I shrugged my bag over my shoulder as I made my way down the driveway. I checked my phone, 11:00pm. I let out a frustrated sigh as I hurried down dimly lit sidewalk. I wanted to leave thirty minutes ago, but mom was once again trying to convince me to go to her coworkers party. She didn’t understand that I don’t feel comfortable being in crowded places like that, around people like that. She doesn’t understand that I want to be out here, that I need to be. I know she was disappointed I didn’t go and even a little nervous. Any caring mother would be, but I’ve never had any issues before. Everyone’s inside preparing for the countdown, I very rarely pass by anyone at this time. I took a quick glance down at my bag, trying to make sure I brought everything I needed. Battery powered tea lights, pocket sized journal, bottle of white wine, and two plastic wine glasses and a small lunch box filled with bread and crackers. I thought about the first time I made my way out here, I had brought way more things than I needed, I was super anxious and ready to turn around the second I left the house. It’s crazy to think after five years I still get nervous. 

As I approached the metal gates, a feeling of peace pooled into my chest and flowed down to my fingertips. I pushed the gates aside and walked inside, feeling the ground beneath my feet go from concrete to gravel. The wind whipped around me as I made my way down the path, the tombstones littered all around me seemed to go on for miles. There was an old church near the entrance of the gate. It had a plaque on the front that said when it was built, but I’ve never gotten close enough to the church to read it. It seemed to be ready to fall apart at any moment, old boards bent as if holding years of secrets was finally showing its physical toll. It suddenly hit me that I hadn’t felt the wind since I entered the grounds. It was still cold, but not as cold as it was before and there was an eerie stillness. The kind of stillness that was followed by an eruption of sudden action. I let out a small scream as a firework burst overhead, once again wrenching me out of my thoughts. 

After a few minutes of walking I stopped at a fork in the path and pulled out a folded piece of paper from my bag. Closing my eyes, I took a deep inhale and as I exhaled I ran my finger over the drawn layout of the graveyard. I imagined myself walking through the rows of tombstones, looking left and right waiting for that familiar pull. Before I could finish my exhale my finger came to a sudden stop. Opening my eyes, I quickly memorized where I needed to go and set off on my way.  I had been doing this for 5 years now, coming out here on New Years Eve, meeting with a new person every year and spending this holiday with them. It always made me feel less ashamed of my gift, made me feel less alone. I kept my eyes lowered, hoping not to make any eye contact, I wasn’t quite ready for anyone to notice me. Once they realize someone else can see them, they want to talk. I didn’t have time to play Ghost Whisperer and, as much as I want to help, that isn’t the reason I came out here tonight.

 I finally found the tombstone and I stood for a while staring at the name. Julia Anne Cohen born October 4th 1938, Died June 6th 1968. There was nothing else written, normally there is mention of what a great mother or daughter the person was, or even a small bible verse. Something I could work with to help bring them out, But on Julias grave, there was only the day she was born and the day she died. As if those were the only important things to show for her life. I tried to reach out, see what feelings were attached to this grave, but I felt nothing. It wasn’t too weird, it normally takes a few minutes for a spirit to warm up enough to let you feel their energies.

I slid my bag off my shoulder and immediately started setting up. I laid out the tea lights and turned them on, opened the wine and filled the glasses, and then set out the bread and crackers from the lunch box in my bag. I plopped myself down next to the grave, being mindful of my surroundings. There weren’t many people out, if you could call them people. Most of them were just roaming around, some were staring at the fireworks coming from the neighborhood across the street, and some were sitting with family reminiscing on old memories. Still no sign of Julia, I checked my phone again for the time, 11:45. We had 15 minutes. 

“You know, we’re coming up on 2020. The end of another decade.” I said quietly. 

“There’s been so many changes since 1968. Socially, politically, fashion, technological advances. I wonder what you would have thought about them.”

I waited for a response, but I was greeted with more silence.

“I wonder what type of social media would have been your favorite. What trends you would have liked, if you would have been a Marvel fan. Maybe you would have been a pinterest mom..” I trailed off. I looked at the tombstones on either side of Julia's, and noticed neither of them shared her last name. 

“You weren’t buried with your family, I wonder why that is. Did you have a family? Are they buried somewhere else?”

Again I was met with no answer. I shook my head and looked towards the sky. The fireworks were coming further and further apart in preparation for the big moment. I knew we were getting close so I opted to ignore the impulse to check my phone. Spirits weren’t the biggest fans of the lights cell phones give off, and I didn’t want to ruin any progress I had started with Julia. If I had made any at all. I took a quick glance around, still no sign of her either. This wouldn’t be the first time a spirit has refused to talk to me. Sometimes the spirit will have already left the grave to see their loved ones, or they just don’t have an interest in speaking to a Live One. 

I took a sip of the wine and nibbled on a cracker. I started to lose myself in my thoughts again when I felt the other wine glass move. I kept my eyes forward, pretending not to notice. I hummed quietly to myself as I tried to distract myself by watching a couple a few rows away. They were helping each other sit on top of their gravestones, trying to find the perfect position to watch the fireworks. The couple looked to be very young, maybe early 20's, and there was no visible markings to show how they died. Some spirits liked to keep that private and hide it, others are pretty upfront. But these two seemed to only be focused on each other and the sleeping dog at their feet. I don’t often see pets stay with their humans after death, no one really knows where they go or what they do. I’ve heard rumors they help give peace to other spirits who died but I’ve never actually seen it happen. The dog must have felt me watching, he lifted his head up and his eyes met mine. I felt contentment and absolute inner peace as his large droopy eyes met mine. 

I forced my eyes away from the dog and slowly turned, as to not startle Julia but the second our eyes met the feeling of contentment was replaced an immense feeling of unsettling paranoia, but also gratitude filled me. It felt as if I had known Julia my entire life, I felt every emotion shes ever had, every dream she’s ever created, every pet peeve. I could tell by the look on Julia's face she felt it too. We continued to sit in silence as the sky erupted into a shower of colored stars, leaving streaks down the sky as they fell back down. I wanted so desperately to ask what happened to her. Why she was so suspicious of everyone, what caused her to be buried away from any family, even just what her childhood was like. The fireworks continued one after another they took turns showing off their own exploding galaxies as if they were attempting to out do the stars themselves. I teared up as the last firework died out into the night, knowing this was the one and only time Julia had pleasant company during a holiday. I turned to offer some sort of kind words but I was met with only an empty wine glass in her place.   

December 29, 2019 21:23

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