The Graveyard

December 7, 2009
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The girl walked along the familiar path slowly. Her shoes filled the empty road as she trudged along. The trees that protected the path with their loving arms dipped slightly as the rain collected on the branches. She didn’t notice as the drops fell upon her.
Worn, grey headstones surrounded her. Previously, she had taken the time to memorize everything about these markers; but now as she walked past them she barely took notice. The only thing that ever changed was their state of decay, because no one cared enough to maintain them. Life does not stop long for the dead.

She finally came to an empty spot amongst the headstones. Her stone. It was created by the natural spaces between the graves and was just big enough for her to rest comfortably. She came to this spot when she felt most alone, scared, hurt, vulnerable, dead. She came here to cry and she came here to think. The graveyard has a calming effect that most will never appreciate. She felt at peace with the dead but most of all she felt safe.

Sometimes when she was in a particularly good mood, she would imagine the lives of the people around her based on their stones and names. She pretended that they were her friends. She would give them personalities and faces and soon they became her world.

The girl to the right of her was named Abigail Parker. She died at age seven. She would have been beautiful, the girl surmised; curly brown hair and snowy hazel eyes. Her parents must have loved her, she decided and been crushed when she died. The angel above her grave was carved in marble and still shone after so many years had passed. Abigail held her porcelain doll close as she sat next to the girl.

Her next friend was named Cooper. The girl couldn’t make out his last name, but she could tell that he had been thirteen when he died. His stone was inexpensive and moss had been draped across the top. The edges had begun to crumble. She imagined he would have been tough; a boy that wore a cap had grubby hands, and dark eyes with matching hair. She felt that he was lonely, and wondered if he had been an orphan? He stood reluctantly near her and Abigail, regarding them with quiet interest.

The girl took a deep breath and her lungs filled with cool air. Closing her eyes she leaned back and let the rain drops hit her face. She opened her eyes and looked to her right once more. Sitting with Abigail there was a handsome young man of eighteen. The girl turned her attention to his stone as she traced the letters of his name with her finger.

Jonathan H. Follows

His eyes were blue and his hands would have been strong and soft. She supposed he would have written poetry. Taken long solitary walks. Ridden horses. Believed in love. She was fond of imagining Jonathan and found her self sitting against his stone when she felt loneliest. She would close her eyes and wait for the wind to blow across her cheeks, she imagined they were his kisses.

She knew he would have loved her. Thought she was beautiful. She would have loved him too. She did love him. Finally she wouldn’t have to sit alone; his warm arms would hold her tight and they would live happily ever after.

But he was dead.
And by the indication of her heart thudding beneath her pale chest; she was alive.

She looked to her friends for comfort, but to her surprise they were gone and she was alone. The rain masked her hot tears as she sat in her spot and spoke aloud, “I want to be one of you! Why can’t I be dead too?”

The three appeared once more and the little girl took her hand, “You are alive because you have more to do! You are lucky to live and breathe. I will never grow and yet you still will.”

The girl was not convinced.
“You are dead and you are safe. The world can’t hurt you anymore.” She said bitterly.

Cooper looked deep into her eyes.

“The world can only hurt you if you let it,” he said. “It’s okay to feel pain because that’s how you learn, and it makes you tougher. Gives you scars. Makes you alive.”

She turned away from Cooper, now more frustrated than before.

“How can I stay strong without love? I am alone in my world.”

She felt Jonathan gently take her face in his pale, dead hands.

“You are worth so much more than you know yet,” said Jonathan. “You see the world differently than the others, this is true. But it is because of that, that your heart needs to stay alive. You have a story to tell. You will find love, but more importantly, you will give it.”

The rain stopped. The girl looked up and saw the sun peeking through the clouds. She dried her eyes and stood up. As she turned to leave, she stopped. She took the cross that she wore about her neck in one hand and dug a small hole with the other. The light made the cross sparkle as she placed it in the hole. The past was dead and she was alive.

The girl left the cemetery a different person, leaving her regret, sadness and guilt behind. She locked the gate and walked away.

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