Here I am, walking through the cemetery. Or is it a graveyard? Does the terminology matter? Here I am, walking through the home of the dead. Six feet below me are the corpses. Six feet below me are the skeletons. Six feet below me are stories, no longer able to be told by them. They are forever locked in their empty skulls, the breath of these tales captured in the empty, withering lungs. Any number of these stories could be told in a different manner by any of the living, but would they be as good as if they were told by the dead? What details are to remain forever hidden in these empty corpses? What tales are locked in the mausoleums?
The autumn wind rustles the leaves and blows them away from a grave marker, knocked over after standing proudly for so long. The stone labels the location of one individual by the name of Parker. Parker’s name, however, is undecipherable on the grave; scratched out by someone. An unknown person, perhaps. Perhaps someone whom Parker had wronged.
Jump with me into the history books. Many years ago where a young boy sat alone in his room. The sound of his parents fighting radiated through the house and pounded in his head. The young boy reached under his pillow and slid out a small, flat object. The razor-sharp edge gleamed in the dim light of the lamp on his nightstand. He knew he shouldn’t. He remembered what happened last time. He remembered the hospital. He remembered the fight that ensued between his parents when he was discharged. He remembered watching his mother cleaning the blood from the carpet. He remembered the pungent odor of bleach.
The blade bit into his wrist and he watched as the blood flooded from the open wound and enveloped his wrist. It met on the bottom side and dripped onto the corner of his bed. His head was swimming. His wrist was pounding, but the feeling was being sucked away, as if someone had inserted a syringe into his flesh and pulled the plunger.
His eyes rolled into the back of his head, his vision faded. He fell back and felt his head land on his soft pillow. He barely felt the throbbing of his wrist. Instead he felt the pounding of his head, and the pain in his heart as his parents continued to fight.
He heard footsteps on the stairs. The screaming grew louder, despite his consciousness slipping away.
The blankets beneath his arm were wet. If he could open his eyes; if he could see, then he would stare wide-eyed at the crimson soaked blankets. The comforter his grandmother gave him for Christmas now ruined and stained with the painful memories.
His bedroom door swung open and a shriek pierced his ears. He heard the deep roar of his father’s voice as he screamed at his mother, blaming her for the boy’s suicidal tendencies, and for not keeping a closer eye on him.
It didn’t matter. He’s was almost gone. He heard his mother on the telephone, talking to the emergency dispatcher. She was calling an ambulance. They wouldn’t make it in time. No one could make it in time. It was too late for him.
Back to the cemetery. To the graveyard. Someone is approaching. I turn around and see a woman bundled in a black leather jacket and a white scarf. She is walking toward me; toward the fallen gravestone.
I step aside and let her pass. Nothing would stop her from getting to the grave marker.
The woman stops and I see a single tear drip down her cheek. She knows what happened. She knows why the gravestone is defaced. She knows the real reason why it’s been tipped over. But she won’t tell. It’s too painful for her. It’s a story that will be locked inside her when she is buried.
I reach up to brush the tear from her cheek. But, just like every time, my hand passes through her. I take a step back and observe her. Something is different this time. She is tense.
The woman reaches into her purse and pulls out a small black revolver. She slides a hand across the barrel and presses it to her temple.
I stare, eyes wide. I lunge at her, but just like my hand I pass through and fall to the ground. I scramble to my feet and whirl around. It’s too late. The crack of the gunshot echoes off the cloudy sky, and a spray of blood and brains cover the grave marker, pooling in the etched marks of the stone. The body falls to the ground with a thud, and everything is silent.
I fall to my knees, unable to contain my grief. Tears stream down my face and I erupt in choking coughs and gasps. But then something happens. Something I didn’t expect. I return to my feet and stare at the corpse. A translucent figure resembling the woman stands. She smiles at me and extends a hand.
“Come on, Parker,” she says.
I smile and grasp her ghostly hand. Our fingers lace. “It’s good to see you again, Mom.”