The Curious Case of Elizabeth Seams - Part One | fiction
A new, six-part serialized short story by Shari Lopatin
I will be publishing a new part to this fictional story every Saturday throughout August and into September. Subscribe to my newsletter now and don’t miss what happens next!
The Curious Case of Elizabeth Seams | part one
By Shari Lopatin, ©Shari Lopatin 2022. All Rights Reserved.
They said she summoned spirits from beyond—the bad kind—but when I met Elizabeth Seams, I saw only a shy, introspective, twelve-year-old girl.
She wore pigtails, and played with Barbies, and talked about Ariana Grande. She looked young for her age. I noticed that immediately about her. However, the moment she spoke, she quoted Edgar Allan Poe without hesitation and later told me her favorite book was The Giver by Lois Lowry.
My editor had heard of the girl who talks to trees while searching the social media stratosphere for peculiar and eccentric stories. It was a tweet from a man with fifty-two followers who claimed to be a government watchdog that caught my editor’s eye.
“Why would any adult publicly shame a twelve-year-old girl as demonic?” he asked during our weekly editorial meeting at the magazine.
“Where is it?” one of my colleagues asked.
“Oak Creek Canyon.”
Momentary pause. “They’re all quacks out there.”
We lived in the heart of L.A., a bunch of city kids raised in city streets among city values who wrote for city readers. Naturally, rural folks in a rural town nestled in a rural state were a bunch of redneck bigots. Regardless, I found my editor’s question intriguing.
“Maybe a modern-day Salem Witch Trial?” I asked. “Only this time, the kids are the targets.”
“I bet a bunch of QAnon nuts took over,” another colleague said, but my editor hushed him.
“I was thinking the same thing, Vi,” he told me, using the shortened version of my full name, Violet. My editor always supported my ideas. “There’s not much federal presence in that area. Maybe we can send you to investigate further.”
Two days later, I was on a plane to Phoenix. After landing, I rented a car and drove the two hours north, along the I-17 through winding mountains, across mesas, and into the world-famous red rocks of Sedona. I recalled reading about the psychics and mystics who convened out there because of energy vortexes among rock formations, ponderosa pines, and rushing creeks. I opened my windows as I entered the 89A into the canyon, twisting deeper into sycamores, cottonwoods, and Arizona cypress, and breathed in the energizing air—so clean and fresh that I filled my lungs without coughing.
My magazine had booked a small room at a quaint motel nuzzled nearby the creek, across the road from a Dairy Queen and Native American flee market. After parking, I noticed a sign that read, “Brake for Snakes.” I never liked snakes.
I struggled to sleep that night, never realizing how the absence of sound could awaken frenetic thoughts in my mind—my mother’s jewelry, my father’s footsteps, my teacher’s cackling, my cat’s fur. I wondered how people slept in such absolute silence, but then, I supposed that’s why I chose city life.
I went into town the next day and began asking about the girl who talks to trees.
“You mean Elizabeth Seams,” one shop owner said.
“The spirits, they speak to her,” said someone else.
They told me she lived alone with her father in the woods, that her mother died when she was barely two. They whispered how she was odd, and I should go back, and “there’s no story here, so why even try?” I asked if people believed Elizabeth Seams spoke to demons.
“Hard to say,” one lady told me. “But the devil is real.”
I couldn’t make sense of why people believed Elizabeth Seams could talk to trees. I assumed they meant metaphorically, or religiously, or creatively. I wondered if the girl had a wild imagination, or suffered from mental illness, or if her father created rumors to isolate them. I wondered how her mother died.
In another day, I would come to understand much more, and my perspective on everything that encompasses life would change forever.
I will publish Part Two next week on Saturday! Don’t miss it, and subscribe to my newsletter now:
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“The Curious Case of Elizabeth Seams” is a fictional six-part series. Now is the best time to share this story with your friends and encourage them to subscribe so you can read along together!