80 comments

Jul 20, 2020

Mystery Thriller Drama

A cemetery is never a place that someone wants to be in, especially not when you are visiting the grave of a child. I stroll along the rows of tombstones of members of the Woodside community. There was an old lady that passed last week, her name was Margret Wilson. When she was young, she was one of the most beautiful women in the community. Though, this is not who I am here to visit.


At the back of the cemetery, next to a tall oak tree was a tombstone less extravagant compared to the rest. Withered flowers lay in front of the stone, and they crinkle and break when I try to pick them up. I discard the pieces into the grass and sit down next to the grave of good ol'Joseph Hanson.


Now, Joseph wasn't the brightest kid around, maybe even a little below average. However, he did have a good heart. At least, that's what most people would say anyway. He had average grades, loved to play ball with his brother in the backyard, and had a pet chicken named Bucky. Yes, as you could probably guess, he was a farm boy. He spent half his days on the farm, a quarter in school, and when he had time, which he most certainly always had time, he would chase or be chased by Bucky. Although he was most often known as "The Chicken Boy", what most people remembered him for was his sacrifice. Though, there are people who still refer to him by that name.


It was September, the first day of school, and Joseph was preparing to enter high school. He was tall for his age, his hair was way too long, and his pants were always too baggy.


"Hey, Jo," Margret said as she caught up with Joseph on the way to school.


Joseph grunted in response. He was never one for words, but Margret was always the social butterfly.


'"How was your summer?" She asked.


Margret did not seem phased by Joseph's lack of words. They have been friends for years if you could call them that.


"Chased Bucky and helped Ma with farm work," said Joseph.


He was staring into space in a dream-like state as he answered.


"Of course." Margret laughed.


Just like that, every day the pair would walk to school together, and sometimes, they would walk home if Margret didn't have any after school club meetings or if Joseph didn't skip school to help out on the farm. I must tell you now, however, that this is not a love story because halfway through the school year, Joseph disappeared.


It was on the way home from school one evening, Margret finished her club meeting the same time Joseph finished a homework help session at school with his homeroom teach—he was failing math—and they were walking down the familiar dirt path towards Joseph's farm. Margret's house was just past his.


"Did you hear that?" Margret whispered as she looked around.


The sun had already dipped below the horizons and crickets could be heard on either side of the path amongst the tall crops.


"No," answered Joseph.


He was staring intently ahead and paid no notice to his companion or what she thought she heard amongst the grass. It was probably only crickets.


"No, Jo. Listen," Margret insisted.


Joseph stopped abruptly which halted Margret in her steps as well. He looked to his left, past Margret's head as he was much taller than she was.


"Run," Joseph whispered.


"What?" Margret asked, her voice wavered.


"Run!" This time Joseph shouted and pushed her in the direction of his house which was less than a kilometre away from where they stood.


Margret wasn't sure what was happening but she ran as fast as she could towards Joseph's house. When she was a distance away, she looked back but did not see Joseph's figure.


***


As a child, I was from the countryside much like good ol'Joseph Hanson, though, I would have worked quite hard in school and ended up going to high-ranked college outside of the community. Although I might have left my parents' farm for life in the city, I would have been a frequent visitor. They would always be proud of me and would always be supportive. What they would not be proud of would be the smoking habit I would pick up from my fellow workers.


I would work a typical nine to five job, then go on vacations twice a year with my girlfriend who I would have met in business school. We would move in together some time down the line. We would have gotten a dog named Woofer who would love to chase the squirrels in the park. I would be proposing to my girlfriend five years into our relationship. I would have everything planned out. I would buy flowers, play music, and set everything up at a beach the way they did in movies. And when the time finally came, I would ask:


"Will you marry me, Margret?"



That should have been how my life proceeded, but, unfortunately, it ended that day after school on the way home with Maggie.


Margret didn't marry Mr. Hanson the businessman, but a doctor from the high-ranked college she went to. They had five children; all of whom I still see in the community now and then, though three out of the five had moved into the city.


Everyone in the community believed it was a sacrifice on my part to send Margret running while I stayed behind, but it was more out of shame that she would see what my drunkard father had become. Several of our farm animals had been shot from his drunken spite. We had issued a restraining order against him but the police in our community were often too busy with other things to deal with my father. Besides, my mother was too soft-hearted to have him arrested.


"Why?" asked my father as he stumbled towards me.


I looked behind me to make sure Margret was a ways ahead before I turned back to my father.


"Look at yourself," I spat.


My father took my words literally and looked down. I could smell the alcohol from where I stood.


"What's wrong with what I'm wearing? I think I look pretty well put together," he argued and chuckled.


My father then frowned and jabbed a finger in my direction. That was when I noticed the rifle slung across his back.


"You have to stop coming here and killing our livestock," I said. My eyes never left the rifle on his back.


I'm unsure how the struggle started, but I do know how it ended. I remember the last thing I saw was my father's horrified face as large droplets of tears mixed in with saliva fell on my own.


I trace my name on the tombstone and blow out a puff of smoke from my cigarette and looked to the stone that sat a few steps from mine. Conrad Hanson sat next to his tombstone with a rifle on his back. He turned to look at me and smiled. I knew he had also been thinking about what could have been.

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80 comments

Shelley Els
05:57 Jul 21, 2020

Lovely story, but I did get a bit confused as to what was going on and had to re-read.

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Ai Jiang
21:09 Jul 24, 2020

Hi Shelley, Thanks for the comment! Aha, yes, I wrote it so that it would be a bit confusing since I didn't want to give anything away in the beginning. Did you find that it was still confusing in your second reading of it? What made it particularly confusing? Thanks again!

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Shelley Els
23:23 Jul 24, 2020

The part where it changes to 'as a child'- who is saying this? And then further down its Joseph speaking, which confused me even more.

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Ai Jiang
14:33 Jul 25, 2020

Joseph is still speaking! He's speaking of a life that 'could have been' but did not happen. I hope that clarifies :)

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Shelley Els
01:15 Jul 26, 2020

Ok cause it says ' I was from the country like Joseph Hanson' so to me it sounds like someone else is talking, not Joseph.

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Ai Jiang
03:08 Jul 26, 2020

Oh yes, he speaks about himself in the third person the entire story! I was trying to see how it would work out but yes it ended up quite confusing. I'll definitely be keeping that in mind going forward!

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Avani ☾
19:01 Jul 21, 2020

Great story, Ai! It's an amazing intake on the prompt, and the last words made me shocked with horror and relief at the same time, lol.

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Ai Jiang
21:16 Jul 24, 2020

Hi Avani, Thank you so much!

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Avani ☾
20:24 Jul 25, 2020

Your welcome!

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Charles Stucker
00:34 Jul 21, 2020

Your writing is very clear and precise. I always appreciate writers who take the extra bit of effort to edit out the typos of a first draft. I had to reread to catch chat Conrad Hanson must be the name of Joseph's father. Your shift in and out of 1st person made it a bit confusing. Joe died and now his father visits the child's graveside. In a sense, this doesn't actually fulfill the prompt because the visitor was an adult father when Joe died as a teen. Now if Margaret came to lay flowers on the tenth anniversary of Joe's death and ...

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Ai Jiang
21:12 Jul 24, 2020

Hi Charles, When I was deciding on the plotline of the story, I thought it wouldn't be interesting enough if we knew it was the narrator talking about his own life right from the beginning so I decided to have him talk about his life in third person instead! So what I was trying to do is Joseph "visited" the cemetery as a child due to his death and now he is visiting his own grave as a ghost. He just happens to meet his father there who was visiting his own grave. I hope this clarifies!

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Charles Stucker
03:15 Jul 25, 2020

OK. Yeah, that's a point. The prompts are just supposed to get you to write 'A' story, I'm just so much a math person that it warps my thinking on everything else.

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Ai Jiang
14:35 Jul 25, 2020

We all have varying thoughts and perspectives aha,That's what makes us unique!

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María Barrios
22:32 Jul 20, 2020

"I'm unsure how the struggle started, but I do know how it ended. I remember the last thing I saw was my father's horrified face as large droplets of tears mixed in with saliva fell on my own." I was horrified too. I hadn't realized the story would end like this and it made me sad. But I love being surprised, which is why it was great to read this.

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Ai Jiang
21:12 Jul 24, 2020

Hi Maria, Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Selene Sweck
23:31 Jul 29, 2020

I enjoyed the story. It was a bit confusing with the changes but I figured all were dead; these were ghosts of father and son at the end which was the most confusing. But it's fun to experiment. Good luck! If you get a chance, tell me what you think of my story.

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Ai Jiang
20:51 Aug 27, 2020

Thank you and for sure!

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Wow, great story! Love the beginning and end especially. Oh, and would you mind checking out my story ‘Rebel Prince’? Thanks! -Aerin!

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Ai Jiang
20:51 Aug 27, 2020

Thanks and okay, I'll be sure to!

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Karin Venables
14:26 Jul 29, 2020

I love the twist at the end. I started to suspect he was a ghost, when you switched to the would have tense. I love that tiny hint at the twist that was coming. A drunk of an idiot father was not what I was suspecting as a cause, but it works even better than the fleeting thought of a sci-fi alien or fantasy creature. Well done. Another one with a bio which I appreciate. Most of those who are writing here never bother. Excellent technical processes here as well, your grammar, spelling and structure really work, Thanks for a great r...

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Ai Jiang
20:53 Aug 27, 2020

Hi Karin, Thanks for the comment and your compliments! I always like it when people can get to know me as a writer before they dig into my writer :)

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Barbara Burgess
10:21 Jul 29, 2020

A very interesting story. Yes, a bit confusing and had to read again. After reading the notes below I understand what it is all about. A clever take on the prompt.

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Ai Jiang
20:53 Aug 27, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Abhishek Todmal
09:33 Jul 29, 2020

Hey, I just went through your story. I love the simplicity of your prose. I'm quite often irked by the "literary" style of stories, that sometimes make believe that stories with heart don't matter as much. I can tell this story had heart. And that's all that counts. Thank you for leaving a like on my story too ! It is much appreciated. Keep writing !

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Ai Jiang
20:55 Aug 27, 2020

Hi Abhishek, Thank you for the comment! Honestly, much of the reading I've done in the past few years have all been literary as well but I feel like the prompts from Reedsy allow me to explore not only this literary style of writing but also more creativity-driven writing as well!

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06:40 Jul 29, 2020

Good job with a nice twist on that one. A few remarks though if I may: " And when he had time, which he mostly always had," I don't think you need to repeat "time". " I would work a typical..." the use of would is confusing as it refers to something he used to do and it doesn't add up with the tenses in this paragraph. Finally "phased", I think it should be fazed instead. Apart from that, great read.

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Ai Jiang
20:56 Aug 27, 2020

Hi Vincent, Thank you for the comment and the mistakes you've pointed out! I'll be sure to go over it when I get the chance!

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P. Jean
15:50 Jul 28, 2020

Confusing but perhaps that was the point, to make the reader pause and consider the meaning, go back and look at other possible meanings!

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Ai Jiang
20:56 Aug 27, 2020

Yes, I was hoping it would have that effect on the readers!

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P. Jean
21:39 Aug 27, 2020

Perfect then. Mission accomplished!

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Keerththan 😀
12:20 Jul 28, 2020

Great story and well written. Loved it. The concept was very nice. Would you mind reading my story "The secret of power?"

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Ai Jiang
20:56 Aug 27, 2020

Thanks and for sure!

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Leane Cornwell
20:23 Jul 27, 2020

Wow! Nicely written. Such a unique take on the prompt. Reminded me of a Stephen King novel.

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Ai Jiang
20:57 Aug 27, 2020

I've actually recently been watching a lot of the Stephen King novel adaptions on Netflix while going through his books aha

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Saron Mengistu
07:36 Jul 27, 2020

Touching as well as emotional, but who died? The father? Or the boy Joseph? I feel stupid for not understanding, but what happened?

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Ai Jiang
16:37 Jul 27, 2020

Hi Saron, Basically, everyone had passed away at this point. The hint given for his was that Margret passed away recently. Both Joseph and his father as sitting by their own graves at the end of the story! You're not stupid at all! My story can be a bit confusing aha hope this makes things clearer!

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Saron Mengistu
17:39 Jul 27, 2020

Thank you SO much for clarifying. I read it again, and now I understand, just wanna let you know its beautiful:))

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Ai Jiang
17:42 Jul 27, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :')

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Saron Mengistu
17:46 Jul 27, 2020

You are most welcome. Sorry if i sound shady or anything, but I just put up my first story on this prompt. I'd really appreciate it if you'd check it out and leave a review in the comments on what I can fix. Would love your opinion. Thanks, Ai Jiang!!

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Ai Jiang
20:50 Aug 27, 2020

Hi Saron, Sorry for the delay in response! I'll take a look at your most recent story when I get the chance :)

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02:25 Jul 27, 2020

What a creepy story. And yes while I agree it was a bit hard to follow that’s what I liked about it. If I’m tired I like an easy read but otherwise I like putting things together so well done 👍🏼

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Ai Jiang
16:38 Jul 27, 2020

Hi Sarah, Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it :)

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Rachel Zobell
22:50 Jul 26, 2020

Nicely done! Love how you revealed that the narrator was Joseph. And somehow the part at the end, when his Dad is sitting next to him, just seems to tie off the story perfectly. It's such an interesting spin on life after death.

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Ai Jiang
16:36 Jul 27, 2020

Hi Rachel, Thank you so much for your comment! :)

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Zainab Jagani
10:14 Jul 25, 2020

Although I had to go through the comments to make sense of the point of views I've got it now. Its a quite unique point of view and you didn't give it away straight away which I love. That was the perfect ending! Good job!

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Ai Jiang
14:37 Jul 25, 2020

Hi Zainab, Thank you so much for your feedback! :) I think it's because I've read so many literary works that I often had to search up about to fully understand that I've adopted a way of writing that makes the readers think, but of course, I'm still far from all the great writers' works I've read thus far!

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Millie Spence
18:55 Jul 24, 2020

This is really good. It’s a bit confusing with the changes of tense but other than that it was a really enjoyable read. 🙂

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Ai Jiang
21:08 Jul 24, 2020

Hi Millie, Thanks for the comment! There were tense changes because it moves from the present where Joseph is speaking as a ghost to the past where he is talking about his life in the third person before moving back to the present where he reveals his identity. Hope that clarifies :)

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Joanne X
16:11 Jul 23, 2020

Hi Ai, I really liked reading your story! The story concept and the execution of the task was really nicely done. I liked the dialogue you incorporated (you were really able to tell which character was speaking based on their unique tone of voice) and I liked your transitions between dialogue - it made the conversations flow really nicely! The plot could have been a little hard to follow at times, but I think giving the reader the chance to figure some things out on their own is an effective writing strategy. Personally, I like being able to...

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Ai Jiang
21:18 Jul 24, 2020

Hi Joanne, I find that whenever I'm writing, I like to make things particularly difficult for the reader at times because I don't like making everything obvious from the onset. Though I completely understand how it may be offputting for some readers because of this, but I do enjoy writing this way because of the unraveling it allows for!

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Juliet Martin
12:27 Jul 23, 2020

I think this story is great! The opening is really effective - it is immediately very dark and really draws in the reader. I also love the way you combine and contrast sinister themes with a more light-hearted style, like mentioning Joseph's baggy trousers - this was really engaging. The narrative voice in general is also very appealing, with stylistic items like 'good ol'Joseph Hansen' and 'as you could probably guess, he was a farm boy' being used to good effect. I agree with some other comments about it being a little difficult to follow ...

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Ai Jiang
21:19 Jul 24, 2020

Hi Juliet, Thank you so much for your feedback! It's always great to get different opinions on my writing because it helps me grow as an author and helps me keep certain recurring things in mind for future writing!

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