link back to main page
free stuff to read banner
a suzanne palmer page
go back

How long a story can you write in a single sentence? Too long is certainly the answer, but I got over 500 words in this "gem" from 2012. For how this came about, see here.

The Ghost and the Machine

by Suzanne Palmer
(all rights reserved)

So, if you don't mind hanging out while I get another pot of coffee started, I'll tell you my story but it's long and probably not very interesting and it all starts with when I first met this girl named Nell, who showed up at my house one sunny, Saturday afternoon when I was just a kid and rang the doorbell bold as you please and introduced herself and asked for the lady of the house and my mom thought that was the sweetest thing ever and invited her in while my brothers and I were just sitting down to lunch and she just plunked herself down right next to me on the end of the bench and while I was distracted doing math doodles on my napkin she picked up half my sandwich off the plate and started eating it as if it was hers all along and I stared at her while my brothers snickered and Jasper kicked me under the table; she said she had just moved into the house next door and heard it was haunted and had come by to see if we knew anything about what might have brought that about, and you could see she liked the idea of living in a haunted house immensely, but my mom told her right off that we'd only moved in a few months back ourselves and didn't really know anything about the neighborhood yet and she was in fact the first of our ("delightful", was how Ma put it) neighbors to have introduced themselves at all, but she would sure keep an ear out and let her know if we found out anything, and that in the meantime she was welcome to come play with us, especially me because I never slowed down and had way too much energy all the time, as long as she got permission from her own mom, and Nell got up and took a big gulping sip right out of my glass of milk before she thanked my mom and said she might and ran right back out of the door, and of course my leg smarted where Jasper had kicked me so I got up and ran after her thinking maybe I'd get the rest of my sandwich back and save some face and she saw and laughed at me, so I chased her, and she ran across the street to this old cottage half-hidden behind overgrown sumac and brambles and, as she reached it, she turned and stuffed the last of the sandwich in her mouth in one great big wad, thumbed her nose at me, and then just walked through the front door as if it weren't even there, or was made of air instead of a great big solid piece of wood -- which I know because I went up and tried the handle and banged on it and even tried to break it in with my shoulder because I could hear her laughing at me from somewhere inside, and it wouldn't budge at all -- so I sat cross-legged in the weeds on her lawn and stared at the house and thought about ghosts and that's when I had the very first idea for my invention, that very one you see right there-- oh, coffee's done, would you like a cup?