The words on the gravestone had long since faded away. The rain, the wind, and the dust had wiped them from the smooth granite surface with little effort. Faint indentations remained where the letters had been carved several centuries ago.
That is all that’s left of me. Just a blank stone in the middle of a graveyard full of them. There is no one left to remember me–they died a long time ago.
My mother came to visit me once, after she died, but she soon moved on, thinking I would join her.
I can’t though; not then, not now, maybe not ever. I feel myself drawn here, trapped here; left to stare at the lump of rock that marks my burial spot. I’m forced to watch people walk past me, oblivious to my presence. I used to call out to them, when they’d walk past my grave, to try to get their attention, but it never worked.
I’d already given up when it happened–he saw me. His eyes locked with mine and I was certain he was only looking through me until…
He walked over, slowly, hesitantly, and squatted down on the other side of my gravestone. He rested his chin on the rough, eroded surface and continued staring at me.
I hugged my knees closer to my chest. After two hundred and seven years of utter, suffocating silence, I had forgotten how to speak. I willed words to come out of my mouth, but didn’t know what to say. My mind was a complete and utter blank, not even a letter penetrating my shock.
Our silent staring contest went on for an indeterminable amount of time. Clouds floated by behind his head. The sun crawled through the sky, marking the advancement of the day.
There was no fear or malice in his pale blue eyes, only curiosity as he continued to stare into mine.
At some point in the encounter, his black hair fell into his right eye. He didn’t lift a hand to push it away; he didn’t move a muscle. He stayed frozen, as still as the stone his chin rested on.
It wasn’t until the sun was about to plunge into the horizon that he spoke, leaning forward and peering over the edge of the stone to look at my side of it.
“Is this your grave?” he asked in a low, gentle voice. His eyes met mine again.
Still plagued with my inability to vocalize my thoughts, the only thing I could do was nod.
It was enough.
He sat back, lifting his chin off the tombstone and straightening his back. He stared at me for several minutes again before asking, “How long have you been here?”
I shrugged, deciding to feign ignorance. To tell the truth, I did know. I’d been sitting in front of my grave for 319 years. I used to get up and walk around, during the first century or so. Used to walk around and visit the other graves. I saw flowers appear then wilt, and slowly stop appearing as the family members of the deceased filled the vacant graves beside them,
I stopped soon afterwards, partially because of the vanishing flowers and partially because I realized I couldn’t escape the wrought-iron gates and barbed wire fence. There was no longer a point in exploring so I plopped down before my gravestone and have remained there ever since.
He continued to gaze at me, silent and focused. The sun was halfway below the horizon and sinking as he asked, “What’s your name?”
I was surprised, not so much by the fact that he was still there and trying to communicate with me, but instead because I didn’t have an immediate answer to that question.
My name returned to me one letter at a time. First the ‘J’, then an ‘E.’ The six letters spelled ‘Jeremy.’ Jeremy… So that’s what it was…
I opened my mouth, tried to speak, then recalled I couldn’t and shut it again.
His eyebrows melted together in confusion. Neither of us moved for several moments, until he asked “Are you unable to speak?” to which I nodded, casting my eyes downward for a brief, awkward moment.
I looked up but didn’t meet his eyes. He had turned his back to me, and I watched with solemn eyes as his feet took him out the front gate and back into the real world. I watched with dismay as his thin figure vanished around a corner, leaving me to my solitude.