Visiting Doris - word count 357 (prompt: gum)

“Ring the bell three times and Doris should appear,” says Henry.

Tessa snaps the bubble she has just blown and clenches the bell in her pocket. A heavy marine fog is settling in and already the foghorns are moaning. The green lawn is turning black as the last traces of daylight fade from the sky. A half moon crawls over the horizon, lighting the way.

Henry  moves toward the rocky shore, where the waves batter the kelp-laced granite.

Tessa runs to catch up. “Has anyone actually seen her?”

“Lots of people! She wears a white dress and floats above the ground. Sometimes she runs across the road, a silvery blur. Other times she only manifests as a coloured orb. I wonder how she’ll show herself tonight?”

“Oh.” Tessa chews a little harder.

“Dooooooooris! Where are you?” Henry calls in a high-pitched voice. “Ring the bell, Tess.”

Tessa folds another chunk of Double Bubble into her mouth and works it for a minute. The damp fog curls around her legs, reminding her that ballet flats were a bad choice for this dewy field. With wet, cold feet, she wants this night to be over. She pulls the bell from her pocket and rings it three times.

Immediately the smell of lavender encircles her, strong and overpowering. The sound of someone—a woman—gasping and calling for help fills Tessa’s ears. She is frozen to the spot by an icy chill. Then, nothing. Darkness.

“Are you okay?” A man leans over her. He is backlit by watery moonlight. Beside him a small dog sits and watches them.

“I’m fine I think.”

“I was out walking Lady and I saw you come in here. Then you just stopped dead in your tracks and collapsed. You were choking on your gum and I dislodged it. I hope I didn’t hurt you.”

“I’m a little whoozy.” Tessa forces herself up on one elbow. “Where’s Henry?”

“Who’s Henry?”

“He’s my guide for the ghost tour. I paid him $15.”

“Lady I’ve been watching you for the past ten minutes. You came alone. Is there someone I can call for you?”

Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Cara Mjuer uploaded by Cesar Tort