First stop, the cemetery on the hill. It is quite large and overpopulated, and I am so amazed that even though we come and visit only once a year, my mother and grandmother always remember the way. As our car comes to a stop, and they both pile out and migrate towards the rear, I slowly adjust my dress and crawl out the back door.
It is a cool day but by no means too cool for the article of clothing I am wearing. I do my part by carrying a flat of marigolds over to Martha’s site. After dropping off, I head for a stroll. I love to explore the stones and dates. Overflowing with curiosity, I begin to imagine and deduce what kind of life these people led and why they passed on. As I make my way up and down the rows of the old and new, I always end at the old maple tree towards the back end of the cemetery. Grandma is always within view but never in vocal range, which is definitely a good thing.
“Hi Max. So what have you been up to lately? It’s our yearly visit. Whoohoo!” I whisper secretly to the stone I now stand in front of and graciously begin to kneel as if he was a member of the family. Max Harper. Born 1934, Died 1953. That’s it. Not beloved son, not an American flag, not a single flower, all alone, here by a tree. A few yards over towards the road there is another neighbor. Zachory Riff, born 1903, died 1957. At least he was in his fifties, I scuff to myself.
I often wonder the cause for Max’s early death. Nineteen isn’t that old. My grandmother once told me that he is all alone at the outskirts because he must not have had any family back in his day, that or he was a criminal.
Somehow, this is one story my grandmother could not be more wrong about. I’m certain.
“Note to self, research the story”. I stand and turn towards the sound of the humming vehicle approaching just a few rows away when I feel a tug on my leg. In fact, it is more of an almighty jerk which awakens my senses and begins to bring chills up and down my spine.
One moment I am in lala land and now with a bone chilling paralysis, I am completely frozen with fear, unable to even move forward. I try to get a grip on reality and pull my left leg in place but can’t budge. I am even too afraid to look down but have to, knowing I can’t stay like this forever.
All that my eyes allow me to see is purple air, like someone just spun around in a circle and dusted the air with one of those huge purple pixie stixs. My vertigo wants to kick in and I feel like I’m not alone, as if someone is watching me.
My heart begins to beat out of rhythm from all the adrenaline that is rushing thru my veins. I’m unable to think clearly. My head begins to throb as a piercing pain penetrates my lower calf. All of a sudden a rush of coolness blankets my body while the wind picks up and begins to loosen strands of hair from my ponytail holders. Memories of time ago begin banging softly at the back door of my mind but these are memories that don’t belong to me, so I refuse to let them in.
Again I try to regain control of my body and try to focus my willpower into moving my leg but to no avail. I can persistently feel an even stronger force holding me in place. I can almost make out a creepy feeling of fingers walking themselves up the back of my leg and resting in place behind my knee as I continue to struggle.
I hear a honk, instantaneously, my leg releases from this invisible force that I’m unable to explain.
“What the freak?” I gasp in pure fright, but I waste no time, I sprint to the car without a second glance back even after I reach for the door. “Looks like the clock stroke midnight my dear” Grandma chuckles, “or did you see a ghost?”
I don’t even register an acknowledgement to her remark. I search my leg for any signs from its previous restraint, but I see nothing. I cautiously try to compose myself as best as I can and gain control of my sanity, well at least what is left of it.