Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Vanessa Kittle Shares Two Stories; Makes One Novelette for Delightful Christmas Surprise!

Marie pulled her car up the long driveway. It was a miserable cold December night with a driving rain and sleet that had nearly made her slip off the road more than once. It was also so dark out here away from the town that she could barely see 10 feet ahead. She parked next to an old station wagon that looked as if it hadn't been moved in years and turned off her lights.
She took a long look at the house and found that she didn't want to get out of her car. It was a massive three story Victorian built in the late 1800' s. This was, in part, why she had chosen to rent the room. Normally the sight of such a house would have excited her romantic nature, but tonight it just looked dismal. There seemed to be only one light on in the entire building and this was in the front room on the ground floor. She bet it would be absolutely freezing inside. Her belongings wouldn't arrive until the following day so she had no idea even where she would spend the night. It was one of the only places near Greenbridge that she could afford, however, so she took a deep breath and got out. Then she ran as fast as she could up the walk and rang the bell. When there was no answer immediately she began pounding on the door. Her hands were raw and frozen without gloves and her breath came out as a mist even in the very dim light. 
Finally, the door opened a crack and an elderly woman stared at her from inside. The woman demanded, "Who are you?"
"I'm Marie. Marie Wainwright." When the woman continued to stare at her blankly, Marie offered, "I'm renting the room." "Yes, I know who you are. You're late. I was expecting you by 4: 00 this afternoon." "I'm sorry about that. The roads were terrible... Can I come in, Mrs. Marsh? It's cold out here." Marie assumed this was the same woman she had spoken to on the phone. Her voice sounded the same, though what she had thought was reservedness and quietness seemed more like coldness and anger in person. 
The door opened fully now. The woman said, "Call me Ann. I don't care for any Mrs." Then she hurried off without an explanation, and with surprising speed. 
Well, this seemed a little more friendly at least, Marie thought. 

She stepped inside quickly and took a look around as she let herself drip dry a little on the mat. She didn't want to risk re-arousing Ann's anger by soaking her floors. Marie took the time to study the room. It was exactly as she expected. There was one dim stained glass lamp, many tables covered with doilies, and many bookshelves. That, too, she found promising. She expected there was also a lot of dust and cobwebs, though it was too dark now to tell for certain. Mrs. Marsh returned holding an ancient towel, which she presented to Marie, along with a cup of tea and a saucer. 
"Come into the sitting room, child," she said. "You're shivering. I have a nice fire going in there." Marie followed her at once and was soon standing and warming her hands in front of a very cheerful fire in a very large stone fireplace. The room was at the back of the house, perhaps looking out over the river she knew ran past. There were no lights, but the fire was bright and it crackled nicely. There was something about a real fire that warmed Marie's heart...

Mrs. Marsh said, "I expect you are tired from your journey." Marie nodded. Though it was only 9: 00 she found that she was exhausted. Marsh continued, "I serve breakfast for us at seven sharp. Your room is the second to the right on the second story. Your bathroom is directly across the hall from it." 
Marie suddenly figured out that Marsh expected her to go to bed right now. She said, "My things won't be here until tomorrow." 
"I've made the bed for you."
 "I appreciate that... Ann. Could you show me up to the room. It looks really dark up there." 
"You'll find it all right," Marsh said sharply. "I don't go upstairs after sunset. I don't see well at night." Marie set her cup and saucer down on the side table. 
Marsh snapped,  "Take it with you child. That tea is too good to waste. Just be sure you bring back the cup tomorrow morning." 
Marie nodded, "Good night, Ann. I'll see you at breakfast." Marie climbed the steep staircase slowly. She could sense that Mrs. Marsh was staring at her back. The stairs grew darker and colder with each step she took away from the warmth of the fireplace. By the time she got to the second floor landing it was nearly pitch black and it was freezing. Marie looked down the hallway towards where her room was supposed to be and was filled with dread. The old house was a change, and that was what she was looking for, but maybe this was just too much of a change. Well, there was nothing she could do about it right now. She didn't think Mrs. Marsh would take too kindly to people trying to cancel their leases on the first day. She took a deep breath and headed for her room.

The Ghost of Christmas Eve

By Vanessa Kittle

As I began reading Kittle's first short story, I was immediately drawn into the setting--the Victorian Age home and its location plus the interior setting and clothes of the character. Immediately I drew a comparison to The Ghost and Mrs. Muir which has always been one of my favorite stories.

And indeed the "flavor" of Kittle's stories are similar, yet a totally contemporary, futuristic fantasy that was definitely satisfying in a completely different way. I really enjoyed the merged stories and read them as if they were published as a fascinating novelette...

In Book 1 we meet Marie Wainwright who has rented a room, looking for peace and quiet, a change by getting away from everything after a recent divorce.

Arriving during a storm, she was finally greeted hesitantly by Ann Marsh, who promptly noted that she had been expected much earlier...  In fact, Ann was quite confusing--she would be nice one moment and then snap at Marie the next. When she was unwilling to escort Marie to her room on the second floor, Marie easily began to worry that she had made a mistake in coming...

I was quite pleased to learn that our main character, Marie was an independent writer, who did book reviews and other articles for various publications...Since I'm not sure of the exact time period, I didn't try to guess what book reviews she might have done...LOL

So here we have a new resident in a very old house, whose mistress will not climb to the second floor at night... And soon...there are noises coming from the third floor, in a house which supposedly only had two occupants--Ann and Marie... And, of course, we know that she would be investigating what caused the noise...

But when a man seemed to appear in one of the rooms she was walking through, she became so frightened that she ran back down to her room and pulled the covers up over her head in fear!
Curiosity won out, however, and she would travel back to the next the daylight!

She was awake at 6 a.m. wanting to investigate. First she thought of talking with Ann, but then decided to go directly to the third floor...

Where she met... William...

William turned around slowly to face her. 
He waited for her to speak. She asked,
 "Are we going to have any Christmas Eve
 He walked over to her slowly and calmly, 
but she could tell by the smile on his face
 that he was very pleased. 
He put his arms around her and drew her
 close,  then he kissed her firmly, 
if a little clumsily. He asked, 
"Did I do that right?"
 "Let's try again," she said, 
"This time more slowly."
Who among other things told her that he was interested in her being a book reviewer and wondered if she would review his book...

"Indeed, I do. I understand that you write book reviews."
"Sometimes, yes."
"I was wondering if you would like to read something I have written?"
"You've written a book?"
"I have attempted to do so anyway."
"What's it about?" she asked. "I mean, what genre is it?" 
He thought about this for a moment, then told her, "I suppose I'm not certain. Perhaps you could tell me, if you are willing to read it."
 "Yes, of course, I would love to read it," she said. 
He gestured to a handwritten manuscript on the desk which must have contained well over 500 pages of meticulous and tiny script. He said, "I would prefer that you read it here at this desk." "Why?" 
"I'm somewhat protective of that text. I've been working on it for rather a long time."
 "I understand," she said. "Do you mind if I bring a heater up here when I read?" 
"Not at all," he said. He gave her a nervous smile as he asked, "Then you really will read it? And give me your honest opinion on it?" 
"Yes," she said. "You have me quite intrigued."

And by the end of Book 1, they had sealed that deal, and others, with a kiss...

The Ghost of Christmas Morning

By Vanessa Kittle

Book 2 takes up exactly where the new couple were--in the middle of that kiss...

Marie stepped back from William's embrace. It seemed to her that he let go only reluctantly, and she was reluctant to be let go as well. Their first kiss might have felt a little awkward and almost cold, but their second was warm and passionate. Marie had gotten lost in the moment. She felt almost as if she were floating and was swept away enough to wrap her hands around William's shoulders to feel the soft hair on the back of his neck. It was at that moment that she thought about things a little bit too much. She remembered what William was and how everything about him was impossibly strange. How could his hair feel so real to her touch? How could his lips feel so real? They were soft and warm. How could any of this be possible?

They had parted on Christmas Eve, with William warning that she might hear some clattering, but she should not worry because it would be him doing some last-minute activities...

And when she came down the next morning it was to beautiful decorations and William serving coffee and ready to make breakfast...

As soon as she took the first bite, music began playing. It was from the Nutcracker Suite, probably her favorite classical music. They shared a shy sort of smile as they ate, and listened, and watched the lights on the tree twinkle. 
When she set her fork down, he asked, "Are you ready to open your present now?"
 She said, "I didn't get you anything." 
He shook his head and told her, "Your being here is present enough for me."

She looked over to William as he said,
"Merry Christmas, Marie. I'm afraid that he can only live inside of the house, but otherwise he will behave just like any other cat, well, one that has a lot of personality anyway."

He smiled at her, then he glanced at the television. He said, "It looks like we missed the ball drop." She turned to the TV briefly and saw that he was right. Midnight had just passed and it was the new year.
 She went to him and kissed him hard as she put her arms around him and he put his arms around her. 
When they both sat back a little, he said, "You are the most wondrous thing of many I have seen on this world, Marie." 
She replied, "I was thinking just the same about you." Then they turned to the screen to watch the glowing lights and fireworks beginning to explode over the city.

All that happened in the second book is based upon the secret Marie discovered! And I'm not telling! So as their relationship grew closer, by the end of the book, they were welcoming in the new year and looking forward what would be happening next!

But, you know, I still would have like to read Marie's review of William's book...

This book had a lot of contradictory clues to make you aware that something strange was happening there in that beautiful old Victorian home... Can you guess what the Ghost of Christmas future might be? Because that's as close as you get to William being a ghost! LOL! Really loved the major twist Kittle inserted in her story! And I certainly think you will too! 

One final thought--I would have preferred this as one single book...some readers may not realize that you need both to get the full story... I was happy that I'm found the author's message to get Book 1 and read first...


Vanessa lives out on Long Island with her evil cats; Lama and Sombrero, and her more evil partner, Erin. Vanessa is a former chef and lawyer who now writes science fiction and romance while teaching English Composition. She has published 2 collections of poetry with The March Street Press. Her work has recently been in Silver Blade, Veil, Aphelion, The New Renaissance, Contemporary American Voices, and A Generation Defining Itself anthology. Vanessa edits the Abramelin Poetry Journal. She has been nominated 3 times for the Pushcart Prize. Vanessa enjoys watching cheesy movies, cooking, gardening, and Star Trek!

From one Trekkie to Another...

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