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The smell of decay hit my nose first, the stench of rotting flesh and drying blood wavered in and out of the crypts like a perfume of the dead. I could feel the coolness of the cement wash over my feet, coupling it with the crisp wind that swept through the city of the deceased, it caused a slight shiver to run through me. I could feel eyes upon my slow moving form, and the whispers of death surround me, they taunted and stared at my pink flesh and flashing eyes. They snickered, "Soon your eyes will be vacant, soon your breath will escape from unworthy lips. Just how long can you take it, before to the floor your cold blood drips?"
The crypts fashions were tall and elegant, but the antique finish they gained from years of sea salt and human "juices" was evident in their lackluster yet dignified appearance. I ran my fingers across the gritty surface of one of the corpse houses. The sharp grooves of cement captured my skin and tickled the surface of my hand. I could almost feel the coffins that took residence in this apartment of the afterlife, their wooden frames worn and smooth against my flesh. I turn back onto the winding paths of the Saint Louis Cemetery, and attempted, as always, to count off the number of turns I took as I wondered through the large museum. I stopped counting after I reached 'Silence Garrison'.
I twirled and danced as I continued my journey, the movements of my body characterizing the apprehension I felt for wondering a graveyard at night. The light of the moon shone past the bare limbs of a tall oak standing proudly next to the cemetery. My eyes searched the grounds, watching the tombs, of our dearly departed. I continued walking, still feeling a clench of trepidation in my lower gut. I could not place it, or understand why exactly I felt such unease, but I tried not to dote upon it for too long.
"Daniella!" I screamed, falling back as I kicked up hard with my right leg and falling to my side on the cold gravel ground. The small stones rubbed against my exposed arms and hands painfully as I took large gulps of breath. I felt my heart palpitate in my chest, the sound pounding in my ears and overwhelming my senses. A groan sounded off from beside me and I turned to find Denis clutching his stomach, his face contorted in agony.
"Deni!" my voice was breathy and wavered in fright. Soon my surprise turned to irritation, "What the hell were you thinking, sneaking up on me like that? In a cemetery no less!" I whispered harshly, grabbing Denis by his ear and pulling him to his feet. Yanking once more on his lobe, I pushed him from my form, attempting to clean off the dirt and debris from my faded jeans.
He rubbed his stomach and winced before speaking with slight difficulty, "Sorry sweets, I just couldn't resist. Damn, I didn't know you could punch so hard." Denis leaned on his knees and took a second to replenish the air that I taken from his lungs with a good high kick to the gut.
"Maybe next time you'll actually think before you act. And stop talking so loud, it's not polite." I nodded once for finality and looked down at Denis. He was a tall boy with long stringy limbs and platinum blond hair that even shined in the dull light that the crescent moon gave off. Once he stood you could see his slightly crooked nose that accented his somewhat square chin with small tips of stubble adorning it perfectly. Denis always seemed like he would be too awkward in his skin, but he held himself with an air of vanity that could rival that of a seventeen year old prom queen.
Denis chuckled as he stood to his full six foot frame and gazed down on me with one of the most condescending looks I have ever seen. "You don't seriously believe in all that superstitious crap, do you? Think these old ghosties will posses your young and," He circled me and ran his hands along my hips up to my chest. This action caused me to yelp and reflexively slap his hands and arms as he attempted to hold onto me, "Willing body?"
"It may mean nothing to you, Denis Charleston Hart, but to me it means a lot. So just," I paused, crossing my arms over my chest and attempting to throw my hardest glare at the young man standing in front of me, "Shut up!"
Denis' gaze softened as I turned on a heel and stalked off in an unknown direction deeper into the forest of crypts. I heard the crunching of gravel behind me and knew that in two strides Denis managed to catch up to me with little effort. He walked with a casually slow pace while I waddled along, speed walking in a covet to get away from Denis, but failing at every try. I could feel his stormy eyes staring at me perhaps in an endeavor to understand why I was nervous. "You come out here every night," his voice interrupted my thoughts as I turned my attention on the boy beside me, "But your always so apprehensive when in a place like this. Why do you come here if you feel like that?"
When he gazed towards me, I looked away, not wishing to stare back into his calculating eyes. "I dunno. I guess I feel the need to grasp the stories that they want to tell, though because of their fates they never were able to."
"They, them, everyone." I motion wildly with my hands to the surrounding tombs. "Everyone here has a story, and they've either been able to tell someone else who's been here, or they still wish that someone would listen to them."
"So that's why they're so rascally." Denis joked.
I giggled and pushed him softly. "Oh, whatever!" We both laughed, walking alongside each other through the cold and silent cemetery. Again, the stench of death was strong in my nostrils, but the large aroma of Denis' cologne mixed with the rancid smell blocked out a part of the fleshy malodor. I attempted to identify what exactly it was that he was wearing, but he was too far away and I didn't exactly wish to reach over and bury my face in his shirt to find out what his precise scent was.
The silence was calming and floated between us gently, though there was a hint of another emotion wedging itself between Denis and I that I couldn't quite identify, or maybe I did not wish to recognize. The silence was broken by a query from the tall male beside me. "How do they tell you their story?" I looked over at him with a raised brow, he shrugged. "I mean, how can they exactly tell you their story? They're only spirits, right?"
"Well, yeah. It's sort of complicated." I mumbled.
Denis flicked his jacket away from his wrist and gazed at his nonexistent watch. He looked up at me through his lashes with a smart smirk on his mouth. "I got all the time in the world, sweets."
A slow grin broke across my face as I leaned against rusted black metal bars that kept a space between visitors and the above ground graves. I relaxed and shoved my hands in my pockets while Denis edged closer in front of me. "Every person has a story, a life, that they made unique. Diverse from all the rest, and I believe that it's only in human nature to tell that story. It's a need or an urge to have people understand who you are and that what you did with your life wasn't a waste. It could be a story about anything: friendship, hardships, a story of anger or hate-"
"-or love?" I looked up at Denis with wide eyes, all the heat within my body escaping to my ears and upper face.
I nodded slowly, surprisingly finding myself unable to speak. Denis grinned and edged closer to me, bending lowly so our lips were fragments of a centimeter from touching. The chilly night air blew and caused me to shiver that fraction of a distance closer to Denis.
Venturing into obscure reaches of reality tend to happen most often when one steps into a graveyard, perhaps the souls cling to the flesh of the living and whisper their trails of life they once led. Maybe they curse you for interrupting their peace. Or they might sit along side you and reenact tales of long lives past. Personally, I think it is best to lay the questions to rest.