(I share this in an attempt to offer some light relief in these somber times.) 

Sometimes I “attend” an online writers’ group. At the end of the last gathering, the facilitator said,  

“You have five minutes to write about a meeting with the ghost of an old friend for tea!”


My brain went numb and I wasted precious seconds thinking, “this is not my genre, I can’t think of anything, I don’t even like ghost stories”.  And then, to my surprise, the ideas flooded in. 

I remembered last year’s visit to St Elmo, a mining town that flourished in the late nineteenth century.  The discovery of silver deposits in Chalk  Creek Canyon triggered a flurry of activity. In its heyday, the town’s two thousand residents enjoyed five restaurants and celebrated their exploits in the local newspaper.  A spur of the railway line connecting St Elmo via the spectacular Alpine tunnel across the continental divide, seemed to ensure a bright future. Yet its fortunes flashed and flagged, fizzed and fizzled. In spite of new seams of silver, its prosperity dwindled and eventually, not only the branch line, but also the tunnel closed.  A few hardy souls struggled on, attracting tourists seeking respite from the “madding crowds”, but most abandoned their cabins, saloons and school house, to seek their fortunes elsewhere.  

When we visited, St Elmo was mobbed.  As a famous ghost town it attracts about fifty thousand visitors – perhaps more this year as people seek “safer” outdoor attractions. 

When the recollection of St Elmo streaked across my mind, I realized I had the setting for my scene. Together with my guest, I would also be a ghost, hovering in the rafters of the abandoned school house; we would take tea while rowdy school children broke into the building below us.  

With a few edits this is what I wrote: 

I shimmered in silver, he was wispy green. My hair was stringy, his thin and vomit yellow.  The lesser specters whisked in the tea and scones on a splattered silver platter. It lurched leerily between us. The liquid was hot and pungent, the scones mold encrusted.  We tipped the tea onto the intruders’ heads and pelted them with the scones.   

He howled, I moaned, we both screeched like a sick cat.   

The miscreants scarpered. 

We cackled, “They’ll never darken the doors of a haunted house again!” 

End Notes


When Truth is All you Have
Jim McCloskey with Philip Lerman 

The Guardians
John Grishman



Three Black Kings by Duke Ellington 

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Camille O’Sullivan


John Lewis: Good Trouble


Beirut by Yasmine Hamdan

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