Diaries Magazine

Ch 9 - i Was Never Alone, Anyway

Posted on the 04 April 2013 by Mavie
“Oh no, please no.” I pushed back into the cool slab behind me. At the very top of the marble, an angel smiled down reassuring those that visited the grave underneath. My fingers twisted around the long blades of grass in sheer panic. “No, please no. Look here, over here.” I called fruitlessly. The cemetery caretaker drove leisurely down the wide path, his window rolled down to let the late evening air carry the smoke from his cigarette out into the open. The long white stick hung from his mouth as he expertly swung his gaze from right to left, a technique that had been perfected with many years of practice, searching for any stragglers that lingered in the fading light. I knew once he was past the main gates, he would lock them tight, and when he did, my mother would be all alone. Unseen, she lay hidden by the many headstone that blocked her from his view. The air was cooling at a remarkable rate, the night time chill well on its way in. Soon Mum would be all alone, in the dark. Among the dead.The fear propelled me forward. I crawled over and tried to shake some sense into my mother. But invisible hands failed to make contact, they simply caught air and Mum lay numb and unflinching. “Please Mum! Get up, you can’t stay here. It’s not safe for you, please get up!” My pleas went unheard. The caretaker had exited the main gate and had stopped in the short drive leaving the engine running. He unfolding his heavyset frame out of the pick-up truck and jangled an iron chain in his beefy calloused hands. The low jingle of sixties music floated out through the cab’s open door, its cheery beat out of place in the eerie stillness of the graveyard. The gates clanged shut and the padlock snapped into place locking them both in for the night. I inhaled sharply at the finality of it all. My mother was the only living thing that would be spending the night surrounded by acres of death and decay. I sat back on my heels. How I wished I had a blanket to wrap her in. I could almost see a small shiver begin to form on my mum’s poorly insulated body. She had been lying face down with her legs tucked underneath her for the last hour, as if hugging the gritty earth that covered her daughter’s fresh grave. The others had left ages ago, they had done their best to persuade Mum to leave with them. One uncle had even used force, but when Mum began wailing he had dropped her like a hot potato. The shadows faded as the light plunged. The streetlights flickered on but they were too far away to do much good. I cast a furtive look around, wishing that Zac would show but it seemed as if he had done his job and left for good. Maybe it was the much feared shadow’s turn to come and help, but so far he hadn’t bothered to show up either. What was he waiting for? Why am I still here? I thumped the ground with force.Suddenly my mother shifted. She rose, pushing herself up on her dirt ridden palms. Her face was smeared in filth and her clothes were unrecognisable. I moved back unconsciously making room for her to straighten up.“I love you baby…” A deep breath. “Rest in peace my Em. I miss you so much.” Another deep wobbly breath, “I will be with you soon.”I gasped, unsure if I had heard right. “What did you say?” But my mom kissed her open palm and placed it on the cold slab that was my headstone. “Goodnight.” She turned slowly and took a step away from me. Then another step and another before she suddenly paused. Casting one long look over her shoulder at the new grave, Mum let out a small cry and sprinted away towards the gates. I had never seen her mom run before, I had never seen that look of terror that flickered across her face.I followed in hot pursuit.  I ran hard to catch up and my breath came in low whooshing sounds. The same sound Mum was making. We both stopped when we reached the main gate, but Mum grabbed the top of the gate and heaved herself up. Painstakingly she swung a leg over the top and clambered down the other side. I tried to follow but stood frozen on the inside of the gate. I stepped forward again, but my feet hit an invisible brick wall. Raising my hands up, I tested the air an inch from the gate. There was an invisible force that I couldn’t see, I pushed but it wouldn’t budge. I walked along the wall of the cemetery, the force was all around it creating a seal that kept me in. My heart hammered, this wasn’t right. Why couldn’t I leave the graveyard? I had no problems moving around before. What was different now? The answer came quick. My body had been laid to rest. It was buried deep within the earth, I saw the dirt fall on top of it, I heard the religious prayers that were said over it. I was bound to my body until he came to collect me. But until then, I was trapped and alone.***Just outside the graveyard, Em’s aunt hurried across the road. “There you are! I was wondering if you had fallen asleep in there.” “I think I did.”“I thought I’d give you some time alone. You didn’t think I would leave you here all by yourself, did you?” The aunt linked arms with her sister.Em’s mom stayed quiet. She thought back to what she had seen in the cemetery and a cold shiver ran down her spine. “Take me home.” They drove along in silence until the car came to a stop outside Em’s former home. “What happened in there sis? You seem a little scared.”“Will you stay with me tonight?”“Of course. Where else would I be?”They walked into a house that had been empty for several hours.  Em’s mother was glad to see that it was tidy, someone had even vacuumed the carpet, and plumped the cushions on the sofa. The dinner table was set with plates, cutlery and glasses, ready for the meal that was probably in the oven. Em’s mother inhaled the delicious aroma of roast meat mingled with fresh jasmine rice, her stomach grumbled from the lack of food that had been eaten since breakfast. Even though her body was hungry, she was not. She couldn’t eat a mouthful, she was too scared. She didn’t know what she had seen back there in the graveyard, whatever it was it shouldn’t have been there.With the bathroom door left open, she stepped into the hot shower to scrub the filth from her fingernails. Her mind flashed back to the early evening. She had been so tired when she crumpled onto Em’s grave. The cool dirt soothed her heated cheeks, but seconds later she felt a chill, the same chill that comes when someone is watching you. She felt it clearly, someone was behind her but when she turned there was no one there. The feeling stayed until she had involuntarily fallen asleep. In her dreams she was with Em and her husband, they were calling to her across a river, begging to be a family again. The cold shook her shoulder and she jolted awake, despairing at the reality that was her world. Her daughter had gone, her husband had left years ago. She had no business living in this world without them. With her resolve solidifying, she knew what had to be done. She didn’t belong anymore. She would see to it. She headed home to make the necessary preparations. But when she cast a final look back, she saw it. The dark wafer-like shadow that sat on Em’s grave, only it wasn’t completely obscure. It’s face had a slight resemblance to her dead daughter.

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