Healing through story

Month: July 2023

shortfiction24 – not again

Molly struggles to deal with the sudden appearance of her unwanted clone.

This story began as a writing prompt about a scary story. I hope you enjoy it. And on the blog site you can sign up for my new newsletter, which I will begin sending shortly.

Thanks for reading.

Not Again

Bob Gillen

Molly heard her mother’s car pull into the driveway. She closed her math book and ran to the front door. The two hours she spent between the end of school and the time her mom came  home from work were always quiet, lonely.

She met her mother at the front door.

“Hi Mom!” She gave her a hug.

“Hey sweetie.” She set down her purse and her keys. “How was fifth grade today?”

“Too much homework. A real drag.”

“Well, go finish it up and we’ll watch a movie after dinner, okay?”

“What’s for dinner?”

“Cobb salad. I got the Ranch dressing you like.”


Molly dashed back to her room. Thoughts of homework clouded her head. Why do I have to do this? It’s such a waste.

She heard the front door open and close. Huh? Mom’s already home.

A twinge of fear darkened her spirit. She heard footsteps approach her room.

A perfect clone of Molly appeared in the doorway to her room. Dressed in the same clothes. Hair in an identical ponytail.

“Hi, Molly.”

Oh no. Not again.

“It’s been a while,” Molly 2 said. “I missed you.”

“Go away. I did not miss you.”

“That’s harsh,” Molly 2 said. 

“I hate you. Why pick on me?”

“You’re such a sweet girl. I like messing you up.”

With that, Molly 2 headed for the kitchen.

“Hi, mom. Did I say, I hate Cobb salad? And especially that Ranch dressing.”

Molly 2 unscrewed the cap on the dressing bottle, sniffed the contents. “Whew. Smells like panther piss.”

Molly’s mom turned, stared at Molly 2. “That’s crude. I thought you loved this meal.”

“Hell, no,” Molly 2 said. 

Molly entered the kitchen. “Don’t listen to her, mom. She’s not me.”

Molly’s mom looked from one girl to the other. “Not again.”

Molly said, “She back. I don’t know how to get rid of her.”

“Why get rid of me?” Molly 2 said. “Double the fun.”

Molly’s mom shook her head. “Not our idea of fun.”

“Oh, and did I say, I failed my Science quiz today?”

“Not true, mom. I passed with a B+.”

Molly 2 grabbed a bite of the salad from the counter. “Actually, not bad.”

Molly’s mom said, “How do we drive her away? Last time she disappeared by herself.”

“You can’t get rid of me,” Molly 2 said. “I am a perfect clone of you, Molly, down to the hairs on your head.”

Molly 2 shook her hair out in Molly’s direction. “A perfect clone. But I’m your dark side. I reveal all the negative in your heart. Your dark side is always there. In the background, but always there. Like how much you hate homework.”

“So I have to think positive thoughts to get rid of you.”

“Not so simple.”

Molly 2 ran into Molly’s room, came back out with pages of her math homework. She crumbled the pages, tossed them in the air. 


“Who needs homework?”

“I just spent two hours on that work.” Molly picked up the pages, tried to smooth them out on the counter.

Molly 2 dumped Ranch dressing on the pages.

Molly’s mom screamed. “Get out of here!”

“Can’t do that.”

Molly slid to the floor in tears.

Molly’s mom tried to wrestle Molly 2 out of the kitchen, but she eluded her. She moved into the living room, turned on the TV at full volume. Molly put her hands over her ears, began to cry.

“See. Fun, right?”

Molly’s mom unplugged the TV. Silence, if only for a moment.

Molly 2 moved around the living room, shifting all the furniture, tossing pillows into the air.

Molly 2 put her hand on Molly’s mom’s chest. “You really should have gotten that reconstructive surgery. You look pretty flat with this padding.”

Her mom pulled back, collapsed onto the couch in tears.

Anger flashed in Molly. She pulled herself up from the kitchen floor. Ran into the living room.

“My dark side won’t win today.” She stepped up to Molly 2.

“I love you,” she said to her clone. She ran her hand through Molly 2’s hair. 

Molly 2 shook her off. 

Molly hugged Molly 2.

“Wait, what are you doing?” Molly 2 said. She tried to push away from the hug, but Molly held her tight.

“I may have a dark side, but I will only show kindness today. ”

Molly 2 shuddered, then disappeared in a wisp of swirling air.

“That did it,” Molly said. 

Her mom wiped away her tears, hugged Molly. “Good thinking.”

“How about you finish the salad while I try to re-write my homework.”

“Keep those thoughts positive.”



shortfiction24 – the girls on the beach

Neal brags to Danny about his recent three-way. Danny is unimpressed.

Enjoy the short story. Comments and Likes welcome.

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The Girls on the Beach

Bob Gillen   

“Real burger lovers don’t eat cut sandwiches.” Danny mumbled the aside as his friend Neal sliced his cheeseburger in half.

“It’s easier to eat this way,” Neal countered.

“Just sayin’.” Danny dug his fork into the over-medium eggs on his plate. Pushed hash browns into the yolks.

Three in the afternoon. Halfway between the city and the beach. The beginning of summer. The two sat in a rear booth in the almost-empty diner.

“More coffee?” The server poured without waiting for an answer.

Danny asked, “What time are we meeting the other guys?”

“They said they’d meet us around five. Jon has the keys…and the beer.”

Neal flipped the selection cards on the small jukebox player at the end of the table. “Got any change?”

Danny reached into his pocket, slid a couple of quarters across the table.

Neal made his choices. First up, The Beach Boys, “Girls on the Beach.”

Neal scanned the room.

He leaned in. “This song reminds me…did I ever tell you…”

Danny shook his head. “What?”

“Unbelievable.” Neal lowered his voice. “Last summer. I was at the shore with my parents. They rented a bungalow right on the beach. One day they drove into the city to go shopping.”

Over a forkful of potatoes Danny saw Neal grinning. “I was sitting on the beach. Alone. Bored. These two girls came down the beach. Gorgeous. The kind who would never look at me.”

Neal hesitated. “I never told anyone about this. I figured no one would believe me.”

“Uh huh.” Danny saw Neal’s grin grow wider. 

“They stopped and asked me where I was staying. I pointed to our bungalow. They walked me to the house and we had a three-way. Twice. Twice!”

Danny fingered the piece of toast in his hand “Who were they?” he managed to ask.

“No idea.” Neal chomped on his burger. “They never told me their names. I never saw them again…I sat out on the beach for days but they never came back.”

Danny reached for his coffee. “That’s cool.”

“That’s it? Cool? It was so far beyond cool. It was the best thing ever happened to me.”

Danny managed a nod.

“Is cool all you can say?” Neal asked.

The jukebox pumped out the Stones, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Danny leaned in so far his chin was over his plate. In an intense whisper he said, “Yeah, it’s cool. Cool for you. Know what’s cool for me? Nothing.” 

Danny shoved his plate aside. “Nothing like that ever happens to me.”


shortfiction24 – shot dead in the ER

Riley Rowan did not expect to die in her own ER. The spirits were ready to escort her to the afterlife. Riley had other thoughts.

I hope you enjoy the short story. Comments and Likes are always welcome. And for all you short-film makers out there, my stories are available for rights.

Shot Dead in the ER

Bob Gillen

Riley Rowan’s spirit hovered over her body. Her bloody, lifeless body. The scene in the ER was chaotic. A gunshot victim had succumbed to his injuries, despite the efforts of Riley and the rest of the trauma team. As Riley had been covering the body with a sheet, a security guard escorted an already distraught brother of the victim into the ER bay. Riley had turned to the brother, said “I’m sorry,” when the brother whipped out a handgun  from the waistband of his pants. He shot Riley three times in the chest before the security guard wrestled him to the floor, kicked away the gun and handcuffed him. 

The trauma team rushed to Riley’s side. The trauma doctor found her unresponsive, no pulse. The overhead florescent lights gleamed against the pool of blood spreading across the floor. The doctor called the time of death. 

As the trauma team stood in shock, some in tears, a spirit appeared at Riley’s side. “Hello, Riley. I’m here to escort you to the afterlife.”

“Who’re you?” Riley’s spirit asked.

“I am Jonny Angel. Your escort.”

“Jonny Angel? Seriously?”

Jonny’s spirit took a step back.

Riley ignored Jonny Angel, watched as a degree of routine settled on the ER. 

“Riley, it’s time to move on.”

“No, no. I’m not ready. They need me here.”

“Riley, you’re dead. You can’t do anything for them now.”

“Don’t spirits hang near loved ones? Talk in their ears?”

“Doesn’t happen as often as you think.”

“I gave eighteen years of my life to this ER. I train new RNs. I have to stay.”

“Riley, I repeat. You’re dead.”

“Says you. I can still help here.”

Jonny Angel swirled around Riley.

“Look,” Riley said. “This is my life. Saving people. I don’t want any part of the afterlife.”

“You don’t have a choice. You’re already on your way.”

“Nope. I’m not the kind to sit around all day listening to harp music. I need to be doing something.”

“First of all, there’s no ‘time’ in the afterlife. No one sits around all day, as you say. They simply are.”


“It’s pure joy…forever.”

Riley’s spirit shook its head sharply. She pointed down to the ER. “This is pure joy. Saving lives.”

“And you did it well. But it’s time…”

“Not yet.” Riley swirled off to the hospital’s operating room. A man lay on a gurney in pre-op, his left leg black with gangrene. She moved close to him, whispering in his ear. “It’ll be okay. No worries.” The man did not react.

She swirled off again, this time to the ICU. An elderly man lay alone in a cubicle, tethered to multiple IVs and lines. Riley hovered next to him. The man opened his eyes. Sensed Riley’s presence. He took a breath. Closed his eyes. Died. Alarms went off and staff rushed to his side. His spirit was already apart from his body. Hovering. Then gone.

“See, Mr. Angel. I can help patients with their illnesses. I can make a difference.”

“It doesn’t work that way, Riley.”

“I’m not going with you.”

“You don’t get to choose.” Jonny said, “Come with me.”

The two spirits moved to the oncology unit. Jonny lead them into a room. A twelve year old girl lay in the bed, her bald head covered with a scarf, tethered to multiple IV lines and monitors. The gir’s mother sat next to the bed, holding the girl’s hand.

“Her name is Meghan. She will pass any moment now.”

Riley saw another spirit appear next to Meghan. Jonny said to the spirit, “I got this one.” The spirit disappeared.

Monitor alarms beeped as Meghan passed. Her mom rushed away tears, got up and stroked Meghan’s cheek. An RN rushed in but it was too late. Meghan’s spirit appeared to Jonny and Riley. 

“Hi, I’m Meghan.”

“Hello, Meghan. I’m Jonny. I will assist you as you pass to the next life.”

“Who’re you?” Meghan asked Riley.

“She’s transitioning too, but somewhat reluctantly.”

“I just died down in the ER. I’m trying to convince Jonny I’m not ready to go.”

Jonny said, “Riley was an ER nurse for quite a while. She was shot by a distraught relative of a gunshot victim.”

“Oh, wow. Right here in the hospital?”

Riley nodded.

“Did you like your job?”

“I loved it. I lived for the thrill of saving lives.”

“You were lucky.”

“Yeah, I was.”

“I was twelve. I never got to reach any of my goals and dreams.”

“What was your dream?”

“To  a marine biologist.”

“That sounds exciting.”

“Who knows? I never got there. And look at my mom. She never got to see me graduate with a degree. Never got to see me work. She didn’t even see me get to grow proper boobs!”

Riley smiled. “I did okay in that regard…And yeah, I was lucky with my life.”

Jonny said, “It’s time.”

Riley said, “Can I see the ER one more time?”

Jonny shook his head. “Afraid not.”

Riley said, “Jonny, I guess you got me. Meghan, see you on the other side.”

The three spirits disappeared.


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