The pallid light from the abundant stars twinkling in the midnight sky illuminated my forlorn existence. I returned to gazing at my tombstone.
His absence left me feeling lonelier than ever.
I wondered what had caused him to leave. Was it my inability to speak? Did my unresponsiveness come off as hostility? Or was it the simple fact that I am an intangible, translucent remnant of a human being that sent him running for the hills?
The night crept by slowly. The moon beamed down at me with silent pity. Its light provided no warmth to my eternally gelid body.
I listened to the crickets sing themselves to sleep with their repetitive, nostalgic tune. The loss of their sweet melodies plunged the entire graveyard into a heavy silence that came with the residents’ eternal slumber.
As the first rays of the sun peeked at me from a distance, birds attempted to peck away the loneliness that encased my dead heart with their high, cheerful songs. I watched a couple fly above me, staying beneath the few white clouds.
The cemetery was not opened until mid-morning. By noon, only one person had walked through the iron gates– an old man with a half-bald head and a limp. He walked with an ebony cane that made a hollow sound every time it hit the ground. His clothes hung loosely, flapping wildly in the gentle wind.
I watched him stumble across the graveyard to one of the newer graves. He sat down and I felt a pang of loneliness and a deep, hollow sorrow in the pit of my nonexistent stomach.
I yearned for some company–any company. Several generations of my family had lived and died– so many that nobody remembers the kid that drowned at seventeen. I never had a chance to create a family, and my sister’s only child never married. By the time Lucas was older and Sarah had rejoined our parents, he had forgotten the stories of the uncle he had never met.
Yesterday my loneliness was eased, for a brief time, by the stranger’s appearance, but now it was back and heavier than ever.
I spent the next hour or so watching the old man talk to the grave and wishing someone would talk to me in the same loving manner. I wished I still had a family.
An images flashed through my mind.
My father sits in front of me, beside my mother. A candle illuminates the table before me, casting golden light onto the food. I keep glancing down at a plate, then back up at my father, who was speaking. I can’t hear what he was saying. I can barely make out his facial features, though I know he’s on the verge of tears.
We were about to lose the farm. It was my last dinner with my family.
A movement catches my attention. The image dissipates into the darkness of an extinguished candle.
My gaze followed the old man as he left. His shadow limped worse than he did, yet the two of them still made the long journey to and from the new grave with a smile perpetually plastered to his face.
The next hour passed with no visitors. The caretaker walked around at the beginning of the hour. The burly middle-aged man stopped near my grave, but he didn’t see me–didn’t even glance in my direction. He was more interested in the toppled grave a few rows to my right.
A couple teenagers–all boys around the age of nineteen–had climbed the gate two weeks ago. The caretaker had long since gone home and the knew it. They had the run of the place and they’d loved that.
They’d wandered around for several minutes, ducking behind the large tombstones to dodge headlights. They came near my grave a few times; one of them even kicked it, but the stone wasn’t loose enough.
Another one, probably the youngest of the group, walked right through me and, for a moment, I half-wished he would notice my presence. No such luck– he went straight over his friends without pausing for a single nanosecond.
My eyes were glued to their shadowed backs as they repeatedly battered the grave with their feet. The large misshapen stone toppled over, making a soft thump as it landed in the dirt.
I felt sorry for the person buried there. To have your resting place desecrated by a bunch of hooligans is a shame.
I sat there, powerless, as they walked away. They disappeared into the darkness at the end of the street, receiving no reprimandation for the crime they had committed.
Even now as the caretaker, perpetually oblivious to my presence, gazes at the fallen stone, I have no way of communicating my knowledge of the crime.
He disappears minutes later, mumbling something about standing the stone back up later.
The rest of that hour and the next were silent with only the hum of traffic to break the monotony of the wind’s song.
It wasn’t until the sun was approaching the horizon that he appeared, jogging up to the cemetery gates. Sweat dripped down his face and soaked through his clothes, making them cling to his skinny frame as he walked towards my grave, removing a pack from his back when he was a foot away.
Instead of stopped behind the gravestone, like he had yesterday, I watched with surprise as he walked around it, dropping his pack at my feet as he plopped down beside me. He swung his legs up and let his back hit the ground with a soft thump. HIs bony arms quickly followed, one of them passing through my legs. I didn’t feel a thing. “Sorry.” he sighed between pants. His chest heaved as he panted beside me.