestone. Then, just when I think I can't freak out any more,  my phone starts blasting, and I jump up rifling through my bag to find it and turn off the alarm.

It's a reminder about the Halloween party.  Perfect.  I sit down straight on the dirt on my ass and  start laughing. I mean tears are streaming down my cheeks. It's all Lisa’s fault, I think. She pushes and pushes. Always pushing. But it just takes too much energy to push back about every thing, every minute of the day.

She’s into yoga and poetry and music, and I like facts. I like reality. I’m a guy who knows who knows that Halloween is just the 31st of October, that a park is a park, and in my country the dead are just dead and you don't laugh with them. That's when I realize I'm going to break up with Lisa the moment I get out of here.

But I still don't know which way to go, and I'm not done laughing. Every time I think about my decision about Lisa, about the phone ringing, about how scared I was, there is a little more laughter left inside me, until finally it dissipates completely.

But as I sit, I think I hear something in the night. I purse my lips to make sure it isn't coming from inside me. But no, I am done laughing..Yet from every direction around me, the laughter continues.

Read last year's freaky flash Halloween story, "Mask"
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