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The graveyard was perfectly still.

Save for a few ordinary sparrows searching the hard ground for the last berry, nothing stirred. Even the shadows seemed to hold their breath, waiting for The Visitor. The Visitor never arrived too early or too late. The Visitor always came impeccably on time, grasping a single yellow flower in one hand and wool hat respectfully in the other. The graveyard liked The Visitor. She was different that the others, the tear-stained men and women with their hankies and bouquets of artificial flowers. Yes, The Visitor was very different. She never once cried, and honestly, she never gave any inclination of grief whatsoever. The strangest thing about her was the fact that she visited not one grave, but all of them. In meticulous order, she would circulate through the graveyard, moving slowly but steadily through the headstones, dropping a flower at a different grave each day. If anyone had really looked—they never did—they would have seen the yellow smudges against each cold gravestone, and seen that the flowers nearest the entrance were brown and brittle, while the ones nearest the fence were fresh, newly placed there.

The Visitor was brief; occasionally she’d stop and perch on a headstone, swinging her legs. There were days when she brought a violin with her and scraped her bow fervently over the strings, shattering the stillness with her music. The graveyard liked her melodies, especially the slow ones, the ones full of blue-eyed soul and knowledge of life on both sides of the tracks. The Visitor had an odd habit of sharply cutting herself off, and plunging the graveyard into silence. She was untamed and raw, and left echoes of her unfinished refrains drifting into thin air.

If nothing else, The Visitor held an unspoken promise always to return to the graveyard, eyes open with possibility, hope and reckless passion, despite the graves surrounding her. She was the force who swept fallen pine needles from the tops of headstones, who retrieved windblown flower garlands and returned them to their proper place, who gently compressed the loose dirt clumped on a recently dug grave. She treated the graveyard with reverence and respect, and it gave her peace and acceptance in return. On days when it rained, The Visitor would arrive, punctual as ever, lacking a raincoat or umbrella. She wouldn’t run as an ordinary person would, given the weather, but moved slowly and with purpose. She would be drenched within minutes, but keep her single yellow flower tucked snuggly in her sleeve until the last possible moment. And she would pluck it out and leave it on that day’s gravestone, ignoring the storm entirely.

With time, the graveyard became beautiful—luminescent blooms dotting it like miniature suns. Its real charm was the sweet irony that, despite being so different in life, the people buried there were unified at last.

Each acknowledged by a small yellow flower in a graveyard.



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SongSparrow said...
Oct. 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm:
I was just going through the recently posted fiction and read your Twelve Hints, after which I read this. I really like your writing style. Often, the short stories here are choppy, despite having wonderful writing or plot or what-have-you, but this story flowed really well. Stories like this and authors like you (which sounds kinda creepy, but please don't take it that way) are why I am still browsing through Teen Ink. :) So thank you for making my day a little better. I will be re... (more »)
 
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Mamadoo said...
Oct. 14, 2012 at 1:48 am:
Beautiful, soulful, intriguing!
 
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