Destiny: One Story’s Evolution

My Haunted Bed & Breakfast started as a 500-word short story titled “Just Like Me.” Originally, the story started with her looking for an adventure and found a haunted house.

I decided to use it as a Toastmasters’ speech, but it was too short, I changed the beginning, radically rewrote it, expanded it to a 1,000-word speech and changed the title to “My Haunted Bed & Breakfast.”

Instead of looking for an adventure, she left because she had a lousy life. One day she decided to drive away and leave everything behind.

A couple of years later, I expanded it again this time to 5,825 words, added two more short stories, made it a 20,000-word novella and it became the first book in The Destiny Series. 

I gave the novella to a friend to read. Actually, I’d given it to several people to read, and several people had heard the speech, but Nick was the only one who said he didn’t like the beginning and I should change it.

He didn’t like that Eleanor got up one day and left her life and husband behind.

I’d written it because I knew someone who had done just that. One morning as he was driving to work, he realized just how bad his life was. He, his wife, and his job were all miserable.

He drove to the airport, walked up to a counter, and asked about the next plane out. It was going to England. He said fine and bought a ticket. (This was in the day when it was easy to board a plane.)

He returned three months later, divorced and jobless. 

Everyone was better off. His ex-wife had a new love, and his boss had hired someone who actually like the job.

My friend started over, found a new job and eventually found a new wife. Happy ending for all.

I took that idea and rewrote it for Eleanor.

Nick said it was too cold. Her story should have more heart, maybe she started over because her husband had died.

I always consider a suggestion like that and always say thank you. Sometimes I run with it, sometimes I don’t. This time I did.

New beginning: When Eleanor’s husband died, her life stopped. Life had moved on for everyone else, but not for her. (Obviously the new beginning is longer than just those two lines.)

Those who reread the novella, liked it better. I like it better.

It’s always good to listen to the advice of friends. They just might be right. ;0)

 * * *

Here is the original 500-word short story:

Just Like Me

I wanted an adventure. I didn’t have the means to travel on one of my dream vacations like Greece or the Amazon River. I decided on something reasonably local. Something with color and history.

My friends declined my invitation to come along. They were too sober and didn’t believe. I went alone.

That was part of my problem. I needed friends with more humor and adventure. Someone more like me.

It was a two and half hour trip, which I timed to purposely arrive at dusk, which is the best time to see the weird.

I found the corner, trees and stop sign. I got out of the car and search the area.

Nothing.

At the end of the street, I found the house.

It was old and creakily and scary looking. Not one window was intact. Doors creaked.

There was nothing strange on the first floor. I walked carefully up wood-rotten stairs to search the upstairs. I even searched the basement.

There was nothing scary. No ghosts anywhere.

To say I was disappointed was an understatement.

I sat in the car and almost cried. I was looking for an adventure. As I stared at the house, I realized I’d found just what I was looking for.

I bought the house and turned it into a bed and breakfast. I even spruced up the corner with the trees and stop sign.

Then I met my business partners. Just like me, they had a vision for the place.

Now when one stops for the sign, they get a genuine scare. A dead man walks the road looking for a ride.

As of yet, no one has dared pick him up.

The house creaks from unseen footsteps. Doors open and close by themselves. An apparition floats through the house and disappears when the lights come on.

All who visit say it’s great entertainment, flawless. It seems so real.

Funny thing. There are no tricks or special affects. The ghosts are real. They just needed a purpose.

Business is great.

Last year, we took a boat tour on the Amazon River. My friends were a bit naughty. They haunted the boat.

Tourists loved it. They thought it was part of the show.

Natives knew better. Thinking the Amazon River was safer they jumped overboard.

We’re leaving for Greece in two days. My friends promise to behave themselves.

I know better. They’re funny and exciting. Just like me.