All Saints Day by Tobias Haglund

”I used to live up there, in the red house. My window was just behind the oak tree and I stared out during the night, over this graveyard. I guess you can imagine how I’d fantasized.  Wandering ghouls and vampires. Back then only this lamppost existed. Not that one or the one after. This lamppost was like a lantern, a lonely lantern in the dark, and during damp autumn nights when it was dead silent I snuck down here and stood next to it. Heard only the flickering sound of the lightbulb. The hedges were walls all around me. And when a wind flew through the branches and when someone visited the graveyard, I hid in the bushes.”

Erica pressed out a mint from the candy tube and ate it. “Time to go?”

“Why even come here?” Lizzie asked. “I knew you lived here, we come every year, but seriously… why? No one we know is buried here, right?”

“I just thought it would be nice. Nice for you to see”, answered Gertrude. “Okay, let’s go.”

Gertrude walked arm-in-arm with Erica towards the gate. “It’ll be crowded at the Solna cemetery”, Erica said. “Packed! The parking lot too. We’ll have to walk a bit.”

“Mom…” Gertrude turned back. Erica gave Lizzie a look, rolled her head around her neck and pointed at her watch, but Lizzie stood still. “Seriously now. Why, mom?”

“You’ll think I’m foolish. And stupid.”

“Too late. Tell us.”

Erica pointed towards the gate. “Perhaps in the car? On our way to the cemetery. It’s getting late…”

“No now. While we’re here. Let’s sit down. Okay, mom, you watched over this graveyard and then?”

Gertrude cleared her throat. “Sorry, it feels a bit hoarse. Can I also have a mint? Thanks. No, it wasn’t like that. Not in the way you think. I was a child and imagined things and now I don’t remember so well. I probably saw one thing, remembered another and with the help of dreams puzzled them together to a third thing.”

Erica unbuttoned her coat, brushed clean the bench and sat down. “Out with it.”

“I’m sorry, Erica. We’ll save it for another day. Next year we go to the cemetery immediately.”

Erica held her mom so she couldn’t get up from the bench. “Mom, tell us. Did something awful happen?”

“No. Not at all. Something fantastic.” She pointed to the hedges. “The bushes were taller or maybe I was shorter but through the darkness one night the man came. I held my breath and listened. The flickering from the lamppost and his steps leaving the gravel and stepping out on the grass. He sat down next to a grave and started weeping. I couldn’t, out of respect, step out of the bushes so I remained hidden. I knew nothing about him or what had happened, but when he graced the gravestone, and with his tormented, strangled voice started singing their song, I felt the same loss he did. The wind flew through the bushes and not making a sound, holding everything I felt inside, hurt me so much. I had to relieve some air, just a breath, to calm myself. After the song he stood up, nodded to the gravestone, closed his eyes towards the sky and walked home. Every Wednesday night he came and sang and I waited in the bushes and listened. Why, I don’t know. Maybe I wanted to perceive, or wanted something to miss, but I never got to know him. Not more than from the song at a distance. He started showing up in my dreams and the nights by the gravestone became blurry then. I hid as always, listened and wished that the pain would go away, like I imagined he did and then I saw how his shoulder relaxed. How the muscles in his face loosened and how his eyes fixed on the tree behind the gravestone and how out of the shadow, towards the lantern light a… no, I realize how insane I sound.”

Lizzie stroked the palm of Gertrude’s hand, rolled her wedding ring around the ring finger and leaned her head against Gertrude’s shoulder. “Mom…”

After a moment of silence Erica said: “Right. Time to go now?”

“I understand if you think everything I told you is foolish and hopelessly made-up.”

Erica stood up, looked around to see which gravestone or which tree her mother could have meant. She listened after strange sounds, but only heard the car traffic on the other side of the graveyard. No flickering of lightbulbs, no winds. She looked back at Gertrude and Lizzie on the bench and it came to her for the first time; how similar her mother’s and her sister’s eyes were. She sat down next to Gertrude and took a deep breath. “Just out of curiosity, which song was yours and daddy’s song?”

 

Tobias Haglund 

Banner Image: Solna Cemetary – By Raphael Saulus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

10 thoughts on “All Saints Day by Tobias Haglund

  1. For a while there I had thought that you may have passed to the other side. Your canon is quite large, it seemed unusual not to see additions; so, true to my nature, I assumed the worst. This story proves that you haven’t lost your touch with narrative and dialog, as well as the definite possibility that you are still breathing. I like all of that.
    L.A.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Irene! Good to hear from you. No I haven’t been dead (how often do you get to write that!?) I’ve been writing in my mother-tongue, Swedish. But I’m glad to be back. Thanks for the comment. Hope you’re well!

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    • Hello, June! You’re optimism is infectious and I’m always glad to hear from you. I like your interpretation of it and I’ll hold it as my own 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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    • Hello, James. Sorry it took me a while to answer, I never got the notice for your comment. Thank you for your comment, James. I’m not a fan of vampire stories but if I can use it to be deceptive, I will! I wanted to tie in dreams, fantasy and imagination to a longing for a lost husband. Thanks once again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to see you back Tobias.
    We know that you are busy but it just emphasises how much we miss reading your stories when, well, we read one of your stories.
    I hope that life calms down a wee bit and you can submit a few more!
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

    Liked by 1 person

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