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Funny Romance

Lenny didn’t know how old he was. I mean, he knew how old he was when he died, eighteen, but he wasn’t sure just how long he had been dead. There were clues, for example. He had been killed by a horse drawn carriage and the house he currently lived in had a 72-inch flat screen television,so he had to be pretty damn old. 


You see Lenny is a ghost, and it turns out most people don’t know very much about ghosts. They think they do, but all they know is what they see in horror movies and almost none of that stuff is true. What is true is they like to stay where they are and for the most part, they really don’t want any trouble. There are a few bad apples who get into the whole haunting thing, but Lenny, like most ghosts, just wanted to live in secret. He was never into bothering the humans in his house and he would spend his days watching his co-inhabitants like they were characters in a soap opera.  


He also enjoyed the special connection he had with the family dogs. You see, dogs can see ghosts plain as day. The interactions between ghosts and dogs tend to fill the void a ghost feels after death, and the dogs seem to like it, too. Whenever you see a dog barking at nothing in particular, he’s probably just carrying on a conversation with the specter of the house.  


Lenny had been living in the house on Elm Street since the day he died. Well, technically he had lived there eighteen years longer because he lived there alive before he lived there dead. It’s a little complicated, but I think you get the idea and the important thing is everything was going along swimmingly until the Johnsons moved in.  


The Johnson family consisted of Roger and Mary and their daughter, Anna. They also had a mutt named Baxter who loved nothing more than to dig in the dirt and bark at Lenny. Lenny, of course, couldn’t care less about the digging. Ghosts really have no opinion one way or another when it comes to holes and he loved the boisterous Baxter because he was always up for a talk.  


For the first few years after the Johnsons moved in, Lenny was as happy as he had ever been since he died. The Johnsons were a nice family, and Anna, who had been fifteen when they first moved in, had grown into a beautiful young lady of seventeen.  

In all his years dead, Lenny had never done anything to announce his presence in the home. He saw no upside. He loved his people, so he didn’t want to scare them, and it was a pretty solid fact that humans don’t like ghosts. I mean, they liked Casper, but Casper wasn’t a real ghost. He was just a cartoon. Cartoons are another source of false myths about ghosts, but that’s really off topic right now. The important thing was Lenny’s desire to remain secret changed because of Anna.  


Lenny had been killed when he was on his way to his very first date. He had asked one of the young ladies in the village to accompany him to a Friday night dance, but he never made it to his destination. As a result, he had never found love, not the kind of love a young man feels for a young woman, and his ghost heart was falling hard for Anna.


Now, Lenny was a realistic ghost. He knew they could never be together, but he was finding it increasingly hard not to at least talk to Anna. In reality, that’s not as hard as you might expect. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort for a ghost to make themselves known. This is a common misconception perpetuated by the movie Ghost. Lenny didn’t have to take over Whoopi Goldberg's body to communicate with Anna; he just had to talk to her. There was one problem with this plan, though: she could hear him, but she could not see him. It’s hard enough to get a girl to like you when you are a handsome devil. It’s nearly impossible when you are an invisible ghost. Lenny didn’t care though; he was going to take his chance.


In the two years the Johnsons had lived in Lenny’s home, he had never entered Anna’s room while she was alone. He wasn’t an officer and a gentleman, but he was a ghost and a gentleman. He had been in her room plenty of times when Roger or Mary or both had been there, but he always left when they did. But not tonight.


Lenny's plan was, well, he didn’t actually have a plan. I mean he was a ghost about to talk to a human for the first time. What could go wrong?


When it came time for Anna to go to bed, Lenny and Baxter headed to Anna’s room and sat together in Anna’s wing back chair. In case you didn’t know, ghosts can sit. They are basically like us except they can fly and walk through walls, so maybe they are not as much like us as you would think.  


From the chair and with Baxter by his side Lenny, spoke for the first time in what had to be one hundred years. 


“Hello.” It seemed like a good way to start the conversation. “My name is Lenny, and I’m a ghost who lives in this house with you.”  


You have to admit, Lenny wasn’t one to mince words. He just came right out and announced himself. 


To his shock and amazement, Anna responded calmly. “Hi, I’m Anna. It’s nice to finally meet you.” You see unbeknownst to Lenny, the Johnsons were a family of psychics and had known there was a presence in the house from the first day they moved in. They left Lenny alone because they didn’t want to scare him away. They knew about dogs and ghosts and figured Baxter could use the friend.  


From that day forward, Lenny became a secret part of the family. He would join them for movie nights and would even play Monopoly. He was always the top hat. Lenny never told Anna how he felt, but she kind of knew and in her own way she liked him, too. It was a relationship never meant to be, but there was some there there.


The happy family dynamic continued for almost a year, but alas, all good things must come to an end. Near the end of Anna’s junior year in high school, a priest moved into the home next door. Ironically, this wasn’t just any priest. This priest specialized in exorcism. I would say it goes without saying that the worst neighbor a ghost could have is an exorcist, but wouldn’t that be some sort of oxymoron? Anyway, with this new neighbor now totally moved in, the Johnson's secret went from minor to major. Something had to be done.  


Through casual conversation with the priest, the Johnson’s found out the problem was only a temporary one. The priest was there for a single year, helping with the local parish. There had been rumors of evil spirits in the town, but that was just a rumor. Bottom line: he was only there for a year and would then move back to Vatican City and out of the Johnson’s life.  


To keep Lenny safe, it was decided that Anna and Lenny would go to a boarding school a few hours away where both could live safely and return when the priest had moved out. Anna was excited to have a chance to spread her wings and try adulting. Lenny was excited because the boarding school was located in an old Gothic manor, and what ghost doesn’t dream of getting to vacation at a Gothic manor?  


The year at boarding school was everything Anna and Lenny could have hoped for, and with the extended time alone, the two became closer by the day. Anna would spend her days in class while Lenny would explore the manor. As I said before, this is one of the myths about ghosts that is actually quite true. They love to live in old dark Gothic manors. It’s kind of like the beach for surfers or the mountains for, well, for people who like mountains. Bottom line: they both loved their new digs. Each night Anna would use her mother’s old coffee pot and the hot plate provided by the school to make a cup of coffee, and with Lenny for company, she would do her homework. 

 

Since writers have been writing, there have been stories of lovers who can never be together for one reason or another. Romeo and Juliet, Scarlett and Ashley, Wesley and Buttercup. It’s a tale as old as time, and there are very few things more difficult to overcome than love between one who is alive and another who is not. As the final semester worked its way towards a close, Anna and Lenny added their names to the list of great unrequited love stories. And then came the fire.


One of the truisms we should all know about Gothic manors is they are all tinder boxes. Everything in them is flammable, and a single spark can destroy a manor in the blink of an eye. It is also true that an old hotplate with fraying wires can easily provide the necessary spark. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.


Anna was pulling an all-nighter getting ready for her last final (last final? Is that some sort of weird redundancy?) and, as is the case with most teenagers these days, she used coffee to get her through the night. She turned on the burner, put a pot on to boil and sat back down at her desk to study. She didn’t see the spark. She didn’t notice it falling on the paper towel next to the pot. She didn’t see the flame until it was too late. By the time she looked up from her book, it had engulfed the counter and was making its way towards the only door out of her third story room. There was no way out. She was trapped.


This brings us to our last fun fact about ghosts: they can die. A ghost has the ability to reanimate for a few short minutes, but the stress of the act snuffs their spirit out forever. It’s not a very well known fact because in the history of the world, only a few ghosts have ever actually used this power. Tonight would be another example. Lenny loved being a ghost. He had loved being part of family after family and getting to know hundreds of dogs, but he had never been in love until now and he couldn’t let Anna die. In a moment of true, enduring and endless love, he came back to life, scooped up Anna in his arms, and raced through the flames, bringing his love to the safety of the front courtyard.  


For the first time, Anna was able to see Lenny and she grabbed him and held him tight. She then kissed him like he’d never been kissed before and professed her love to him. She had no idea how he had become real, but she was thrilled to finally be able to touch him. Her joy, however, was short lived as Lenny explained to her the terrible consequences of his decision. Anna broke down in tears and asked, “How long do we have?”


“Five minutes at most,” came his heartbreaking response.


 The words stabbed her in the heart like a knife. She had known she could never really be with Lenny, but she expected he would always be there to look over her. Now that lifetime of time was reduced to a cruel five minutes.


Wanting to savor every second of time they had left, the two star-crossed lovers sat down, held hands, and stared into each other’s eyes. Anna wanted to memorize everything about Lenny’s face, and Lenny wanted to feel Anna’s touch for as long as possible.  


When a ghost dies, they start to fade away like a fog. It happens slowly, until they are just no more. This is exactly what happened to Lenny. Little by little, his face began to fade, and the feel of his hands on Anna’s left as well. As the last bits of him faded away, Anna heard Lenny’s voice one last time. “I love you, my love. More than death itself.” And with that, he was gone.  


Anna never saw or heard another ghost. She did eventually find love and start a family. Her husband was a good man and the pair had one child, a son she named Lenny. Lenny was a secret reminder of her first love and her first kiss, and if she looked really hard, she was sure she saw her other Lenny in his eyes. 

October 24, 2020 01:28

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47 comments

Excellent story!!

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Thom Brodkin
00:33 Nov 06, 2020

Thank you so much!!

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Elle Clark
11:26 Oct 26, 2020

I miss you! Come back to the doc so we can properly chat. Deidra says that your dog is sick and I just wanted to let you know that I am sending all the love in the world your way. I hope things improve xx

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Thom Brodkin
17:22 Oct 26, 2020

You are the best person ever, Thanks so much. I hope to be a full participant going forward. :-)

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Elle Clark
19:43 Oct 26, 2020

❤️

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:57 Oct 25, 2020

Thom, I’ve been asking about you! Glad to finally hear from you! I really liked this story. I think the idea is solid and you pulled it off in a charming tone, similar to your previous story. I love how you mention ‘Casper’ and ‘Ghost’ head-on because the reader is already thinking about those. The star-crossed lover’s nod to R&J as well. It’s kind of like, in an awkward situation when someone says, “Well, this is awkward,” and everyone laughs, the tension breaks and it’s no longer awkward. I don’t know if there’s a proper name for it (st...

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Thom Brodkin
11:42 Oct 25, 2020

I’m glad to read anything you have written. Even if it’s your comments on what I’ve written. 😀 As always you get my writing and find the ways to make it better. This week was a challenge for me so I went for funny. I usually funnier in person than in writing but I enjoyed this one a lot. As for commas I have two rules. 1. Always put commas where they don’t belong. 2. Never put commas where they do belong. If you follow these two simple rules you’ll be writing like Thom Brodkin in no time.

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Tom .
15:05 Oct 27, 2020

The voice narrating this has such a pleasant tone. The voice is witty, observant and makes just the right amount of additional commentary. A lot of people following this brief have failed to get that 'where there is more going on than meets the eye'. Your concept nails it. Good Job. I also like the multiple prompt inclusion. I missed a reference, I can google it, but I am going to ask. Who are Wesley and buttercup? I really enjoyed this and I am definitely going to check out some of your other stuff.

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Thom Brodkin
15:19 Oct 27, 2020

Thanks so much for the kind words. I struggled a little this week deciding on a prompt so I chose them all. As for Wesley and Buttercup, that is a shout out to The Princess Bride. It’s a classic movie and I say you should stop whatever you’re doing and go watch it now. 😀

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Tom .
15:32 Oct 27, 2020

Of course... I feel so dumb now. Great choice. Great book. Great film.

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Thom Brodkin
15:54 Oct 27, 2020

I was just poking fun. I'm glad you are a fan of the book and the film.

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Julie Ward
18:35 Oct 24, 2020

First of all, I missed you last week! Second, I love, love this story. (What's new, right?) So funny and sweet. I like the way you framed it all in a storytelling style. The fun facts about ghosts are great little exclamation points that kept bringing me back to the storyteller. I'm picturing sitting around a family table listening to the tale. It made me wonder if the storyteller was a member of the family or a fellow ghost. Super fun story, Thom! PS: You have now solved the mystery of who my dog is barking at. When he's not argu...

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Thom Brodkin
18:41 Oct 24, 2020

I'm so glad you liked it. I just got it in under the wire. I was struggling to figure out which prompt to use so I used them all. I've been wanting to try that for a while and I'm glad it came out as one story. :-) The only problem with revealing the secret about dogs is now people will know if their house is haunted. :-)

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Julie Ward
19:03 Oct 24, 2020

I was going to comment on that too! But I got all wrapped up in the storytelling, I love that you did that and you did it so well. This week's prompt was tricky for me too - I went with secrets and I went modern. It ended up being a lot of fun. And yup, my house is 101 years old, so if there are no ghosts, I'll be surprised!

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Zilla Babbitt
16:43 Oct 24, 2020

Well, this is lovely. "How to Fall in Love With Someone Who's Dead." I suggest putting the "facts about ghosts" in italics, like it's from a textbook or something. A bunch of this just reads like backstory, like the prologue to a novel. I'd try skipping around the scenes, using stars or italics or something, and incorporating more dialogue and scenes in the present. Of course, if this is approved beforehand, you've got a pass. This is so sweet and lovely. I don't have time to enumerate all the things I love about this, but the senten...

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Thom Brodkin
17:04 Oct 24, 2020

I don't know how to put it into words but you always say the exact thing I need to hear. You and I are very different writers and you know how much I respect your talent and because of that it makes my day when you say kind things about my stories. Thank you so much!!!!

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Zilla Babbitt
17:14 Oct 24, 2020

Your stories deserve kind things said of them! I loved this one so much. I can keep saying that, too. You're welcome :)

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Kristin Neubauer
15:53 Oct 24, 2020

I love the concept of this, Thom, particularly all the human characteristics you attribute to Lenny. Particularly, I liked this line: Lenny was excited because the boarding school was located in an old Gothic manor and what ghost doesn’t dream of getting to vacation at a Gothic manor? It seemed like a more conversational, storytelling kind of voice ... like someone who would be telling this story around the fire. I think it worked. It didn't feel quite as polished as some of your others but perhaps this is still more of a draft. If it...

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Thom Brodkin
17:00 Oct 24, 2020

This one was a result of having no idea how to do a story based on the weeks prompts and I wrote it stream of consciousness. I know I have time to edit and I probably will but I think part of me likes it's haphazardness. As a side note I always look forward to your feedback. It is always from the heart and it means a lot to me.

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Kristin Neubauer
17:23 Oct 24, 2020

I think it's great that you persevered through a prompt you felt a little iffy on. I think that's one way we grow as writers. That apocalypse one and the horror one were way out of my comfort zone but interesting to try and I feel like I learned something new. Also, I think experimenting with different styles is important too. How will one grow if they don't try new things and figure out what works for them and what doesn't....what they like and what they don't? Well done! Looking forward to the next one!

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Zilla Babbitt
13:16 Oct 24, 2020

Waiting for full upload... :)

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Thom Brodkin
14:38 Oct 24, 2020

I had no idea what to write this week so I came up with this wacky idea. I have time to edit it but it's so not my normal story. Give me the full Zilla treatment. :-)

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Zilla Babbitt
15:42 Oct 24, 2020

Will do. Give me a minute :)

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Riel Rosehill
22:17 Jun 15, 2022

I just read this for my bedtime story tonight. So sweet, innocent and heartbreaking - you were right to think I would like it! I adored the wholesome facts about ghosts (how they loved dogs for example and how most liked to live at peace without haunting people) and the funny facts like ghosts could sit and they enjoyed gothic manors (who doesn't, right?). So creative that you made Anna and her family psychics and the new neighbour an exorcist. The end really was a tragedy with Lenny dying - I really though if not for the exorcist, a dead la...

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Thom Brodkin
22:35 Jun 15, 2022

This is why I love Reedsy. Writers are nothing without readers. It would be the ultimate tree falling in the forest but with a tragic ending. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. How is it possible you haven’t been on Read lots/write lots. You’d be a perfect guest.

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Riel Rosehill
06:23 Jun 16, 2022

Yes, I feel the same - Reedsy is just the best community for giving life to these stories! Funny you say I should do the podcast - it's actually happening in a month. No pressure for me right, having to live up to being "the perfect guest"..!

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Thom Brodkin
08:22 Jun 16, 2022

Hey look on the bright side, if you do awful - well, come to think of it, there’s no bright side if you do awful. 😀 Good news is you’re not going to do awful. Once again, I decree it. 😀

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Claire Lindsey
02:13 Mar 09, 2021

I was intrigued by the title of this one, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I love that you’re able to take diverse prompts in original directions, but still maintain those little touches that say “this is Thom’s.” You have a distinct, engaging voice that shines through each of your stories. It makes me smile every time. I do like a good scary movie but I don’t read many ghost stories. Still, I enjoyed the premise of this one, an impossible ghostly romance told in witty, almost satirical writing. If you’d like to continue our game of t...

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Thom Brodkin
16:22 Mar 09, 2021

I don't know if it stood out but the story incorporated all five prompts from the week. I was stumped on what to write and settled on a little bit of everything. I know it won't win any awards but it's one of my favorites because of it's genesis. 😊😊

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Claire Lindsey
16:41 Mar 09, 2021

Well, now I have to reread it with all five prompts in mind! I’ve never been bold enough to try that, kudos to you haha

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Tiffany Arnett
04:12 Dec 11, 2020

It was really good. I liked the part at the end when Lenny "started to fade away" . Great writing!

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Hannah B
18:27 Nov 09, 2020

I love that you took a humorous approach to this prompt. Funny and loveable characters, and the twist at the end was very touching. Nice job :)

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Mustang Patty
09:18 Nov 06, 2020

Hi, Thom, I read your story, and I must say that the idea is original and well put out there. I found myself smiling and rooting for the protagonist - a pretty important element of the short story. When it comes to grammar, you need to study, but I'm sure you're aware of that. I usually suggest a few resources that I like - 'Elements of Style 2017,' and 'The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever need.' Now, since you confessed that you don't read a lot, this could be challenging for you. Writers learn from reading. So, you need to develop a...

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Katina Foster
19:57 Oct 28, 2020

Excellent, Thom! I'm a sucker for star crossed lovers. Not at all what I was expecting from the beginning of the story, but I loved it! I enjoyed the little asides, like 'last final.' It gave the story a lighter teen feel, which worked well with your characters. The ending was well crafted, too. I expected Anna to join Lenny in the ghost world, so when he sacrificed his ghost life for her, it was strangely touching.

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B. W.
22:44 Oct 25, 2020

I think that this was a great story that you made and that you also did a great job with it ^^ I hope that you'll continue to make more stories and ill give this a 10/10 :)

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19:40 Oct 25, 2020

Your quirky sense of humor came through again. I love it. I love that this is a sweet ghost story and not a scary one!

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14:56 Oct 27, 2020

I wanted to let you know that my grandma has remained symptom-free and they moved her back to her room with the window. Thank you so much for the prayers!

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Thom Brodkin
18:53 Oct 27, 2020

That's fantastic. I've been praying for her every morning. Sometimes we ask God for help and when he does we act as if it happened by chance. I don't. I think God answers prayers and I'm so glad he's answering prayer for your grandmother. :-)

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20:05 Oct 27, 2020

Thank you for praying. I've been blest to still have her and I know she can't live forever, but I don't want her to die alone in a nursing home.

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15:43 Oct 24, 2020

"There were clues, for example he had been killed by a horse drawn carriage and the house he currently lived in had a 72 inch flat screen television so he had to be pretty damn old." maybe to improve grammar... "There were clues; for example, he had been killed by a horse-drawn carriage, and the house he lived in now boasted a 72 inch flat screen TV--so he had to be pretty d**n old." "Lenny had been living in the house on Elm Street since the day he died. Well technically he had lived there eighteen years longer because he lived there ali...

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Thom Brodkin
16:56 Oct 24, 2020

It's been said of me that I've never met a comma I didn't misuse. You might even be able to truncate that by saying I've never met a comma. :-) Fortunately the lovely and talented Deidra Lovegren has worked her magic and helped fix a lot of the punctuation errors. All that being said I really appreciate the feedback and positive words. I know how much more difficult it is to read a story that is not well punctuated so I'm glad you powered through.

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17:31 Oct 24, 2020

Nah, lack of commas doesn't bother me. ;)

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13:34 Oct 24, 2020

I took a look at this, and was like, "Wait, what's going on here??" XD

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Thom Brodkin
14:36 Oct 24, 2020

It's ready for review. I still need to edit it some but I'm ready to be read.

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15:10 Oct 24, 2020

Cool. ;)

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This is the best story I've ever read

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Jane Andrews
11:32 Dec 23, 2020

Hi Thom. This is yet another story written in your own unique, inimitable style. Like other people have said, it's the kind of story that gets gossiped around a campfire: it's cosy and funny and sweet, and yet there's a bittersweet ending that prevents it from being 'just' a humorous take on a ghost story. It takes talent to pull off something like this - even if you wrote it because you didn't know what else to do. If this is what you come up with when you're 'winging' it, then it's an indication that you're a true writer at heart because y...

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