Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Flash Fiction - "The Ghost of Krismas Past" by Linda Mooney

Posted by: Linda Mooney

The Ghost of Krismas Past
A Holiday Flash Fiction
by Linda Mooney

             “Angels we have heard on high!” Tina sang with the Christmas carol coming through the car’s speakers. She loved this time of year, and she especially loved singing all her favorite carols. She never tired of them, even though several of her friends often remarked at how sick they were of hearing the same old tunes.

            “Hey, they’re golden oldies,” she remarked aloud. “They only come around once a year, they hang around for a few short weeks, and then they’re gone. They’re not repeated over and over constantly like most of the music is nowadays.”

            The song came to the Gloria chorus, just as she reached the red light, and she joined in enthusiastically. She was in an especially happy mood. Christmas was four days away, and she’d finally finished all her shopping. Even the stocking stuffers. All that was left was to get everything wrapped and under the tree, after which she could kick back and enjoy the season.

            “Hey. I wonder if Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is on tonight?” It was also a classic. One of her childhood favorites.

            The light changed, giving her a green arrow. She turned to head for the house, when she heard the first strains of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Automatically, tears rose in her eyes. Kris had loved that song. He’d loved it because it had become a beacon of hope for him during those years he was serving overseas.

            I’ll Be Home for Christmas. During the four years he’d been deployed, her husband never spent any of the holidays at home with his family. It wasn’t until he got injured and was given a medical discharge that he arrived back in the states the second day of December. He’d missed Thanksgiving, but she and Kris had planned to make up for all those lost special days that Christmas.

            They never got the chance. On December twenty-first, Kris was taken from her.

            Traffic slowed. A large furniture truck stopped in front of her. It edged up a few inches, and she did, too. It wasn’t until the front tires bumped over the tracks that she realized where she was.

            Tumbril Road.


            First the song. Now here she was on the same road.

            And worse, straddling the same damned railroad tracks.

            How could fate be so cruel? She’d been in such a good mood, and now it was crushed.

            Hard sobs racked her. Closing her eyes, she pressed her forehead against the steering wheel as the tears ran down her face.

            The accident had taken place three years ago, and she still wasn’t over it. She thought she’d gone through the grief cycle. She believed she had reached the point where she could go on with her life without him.

            It had taken a beloved carol and a road she normally avoided to prove her wrong.

            A strident clanging drowned out the music. Tina jerked upright in her seat as the blood drained from her face.


            The arm to the crossing gate came down, obstructing the front of her vehicle. The truck ahead of her moved forward, but she was still blocked in. A quick check behind her showed the arm on the other side had bookended her. And a car sat directly on her bumper, preventing her from backing up.

            It couldn’t be happening again! It couldn’t be happening again!

            But a glance out the passenger side window confirmed her worst fear.

            The train was heading straight for her. Its front light nearly blinded her.

            “Not again! Not again!

            She reached for her car door to open it, but she already knew it wouldn’t open. Just like it wouldn’t open that afternoon three years ago when she and Kris had been trapped on the railroad tracks. These same railroad tracks on the same road. At the same time of the year.

            Where Kris lost his life.

            She struggled with the door, trying to open it.

            In the distance, the train hit its horn in warning as it continued to barrel toward her.

            She was now in full panic mode. She tried to climb over the center console to try to open the passenger side door, when a hand reached out and grabbed her upper arm. Tina froze in place as Kris gave her one of his warm, wonderful smiles. She screamed, but he quickly shushed her.

            “Shh, shh, shh. It’s okay, honey.”

            There’s a train coming at us! We’re going to die!

Around them, cars were honking their horns. Somebody appeared at the driver’s side door and jerked on the handle. She wasn’t the only one panicking.

            Another person banged on her car to get her attention, but all began to fade as Kris’s gaze locked onto her. She found herself sinking into those chocolate-brown depths that melted away her terrors like ice cream in a rain storm.

            Tears blurred her vision once more, forcing her to reach for him. Finding his face, she clutched it between her hands. “Kris!” Her breath hitched in her chest as she struggled to blink away the wetness blinding her.

            “It’s all right, Tina. You’re safe. We’re safe. It’s all over.”

            Miraculously, the train disappeared. The cars and people around them disappeared.

            The car they were in vanished.

            Kris pulled her into his arms as she buried her face against his chest and sobbed. He continued to speak soothingly to her, reassuring her that all was well as he stroked her back and hair.

            “K-Kris, what’s go-going on? What’s ha-happening?”

            To her surprise, he chuckled. “You do this every year on the anniversary of our deaths,” he gently told her.

            Sniffing, Tina leaned away from him and gave him a look of disbelief. “Our deaths?”

            He chuckled again. She felt it vibrate against her, familiar and comforting. They both were standing, surrounded by a fine white mist, as if they were enveloped inside a cloud.

            “You have to stop blaming yourself for my death.” He caressed her cheek. “It’s not your fault we got stuck on those railroad tracks. It’s not your fault the doors jammed. It’s not your fault. But every year, you go back and relive the tragedy. Over and over, you put yourself through the terror and pain we felt because you’ve never forgiven yourself. Tina.” He bent over to kiss her, caressing her lips with his. She felt herself slumping against him.

            “Kris, we’re dead? We’re both dead?”

            “Yes, darling. And we’re together. We’ll always be together from here on out. There’s nothing to be afraid of anymore. But you have to stop blaming yourself!” He gently shook her by the shoulders, and for the first time she saw anger in his face. “Tina, if you continue to wander this earth, bearing the guilt with you, you’ll always return to this moment in time every year, and you’ll be forced to relive it over and over, and there’s no reason why you should!”

            Tears sparkled in his eyes. “Tina, darling, please. Stop doing this to yourself. Come with me. Come and stay…stay with me. I’m begging you. I love you. I’ll always love you. It hurts like hell to see you go through all this crap year after year. Tina, sweetheart, please.”

            He bent his head, touching his forehead to hers. “You are not responsible for our deaths, but you are responsible for us being together for the rest of eternity. Remember that. Put that in your heart and never forget it.”

Pulling her into his embrace, he held her tightly. “The entire time I was overseas, my biggest fear was being killed over there and never seeing you again. I prayed and prayed that I would be able to come back to you, even after I got wounded. And now…now I’ll never have to worry about that anymore. You’ll never have to worry about me dying away from you, because we’re here now. We’re together. Forever,” he whispered. “Stop this stupid cycle and come with me!”

Somewhere, from far away, the sound of music reached them. Tina recognized the tune immediately. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

“Kris, do you hear that?”

He paused to listen, and a smile lifted the corners of his mouth. “My favorite Christmas carol. Except, now, it’s no longer in our dreams. We’re home,” her husband murmured. “The past no longer matters. We’re here. We’re together. And we’ll never be parted again.”

He kissed her once more, long, soft, and slow. When he finally pulled away, he begged, “Please let go of the past. It no longer matters. It’s gone. Let’s walk together in the light where we belong.”

Tina sighed. “Never let me go?”

“I never have,” he admitted. “I’ve always been here. With you. For you.”

“Okay.” She nodded her head and smiled back. “I’m ready. Oh, and Kris?”

“Yes, darling?”

“Merry Christmas.”

He laughed softly. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.”

Drawing his arm around her waist, he turned her around to face the warm golden light coming toward them, and led her into eternity.



Six Short Stories Celebrating the Season
By Linda Mooney
Word Count: 11.9K
$0.99 e

Stories Included are:

BARNEY - She looked forward every day for him to come by. Then came the one day when he didn't.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE - All it took was one missing ingredient to melt the heart of a lonely old man.

 AN EXPLOSIVE COMBINATION - In a post-apocalyptic future, a group of survivors reminisce about their first Thanksgiving after that climactic event.

 THE LEG - Doug was determined to have turkey legs for his Thanksgiving dinner. He never planned on getting so much more.

THE WISHBONE - A grandfather finds out which end of the wishbone is the lucky part.

DAY 280,662 - When the last survivors of a doomed Earth reach their new planetary home, they discover the date of their first landing has special significance.

Excerpt and Buy Links: https://lindamooney.com/anthologies.htm          

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