I was running, but it was as if my feet couldn’t keep up, and as one sluggish movement followed the panic; and as my eyes started to water with what could’ve been sweat or could’ve been tears; and as my fear sank to my stomach... that’s when it hit me, knocking the breath out of my lungs with the force of a truck: I was going to die here. Alone. And no one was going to find me. My legacy would be my screams and my dynasty, a ghost.
It had been a Saturday, but I woke up with that dreadful taste of sleep in my eyes and the feeling of sugar on my tongue. The day after Halloween. You would think the nightmares would happen on the night, wouldn’t you? Turns out, they’re worse when you’re awake, but I didn’t know that then. I made my tea, a splash of milk with the usual pathetic hint of tea leaves, and spent the early hours of the day as I had done every Saturday since I was eleven: at the graveyard.
It’s stupid of me, I know, but I talk to them sometimes. The stones. They are forgotten by most, placeholders of grief and comfort to those who would join them soon. But I always remember them, and if you ask them, I’m sure they’ll tell you they remember me. Annie Green, 1749-1766. I gave her flowers on her birthday, the big, red roses you’d see in the bad love films. Harry Jacobs, 1471-1489. Died of smallpox, much like the rest of his family. And Clarissa, 1945-1961.
Do not ask her anything, or it might the last words you say.
The leaves crunched, brittle as bones, as I strolled towards her. I am at ease here, I know my place on the cold black bench and I do not stray. But that day was… different. A haze unfocused the dark shade and the veil was put over my eyes. Maybe I was attending my own funeral. The sky was a dull, bright orange, wind whistling to me to run, the leaves whispering for me to turn around.
I very, very much wish I hadn’t.
The scream left my throat before I could stop it and my feet moved before they knew where they were going. The milk of my blood had curdled and the tea leaves had been read: there was no going back this time.
No, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, NO, I remember thinking, as I rushed through the bushes, my hair whipping my face with the sheer speed of my sprint and that face circling my brain like vultures. Eyes wide, my head twitched, searching for an exit to the hell I had found myself in. 4 red walls. 1 person. HER.
Eyes like black holes, trimmed with scarlet lace. I didn’t know what to do. And it was at that moment, paralysed by indecision and shaky adrenaline, I remembered the old saying: if you’re gonna go, GO WITH STYLE!!!! So, I turned on my AirPods, blasted some Queen and accepted my fate as a soon-to-be ghost through the process of getting my soul carefully extracted by my little friend Clarissa. I’ll be damned if I don’t exit this stage of my existence listening to some banging tunes. RIP me.
Written by Lizzy Fordham (10MW)