October brings a dramatic change in the weather; the air chills, trees begin their shift from soft and vibrant greens to yellows, brown, red, and orange, and the sun sets earlier. As an adult I miss the nice warm days, but as a child I was more excited that Halloween was just around the corner. In keeping with the spirit of Halloween, this year I received some information about a deceased relative, news that surprised and saddened me: a true skeleton in the closet.
My mother's cousin is our family historian and genealogy expert. I am the writer of our group and often use her findings for short stories or character types. However, with her recently discovered facts, I'm not sure how, when, or where to use it. Growing up I idolized this person and admired him for his strength, skill at overcoming adversities, and for his myriad accomplishments. I still do, but realize he was only human and made some serious errors in judgement, not earth shattering ones, but mistakes all the same.
On the tenth anniversary of my mother's death, I wrote a short story about the days immediately following her passing. It was cathartic, and helped me to understand Mother, myself, and our fractured relationship. In the story, I revealed our family tree included a Salem, Massachusettes' witch who was hanged during the trials. Her inclusion was appropriate and enhanced the mood of the scene by adding punch to the subject of death. I do believe in the unusual, the supernatural, the unexplained, the things that make your skin crawl and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
So I will include some of our family's flawed characteristics and a sampling of their unexplainable actions in future short stories. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Update: I did include some of the above subjects in my novel, Between Heartbeats, which was released in August 2015