In a disintegrating room stood a girl in a white dress. She had her back to me, hem trailing among broken bricks.
She was about to begin.
“What’s that sound?” She turned toward the wrecked wall, then she stumbled backward and fell over. Her form drifted apart like fingers raked through mist.
After a moment, she reappeared with her back to me.
This was my fourth viewing. Tourists come to see the ghost girl replay her last moments had all left. I blew out a soft breath.
“What’s that sound?” the girl said again, turning.
“Shhh…” I said. This time, I heard a dry, slithering rustle.
Now the girl turned wide eyes upon me. “It’s coming,” she whispered. Voices trickled in from another room.
“Just stay quiet,” I replied. Back then, I had stepped away to inform her parents of the danger and missed the next part.
The girl crept up to a spectral, boarded up window. Peeked through a gap in the planks. I moved closer to see what she saw.
A single eyeball, looking back at her.
The girl screamed and fell backward. A gasped breath. Then the entire wall blew inward, several bricks slamming into her. She lay stunned with a monster towering over her. Long, scaly body coiled up, feathered wings fluttering, single eye roving.
Her parents and I raced in. We all had screamed, “No!” But now our mouths moved soundlessly. For us, I said, “No.”
Snapping the girl up in its sharp metal beak, the creature flapped away into the night.
The girl reappeared with her back to me, but she turned around. “Will you come back?” she asked.
My heart sank. No matter how many times I returned to bear witness, she continued to make this request.
As always, I said, “Of course.”
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Featuring an exclusive Hopeful Wanderer short-story!
For over 100 years, Texas High Plains Writers has been a part of great storytelling in Texas and beyond.
This year, our anthology offers a collection of short-stories, memoirs, inspirational essays, and poetry filled with hope.
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Great heroes of legends past sit side by side in these pages with the unsung citizens showing kindness to strangers. Humor, adventure, and nostalgia combine to remind us all that hope can be found anywhere.
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