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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coven and Coffin Blog Hop: Last Call for Tanner Lee

Happy Halloween! Today we have another chilling tale. This one is from M.R. Graham.

Last Call for Tanner Lee

Tanner left the hospital feeling strangely empty. He had expected agony. From the moment he had heard the Code Blue declared over the intercom and been forced out of Leah’s room (Room 318; he would never forget that number, or the feel of the sheets beneath his hands), he had known his life was coming to an end. They did not give up, and he gave them credit for that, but there is only so much time and effort a doctor can put into saving someone who is determined to die, and twelve hours later, Tanner and the bag of Leah’s effects sat in the back of a cab, on their way home. He would have to plan a funeral. Of course she had no life insurance; she had only been eighteen, a grinning college freshman home for her first Christmas break. He sat at home that night and called her cell phone, letting it ring out at the foot of her bed for the sake of hearing her voice in the recording. Hey, it’s Leah. I can’t come to the phone right now, probably because I’m having more fun than you, but if you’ll leave your name and number, I might get back to you when I get around to it! He thought about hanging up before it could beep, but he left a message anyway. Maybe somewhere, Leah was listening. “Hey, baby. I love you.” He walked to the other room and looked at the lighted screen of her phone. One missed call. The battery was nearly dead, and he did not plug it in. The house was very empty that night. He propped Leah’s photograph on the bedside table, beside the picture of her mother. He texted her in the morning. “Love you, baby. I miss you.” Her phone buzzed in the other room, but by the time he got there, the screen had gone dark. He still did not plug it in. There was no point. Sooner or later, he would have to cancel her service, but for the moment, that recorded voice meant too much to him. He called again, and because the phone was as dead as his daughter, it went straight to voicemail. Hey, it’s Leah. I can’t come to the phone right now, probably because I’m having more fun than you, but if you’ll leave your name and number, I might get back to you when I get around to it. “I love you,” he said, then his hand clenched. “What the hell were you thinking, Leah?! You’re eighteen, what the hell were you doing, getting hammered like that?” He hurriedly erased the message and re-recorded, just in case, somewhere, Leah was listening. “I love you, baby. I love you. I miss you already.” By noon, the food was already arriving. Tanner did not understand what exactly it was about heartbreak that made friends and neighbors feel the need to feed him, but they brought salad and casserole and lasagna and cake. They brought enough food to feed a small army, more than one man could eat in a month. He piled it into the refrigerator, hating everything, and thought bitterly that he would have to start sending out thank-you notes, sooner or later. They should have left him alone. He texted Leah. “Wish you were here to share all this crap with me. Love you.” Christmas came and went, but the food in the refrigerator barely dwindled. Tanner did not feel like eating. He did not feel like doing much at all. Work hurt, and home hurt, and sleep hurt, and church was the worst, because they left up the white flowers he had bought, mingled with poinsettias, absorbing his grief into their celebration. He called Leah. Hey, it’s Leah. I can’t come to the phone right now, probably because I’m having more fun than you, but if you’ll leave your name and number, I might get back to you when I get around to it! “Just thought I’d tell you I got you a new laptop for Christmas. It’s a good one, really fast. Wish I could have watched you open it. I love you, baby. I miss you.” He stuck his phone back in his pocket and headed for the parking lot across the street from the church. His phone buzzed. One message received. He stopped in the crosswalk, staring at the screen. A horn blared, and Tanner looked up. He smiled at the eighteen wheeler and the smell of burning rubber, clutching his phone tight. “Love you, too, Dad. See you soon.”  

The Books of Lost Knowledge

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Truly, there are more things in heaven and earth… For instance, a dark and subtle world of magic, hidden just below the surface of reality. Lost Knowledge is a series of novels – two complete, many in progress – that centers on the reality of the things mankind has chosen to forget. There is beauty in the mist between the sea and the land, and dark things exist in the dim chasms of memory. Learn more at the Lost Knowledge website, or buy now here.


About MR Graham

MR Graham is a native Texan who traces strong cultural roots back to Scotland, Poland, and England. A mild-mannered Latin teacher during the day, Graham transforms at night into a raging Holmesian loremaster and rabid novelist. Though passionate about all scholarship and academia, Graham’s training and true love lies with anthropology, particularly the archaeological branch.

Connect with MR

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Tomorrow we end this little soiree with a story from yours truly. I'm sure it will raise the hair of he back of your neck.  Be sure to visit the other blogs for some more festivities.

Peter Dawes: Stormy Night Flash Fiction
Jessica Fortunado: Halloween Treats and Recipes
Kayleigh Grian: Characters in Costume
M. R. Graham: Tributes to Those We’ve Lost
Kalya Curry: Murder Mystery Party

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