The Ghost and Nellie Bee
The Ghost and Nellie Bee
was written for an NPR radio contest.
They gave you the first and last line
and you had 600 words to tell the tale.
It did not even place. I still like it…
Some people swore that the house was haunted. For over two hundred years there had been someone named Captain Spalding living in that house. Some claimed it was always the same man. Several of her new friends were convinced that the older people in town were right, while others scoffed at the idea. But they all wanted to know what it was like to live in Captain Spalding’s weathered old house north of town on the high bluff above the sea.
Here almost two months now, Nellie McBee Spalding knew the house was haunted! She also knew that she was not about to tell anyone anything – not yet! Nellie had simply told them it was new and interesting, very different from home.Had she seen a ghost? Oh, no! It was far more personal than that. The spirit, or whatever it was, had addressed her by name: her secret name, “Nellie Bee”. No one else could know that name because she had never told anyone, not even her favorite dolly, Mattie Pink Shoes. Nobody but her Granzer knew that name! He knew that name because he had given it to her as he told her sea stories when she was five and he had come to her house to visit. She loved her Granzer! Unafraid, she wasn’t even ready to tell mommy yet.
Her wonderful Granzer, lost at sea when his fishing boat sank in a big storm. She knew about drowned and dead because of Jamie Daltman. She had watched as four-year-old Jamie fell into an irrigation ditch on his uncle’s farm. He couldn’t swim. That had been when she was six. Daddy had carefully explained what it all meant. She had never seen Jamie again so she knew she wouldn’t see Granser again, either.
Daddy needed to “settle “ Granser’s affairs. That’s why mommy and daddy had come to Granser’s big house in this small town on the coast. They said she would return home in time for school in early September even if Daddy had to stay a while longer. Soon now, she must leave. The voice calling her came more often now, was more insistent
She was mulling over all of this as she sat in the window seat of the room she had been given for the summer: large and, in the daytime, sunny and bright. Windows on two sides presented spectacular views of the sea. One viewed the sea straight on and the one to its left gave a long view many miles up the rocky coast. Nights like this one, with a full moon, provided nearly the same view but with the light silver-white and the deep shadows dark shades of blue.
As she had expected, the voice came – but not in the room with her as it had before. This time it was clearly outside, somewhere below her window. It never occurred to her to be afraid. She went outside and around the house directly under the window of her room. There in the moonlight stood a figure she recognized. She could see the moonlit sea through him. As he faded away he pointed to a large rock next to the house and said, “Nellie Bee, dig there”.
She calmly went in and woke Daddy up and told him the story. At first, he told her it was a dream, but when she took him to the study where the pictures of the captains were and pointed to the one she had seen, he had said, “Not Granzer? That one, the pirate?”
Nothing was ever the same after that.
Return to Index
end: The Ghost and Nellie Bee