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Marilyn Thompson

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The woman dressed in the lavender jacket and skirt was old and had a grandmotherly look. Short, gray, curly hair framed a face that tried to convey warm tenderness but upon closer examination, there seemed a malevolent presence behind the eyes.
      A boy about ten years old sat on the floor at her feet in his hand was a large book.

      "What is that you have?"

      "I am going to learn about William," the boy replied.

      The old woman laughed and rocked back in her chair.

      "Before you can learn about William you must write about him." she chuckled.

      Disappointment swept across the young face. He did not know how to write about anything. Although he had tried many times to write, all the words he wrote were confused and followed no pattern. It had been his dream to be a famous writer but he had given up on the dream and had settled for just reading the works of those who had the talent.

      The old woman smiled at the disappointment and longing she saw in the boy's eyes, she knew that with a few well-chosen words she could easily trap this one. She leaned close to the boy and began to speak in a soft and soothing whisper.

      "Walter I see that you have a deep longing to write, to be heard, but you do not know how to make it happen. If you listen to me you can make it happen, there is a way to have all that you desire."

      Walter listened carefully to what the old woman said. Every word from her lips was like food to his soul. After twenty minutes, he left the house and raced toward the small chapel on the other side of town. The chapel had been there since the town was founded in 1763 but had been long abandoned. He stopped just beneath the small stained glass window on the east wall, looked down at the ground, and realized he had forgotten to bring a shovel. The desire to have what lay beneath drove him to his knees. He tore at the ground with his fingers, paying no mind as two of his nails ripped from their beds and fell away with the dirt, nor did he notice as the hard earth and the gravel within it tore his knuckles to bleeding. His one thought was that the old woman had said it was buried a mere foot deep, and one foot of dirt would not stand between him and the object that would give him what he wanted most. His fingers struck its cold hardness and he wildly scooped the dirt from around it. He lifted it up and looked at it in the growing dimness of the day. It was old, rusted, and seemed almost worthless, but he knew its value. It had helped many in the previous centuries, and now it would help him.

      Taking off his shirt he carefully wrapped the object inside and although his heart was racing with excitement he walked slowly back to the old woman's house.

      The moon cast a silver glow on the path, and his thoughts turned to the wonderful stories he would write. The first would be a historical novel about William, the most beloved king that had ever lived. He wondered if the object already begun to work even without the ritual. He thought it must have because he already had entire chapters filling his mind. He knew that he would soon be in the ranks of the most honored writers in the world and that thought stayed with him until he at last stood on the doorstep of his destination.

      The boy sat back down at the old woman's feet and carefully unrolled his shirt exposing the object. The old woman drew away when he tried to hand it to her as if afraid to touch it, but her eyes flickered with admiration for the long piece of decaying metal. She walked over to a small chest and opened it, inside was a handheld sledge and a space for the object, an old railroad spike. The woman instructed the boy to put the spike inside the chest. When the spike was in place, she closed the lid and turned the key. She then told him to go home and return the following evening for instructions on the ritual. He hesitated for a moment and after one last hungry look at the chest he turned and left. The volumes of stories that had filled his head abandoned him when the chest had been locked leaving him feeling alone and empty

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