My daughter, somewhere around age 7 or 8, told me that her friend insisted they put their hands up when driving by a cemetery. If you didn’t…a ghost would follow you home. I told her that wasn’t true. No amount of putting your hands in the air would stop a ghost from following you home. Mom of the year…right?
She asked me if I believed in ghosts. I said yes. And I do believe that cemeteries are full of paranormal goodness. Though I am unsure of the odds of something following you home, I do believe it could happen.
Cemeteries are strange places, a constant reminder that life ends. Among the headstones, we face death. Among the headstones, we mourn. Among the headstones, we leave bits of ourselves…emotions, thoughts, fears.
Are all cemeteries haunted? I have no idea. But I wonder every time I pass a house sitting across the street from one or next to one. What might happen if whatever lurks in the cemetery decided to visit their neighbors? What if the people in the house next door didn’t know to put their hands up?
So I wrote a little tale. I wrote it fast…pulled it from my twisted brain a couple days ago. (Thanks Erica for reading and commenting! I wondered if it was terrible!) A fictional romp through the possibilities of living next to a cemetery. Nothing spectacular…just a story.
Who would build a house next to a cemetery?
Maybe the better question is…who would buy a house next to a cemetery?
My parents. That’s who.
I twist my long blonde hair between my fingers as I stare out the window. My nightshirt flutters in the hot breeze, the air unwelcome against my skin. The heat, I can handle. But what lurks under the innocent whisper of the wind throws icy fear over the normal thoughts of life. A hum, that has become deadly. Words, that have become insanity.
Moonlight creeps over the ground, touching every headstone and illuminating every statue erected in loving memory. Shadows cut across the well-kept lawn, spots of darkness that jump and slither.
I pace. The floor creaks under my bare feet that stick to the wood. Mom chose this room for me, said it would be perfect. My new room. The size. The afternoon light. The view…
But the view…
The small grove of apple trees and the creek that winds along beside them.
But the graves…
Something whispered my name the day we moved in to our new house, a chill wrapped around me in the heat of summer. Bright and green under the sun, except the cemetery, a gray spot. The sight made me tremble. The rows of crumbling stone markers spoke of death. A sense of danger sank into my soul. I begged to change rooms, to share with my little sister. I told Mom and Dad about the strange feelings. I told them the cemetery scared me.
Why wouldn’t they?
I cross my room again. And again. My gaze drawn to the view.
A sixteen-year-old afraid of the dark. It’s funny.
Mom patted my shoulder. I needed to get used to a new place. Just a trick of the light. Nothing to worry about.
I pause in a spot of cold moonlight, preparing myself for what could happen. Only there is no way to prepare for what will appear when midnight covers the world.
One week in this old house…
A week too long.
The nightmares attacked the first night.
My hands shake as I push my hair from my sweaty face. I thought the muttering, the strange almost-voices were leftover shards of the dream.
I stare at my bed, the sheets a crumpled mess of tossing and turning. I won’t sleep. Can’t sleep.
The first night…
The second night…
The third night…
I hid from the voices, whispers that turned to speaking that turned to yelling, and wrapped myself in the scent of new…new sheets, new paint on the walls, new life. I convinced myself it was the wind and the odd sounds of the country. My imagination.
On the fourth night, the once-whispers morphed into screams, viciously buzzing around my head. With hands pressed to my ears and a cry perched on my tongue, I ran to the window. I had to see. I had to know what was there. In the dimly lit world, human figures, as if carved from the obsidian night, stood at the far edge of the cemetery. With a gasp, the cacophony of voices stopped and the figures looked up at me with glowing green eyes.
I screamed. Mom and Dad came, slamming my door open. All I could do was point out the window. Before they could get there, before they could see, the beings melted into shadow.
I was seeing things. I was tired. Mom settled me back in bed before gazing at me with that look…the look that spoke of frustration, of annoyance, of trouble.
The fifth night, I woke drowning in waves of voices, so many that words became a weapon of sound, as if to cut me from the world, as if to shatter my mind. When I looked out the window, the figures stood in the center of the cemetery.
Green eyes locked on me.
Again, I called Mom and Dad. Again, the shadow people disappeared, leaving me with my parents’ pitying looks.
The sixth night, last night, I didn’t sleep. I didn’t climb into bed. I waited at the window. For the voices. The black forms rose from the graves, gathering and slipping and sliding through the night to hover at the crooked fence at the edge of the cemetery.
The voices melded into a chant. My name. Had they said my name?
I didn’t call for Mom or Dad. I couldn’t take the sad smiles, the exchanged glances filled with worry I witnessed during the day.
And I won’t call for them tonight. They don’t have to believe me.
Tonight, the seventh night, I stand at the window, gripping the molding as if to hold onto my sanity. I stare at the fence. The line separating me from them, the boundary I hope will keep them from entering our yard, the space of the living.
The rush of voices hit, a weapon to hurt, to break my thoughts to pieces. The shadows creep out from behind the headstones. They float towards our house. As they reach the fence, green eyes flash as they gaze up at me.
They are saying my name. And something else…
I don’t know why they’re coming. If only I could hear what they’re saying.
They pass from the cemetery into our yard.
I drop my trembling hands to my sides and take a step back. But I don’t lose sight of the group of shadows, of their green eyes. Sweat drips down my back.
They are coming.
Some night…maybe tonight, I’ll discover why.
Maybe tonight Mom and Dad will believe me.
I think we should all go buy a house next to a cemetery and see what happens!
A reminder that tonight I will live-tweet Annabelle! Get your DVD ready! Pop the corn! Get the M&Ms! Turn the lights out and press play at 9 EST! Join me at #Annabelle and add your tweets!