The Ruins



Hanson, Kelly

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This thesis is a collection of linked short stories centered around the loss and guilt of one family. Marie is the mother of Lila and the grandmother of Nicole. Marie’s mother dies when she is young, causing her to grow up fast to take care of her father. This provides Marie with the strength to take care of the rest of the family when Lila’s daughter, Melody, disappears. Lila takes her children, Melody and Justin, camping with their cousins, Nicole and Mitch. Lila shares a ghost story that Marie had told her when she was young about the “laughing spirit” in the nearby spring that takes people. Melody becomes entranced by the story and a few nights later disappears. Lila becomes depressed. She feels guilty, believing that the story she told Melody led to her death. After visiting the site of Melody’s disappearance, she starts to believe that “laughing spirit” took her daughter. This belief causes Lila to drown herself to be closer to her daughter. Marie feels responsible for her family’s pain. She made up the story that led to both her granddaughter and daughter’s death. She must figure out how to move past this to help her grandson, Justin, who turns to drugs after Lila’s suicide. Nicole, Marie’s granddaughter and Lila’s niece, struggles with her aunt’s suicide. She has always been compared to her aunt. When her husband brings up having children, Nicole is afraid of history repeating. She struggles to move past her fear and communicate with her husband.


This thesis has been embargoed for 5 years and will not be available until May 2022 at the earliest.


Ruins, Ha Ha Tonka, Lake of the Ozarks, Grief, Guilt