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The Girl In Blue
Avya always took off her shoes before she entered the graveyard. It was a quiet, sacred place, and she imagined the peace seeping into her through her feet. The grass was cool and damp with dew that morning, and a still mist had settled near the ground. When she looked up, the sky was a weary grey that seemed just right for a sacred place.
Avya walked slowly through the rows of graves, the mist forming droplets on her dark skin and tickling her nose. She reached out and brushed her fingers over the headstones as she passed them. Some were old and crumbling, while others were new and smooth like marble.
When things got rough at home, or her dad had too much to drink, Avya came here and sat among the graves. There was something so calm about this place, so mysterious. Avya was always awed by the thought that, right below her own bare feet, hundreds of lives were buried.
Other people found her love of this place disgusting. They spread rumors about her at school, and there were always whispers in church. She overheard people saying she spent so much time among the dead that she had become a ghost herself.
Avya didn’t mind the rumors or the whispers. She wished she could be a ghost. Life held so little for her, anyway.
She sat on the soft earth by the twisting trunk of a weeping willow that had lost its life long ago. The wispy branches brushed along a bruise on her jaw, then tangled themselves in her hair. Avya viewed this willow as her tree, and it had never shown to be anything otherwise. In fact, the whole graveyard seemed to be Avya’s. All her life, she never had anything of her own, but here was the graveyard, and it was hers.
There she sat in silence. But as she stared forward, a figure became visible through the mist . Avya stumbled to her feet and pulled the willow branches out of her frizzy hair. Someone else was in the graveyard.
Avya walked towards the figure cautiously, peering through the mist.
There. A flash of the brightest blue, then nothing.
Avya, stepped back, rubbing her eyes. Could she be seeing things? No, it was just the mist, playing tricks on her mind.
But she could hear footsteps coming from somewhere, and the soft rustle of fabric.
She knelt on the mossy ground in front of one grave, and her eye caught on something at the base of the headstone. It was a tiny white flower.
Avya took the flower and held it as if it might shatter. It gave off an eerie glow, but it was warm in her palm. It was so delicate that holding it was like holding air.
That wasn’t there before, she thought as she stood. The flowers were everywhere she looked, in front of each headstone and dotting the ground like snowflakes. They were beautiful, but haunting at the same time. They seemed to have appeared out of the mist itself.
A shiver ran down Avya’s spine. She whipped around. The back of her neck burned. Someone was watching her. She squinted. She could just make out the silhouette of somebody standing by the willow tree.
“Hello?” she called. “Is someone there?”
The silhouette flickered, then disappeared.
Avya stepped forward, her head spinning. She was sure she had seen someone there.
She walked over to the tree, where the figure had been standing, but there was nothing there. Not even a footprint, or a disturbance in the ground. A chilling wind blew through the branches of the willow.
“Hello,” Avya heard a whisper as the wind died down. Her head shot up and she looked around, but there was nobody there.
“Hello?” she murmured.
“I’m over here,” the whisper came from a stone arch a few feet away, and under the arch was a girl in a sky-blue dress.
“Who are you?” Avya asked, stepping forward tentatively. There was something about the girl that reminded Avya of a faded polaroid picture.
The girl didn’t answer. She just stood there with a sad smile on her face. She was silent for a moment, then she looked down at the flower in Avya’s hand.
“Do you like the flowers?” she asked, tilting her head.
Avya’s hand was shaking. “They’re really pretty...” she said quietly. The girl’s face lit up.
“Do you...want it back?” Avya held out the flower.
The girl closed her eyes. “You’re lonely, aren’t you?”
Avya flinched. “I...yes…”
“Why don’t you keep the flower, then?”
Avya met the girl’s gaze when she opened her eyes again. They were blue, a desaturated blue that was almost as white as the flower.
“Thank you…” she said. “It’s lovely.”
“No,” the girl told her. “Thank you.” She curtsied, holding the edges of her blue dress, then stepped into the mist and was gone.
Avya continued to visit the graveyard for years. She kept the flower in a jar filled with water on her dresser, and it softly glowed throughout each night. When Avya moved out of her father’s house and went to college, the flower went with her. It stayed with her for the whole of her life.
She breathed her last with the flower in her hand, and only then did it stop glowing and begin to wither.
She was buried in the same graveyard she visited as a teenager.
And her daughter swears on her life that when she came to pay respects, she saw the ghost of her mother sitting with a girl in a blue dress, under a once-dead willow now covered in white flowers.