All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction

The Visit by Kurt Hohmann

“We were just here,” said Ned. “Why do we have to visit so often?”

“It’s been a whole year.” Emma took his arm. “Some folks do this a lot more often than that.”

The two of them shuffled slowly into the cemetery. Heavy iron gates flanked the entrance; rust deep in the joints thwarting the original purpose of keeping the residents on their respective sides of the wall. Just inside the entrance, the first mausoleum rose from amongst the swirling dried leaves, a gothic castle in miniature.

“Why do you suppose they like it here?” he asked.

She turned and smiled at him, but her eyes reflected only sadness. “This is where we always see them.”

“I’d think they’d want to meet at the old homestead.” Holiday decorations, a table full of food, and a hubbub of laughter and conversations rushed in to fill his memories. “We should take a trip there ourselves.”

“But…sure.” Emma looked down, studying the path just ahead of them. “Let’s talk about that later.”

They continued past a row of larger gravestones, some of them majestic monuments to forever commemorate entire families, others toppled and broken, forgotten names now pressed face down in the dirt. Farther back, the stones grew smaller, less ostentatious. They stopped in front of two markers mounted flush with the ground, indistinguishable from the rest.

Ned shook his head. “I don’t think this is the right spot. Isn’t it a few more rows over?”

She knelt down, fingertips brushing away the debris that covered the slabs. “This is the place.”

Still not convinced, he tried to read the carved names, but couldn’t quite focus on the letters.

She turned to her left. “They’re coming.”

He looked in the direction that held Emma’s gaze, seeing nothing but grey skies forming a background to the neat rows of distant memorials. When he turned back to Emma, she was smiling.

“Are they here?” he asked.

She nodded her assent, her face aglow.

“I wish they’d speak up.” He turned to face the same direction as her, wishing he could capture some of the same reverence she displayed. “Even if I can’t see them, once or twice I think I’ve heard them.”

“Shh,” she said. “Maybe you’ll hear better if you just hush for a minute.”

Ned strained to listen. He recalled other times when he and Emma had visited cemeteries and the sound had been constant: cars crunching gravel as they crept past, teen-agers giggling as they partied behind the crypts, birds and squirrels chattering amongst the trees. Now none of those disturbed the near-perfect stillness.

“Anything?” he asked with a shrug. He could see Emma’s lips moving, but she made no sound to disturb the silence.

She turned to him, eyes sparkling. “They say they’re sorry.”

“Sorry? Sorry for what?”

“For being so busy. For not getting here more often.”

He laughed. “What have they got to do all day to keep them so busy? Compared to you and me—”

She laid a finger across his lips.

And just for a moment, he saw something. A shimmer of color in an otherwise monochrome day, a ripple of movement against a stationary backdrop. It was gone a moment later.

“How long have they been gone now?” His voice was barely above a whisper.

Emma’s shoulders slumped, and she stared sadly at him.

I should remember, he thought. And at the very least, I shouldn’t admit that I don’t remember. Not to her. He shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs that seemed to have taken up permanent residence.

She took his hand and squeezed it. Without a word, the two of them turned back toward the entrance.

“It’s not them,” she replied as they walked, “who are gone.”

Kurt Hohmanm

Image: Pixabay.com

16 thoughts on “The Visit by Kurt Hohmann”

  1. Very cleverly done and layered. Some great descriptions throughout also: “the joints thwarting the original purpose” and “majestic monuments to forever commemorate entire families” are just two examples which stood out for me. There was also a playful nature in the tone which I enjoyed very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Paul. I’m currently working on the first draft of a novel and thinking at times that I have no ability to write descriptions of any sort. Your remarks have reminded me of what I am sometimes capable of.

      Like

  2. Hi Kurt,
    Not sure if this was a reverse ghost story??
    But that is what makes this clever!!!
    All the very best my fine friend.
    Hugh

    Like

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