A Whisper from the Afterlife

Submitted into Contest #64 in response to: Set your story in a Gothic manor house.... view prompt


Drama Sad Teens & Young Adult

I entered the realm of the dead in an almost surreal way. At first, I wasn't sure where I was, because the way I died was not the big, painful affair I imagined death would be.

There was a gentle ray of sunlight piercing the darkness in the distance. We were all walking toward it, I and the many other people surrounding me. I could feel them closing in, joining me in my walk toward the light. When we reached it, there was a burst of rainbow colors, swirling around, until I felt like a tiny speck of dust inside a huge kaleidoscope.

When I could see again...

"Am I really gone? Or is this all a dream?" I looked up to ask our butler, the first person I saw when the mist of swirling colors cleared.

He was wearing his old uniform, not the brand new trousers and white shirt we buried him in. I was wearing one of the dresses that was a hand-me-down from my sister Gigi, a short pink dress with white flowers embroidered along the hem.

"It's real, pumpkin. This is the afterlife. Not much to see, really," he replies, with a twist of his lips. “I waited for you here, as your parents had moved on. They’re not here anymore.”

“Oh.” I said, unconcerned. I never knew my parents, as they weren't really present in my life. I was raised with my sister by our butler, a nanny, and a cook. I was 9 years old when our parents passed.

The afterlife looked like a huge Gothic mansion, with high ceilings and stone walls. The art on the walls were big but nondescript.

What caught my eye were the hundreds of candles set in mounted sconces. They illuminated the endless corridors lined by ornate doors. Someone must have left the windows open because the fog was creeping in steadily.

We were currently standing on a small sitting room, in a junction between corridors. People in dated clothing were sitting together, sipping coffee, reading the papers, and chit-chatting on the couches. No one looked cold, even with the fog all around them.

These residents, according to my butler, were souls of dead people that continued to wait for family members to come so they can all leave together. Some of them he knew by name, and they acknowledged him when they passed us.

He held my hand tighter as he guided me toward one corridor. We slowly walked on a long carpeted hallway. It was silent in this part of the mansion.

I was a bit disappointed. They told us in school that heaven's supposed to be a beautiful place, not some moldy old mansion full of fog. I loved old places like museums, but these places are usually better furnished.

"The final destination is supposed to be better," he explained, when he noticed me looking at the old-fashioned furnishings with a disappointed pout. "Maybe heaven's a real garden with butterflies and flowers, just like your homeroom teacher told you. You're not scared, are you, my little darling?"

I shook my head, squeezing my butler's hand and looking up to show him I'm not scared. He'd been waiting alone all this time for me, as I was his favorite. He was sad that I came a bit early, just 12 years old.

"I'm sorry," I said, “It was the plague that got me.”

"Don't be sorry. You can't help dying, you know," he tried to make light of the situation, like he always did. He used to have the same tell-tale twinkle in his eyes whenever he made up funny stories to make us laugh, I and my older sister Gigi.

I remembered the last time I saw Gigi. Her hair in disarray, sleepless eyes unfocused as she looked at my wasted face. She must have realized that I wasn’t going to last, because she stayed by my side until the end.

"Gigi isn't… here… is she?" I could not ask the question louder than a whisper, fearing the answer. I didn't want her here, but she might be. Did I infect her with my contagious disease?

"She's still alive."

Gigi was my favorite person. She made everything she did seem easy and loved to show off. We were close, because she was the only family I had left. I felt a twinge of pain as I realized she was all alone now that I was gone.

He stopped in front of a closed door.

“You can still see her if you want,” he said, opening the door wide to reveal a familiar hospital room, but in black and white.

Sitting on the empty bed was my sister, folding clothes and placing them in a bag. My clothes. Her face looked pale, made more so because of the lack of color. She paused to rub her eyes on her sleeve. She was crying.

I stepped inside the room to get a closer look. My sister was so near, I could almost touch her.

I reach out with one hand tentatively, noticing how it looked so out of place amidst the colorless tableaux in front of me. My hand passed through my sister's shoulder, making me gasp. I retracted my hand, shocked that I wasn’t able to touch anything in this black and white world. She didn’t seem to notice, as she continued to fold with tears flowing down her face.

"You can touch her if you really want to," butler said gently.

I looked up in surprise, not believing that it's still possible to have any sort of power in the world of the living. Butler whistled sharply, like calling someone from afar.

A tiny ball of blue light appeared before me, dancing out of the way as I tried to touch it, but still hovering above my head like a halo. Butler whistled again, and another one appeared, zigzagging in front of us. I muffled a shriek, jumping back, as the second ball came too close to my feet.

"We call them whispers. You can use them to touch anything in the world of the living, just like you would normally." he said.

One blue light moves tantalizingly near his hands, as if asking him to demonstrate what he was explaining to me, but my butler sharply shook his head and tucked his hands under his arms resolutely.

I stepped out of the room, needing to collect my thoughts. What should I do? Would my touching her in some way make matters worse? Would she welcome the ghostly greeting or would she heal faster if she never felt my presence again?

Worst of all, would I be able to move on from this place in between dimensions if I let myself stay attached to the world of the living? 

We went in the direction of the populated spaces in the mansion, but I opted to stray to the windows. They opened to a scene quite like no other, a hazy moor or a barren land with smoke still emanating from imagined forest fires. I can’t quite decide whether I was seeing clouds, fog, or smoke, but it’s clear that this is nowhere I’ve ever been in the living world. It’s a bleak place, and I wouldn’t miss it when I’ve moved on.

I finally decided to use one of the whispers to contact my sister. I went back to the room alone, needing no guidance this time on what to do.

The scene that welcomed me was that of a girl on a rocking chair staring at nothing. It was early morning where she was, but she was still awake, looking like she did not rest at all during the night.

As if on cue, three balls of blue light appear in front of me, very near the spot where Gigi was rocking steadily staring at nothing. Clank, clank, clank, the rocker went. The tiny blue whispers hover over Gigi, as if telling me to move closer, to touch her, let her know that I was happy where I was, in a decrepit old mansion where the dead stayed before moving to the final destination.

I stay at my spot just inside the door, mesmerized. The maid is telling Gigi about spring, that she should go out to see the garden flowers. Gigi murmured something, and the maid left mumbling to herself about Gigi wasting away.

I reach out one hand carefully, seeing the ball of light move closer to my outstretched fingers, right in front of my sister's face. I felt the warmth of the blue light and the coldness of her skin.

"Gigi… I know you can live through this, I know you're strong, " I said to her through the light.

Clank, clank, the rocker stopped. Did she hear me? For a second, she seemed to look directly at the me with slightly dazed eyes.

“I miss you, Lisa…” she whispered, smiling slightly, “thank you for visiting me today.”

I gave a surprised giggle at her words. So, she did feel me! A confused expression crossed her face as she seemed to hear my ghostly laughter. Her eyes widened slightly as I moved closer and the blue light touched her cheek as I kissed her.


October 21, 2020 11:58

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Barbara Burgess
15:34 Oct 29, 2020

What a lovely story. Well written, caring too on such a delicate subject. I love how you have described the afterlife and how you feel within it. Well done a good read.


Ruby Galvez
07:48 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you for your comment! Still exploring how I can put into words what's in my head.


Barbara Burgess
08:27 Oct 30, 2020

Yes, I agree! A friend once told me to just write and write and write and then you go over it afterwards and edit. Look at your words and ask yourself does this really say what I am thinking or are there other words I can use. Each story will be an improvement on the last. Well done.


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Lina Oz
17:59 Oct 21, 2020

I absolutely love this story. You have such a strong descriptive voice; love this line: "I felt like a tiny speck of dust inside a huge kaleidoscope." The idea of the "whispers" is so creative and unique, and something I haven't seen tackled in a ghost story before. Usually, there's the idea of the poltergeist or having some intense emotion to be able to touch things in the physical realm; in this story, you introduce a completely new and imaginative element that was just captivating as a reader. One tiny note: Someone must have left t...


Ruby Galvez
09:12 Oct 22, 2020

Thanks for this lovely and helpful comment. Thanks for the correction, too. Much love.


Lina Oz
22:53 Oct 22, 2020

Of course! Happy to help. And read your work (it's wonderful).


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21:42 Oct 29, 2020

A very amazing story. Enjoyed reading it. The description of the after life was great. Loved it. 😊


Ruby Galvez
07:49 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you for your comment! Still flexing my imagination, will learn more, mostly from you guys.


12:33 Oct 30, 2020

My pleasure!. 😊 Yup. I am learning a lot from here too.


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