Ficlets Archive #4

*Note: All entries on Ficlets, including mine, are posted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License. All unattributed writing is by me. All otherwise-attributed writing is [sic].

This is one where I cheated and kept sequeling myself to write a longer story. It’s actually a pared down, revamped version of a longer story I wrote years ago.

UPDATED because I can sign into Ficlets now.

One For the Angels (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)

Conversations with Dead People (A Challenge)
by Melia

I’ve only ever tried to put forth a challenge once before and had fun with it. So when I hit the 100th ficlet milestone, I thought I’d try it again. But I couldn’t think of anything – mind. Total blank.

So I’m brushing my teeth this morning, and an old Buffy episode I loved popped in my brain. Not sure of the correlation between teeth brushing and dead people, but my mind is often strange and off-putting.

Anyway, here’s the challenge:

Have a conversation with someone who’s passed on. Could be someone IRL like a friend or relative, or a famous person – authors, movie stars, rock stars, whoever – or even someone who’s fictionally dead. Zombies count 🙂

Your convo can be about anything. It can be silly, or angsty, or angry, or emotional, or insightful. I don’t want to put many limits on your imaginations. So the only stipulation is that it must be between you and someone who is dead. Doesn’t have to be strictly dialogue either.

I’m anxious to see what you creative folks do 🙂 Will pick a winner eventually.

The river looked hostile. Choppy waves on black water made it look cold. But it was warm this time of year. I guessed it would feel like going back to the womb, floating in that warmth, letting it fill my lungs. I took a deep breath to strengthen my resolve, and climbed over the rail.

“Geddown from there!”

Halfway over the rail, a hand grabbed my arm and jerked me back. I lost my balance and sprawled on my ass, cracking my tailbone on the pavement. “Ow! What the fuck?”

A homeless guy stood over me. Greasy hair, greasy clothes, skanky trench coat held together with safety pins. Hadn’t shaved in at least a week. Or bathed, by the smell of him. “What the fuck?” I repeated, in case he didn’t hear me the first time.

He crouched over me. His hand held a burning cigarette that he waved in my face. “Seven. Just this morning, I pulled this kid out of a car wreck. Seven years old. Had his whole life ahead of him. And here you’re about to throw yours away. So I’m asking YOU , kid, what the fuck?” (continued…)

Average Reader Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5

One For the Angels, Part 1 (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)
Saint Chuck’s Buddy Icon Saint Chuck

Posted 9 months ago
5.0 out of 5 stars

Wow, brilliant. I don’t know why that hit home for me, but it did. Great work.

He stood, puffing his cigarette, and offered his hand.

I took it. He pulled me to my feet. “What happened to the kid?” I asked, rubbing my ass.

“Whad’ya think? She died.”

I was stunned. My world had gotten so small, my problems so huge, I forgot about those of other people. Man, the kid’s family. What they must be going through. Not that I didn’t have a pretty good idea.

“Look, kid, I’m sorry about your wife, but—”

“How do you know about my wife? Who the hell are you?”

The guy hesitated, then shrugged. “It was on the news.”

“Oh. Right.” I remembered that reporter holding the mic in my face and nodding sympathetically as she got me to give a statement. I only did because I was still in shock. Fucking vulture. I pointed at his cigarette. “Got another one?”

“You smoke?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“You don’t smell like you smoke.” He lit one with the butt of his active one, and handed it over. “You know, these things’ll kill you.” I just looked at him. He laughed. “Guess it’s better to do it slow.” (continued)

Average Reader Rating: 5.0 stars out of 5

One For the Angels, Part 2 (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)
Stovohobo’s Buddy Icon Stovohobo

Posted 9 months ago
5.0 out of 5 stars

I like the overall tone of this little series. Nice rough, urban atmosphere to it that gives it a mood. I like it.

I tried the cigarette, and nearly hacked up a lung. He was right. I didn’t smoke. Laughing, he slapped me on the back until my coughing fit ended.

“Why’d you stop me?”

“Told you. You’re too damn young to die.”

“I’m too young to be widowed.” I took another tentative puff.

He shrugged again. I wanted to knock his remaining teeth out.

“You’re hurting. Who isn’t? Hurting’s what makes you you. Tells you you’re alive.”

“Thanks for that brilliant and original bit of insight, Clarence.”

“Just ‘cause something’s cliche doesn’t make it untrue. Go home, kid. Your mother needs you.”

“What do you know about my mother?”

“You got a mother? She needs you alive. Trust me, I know.”

I winced at that. Life had clearly beaten him down. Yet was trying to get me to go on. “What’s your name?”

“Gotta go. Got an appointment.”


“Don’t worry, kid. We’ll meet again. You stay out of the drink, a’right?” I turned to look out at the water. Suddenly it didn’t seem so appealing. I looked back. He was gone. (cont.)

I thought about him as I watched my mom through the ICU observation window. Just like I’d thought about him when she received her diagnosis. It was like he knew. “Your mother needs you.”

Twenty years later, it was the reason I was still here. It hurt, watching her die like this. A different kind of hurt than losing my first wife, but just as intense. This time, I knew I could take it. I hated it, but I could survive it. I had to. I had others who needed me.

I needed a cigarette. I went outside to have a smoke and call my wife. I let the nicotine buzz set in before calling home. I was opening the phone and speed-dialing home when the coughing started.

I doubled over. The phone slipped from my hand. I heard my wife’s far away voice calling my name. I coughed so hard I fell to my knees. I felt a hand pounding me on the back, and looked up.

Greasy hair. Greasy clothes. Skanky coat. Hadn’t shaved in days. He smiled. “You made it, kid.”

“What the fuck?” I managed to ask between coughs. (continued)

“I’m ready to retire,” he said, his tone conversational, as if I wasn’t coughing my lungs out. He lit a cigarette. I wiped the slobber from my mouth. My hand came away red. “Had to find a replacement first. Someone who could stand this job. I gotta say, I had my doubts about you, that night on the bridge. But you pulled yourself together and proved your mettle.”

I just stared at him as he took another leisurely drag. I couldn’t draw breath. Fuck this. I started to crawl toward the door. This was a goddamn hospital, wasn’t it? Where the hell were all the doctors?

“I’m proud of you, kid. You’re gonna make a great agent.”

I collapsed on the ground. “Who… who are you?” I croaked.

He came over to crouch beside me. “You know who I am. I mean, who I used to be. That title’s yours now.” He patted me on the back. Then he held up his cigarette and considered it. “It’s not like you didn’t get a heads up,” he said, leaning down to brandish the cigarette in my face. “I told you these things would kill you.”


Average Reader Rating: 5.0 stars out of 5

One For the Angels, Part 5 (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)
JMBauhaus’ Buddy Icon JMBauhaus

Posted 9 months ago

Full disclosure: This is a shortened retelling of a story I wrote years and years ago that I never got published. I had to rewrite it from scratch, so I don’t know if this disqualifies me from the challenge.

One For the Angels, Part 5 (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)
Melia’s Buddy Icon Melia

Posted 9 months ago

No one gets disqualified 🙂 I really enjoyed your series. I could kind of see where it was heading after the first ficlet, but you got me with the jump in time and the passing of the torch, so to speak. Great work!

One For the Angels, Part 5 (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)
Tarmaie’s Buddy Icon Tarmaie

Posted 9 months ago
5.0 out of 5 stars

Oh wow. That was good, more than I’d expected.

One For the Angels, Part 5 (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)
Saint Chuck’s Buddy Icon Saint Chuck

Posted 9 months ago
5.0 out of 5 stars

Love the series, you have a real flair for storytelling. Nice work.

One For the Angels, Part 5 (Conversations With Dead People Challenge)
Mistress Elsha Hawk’s Buddy Icon Mistress Elsha Hawk

Posted 9 months ago

Yes, it does seem like a shortened version of a much longer tale, but it is still very well written.