A thoughtful review of this story from Leila and she hits on some very valid points. Nik Eveleigh is one of the editors – well you knew that – but he’s also a damn fine writer. This is what Leila said:
Loss, more so than dying, is the price we pay for love. You hear about husbands and wives who die within an hour of each other (thus writing a happy ending for their sixty year union) because it seldom happens. Usually, one of you has to die first and leave the other behind. Sometimes this occurs with too much time left on the clock; endless minutes and desperate hours are the stuff of empty years.
Survivor’s guilt, inexpressible emotions hostile to describable sentimentality and the little things are all that are left. Those and a terrible certainty that healing and getting on with life would profane the memory of your love. Maybe you should go crazy for awhile; maybe you ought to cavort with a ghost for a time; maybe there’ll come a day when something inside tells you that now is the time to let go.
Nik Eveleigh’s Ella’s Ghost speaks of such things. It touches lightly yet sinks deep, and, in my opinion, is a damn fine piece that deserves better than just another look.
Q: There’s great restraint and taste in this story. How difficult was it to convey the fact of Ella’s death and yet not literally tell about it?
I’ve always tried really hard to tell a story with as few words as possible and to allow the reader the space to put their own feelings and references into a scenario. At the time I wrote this piece I was writing regularly and felt confident translating snippets of ideas into stories. In this case my wife and I were reminiscing about when we moved into our house and that’s where the fish, chips and chardonnay memory came from. Later that evening my mind wandered into “what if she was gone?” territory and the story came quickly from there. The “not telling” came from two angles I guess – the first was the aforementioned writing confidence which meant even before my usual rigorous editing process the words came out sparsely. The second was down to the fact that no one knows how the hell to describe how loss feels to you personally and so I felt it was more appropriate to convey it through a series of mundane events that are the bedrock of any relationship.
I think if I had to write it now it would be a lot harder to pare it back so much. There hasn’t been a whole lot of output from me for some time and certainly my confidence now would not be reflective of how it was then. Thanks for pulling this one out of the archives Leila – if nothing else it’s reminded me of what I love about the process of writing and it’s given me the chance to pen a few lines without pressure (and thanks to both Leila and Diane for the very kind words of support!)
Q: If this went on, do you think that there would have come a time when the MC would have finally stopped seeing Ella in his dreams and be happier for it?
I’m not sure Charlie will ever stop seeing Ella in his dreams but I do believe her visits will become less frequent and less of an anchor tying Charlie to the past. I deliberately wanted to end the story with Charlie being at peace as I’d always imagined this being written at the point where he was ready to step forward into life again with Ella’s love and blessing.
I’m neither religious nor particularly spiritual but I do believe those we love and have lost are always with us and they manifest at odd times and odd ways. Some days I’ll remember an uncle with a smile, or a friend gone too young with a tear. Mostly though I remember the kindness and the things they did that mattered and try to be a better person.