Friday 19 December 2008

A Christmas 'Ghost' Story

In Britain, there is a tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas.

Here is mine. It's not a traditional ghost story but I hope you enjoy it. It begins like this....


I was born seventeen years ago, in the year of our Lord 900. I give the Christian date because I respect Jesus Christ, who cares for slaves, although I will never worship him. Forgiveness is a creed I do not understand.
The name I was given at birth is not important; the villagers of Oslo never used it. They called me a charmer. Or a witch.
Perhaps I was a witch. I hated water and was afraid of the sea. Once, running along the beach with apples, fleeing the tide, I fell and turned an ankle.
A Viking found me. We knew each other by sight, Bjorn Askson and I. Once, on market day in Oslo, he blew me a kiss. He had been drinking, but I did not care. The way he looked at me then passed straight into my memories. Bjorn was handsome, with the piercing glance of a dragon ship. As different from the man who owned me, the paunchy wizard Gagnrad, as a body could be.
Now Bjorn swung down from his horse and lifted me out of that mess of crushed reed-weave, sand and apples. Gently, as if I was one of his precious bales, the silk-stuff which he traded and which made him rich. He set me on his mount before him.
Neither of us spoke. Gagnrad was always scolding me to take care, not to rush so recklessly, nor speak so boldly, forthright as a free-woman. I was silent and still. I tried not to think about Gagnrad. I leaned back against Bjorn Askson's body, imagining, in as many ways as possible, what it would be like to enjoy that well-shaped mouth.
Bjorn smiled, brushing back the tendrils of blonde hair plastered against my cheek by water. I felt his fingers tighten round my waist. He bent his head.
'You are free to choose.’ He slackened his grip. 'I am not Gagnrad.'

Read the rest here.


Dee S Knight and Anne Krist said...

Lindsay, what an intriguing custom--I love it!

This story was quite good. I didn't have a hint of what would happen, so the ending caught me off guard just as a ghost story should.

I'm pulled in always by your telling of history, not just a story. It shows in this, but also in A Knight's Vow and (my favorite) Flavia's Secret. You weave facts into the telling so that the reader sees and feels the reality of the settings and what the characters face. What a wonderful story-teller you are!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Dee and Anne! I really appreciate your comments, coming as they do from such accomplished fellow authors.

Tiffany James said...


What a haunting story! Like Anne, I had no idea what was coming...

Happy Christmas and happy haunting with your ghost stories. :0)


Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Tiffany! Happy Christmas to you!

Linda Banche said...

What a different story. I never would have expected that ending.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Linda! I don't compose many stories like this: it's rather 'dark' for me. But sometimes I find I'm led where the characters take me.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Lindsay,
Intresting story. Loved the ending.
You write such interesting and unusual periods of time.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Margaret! I enjoy these 'different' time periods for the high stakes and story chances that such times and settings give me.

How about you?