The Quiet, Forgotten Places

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I am always drawn to the quiet, forgotten places of the world. I slip through the cracks and get lost in a world tinged in grey and gold. Grey for the old coarse stones, relics of another time. Gold for the intrusion of sunlight through these cracks I slip through.

The air is ice and crackling; the icy breath drawn from me tilts, an unexpected wind twisting it into a pencil smudge. Then it's gone.

Yes, this place is perfect.

Tucking my hands in my pockets, I blink and try to focus. It's really hard. My mind tends to wander, but I like coming here, studying the broken remnants of the past. No one goes to St. Ammon's, not least of all low-lives or the dickheads at school. They're all too afraid. The very ground is haunted, alive with the screams of a thousand stolen souls, shadows preying at every corner.

Or if you believe that crap. I don't. And that's why I get the cemetery to myself.

Kicking about the tombstones, I purse my lips as I pass the lopsided stones, coming up with stories for the people buried below. Sometimes I liked to imagine a hand shooting from the ground, gripping my ankle and dragging me down below, swallowed by the earth forever. I shiver. It's a morbid thought, but I get no shortage of those. And I know I said that I don't believe in any of that, but it's still fun to let dark thoughts take their hold.

The stones seem to weep and crumble from just the touch of sunlight, forgotten to all but me. Vines and moss eat away at the stones like rot. The words are mostly chipped away with time. Not that it matters. I can't read the letters. They... I would say they get fuzzy, but that's not quite right. My brain just doesn't like to put them in their place.

The cemetery is harrowed into the ground, all mossy stone, the air acrid and stale. Like veins, green permeates the ragged old stones, giving the feeling that this is some ancient Aztec temple. Stone steps lead down, grass shoots ripping through them, struggling for life. Except the grass is an odd colour. It's a dead green, damp and full of sorrow. If secrets had a colour, I think it would be this.

Mosquitoes and crickets vie for my attention, burning like a headache. A cockroach twitches with uneasy life, legs stretching out in one last defiant cry to the heavens—I was here; I deserve to be known!

Swatting away the stupid things, I descend the final few steps, careful not to slip on the loose slab on the third last row. Last time I got a nasty cut on my lip. I tried to explain to mum that it was an accident, but she threatened to call the school, ready to bring down heaven and hell to punish those responsible.

I punished the actual responsible party by giving it a good kick the next day. My foot lost that battle, and my left toe is still swollen.

Ow.

Looking at the sky, I squint. Sunlight trickles in a kaleidoscope through the trees, slowly descending as evening ripples through the sky. Mum will be worried. I should probably go.

Ignoring that thought, I stop by my favourite tombstone: one I haven't cracked yet. Usually, if I spend a good half an hour I can decipher the names: Elizabeth; Henry; Charlie... I wonder who they were. What kind of lives they led before the flood. But this tombstone always eludes me.

"R... ro..." I voice the syllables, but I feel like a helpless child. "R... Screw it!"

I remember the cockroach and aim my fury at it, hovering my foot just above, a towering shadow ready to end this small creature's life. It's a mercy killing; it's already half dead. I grit my teeth, ready to stamp down and...

I stop, lowering my foot safely away. I smile, bending down to flip the little guy over. As soon as he's on his feet, he immediately scurries away, lost in the thick waves of grass. Huh.

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