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The Chapel Ghost

The boys remained seated, watching the chapel empty. When the last person waved at them and exited through the back doors, the boys slid out of the pew and walked over to the wood bin. It was mid-June, and since cool Maine mornings lingered well on into July, someone had filled the bin with the fresh-cut logs. The pine smelled like an entire forest the closer they got to the alcove.

Voices floated in through the open window above the wood bin from the exiting chapel attendees.

Samuel and Tyler stopped a foot away from the bin.

“What is it?” asked Samuel.

Tyler shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. That’s why we’re investigating.” Tyler took care as he chose his word, having just graduated from reading Hardy Boys and moving into Sherlock Holmes.

“Whatever,” said Samuel in return.

Tyler looked down the dark crevice between the bin and the wall. Upon closer inspection, he realized it did not set flush against the wall, nor was the bin resting on all four corners flat on the !oor. He got down on his knees, put his head sideways to the floor, bottom aloft, and peered with one eye open to see what this pink protrusion might be.

“I think it’s a doll,” announced Tyler, now able to see more than the pink fabric. “Can we lift the box to get it out?”

“Tyler, what do we need to find some stupid doll for?”

“It belongs to someone. What if they miss it?” Tyler replied, regaining a standing position. He brushed some wood dust off his chinos.

Samuel leaned over and grabbed the corner of the bin with both hands.

“Thanks,” said Tyler. They pulled the bin about an inch out from the wall.

Tyler let go and bent down again for another look. They agreed the bin was too heavy with all the logs and removed about half of them, tossing them into a haphazard pile. Samuel placed a small log near his right foot to kick under the bin to keep it elevated. A second attempt raised the bin high enough for Samuel to kick the log underneath. The bin, pitched up and now leaning outwards, enabled Tyler to pull the pink fabric free. Out came a rather worn, faded handmade doll with a soft body, and a hard porcelain head, legs, and arms. Cobwebs and dried bug carcasses stuck to the faded cloth and yellowed lace. A blue sash, with mouse-nibbles, pinched the dress in at the waist. A chubby-cheeked, white porcelain face had bright pink cheeks and a red rosebud shaped mouth. Other than a slight chip on the left side, the black curly hair was intact.

“A doll. Now what?” asked Samuel. “Now, what do we do with it?”

“Investigate and find out who lost it,” said Tyler, thinking how happy he would be if someone had found a truck or something he had misplaced.

“Come on, Tyler, drop it. Let’s go.” Samuel picked up a few logs and tossed them into the bin. Instead of an even stack, the logs poked out at varying angles.

With his free hand, Tyler helped put a few in.

“Put that down and help me,” demanded Samuel. Tyler placed the doll on the floor, out of the way, and the wood bin filling-process sped up.

“We forgot the piece underneath,” Tyler said, pointing at the small protruding log.

“Too late,” Samuel said, dropping a last log on the top of the heap.

The boys stood upright in tandem.

“What’s that? Samuel, did you hear that?” Tyler looked around the chapel certain he heard someone or something. He stared bug-eye at Samuel. Tyler noticed Samuel’s eyes also bulged. The whooshes came closer and closer, but no one seemed to be attached to the sound.

Leaving the doll behind, they dashed from the wood alcove back to the last pew where they crouched down behind the bench. Faint at first, the steps became louder as they progressed down the aisle. It was more of a whooshing sound than feet stepping with full weight onto the wooden floor, but like footsteps, there was one sound, a break, and another sound. Tyler leaned out from behind the pew. Samuel grabbed his arm to pull him back in. The footsteps brushed past them, at which point the boys looked one another in the eye and stopped moving. Tyler reached for Samuel’s arm. Samuel teetered, fell backwards, and together they created a bang much louder than the footsteps, which had stopped just before the alcove. In quirky movements, the boys pulled themselves from the floor. Still on their knees, they looked over the back of the pew towards the wood bin. A slight rustling began, as if a gust of wind made the sheer white curtain flutter. But it hung limp against the side of the window.

The doll in the corner, next to the wood bin, rolled from its side to its back. The doll moved, seemingly by itself, and the cobwebs and bugs in like fashion, flicked off the dress. Making noise moved off the list of worries as Samuel and Tyler pulled themselves up and out of the pew, ran past the alcove, pushed on the back door, and jumped two to three steps at a time. They stopped running when they reached the side garden gate of Pemberton Hall. Both stooped over, resting their hands on their knees.

“What was that?” said Samuel in between gasps.

Tyler kept his head down, lifted one hand to his right side, pressing into the sharp pain from the energetic scramble down the street. He let out an explosive laugh along with a spray of spit.

“Gross,” said Samuel.

Tyler stood up. “Sorry,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Samuel stood up and placed his hands on his hips. Bursts of giggles erupted, and they shook their heads. When they caught their breath, Tyler turned towards the gate and released the latch.

“Holy moly cow!” exclaimed Tyler. They walked in tandem up the path to the back porch. “What was that?” he got out as the gasps turned to light pants and finally subsided and his breathing pace returned to normal.

“Probably nothing. Maybe something. Not sure,” stuttered Samuel. “Wow. Oh my, we cannot tell anyone; understand Tyler? No. One.”

They crossed their hearts and shook pinkies.

Kate Becker is the Publisher and Managing Editor of Grande Dame Literary. She is a lover of the short story and writes from flash to novella length stories. Her work has appeared in several journals and she is in the process of sending out queries for her upcoming novel about a young woman who is confronted with the life she was predestined for or the one she can carve out for herself. The journey takes our young heroine from New York to Paris, with lots of food along the way. Read short stories and about La Valise on her blog.

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