I wrote a short story for my daughter a few years ago. She read it yesterday and liked it. It is posted for the first time below. It's raw and uncooked, written from the heart. I'll go through it and fix and expand slightly before publishing it with my other short stories. Enjoy.
The Ghost Garden
There once was a very odd little girl named Katie-Anne. She grew up on a small farm surrounded by animals and fields of corn and it was ever her ambition to become a farmer. But not just any kind of farmer. She wanted to grow ghosts. She wanted to cultivate them, to see them start out as wee little will O’ wisps and flourish into full-blown spirits of the dead. How she got this notion to grow ghosts is beyond comprehension, though everyone who knew her freely admitted she was an odd girl and that may be the long and the short of it.
Once she got the idea of a ghost farm in her curly-haired head she wouldn’t let it go. Her father, the best farmer in the family, pointed out to her that crops needed seeds and he had no ghost seeds to plant. He had only corn and cotton seeds. His daughter sat down on the porch and thought.
Her father smiled, hoping this was the end of her mission. But his little girl’s ingenuity knew no bounds. She soon got up off the porch and asked her father for some bones. “Bones are ghost seeds,” she said, with all the conviction a nine-year-old could muster.
Her father shook his head, but honored her request. He sent her brothers to get some bones. Her three brothers roamed the farm and countryside near, far, and wide. Two of the brothers returned empty-handed, but the brother who roamed near came back with the chicken bones from the hen that was last night’s dinner.
Katie thanked her brothers most kindly. She put the bones in a pile and joined her family as they went about getting the fields ready for planting corn. She watched as they cleared away all the weeds and made nice rows for the corn to be planted in. Everyone but Katie was tired by the end of the day. She took the bones to her father and asked him to clear a piece of land for her to plant her ghost seeds.
Her father shook his head, but honored her request. He paced out a corner of the corn field about twenty paces by twenty paces. Then he added some fencing to separate it from the rest of the corn field. One of her older brothers made a sign for her little patch, just like for the corn. It said, “Ghosts” on it, in big letters.
The next day she helped to plant the corn along with everyone else, carefully placing each seed in the right place. She couldn’t wait to plant her crop. “I’m going to plant my seeds at night!” she told her momma.
As his daughter went to plant the chicken bones, her father pointed out that the field was fertile and ready to grow living things, but assuredly not dead things. Katie-Anne could see the wisdom in his words, and so she sat on the porch with her bones and thought.
Her father smiled, hoping again that this was the end of her mission. But his little girl’s ingenuity knew no bounds. She soon got up off the porch and went to her father. “You once told me plants need love, lots of sun, and rain. My ghost seeds will need lots of hate, loads of darkness and plenty of dryness,” she said, with all the conviction a nine-year-old could muster. She asked her father for some cloth to cover her garden with.
Her father shook his head, but honored her request. The next day he sent her brothers searching for cloth and the three brothers came back dragging a large red and white circus tent. With her brothers’ help, Katie-Anne set up a piece of the circus tent over her patch. “That will keep it nice and dark,” she said. She took the bones and planted them sparsely about her garden patch. “The ghosts will need plenty of room to grow,” she told her father.
Then she went to her youngest older brother, Jacob. He was the angriest of her brothers, though of course he loved his little sister. Katie-Anne asked Jacob to visit her bone garden whenever he was angry. “I want you to yell, stomp, and hate all over my seeds. That will help them grow.”
Jacob nodded, and feeling angry and hateful, immediately went to work. He ran over to her ghost garden patch, yelled “I hate you!” over and over, and stomped and tromped all over her seeds. After a while, exhausted and empty of all hatred, he went into the house, hugged his momma and took a long nap. The rest of the family spent the day fertilizing the corn field with manure.
“Well,” Katie-Anne said to her father, “my garden is nice and dark, and my seeds have been fertilized with hatred, which is just as bad as manure, yuck! All I need now is to keep my ghost seeds dry.”
Her father nodded, certain nothing would come of this, but proud of his daughter’s ingenuity. She sat on the porch and thought. She soon got up and went to her father. “Salt always make me thirsty. I’m going to keep my garden dry with salt!”
Her father tried to talk her out of this, because he knew how bad salt was for gardens and growing things. But then he thought that in some strange way, his daughter was making sense. Salt might be good for ghost seeds. Katie took a watering can, filled it with salt and gave her little garden a good salting.
As word spread about her unusual garden, an influx of curious people came to the homestead to see what was going on. They ignored the beautiful stalks of growing corn and came to see this odd little girl and her ghost garden patch. The family charged a dollar to come and see the barren dirt patch and to hear Katie-Anne talk all about it. She told visitors how important it was to keep the seeds covered and encouraged them to yell, stomp and tromp all over her garden. There was not much to see, but still people came and had fun.
Fall came and the family harvested the ripe fields of corn. Katie kept working her garden, even though she hadn’t seen even the tiniest of ghosts yet. She did not give up hope. She kept her ghost seeds covered, kept them hated (thanks to her brother and visitors) and kept them dry.
A month later, on Halloween night, when all the spirits were out and about and all sensible folk were in before dark, Momma called out from the kitchen. “Katie-Anne! Come look! Something’s happening in your garden!”
Katie-Anne ran to the kitchen and looked out the kitchen window. Sure enough, she could see wan lights floating slowly above her garden through the kitchen window. Katie’s face was vibrant with pride and accomplishment.
She had her first crop of ghosts!