NO NEED FOR GHOSTS • by Sarah Wilson

There are no ghosts in Plainsland cemetery. The stones speak enough for themselves.

After midnight, when the gates are closed and the caretaker sleeps, the grave markers are the first to awake. They sag against their grass prisons and whisper of the tired living, who caress their granite faces and tell secrets to the sleepers that molder beneath their feet. Some talk of the stink of cut flowers, while others grumble about the itch of moss that creeps across the headstones of the neglected dead.

Next come the mausoleums, who sigh open their doors with the creak of disuse. In their breath is the smell of dried leaves and rotting lace, and their stories are as old as the cemetery itself; full of elaborate funeral processions and the bright memories of carefully tended stained glass, tinged now with sorrow for their forgotten tenants.

The statues are last, unclasping stiff hands and wiping away their stone tears with a quiet grind. They move aside their marble veils and speak of the little hands of children, who caress their sides in innocent curiosity, too young to understand the loss their makers embodied within them. Some even laugh, telling of the youths that come out in the evening to touch and whisper and kiss beneath their unblinking gazes, thumbing their noses at death with a display of defiant life.

The statues always have the best stories.

This strange talk, if it is heard at all, is perceived by the living as the barest whispering, easily mistaken for the wind as it twines amongst tree branches. When the dawn brings the caretaker to unlock the gates, even that slight noise is gone. The mausoleums are closed tight, the statues stiff in mourning, and the gravestones are once again straight and solemn in their vigil. The living will come in ones and twos throughout the quiet day, crying and laughing and whispering their loneliness to the uncaring dead.

No, there are no ghosts in Plainsland cemetery, but the stones will take in everything, so that they might have new stories to tell the next night.

Sarah Wilson lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where she writes in her free time and attempts to dodge the moose.

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