Supernatural Flash Fiction posted November 16, 2013

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Jackie Walks Away from her Haunted Past


by Crystal Vail

Jackie leans against the tattered oak bar, wiping down the wooden grooves, searching for life’s answers.  Her mind wanders to happier days when mother let her run between the stout tables, chasing a yellow tabby cat.  She hears past echoes of alma maters and Auld Lang Syne, gasps and cheers as regulars watched the world unfold on the old television above the bar.  A smile slips against her cheek, a foreign gesture over the past year. 

Her daddy built this bar forty years ago and Jackie has spent most of her twenty-six years within these walls.  Yes, there have been happier times, but a glance towards the cracked mirror in the back hallway reminds her that not all the family memories are good. 

A wine glass falls off the top shelf behind her as a faint snicker clicks against her ear.

The shattering of the glass is muffled by a well-timed eruption across the room at a table for six.  The only table tonight.  She was hoping for a bigger crowd, a bigger profit, considering it was her last night as the owner of the bar.  Tomorrow, she would be starting a much different life. 

“Hey Jackie, 'nother round!  This boy can’t get married tomorrow without a damn good hangover!” taunts the best man. The table erupts in laughter as the groom slips out of his chair. He wobbles a path through the tables to escort the next pitcher of beer down the aisle.

The groom pulls himself up on bar stool and asks, “Jackie! Why you giv’n up this place?  Your daddy must be turn’n in his grave right now.” 

A cabinet door slaps against her leg.

She grimaces but answers the question she’s grown tired of answering. “This was daddy’s dream, Arron.  Not mine.  Besides, most people won’t come in here anymore after what happened.” Arron starts to protest, but just nods his head in acceptance and carries the fresh pitcher back to his table.  Nobody but Jackie really knew what happened that night.  

Another crash echoes from the back storeroom. 

Once the party is back to a roar, Jackie walks down the hallway and stares into the cracked mirror. Through the fractured reflection, she can see her mother’s blue eyes and graying yellow hair. They looked so much alike. She runs her finger down the crack.  It was the last thing her mother had touched.

At closing time, Jackie ushers the bachelor party out into the night.  Each reveler gives Jackie a big hug and begs her to attend the wedding.

“No, I start a new life tomorrow.”  Pouring them into a waiting taxi, she ignores their questions about this grand new life and waves goodbye.

While walking back into the bar, a bottle of Sauvignon flies through the air and crashes against the wall near her head.  She watches the red liquid run down the faded wallpaper print of dogs playing cards.  Her mother really loved that silly wallpaper.

Jackie slowly walks through every room once more to see if she has missed anything.  Only white patches are left where pictures had adorned the stained walls.  A few dust-free patterns on the desk where her mother’s collection of birds once perched.  In the maintenance room, she turns off the main water valve and makes sure the alarm system is disabled.

A whiskey bottle slides across the bar and smashes into the register. 

She soaks up the whiskey with several bar rags and pulls a lighter from her pocket. Heavy footsteps race towards her, but she stands her ground and flicks the lighter against the rags.

A table flips over as a chair flies against the bar

Smoke and flames quickly begin to furl.  A sharp breeze washes over the flames, yet not strong enough to douse them as they make their way down the bar and up the wall. 

She moves quickly towards the back hallway pausing in remembrance over the spot where she had last seen father standing over mother.  The stain is still noticeable in the cracks of the wooden floor.  As the smoke and noise of shattering bottles rush behind Jackie, she straightens her gaze and walks out the back door. 

The door slams behind her.

Jackie doesn't look back.  After a few blocks, she takes a deep breath and whispers, “a new life….a better life.”

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