“C’mon sweety.” My grandma told me, sticking out her wrinkly hand.
I still didn't move.“You know if this is too much we can go and trick-or-treat.” She assured me.
But no one wants to be that kid where even their grandma thinks they're a scardy cat. “I'm..coming.” I stuttered. Trying to get my body to move.
I took my grandma's hand and squeezed it with all my might. “There’s nothing to be afraid of honey.” She reassured me. Squeezing my hand back except a lot lighter.
“Remind me why we're doing this again?” I asked trying to fit all my fears into a deep dark corner of my brain where I didn't have to think about it.
“Because it's enlightening deary, don't you want to be closer to the spirits, to have them whisper their tales into your ears?” She asked.
“Uhh..” I mumbled.
“This will be a night you will always remember.”
“Isn't this illegal and disrespectful to the dead?” I asked.
“No, a graveyard is a public place, and we're not going to be sleeping on the graves, which would be very disrespectful, we shall sleep at the base of an old willow tree.”
She paused and looked towards the horizon, where the sun was slowly slinking away, disappearing beneath the old green hills.
Grammy pointed to one of the hills where there was a large willow tree, its limbs were outstretched and its leaves swayed gently in the wind.
“That my dear is where we shall sleep.” She told me.
My grandma hummed as she walked, snapping her fingers now and tapping her feet in rhythm, we were walking in the forest far away from humanity and its loving embrace.
We kept walking down an old trail, be even calling it a trail would be quite generous, just sharp rocks twisting and turning showing all who dare to walk it a way to go. My rain boots were covered in grime as my feet went one in front of another in a steady rhythm in puddles and over rocks as we continued to trek on.
The forest was dark and leafy providing protection for all those who sought it. The dark towering pine trees loomed above me and as I passed I stuck out my arm feeling the rough bark scrape my palm.
I shivered as the wind howled and the trees swayed in the wind, as if dancing to a silent song.
“Why didn't we drive?” I asked.
“The adventure is in the journey, not the destination.”
“Does that mean once we get there we can turn around and walk back?” I asked hopefully.
Grammy sighed. “In this case the adventure is in the journey and where we decide to go on that journey.”
“You're just changing the quote!” I exclaimed.
“Says who?” She asked with a twinkle in her old grey eyes.
“When are we going to get there?” I requested.
“Whenever we get there.” She responded.
“UGG I hate when adults say that.”
My grandma laughed and her voice was high and tinkley like tapping glass with a spoon. “That tree on the hill is our destination, and judging by where we are now and how far away that tree is how long do you think it will take to get there?”
“Too long.” I grumbled.
My grandma smiled. “That is to be determined.”
“My back really hurts.” I complained.
“Why?” She asked.
“Because I have my sleeping bag and my tiny mattress, and pillow on my back!” I exclaimed.
“Well why did you pack that much? All I need is my old bones, and a nice grassy spot, not any of those new shenanigans.” She replied.
“Won't you get cold?” I requested.
“I have lots of layers on.” She assured me.
We reached the graveyard after a long trek uphill through the muddy grass. “Why would they put the graveyard so far away?” I asked.
“I didn't make the construction plans, but if you want a real answer, this graveyard has been around long before you and I, and the first settlers of this town must of thought this was a good place, and years latter the town was formed and it just doesn't happen to be that close.”
“Hmm, I still think it's unnecessarily inconvenient.”
We reached an old brass gate entwined with vines, Grammy unlocked it and pushed it open with a cringe worthy SCREECH. Gravestones were everywhere slabs of stone honoring the ones who have died, there were polished marble coffins sitting on top of the grass so clean and fancy and yet filled with a decaying body. I grabbed Grammy's hand and tried not to show the fear in my eyes.
Graveyards had always spooked me out,being right next to a dead body was just so creepy, and I had watched enough horror movies to know when you're in a graveyard anything can happen, no matter how safe you think you are.
“Lelia are you coming?”Grammy asked. She stood on the other side of the gate. I nodded, unable to get my mouth to cooperate.
But then a shadow fell over my grandma, a large green figure walked slowly behind her, its eyes were cloudy and bone poked through its greenish flesh it opened its mouth showing crooked yellow teeth, its face was covered in bloody wounds and when it made eye contact with me, it smiled.
“AHHHHHHHHHHH!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I started to run down the hill but tripped on a rock and went tumbling face first down the rest of the way.
“Darling are you alright?” Grammy asked, running down the hill at a fairly fast speed for someone over the age of seventy.
I stuttered, unable to get my mouth to work. “Th.. the.. There.. Was.. a .. zombie..” I whispered. “Oh honey there was no such thing.”
“But I saw it!” I exclaimed.
She gave me her hand and pulled me up. “I think you're just imagining things darling.”
She dusted the grass off my clothes and put my backpack on, then we slowly walked back up the hill. “Are you sure there wasn't a zombie?” I asked in a hushed whisper so if there was it hopefully couldn't hear me.
“Yes I'm sure.” She opened the gate. “Do you see any zombies?” she asked. I looked around for a full minute checking to see if there were any zombies hiding behind graves and laying on the ground.
“They could be hiding.” I told her.
“I doubt that honey, they aren't real, and if they are, I'll protect you.”
I scoffed. “No offense but you're a 72 year old lady.”
She rolled up her sleeves and flexed her muscles. “You don't think these babies can save you?” She asked.
I shook my head but her muscles were pretty impressive. She rolled back down her sleeves. “Are you ready to continue, it will be getting dark soon.” She acknowledged pointing to the ember colored sky.
I walked through the gate squeezing her hand as hard as I could, I tried to be as far away from the graves which was hard since I was surrounded by them. The old willow tree neared and when we finally approached it Grammy sat down with a sigh leaning herself up against its sturdy trunk.
I quickly unpacked, taking out my thin roll up mattress laying out my pillow and setting down my sleeping bag, then when Grammy wasn't looking I took out my old weathered bunny BB.
“Isn't this night pretty?” She asked
“I'm glad I get to spend one of my last days looking at the sunset from atop of a hill with my favorite granddaughter.”
“This isn't one of your last days” I exclaimed.
“Ah I wish it wasn't, but when you get to be my age there isn't much time left, and there's so much that can kill me.”
“That's not true! You're perfectly healthy.”
“But sometimes the worst happens to the best and there's nothing we can do about it. Soon enough I will be among those around us, lying peacefully in the ground awaiting for the adventures of the afterlife.”
“But not too soon.” I mumbled, pulling blades of grass with my grubby fingers.
“I hope not, but if it does, please come visit once and awhile, sit under this willow tree and remember this moment, remember all the good times and put aside the bad. Will you do that for me?” She asked.
A lump formed in my throat so I meekly shook my head.
“Good, I'm glad to know I can count on you. Your growing up so much and i'm so proud of you but my one wish is that one day you'll be able to hear the stories that move with the wind, the endless babble of the river and the songs from a tree from generations past.”
“I don't think I'll ever be able to hear that stuff.” I told her.
“You hear it all the time you just have to understand it my darling.” She gave my shoulder a squeeze and rested her head on the grass.
“My old bones need a rest, but feel free to wake me if there are any zombies.” She gave me a smile before quickly slipping into a dreamless sleep.
The night was dark full of blues purples and blacks mixed around in the sky as if it was all one giant canvas, stars shone throughout the night giving light amongst darkness.
I thought about what my grandma had said earlier and realized it was true. I would never forget this night.