Haunting Writing Exercise

Haunting Obsession Lo RezHere, re-posted for your consideration, is a writing exercise I composed this morning in one of my writer’s groups. A bit of metafiction whimsey and proof that while Haunting Obsession has been out for several months, Maxine isn’t done haunting me yet. (Yes, at the  mentioned moment, two men stood just outside our open conference room door and proceeded to have a conversation.)

I stared at the laptop screen; the blank white surface stared back, screaming intimidation.

I glanced at the clock, mulling over the exercise, thinking, Wow, Steve, that’s a bit of a tall order. An evocative scene, using all five senses, simple words, and you want us to read it at the end of the hour? Really?

582152_10151060950622591_1149631412_nBehind me, I felt her lean against my shoulders, her breathy whisper in my ear sending a responsive shiver down my spine. “So, what’cha doing R.J.?”

I turned and looked behind me. There was Maxine Marie, the glamorous Hollywood ghost, the late great shapely gorgeous blonde, grinning for me and only me.

Still, I didn’t appreciate the timing. “Maxine, what are you doing here…now?”

Her bottom lip protruded, and she looked down at her feet. “Oh, look at Mister Serious Author, turning all grumpy-puss. As if I have any control over when I enter your mind.”

Art by Nell Williams.

Art by Nell Williams.

She turned and sat on the table, seated on her shapely bottom between myself and the new woman. Her body phased right through the chair, as ghosts tend to do.

It was fine, I could still see through her to the end of the room. A hint of vanilla lavender perfume drifted toward me. (Vanilla lavender? Sure, why not.)

“So,” said Maxine into the air, her nails tap-tap-tapping a quick rhythm on the tabletop. “You’re supposed to write to the five senses. What can we write about?”

I glared down, her nails, still ticking out their rapid tempo, the rhythm rapidly ratcheting on my last nerve. “Would you stop doing that please?”

She looked down, flashed an abashed grin, and folded her hands in her lap. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

2012, with RJ and "Maxine Marie" from Haunting Obsession.

2012, with RJ and “Maxine Marie” from Haunting Obsession.

“So how many have we covered?” she asked. I started looking over my draft. “Not sure. I wish those two guys out in the hallway would stop talking so we would concentrate on the assignment.”

Maxine nodded. “No kidding. Hey!” She offered a mischievous grin. “Want me to go out and scare them?”

I considered. I knew I should be filled with alarm, the very idea jolting my body so I could describe all sorts of abnormal sensations for this writing exercise, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

Truthfully, the thought of her walking through the wall, appearing between them while donning thick black glasses, hissing a librarian-like “shhhhh……” and then vanishing into thin air gave me the giggles.

Art by Bonnie Wasson.

Art by Bonnie Wasson.

But…I shook my head. “No, better not.”

“Oh, poo. You’re no fun.”

I reached for my blue travel coffee mug and took a sip, the tepid liquid, two hours past its prime, left a bitter aftertaste.

Maxine nodded. “Nicely done, sneaking in the sense of taste.”

I smiled at the compliment. “Thanks!”

I drummed my fingers lightly across the black keys in a repetitive motion, trying to think where else to take this scene.

“Hey, Mister,” she chastised. “Now who’s being annoying?”

I stopped. “Sorry.”

Maxine’s gaze lifted, settling on the clock, which showed quarter ’til.

Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.

Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.

“Think you have enough?”

“Sure. Thanks, Maxine.”

“Don’t mention it. Talk to you soon, RJ.” And she vanished.

Learn more about Maxine Marie and Haunting Obsession at this link.

 

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About R.J. Sullivan

R.J. Sullivan’s latest book, Commanding the Red Lotus, is a novel-length collection of three space opera tales in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry. His novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. R.J. co-hosts the Two Towers Talk Show YouTube program with John F. Allen. He resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.
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