We're well into October, and everywhere I look, people are embracing the Halloween season. Honestly, I don't have strong feelings either way about Halloween. I mean, it's fun enough, but I was never the type to go completely crazy over it. And I'm old enough to think having leftover candy in the house is more dangerous than fun.
With that blasphemous intro, I'm sure I've lost a lot of readers by now. If you're sticking with me, thanks!
During this shitshow of a pandemic/lockdown/whatever we're calling it now, I've been trying to make more of an effort to connect with people, from reconnecting with old friends to making new ones. I've been spending more time on Twitter, for better or worse (though I still refuse to put it on my phone), and interacting with people I've "met" via the #WritingCommunity tag. It seems like so many writers have something in the horror genre, or paranormal, or anything else that can fall under the "spooky" umbrella in honor of Halloween that they're talking about and...I don't. I'm neurotic enough as it is, so my interest level in horror is so low it's practically non-existent, and while I've read and enjoyed some paranormal books/stories, it's also not really my thing. Obviously, not every writer is going to write in every single genre—in fact, it's probably the opposite in that most find one thing that works best for them and sticks with it—but it's no fun to feel left out.
But then I got to thinking about the books I have written, and their origins. And I remembered once upon a time, very, very long ago, what eventually became Elysium was originally going to be a ghost story. If memory serves, I think I saw some sort of writing contest for either Halloween or Christmas, and I got the idea of a woman somehow getting together with her dead husband. However, this was when I was in college (I TOLD you it was a long time ago!), and life was quite busy back then, and the story never got written. About ten years passed before I revisited the story idea, and I don't even remember how I made the leap from "dead husband is a ghost" to "dead husband appears via virtual reality", but I finally wrote something based on that old idea.
I've probably said it before, but even now, I still think Elysium is one of the best (if not THE best) things I've ever written. Its origins as a ghost story are way in the past, but maybe I'll choose to celebrate it this October anyway! (Should we have an excerpt of the first appearance of the dead husband? Sure, why not?)
I noticed the billowing skirt swishing against my knees. It belonged to the yellow striped sundress I’d worn to a friend’s barbecue a couple of summers ago. I’d always liked this dress, but I hadn’t worn it since.
Crouching down, I pressed against the paved trail. The stones were cool and solid beneath my touch. I reached out and tugged at a single blade of grass. It snapped off and I rolled it back and forth. A green smear darkened one fingertip, and it even smelled like grass. Incredible.
I didn’t have long to marvel at Drew’s genius, for footsteps approached behind me. Straightening, I gradually turned in the direction of the sound. What I saw froze me in place.
He wore his dark hair buzzed short like always, and his skin was tanned as if he’d never spent one day out of the sun. A plain blue T-shirt the color of his eyes stretched over his thick chest, tucked into his favorite pair of jeans. He strode toward me, every detail of his movements captured with perfection. I even saw the scar from a childhood accident spanning the top of his left hand.
He stopped a foot away from me and grinned. His lips, his teeth, his jaw, everything flowed into the cheerful expression I’d missed so much.
His voice sent shivers down my spine. I clapped one trembling hand over my mouth and rocked from side to side. The corners of my eyes stung with a whirlwind of emotions and my throat tightened so much I could barely whisper.