Woman in Black #WIPWednesday

Hey, everyone. A couple of weeks ago, I shared a photo of a house that served as inspiration for a short story.

I first wrote and published this piece several years ago as First Friday Fiction. The original post was all telling (and I do mean ALL). It was only around 350 words.

I’ve learned it’s easier to write long and edit down than the reverse. There were times when I wanted to scrap this story all together, but the idea still intrigued me enough that I wanted to include it in my upcoming book of short stories. Not only that, I plan for this to be a prequel to the first novel of a new series.

A New Mexico Sunset. Woman in Black, as well as my new series, takes place in a fictional town in my neighboring state.

The story is still a work in progress and now stands at a little over 2000 words. Through a series of flashbacks, Ruth Hazelton looks back over her life and ponders how she came to be known as the woman in black. After her husband’s death, she became a virtual recluse.

Then she discovers the women who lived in the house all had something in common. And it’s not a good thing. She’s reluctant to move away for fear history will repeat itself. Today, I’m sharing a couple of snippets.


Ruth Hazelwood leaned heavily on a four-pronged cane as she ambled into the living room with her morning cup of tea.

The autumn morning was chilly, so she snatched a black shawl from the wing-backed chair, then wrapped it around her shoulders before sitting down.

As she sipped her tea, she studied an unopened letter from her nephew, Tim. The envelope had arrived in yesterday’s mail, probably another of his attempts to convince her to move.

Ruth hadn’t always been a recluse. When she first moved into this house almost fifty years earlier, she knew most of her neighbors. But all that changed one fateful night in 1980.


Ruth quickly settled into her new life. Medina was a laid-back town, and she soon came to love the place. The old Victorian-style house was beautiful. Ruth bought hanging baskets for the front porch and planted flowers in beds and along the sidewalk.

Her elderly neighbor Sam became a frequent visitor. He was an amiable person as well as an interesting conversationalist.

“I like what you’ve done to this place,” he said during one of his visits. “Reminds me of when Chief Guthrie lived here. His wife liked flowers. Nancy kept everything looking nice.”

“You mentioned the chief when we first met.”

“Damn shame what happened to him. After his death, Nancy moved back east to be closer to her family.”

“How did he die?”

Sam was quick to change the subject. “It’s too lovely of a day to be discussing such matters.”


Why doesn’t Sam want to talk about the chief’s death? Will history repeat itself? I’ll post more about this, my short story collection, and the new Legends series in the weeks and months to come.

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