Marquise de Maintenon

Palace of Versailles, France © Google Maps

“It feels like we’re going in circles.”

“Nonsense, darling. It’s just the way it’s designed—part of the experience.”

“We’re supposed to feel dizzy?”

He curled an arm around her. “Don’t worry. I’ve been here before.”

She nodded, then brushed him way, distracted. “Oh my.”

He turned to look. The tall hedges met in a T-intersection behind them. He saw nothing. “What did you see?”

“She’s lovely,” she said, walking back the end of the aisle.

“We’ve already been that way, love.”

She glanced at him reprovingly. “You never told me the employees wore costumes. I’ve never seen one so elegant.”

He’d never told her because frankly, he’d never seen anyone in costume. He followed her, curious.

A lady stood, face pale as vellum, a waterfall of dark curls down her nape; the hedgerow clearly visible through her gown.

He cleared his throat. “I don’t think she works here.”

149 words.

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, or to submit your own, click here.

35 Comments

  1. Lovely K. You have such a way with words. You’re good, you’re really good.
    Have a nice WE.
    Best,
    B

    1. Thanks so much. I feel much the same about your writing!

      1. Why thank you. It means the world to me, coming from such a skillful writer.

  2. Fantastic story. I love the way you move the “camera” through this scene. Well done.

    1. Thanks. 150 words was a challenge. It started over 200. I’m relieved it still made sense!

  3. A ghost story. I love it. However in researching images for the location, I did see one depicting people in costume. I didn’t investigate, but they were either museum employees or participants in a wedding. Yes, you can get married at the Palace of Versailles, but I can’t imagine how much it would cost.

    1. Yeah, I did almost no research whatsoever but that does not surprise me. The “No costumes” rule was a quick and dirty way to nuke twenty-five extra words of dialogue.

      I’m betting a wedding there would cost a fortune!

  4. You’ve written a well-paced and haunting little story, Karen. Placing the supernatural in the midst of the mundane exchanges of the couple was a really good idea.

    1. Hehe, don’t give me too much credit. I just started following these tourists as they strolled the maze, and when the ghost showed up I was as surprised and they were!

  5. Great story- subtly spine chilling, elegant and understated.

  6. Fantastic last line. What a fun little tale you’ve woven, using your 150-words wisely.

    1. Thanks for reading, Lish 🙂

  7. Ohhh, this garden does lend itself to such sightings and stories… loved it!

    1. Thanks Jelli, thanks for reading!

  8. little zinger at the end (it was a new hire… just kidding) but I liked the feeling of being in the maze of the gardens – the photos I scanned and the one you chose seem to fit your words so well….

    1. Thanks prior. It may be a new hire–and all that maze-turning has made them too dizzy to see straight! Thanks for reading.

  9. Spooky, Karen. That waterfall of curls is such a vivid description amidst the realistic dialogue. It really homes the camera of the mind onto her. Delightful storytelling.

    1. You’re very kind. Thanks for reading Kelvin!

  10. Ooh, lovely. I wonder if the spirir is benign or is about to fly at them,spectral teeth gnashing? Love a ghost story – and a costumed guide, so I’d be happy either way. As Penny says, good dialogue too

    1. Intriguing possibilities you suggest! Thanks for reading Lynn!

      1. Always a pleasure 🙂

  11. peterkirsch

    Always dig the spooky. “Pale as vellum,” penstroke of genius there.

    1. I had just used up all my other paper and got lucky 😉 Thanks for reading!

  12. […] to Karen and Josh for hosting and riding herd on this growing […]

  13. Dear Karen,

    A haunting tale in the most literal sense. You had me there. Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

  14. Nice one! Love the last line, perfect. I wonder if they’ll stand there, curious, or exchange a glance and run off screaming? 🙂

    1. Good question. The answer might fill up a book! Thanks for reading 🙂

  15. Lavanya

    I didn’t expect that ending. With you Karen, the unexpected is always the expected!

  16. Excellently put together. Great twist.

      1. You’re welcome. 🙂

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