Prose Fiction by Bekah Ferguson
(Coming of Age, Historical)
I’d been wanting to write another ghost story for some time and when an idea finally took form, I suddenly realized it’d be ten times better in a pioneer setting. So I spent a good hour or more researching Canadian pioneer history and living for every scene written.
For this short story, I wanted to write a “Black Mirror” style sci-fi based on a news article I’d read about a real doll on the market that was recalled for collecting private intel on the children who interacted with it. The idea quickly morphed into a creepy allegory about smartphone addiction.
Years ago I watched a movie called, “The Others” starring Nicole Kidman: a mother and her small children are being haunted by ghosts in a large old house. But there’s a twist at the end. We discover that it’s the mother and her children who are the ghosts, and the so-called ghosts are actually a living family being haunted by THEM. So with that movie in mind, I was inspired to write this short story, with a different twist of my own. (By the way, the name Garrin is German for “guardian.”)
With this short story, I wanted to tell a Beauty & the Beast kind of tale but didn’t want the meaning to be obvious. One of my favorite quotes/mantras is by Emily Dickinson (“Tell all the truth but tell it slant … The truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind”), so I cloaked my characters in the past, in the Viking age and Norse mythology, with a Christ-type hero.
For more than a decade I researched the plight of LGBTQ Christians in the church; perusing countless testimonies, the efficacy stats of several decades’ worth of reparative therapy, and the Biblical texts known as “clobber passages.” One verse kept coming to mind again and again: “Can a leopard change his spots?” (Jeremiah 13:23a)
While visiting the zoo one year, I noticed that if the sun hits a panther just right, you can see the faint outline of hidden spots beneath its black coat. So, I did some research on panthers, leopards, and jaguars and made a fascinating discovery: panthers are melanistic leopards and jaguars. Therefore, a panther can give birth to both black and spotted cubs. With this information, the idea for a fable quickly took shape . . .
For SHORTER short stories (flash fiction), check out my other Short Story Collection 🙂