Bibliographic Information (best version for telling):

San Souci, Robert D. Short & Shivery: Thirty Chilling Tales. Doubleday Books: New York, New York, 1987. 155-159.

Ethnic Origin:


Running Time:

About 8 minutes

Power Center(s):

Story builds tension until nearly the end, then they boys discover that the girl they've fallen for has been dead for years. Creepy.

Why Choose This Power Center?

After discussion J I realized the story isn't supposed to be terribly exciting all the way through; it's supposed to draw the listeners in and then surprise them at the end. The ordinary events of the story aren't supposed to give much more than a hint as to the twist that's coming, so the listeners get more of a jolt of surprise.


Two high-school boys, Bill and Erik, and a young girl, Lavender (renamed Lily)


 Bill and Erik are driving around lost- night falling fast and patience growing thin.

 They see a young girl on the road ahead and offer her a ride to the dance.

 The boys are falling for her as the night progresses.

 After the dance, they offer the girl a coat and a ride home.

 They go back to visit and retrieve the coat, only to be told the girl was long dead.

 They drive home miffed at the brush-off, then are spooked when they see the jacket slung over the headstone.


Two boys are driving on their way to the prom, lost as boys tend to be J They come across a young pretty girl in a flowing lavender dress along the way, and upon finding that she is heading to the dance as well, offer her a ride. They introduce themselves, and she tells the boys to call her lavender. She gives them proper directions and they all go to the dance together. She spends the entire time with the two boys, and they fall a bit in love with her. After the dance, the boys offer to drive her home. She shivers on the way to the car, whereupon Erik gallantly offers her his tux jacket. They come to a small house with a single light in the window, and let Lavender out at the end of the drive. As they drive off, Erik realizes that she still has his jacket, but he and Bill take it as an opportunity to call on her again the next day. When they go back the next day, the door is answered by a perplexed woman who doesn't know a "Lavender." Once the boys relate the events of the previous night, the woman tells them their "Lavender" was actually her daughter Lily who had been killed in a car accident on the way to a dance, and that she tries to come home every so often, so the woman leaves a light burning for her, just in case. The boys think that the girl is just giving them the brush-off and so leave in a huff. Two miles down the road as they are passing a small cemetery, Bill lets out a yell to STOP! and jumps out of the car. When Erik shuts off the car and walks toward Bill, he sees him staring at a headstone with the word "Lily" partially obscured by a neatly folded tuxedo jacket and a single lavender ribbon.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor":

Umm… none really, though I threw the purple ribbon in at the end to make it more personal.

Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?):

This story would be appropriate for many ages, but the age of the characters and the events that occur make it especially good for late high-schoolers. As Havighurst and Stover note, developing new and more mature relationships becomes important at this age. The boys in the story exhibit the mood swings mentioned by Konopka and follow their own ideas when picking up the strange girl. The boys are also on their own when the events of the story unfold, physically representing the distance from parents that many of the psychologists of adolescent development. Teenagers will also be able to relate to the anticipation of the prom, and the very eeriness of the story.

Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two)?

Leach, Maria. Rainbow Book of American Folk Tales and Legends. World Publishing: Cleveland, OH, 1958. 195-198.

Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good To Be True. W. W. Norton: New York, NY, 1999. 306-308.

The Big Book of Urban Legends. Paradox Press: New York, NY, 1994.

Ronald G. Killion and Charles T. Walker. A Treasury of Georgia. Folklore Cherokee Publishing Company, 1972.

Interesting to note: a similar story appears in the New Testament (Acts 8:26-39), in which an Ethiopian driving a chariot picks up the Apostle Philip, who baptizes him and then disappears.

Other legends, variants: (from

The Lady of White Rock Lake- Texas The Vanishing Hitchhiker- Georgia Resurrection Mary- Illinois


Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.

The version I chose was the prettiest story I found- I thought it was quite sweet compared to some of the others. In one version, Lily's (Laura's, Mamie's) parents scream at the boy and accuse him of being cruel. This one had more of a "melancholy eerie" feel rather than "spooky creepy" and had more description too. The San Souci story also started off almost normal, with no real foreshadowing of the twist it takes. The variants were genuinely creepy if not downright gross, but didn't seem to have much of a story to them. In one, the driver of a car picks up a hitchhiker (at a mall, along the street). As they drive along, the driver gets an uneasy feeling and ditches the passenger at the first opportunity. Always the passenger leaves a bag/purse behind, and upon opening it to look for identification the driver finds a bloody severed hand and some sharp cutting implement- too gross and creepy for what I wanted. The Resurrection Mary story had definite possibilities, but it was too short- a girl is picked up by a kindly passerby who drops her off at the Resurrection cemetery, but she vanishes before they get there. She is seen inside the cemetery with her hands on the iron gates, and upon closer inspection the bars of the gates have been bent and the imprint of two small hands can be seen. Creepy, but again not quite what I wanted. All the different stories I found were very short- almost sketches rather than full blown stories.