In college, I was a bit of a goth chick. Well, more than a bit. I was in it. Deep. Luckily, so was my roommate, Tara. We hit it off immediately, quickly discovering our shared love of all things dark and creepy. Music, TV shows, fashion, you name it. We called ourselves the Goth Girlies, no joke. It's a little cringy now, but we all do stupid things when we're young.
Tara was my roommate throughout most of undergrad, and we kept in touch after graduation, watching each other's lives unfold, mostly via social media. Just last summer, Tara bought a house right next to a cemetery. I was absolutely ecstatic for her. We had always talked about how cool it would be to live in a quiet suburb next to a sprawling graveyard, instead of the bustling, gray metropolises we'd both come from. I was still hopelessly stuck in mine---the downside of being a working actress is the necessary evil that is city life---but Tara had finally managed to achieve her dream. I knew she would one day.
Being the friend that she is, she was kind enough to invite me up for a visit. I wanted so badly to go, but that same summer, I was just about to embark on my first national tour, and so I had no choice but to refuse. That kept me busy all through that summer, and on into the fall and winter. That next spring, when it finally looked like the worst of the northern snows might be over, Tara extended the invitation one more time. This time, I was mercifully free to accept.
"Oh my God," I said when I first arrived. The place was even more spectacular than the pictures on Facebook had led me to believe. It was straight out of a gothic novel. "Investment banking is really working out for you, isn't it?"
She blushed and rolled her eyes. "Shut up and come here, you!" she said, as she threw her arms around me and squeezed. It was nice to hug an old friend.
Her little dog, Mocha, who up to this point had been sitting by very quietly and obediently, suddenly decided I was a bit too close to his mama, and began pawing lightly at my leg. I laughed and knelt down to give him some well-deserved scritches. These seemed to satisfy him, and he graciously left us girls to our conversation.
"So," I said, once the wine had been poured. "I'm sure you know what I'm curious about...."
"What?" Tara asked, seeming genuine in her curiosity.
"Oh, only that vast collection of corpses that's practically right in your backyard!"
I thought she'd bubble over and start telling me a million stories about her exploration of the place, but that was not what happened. Instead, her smile disappeared. She went completely silent and even looked a little worried.
"Tara," I said, "what is it? Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she said. "I'm fine." She paused. "I just think... well, maybe living next to a graveyard wasn't the best idea."
I was stunned. "Are you kidding? We used to talk about this all the time. This was one of your life goals, dude."
"I know," she said. "That's what makes this so disappointing."
"What's disappointing?" I asked. "Is the cemetery too recent? I know you like the old ones...."
"No," she said abruptly. "It's not that." She fell silent again. "I'm not sure you'd believe me if I told you."
"Try me," I implored. Part of me was excited, expecting to hear a spooky story, but somewhere deep inside, my concern was growing.
She took a deep breath and began. "I was excited to live here. You're right. I love old cemeteries, and I've always wanted to have easy access to one, but.... I don't go there anymore. I can't. It would be so convenient if I could. Now I have to drive across town to the park just to toss a ball with Mocha."
"Why?" I asked. "What happened?"
She hesitated before going on. "Everything was fine until the first really good snowfall," she said. "Back then, yeah, I would just take Mocha over to the cemetery for his walks and to run around. On this particular day, it had just snowed the night before, and so Mocha and I seemed to be the only ones in the whole place... or the only living things, I guess. I decided it wouldn't hurt to let Mocha off his leash to run around for a bit, so I did, and he took off like a shot. I could barely keep up with him. It was like he was hot on the trail of something.
"Finally, he stopped long enough for me to catch up with him. But where he stopped.... He had gone right up to a particular grave. It was a child's grave. A little girl. Emily, I think her name was. I don't remember the dates, but she died sometime in the late 1800s. She was only six or seven. Her tombstone was one of the nicer ones. One of those obelisk style tombstones with a beautiful little angel standing right on top of it with it's arms outstretched. I remember thinking it was funny that the snow had piled up just right on the angel's head, and it looked like it was wearing an elf's hat or something."
She smiled at the memory. I snorted slightly, picturing the sight for myself, and waited for her to continue.
As she slipped back into the story, her smile faded once again. "And Mocha had gone right up to this tombstone and was sniffing around at the ground right in front of it. It was then that I noticed that someone had made a snow angel, right there on top of the grave. It looked relatively small, child-sized. And it was fresh. It had obviously been made sometime after the snow stopped falling, because I should see the dead grass poking through." She looked up at me, her eyes wide and bewildered. Through my wine-induced haze, I thought I saw her tremble slightly.
"Well, that actually sounds sweet," I said, attempting both to comfort her and urge her on.
"I thought so, too, at first," she said. "But then I realized something." She paused once again. "The only footprints leading up to the grave were mine and Mocha's, and there were none leading away.” If there was any doubt before, she was definitely trembling now. “Whoever made the snow angel hadn't left any."
Written by Jdeschene