Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Contentment.... A Ghost Story... Chapter One

Chapter One

Jasper Cline had been dead exactly eight days when his widow, Marietta, loaded two heavy suitcases into the back of the car, hammered a For Sale sign into the red clay under the apple tree in the front yard, and left.  Without informing him, she’d neatly printed her brother Macon’s phone number on the For Sale sign.  He’d figure it out later and by the time the calls started coming in, she’d be long gone.  Too far away to hear his incredulity clearly.  Too far away to care.

Always in possession of uncanny foresight, Jasper’s old spaniel, Marvel-Ann, had dropped dead two weeks before her master.  Of old age, the vet said.  Privately, Marietta thought the dog simply wanted a head start.  Southern born and bred, just like Jasper, Marvel-Ann would have had no intention of accompanying Marietta to a cliffside cottage above the storm-tossed shores of the northernmost state on the east coast.  So for the first time in her entire life, Marietta Warrington Cline was alone, unfettered.  At sixty-seven, she didn’t know how many years she had left, but she planned to live them as she pleased.  In a cottage by the sea.

As fate would have it, she’d been eyeing this property in Maine for months.  It had long been her habit, after Jasper and Marvel-Ann had turned in for the night, to slip out of bed and peruse Maine real estate websites on the computer in the den.  Truth was, the furtherest north she’d ever been was up to Virginia when she was six, for the funeral of her great-uncle Henry who’d died of colon cancer.  She’d always found it a bit strange that the only thing she knew about that great-uncle was what he’d died of, but because of him she had to check the box on the doctor’s forms that indicated colon cancer ran in her family.  She always imagined great-uncle Henry waving at her from across  the waiting room each time she filled one of those things out.  Families are irritating things sometimes.  They glom onto you even if you’ve never been properly introduced.

She didn’t remember anything about the scenery of Virginia save for the flocked wallpaper of the funeral home on Formosa Street.  She’d never even known anyone from Maine.  But when the photographs of the cottage in Hancock slowly loaded onto her screen one hot July night, incrementally revealing horizontal lines of wood, stone, and sea, her heart had leapt like Christmas.  She’d scrolled down to the price.  Being the one who’d always kept their bank accounts, Marietta knew that amount was doable, even without the sale of their Colonial.  She’d watched that website for months, expecting each time she went there the house would be sold, and feeling unexpected relief each time it wasn’t.  It was a folly, she knew that. She knew Jasper would never consider it.  And she knew she’d never leave Jasper.

But then, in a span of two short weeks, it was Marvel-Ann and old age;  Jasper and the ladder.  He’d never pay the money to hire that red-headed neighbor boy to clean his gutters like the rest of the men on the street.  She’d told him.  Well, at least it was quick.  His head hit the corner of the window box on the way down and that was that.  There’d been a wren’s nest in that window box.  Not a one of the tiny blue eggs had been broken.

The funeral was on Tuesday and Marietta bought the cottage on Wednesday.  She packed up all her books and CD’s, her Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn movies, her mother’s china, the photographs and the paintings, and left it all  in large boxes in the entry hall for the movers to pick up the next week.  The furniture could stay; Macon could throw the lot of it in the dumpster down at the Piggly Wiggly for all she cared. She didn’t need as much as she’d had, and besides, the cottage on the coast was furnished.  From what she could tell in the pictures, the rooms had a nautical look.  Weatherbeaten wood, overstuffed chairs in faded floral linen, old four-posters sitting high off the floor between windows opening out to the sea.  All this suited Marietta Cline perfectly.  She was smiling as she pulled onto the interstate and didn’t look in the rear view mirror once.

To Be Continued...


  1. Oh my goodness this is going to be wonderful! I can't wait for the next instalments and to find out more about the little cottage and Marietta. What a perfect time to head unfettered into her senior years and to have them as she wants to live them. Waiting. Cathy D.

  2. As always, your writing is mesmerizingly terrific! An enchanting beginning and A COTTAGE BY THE SEA!!💕💕

  3. This is my dream. I would love to live in a small cottage by the sea with a little reading place by the window. I can't wait until the next chapter. Give Edward a hug for me.

  4. The best tribute one writer can give to another: "And then what happened?"

  5. And here is one for you Pamela. See if you can find a copy of The Lady In White. My favorite movie to watch at Halloween. It's supposedly a true story too.

  6. I am intrigued. More - please

  7. Love this already! Don't keep us hanging long..

  8. Wonderful! I'm already quite taken with Marietta. A southern girl myself and not that much of a traveler, I can say I have been to Maine and adored it. And I was quite tempted by those wonderful old cottages with a view of blue water and hills. (We don't have hills - not really quite mountains, though they may call them that - at our flat southern coasts, and I love the combination.) But too far from home and too cold in the winter, so we moved to the NC mountains instead.

  9. Wow Pamela. A major reason I read your blog is for your amazing writing. SO looking forward to this story!

  10. i DITTO judymac and babycakes!!!
    love every nuance.
    oh my.

  11. Lovely intro with the promise of more. I can't wait!!!

    I can recommend The Outermost House by Henry Beston (early 20th century nature writer, the book is nonfiction). For me that started the whole cabin by the sea thing. And I'm just the age now to be able to pull it off - from the other posts here, it's a shared fantasy!

  12. This is great...I can't wait for more to follow. hurry... hurry.... hurry....

  13. Shared fantasy......oh yes, yes, yesssss!

  14. Pamela,
    What fun! I love stories like this, told by great writers like you!
    I'm already intrigued and can envision the charming(?) little coastal cottage.

  15. Pamela, oh my gosh, this story definitely has my attention right from the get go. Love it. My question is why do even happily married women fantasize about having a house of their own without their husband. My sister, also named Pamela, told me once some years ago that she fantasized living in her very own lovely yellow cottage all by herself, but that her husband lived just a ways down the lane so that they could visit with each other from time to time. I, myself, have built a tiny cottage for myself in our lovely
    Connecticut woods, a mere 400 feet from the lovely home I share with my husband, but which can't be seen from our back porch or garden. I so love my tiny space and its seeming seclusion, as do my girlfriends when invited.


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