Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Paris, France
December 31
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out


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NOVEMBER 5, 2011 8:54AM


Rate: 22 Flag

The murderer’s rage had ended.  Cissy and another victim lay beside each other in the little space under the floorboards. 

“Do you think he’s gone?” Cissy whispered.

“I think so,” the other victim, a man, replied.

Both their bodies lay supine, still, and stiff, eyes staring up at the cracks between the floorboards.

“By the way,” the man told her, “I’m Thomas.”

“I’m Cissy,” she said.

Day faded from the room above them, and it was darker than she’d ever remembered darkness, there under the floor.

But she and Thomas told each other things, their whispers like the rustlings of beetles along the walls.

“I’ve heard the moon likes to wear velvet dresses.  So that’s all darkness is.”

“Once upon a time, some ants gathered together for a feast, and danced all through the night.  They decided to create an empire, and so they did, and ruled it well – until one day a giant anteater came and ate them all up.” 

Day came, then night, then day, then night, over and over.  Cissy could see Thomas out of the corner of her eye. One day, she realized something, and gasped.  He’d changed.  And she knew that she’d changed as well.

“Oh God,” she whispered.  There was no way tears could run down her cheeks.

Their bodies were peeling and pickling and flaking into nothing.  Their lips had curled up and disappeared, like dry, folded leaves.  Their uncovered teeth shone dully in the light that came through the cracks in the floorboards. 

Thomas’s eyes became holes with thin, brown, parched tissue inside.  Their nails grew a bit.  Their hair grew a bit.  The bugs ate their skin.

“Oh God.”

One day, she couldn’t bear it.  They were barely skin, mostly just bones.

“We’re beautiful,” he told her softly.  His hand could not move to take her hand.  “We’ve made whole universes down here in our minds. We’ve laughed and talked.  We’ll continue to dissolve together, our bones will draw closer, and one day, we will be dust mingling together eternally.

 “I love you, Cecilia, my partner in death.”

She was quiet, thinking about it all for a long time.

Thomas settled his bones even more.

But, suddenly somehow she found the power to reach up her hands. And she pried up the floorboards, and suddenly she was out in the big living room of the house where they’d been murdered years before.  Her flesh was coming back to her.  Her blood was coming back to her.  She gasped in wild joy.

And then she was running, as she always ran, and she couldn’t stop, and all the dirt and dust that had settled on her flew away like birds startled out of sleep.



This week's Fiction Weekend prompt was : A character enters an old house and finds something under the floorboards.  What does he/she find, and what happens next?  This weekend has started out to be pretty hectic; we're planning and setting up the house for our belated Halloween party tonight.  I remembered this old short story that I wrote years ago as part of a bigger project. It sort of goes with the prompt...

If you'd like to check out the other Fiction Weekend stories, or would like to participate yourself (and everyone's welcome!), feel free to check out The OS Weekend Fiction Club blog.  You can read the stories or post your own here.


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Alysa, a great murder mystery short story and Cissy wins the award for the "ultimate come back kid!"
Brava... I could not even imagine having claustophobia

Very nice. It could have even fit in with the other recent prompt (writing from a ghost's viewpoint.) Totally enjoyed it.
Yes a view from the other side. Nicely done. I guess if you are going to get murdered, it's best to be half of a double murder. At least there is company during the after life.
Simply beautiful, Alysa.
Made my heart open wide.
As always, archetypal to the human condition,
you are,
in your mad little tales
Poe would admire. This one reminded me
of the two lovers who stowawayed on ships.
This one is lovelier.

Most unexpected, she regaining her flesh
and blood
thru the power of commitment & love.
Fabulous story, I was holding my breath, good thing it was short.
rated with love
Interesting take on what's under the floorboards... : ) I'm glad the victims kept each other company, although...
....upon thinking it about some more, if I die and am still hanging around my rotting flesh for all the time it takes to rot, I will be so bummed.

Thanks to you I've started reading some fiction on here, something I've been reluctant to get into.
Kudos to the fiction club and all of you writers' creative imaginations!
And have a great time tonight! : )
wow...your mind is scary.
You had me hanging on every word. Love the ending.
Cissy found the courage to be free.

This was fantastically engaging. Wow. I really enjoyed this.
Wow... I was totally hooked from the beginning all the way through. ~R
Great story, Alysa. Love the ending.
glad a new tenant didn't roll the piano atop the boards
romeo loved juliet
A great piece! Interesting perspective as well.
I was depressed that the souls were trapped inside their decaying bodies, but I loved the twist at the end! I think it was a great use of the prompt~
What an original point of view. This grisly story read like poetry. I was moved. I've rarely read anything so bittersweet. Classic.
R and a Facebook link, so there!
I've heard of commitment phobia but coming back from the dead because a guy says he loves you? Cecilia takes the cake :-) Seriously, though, good story!
Thank you all so much for reading, and I'm glad you enjoyed this story. I don't think of it as a ghost story, because Cissy comes back to being her old, living self - I think of it more as an allegory. But as I was posting it, after not having read it for several years, man did I find the decaying body descriptions graphic, so the horror element is definitely there!

I'm sorry I can't respond to everyone individually, but I have been so incredibly busy these last few days and have so much OS reading to catch up with! Thanks again for reading and commenting - I always, always appreciate it more than I can express, even when I don't respond.