Soldiers In The Mist
Three young men caught up in Civil War leave home and family to fight for what they believe is right, only to discover war is not what they envisioned. Each made a promise; two were broken, one should’ve been. Trapped in a dimension between life and death, their souls are destined to never rest in peace, doomed to wander for eternity until, one hundred fifty years later, they find the fourth promise which can set them free.
I talk to Charlie out loud as if he were sitting across from me drinking morning coffee. Ghosts, however, very rarely (if ever) speak. Not because they can’t but because forming words and sentences takes too much energy and time. Speaking out loud is at the bottom of the communication chain in Charlie’s dimension.
“So how are we going to write this book if you can’t talk aloud to me?” I ask.
Immediately a picture of a shy, handsome young man with chocolate-drop eyes flashes in my mind’s eye. Ah…I understand. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Charlie speaks to me using mental images: a dark, damp graveyard, men gathered around a campfire, cannons flashing. Sometimes he uses emotions instead. Intense feelings of love, hate, guilt, joy, or happiness wash over me until I meld into the character’s psyche and we become one.
Automatic writing, however, is Charlie’s preferred method of communication and my favorite. I clear my mind, focus on the blank screen before me, and wait for my fingers to spring to life and fly across the keyboard as if they belong to someone else. Which they do. They’re Charlie’s.
I am conscious of what I type yet not fully aware, much like taking dictation. The experience is so exhilarating that I have to shout, “Go, Charlie, go!” or bust.
When I read the manuscript back, I’m in awe. My imagination is great, but no way can I make up what Charlie puts down on the page. I am here to edit, format, and allow my fingers to be Charlie’s writing tools.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term “ghost writer.”
~R. H. Burkett
Charlie balanced the load of firewood in his arms and nudged the door open with the tip of his boot. The strong smell of coffee greeted him, and he took in a deep breath, savoring it. “Here’s more wood, Mother.”
“Thank you, Charlie, you’re a good boy. Breakfast will be ready shortly.”
A twinge of irritation nipped at him. Boy. Why did she always call him boy?
Unable to resist the coffee’s aroma, he poured a cup and sat at the table. Breakfast was his favorite time of day. He liked the way the rising sun poked its head through the kitchen window and cast golden rays across the floor and against the walls, giving the room a cozy, cheery feeling. The woodsy smell of hickory bacon drifted throughout the small cabin and his mouth watered.
Deep in thought, he traced the carved lines etched into the crude kitchen table. A small grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. Many nights he had sat at that table and studied by the glow of the lantern’s light while Mother knitted and rocked by the fire. The smile faded. Where would he find words and the courage to tell her he was leaving? And why were childhood memories jumping to mind to sabotage his decision?
“Remember how you taught me sums at this table? Never thought I’d get the hang of them, but you wouldn’t let me quit. Then one day it all made sense.”
A plate of warm biscuits smeared with honey appeared before him. She patted his shoulder and smiled. “We have a lot of good memories, thanks to this ol’ wooden table.”
His teeth sank into the flakey crust, and honey dripped from the corners of his mouth. He wiped his lips with his thumb, then licked the sticky, golden ooze off. The sizzle of potatoes she sliced into bacon grease made him glance at the stove, and he watched her with a heavy heart. Her hair flowed free this morning, running down her back in charcoal ringlets. Usually she wore it braided in a single strand, but he preferred it loose. Freed from their tight weave, locks curled around her neck and softened her features, making her look younger.
He frowned into his cup and tried to remember when her face hadn’t been lined, and her hair wasn’t the color of smoke. Age was the only thing that contradicted her apathy toward Pa’s death.