(written some time ago, almost cringeworthy to reread but there’s a good idea hiding in here somewhere.)
I met the girl at the market near the church, the one off Rosemund Street.
The moment I saw her I knew she was special: black hair blanketing shoulders and cascading dark caresses over a slender spine, mascara-rimmed Cleopatra eyes magnifying her magnetism. When our stares reflected, cherub-chiselled lips split into a shy smile. Her washed out black dress shimmied in the breeze, too thin in the November air.
I often gazed at the girls around the market, the ones about my age, longing to talk, to fracture my monotonous loneliness. Complications would arise however, if we became friends, revealing revelations shattering the glass-thin sheen of new acquaintance.
This girl though I couldn’t turn away from. I gazed down at my shoes and blushed. When I looked up, she was there: finger-tipping close, skin a pale-white contrast to that bleak outfit , heart-capturing eyes burrowing, reading my mind, perceiving a pandemonium of confusion.
‘Hello,’ she said.
I wanted to turn and run. But her eyes impaled me on Love’s unrelinquishing barb.
‘Hi?’ she said. ‘Not seen you here before. You new to the town?’
I unearthed my voice.
‘No, been here quite a while. You?’
I stuffed my hands into my jacket for fear of appearing the fool with twitching fingers. For an eternity-lasting ten minutes we created conversation, my monosyllabic replies to numerous questions seeming to dishearten her not at all.
We wandered around the tables, her pointing at objects she liked, I nodding mutely. Only fingers jangled in my pockets, no coin to purchase with, and cursing the absurdity of my situation, I made nods and smiles my currency of devotion.
The sun lowered in the sky, the stall holders packed away, we agreed to meet the following day, although I said I wasn’t sure I could make it.
The market being for one day only, we named places we both might know.
She suggested the graveyard nearby. I sighed acceptance.
She suggested the large headstone in the middle. I said I knew it well, it had the name ‘Moore’ engraved on one side.
She said we should walk past now just to be sure. And we did. We stood by the pillar of stone, a cold monument to a once warm human. She smiled and my heart smiled back.
‘Bye, then’, she whispered, ‘See you tomorrow.’
I watched her dwindle and disappear into the distance, swallowed up on the horizon by trees lining the footpath. Turning back past the headstone, I walked along to the neighbouring grave, onto the grey-gravelled rectangle, laid down, and faded back into my eternal rest.
I was late. I wasn’t going to show at all, trepidation threatening victory over yearning.
She was there before me, drifting dreamily among dismantled bouquets for the deceased.
I looked down, embarrassed by my tardiness. Her hands, encased in lace mittens, ephemerally traced nearby engraved epitaphs. A black scarf lay snaked around her shoulders, barrier to the decaying air of grey, autumnal days.
‘So, you came?’
‘Sorry I wasn’t here. I was distracted, by decisions.’
‘Shall we walk together?’
We strolled back to where the bustling market existed yesterday. Now it was quiet; infrequent individuals entering the diminishing row of dimly-lit shops, with listless lights whispering in dirt-smudged windows, desperate to dispel the inveigling gloom.
Meandering like congruent rivers round narrow streets, we talked, or she did, while I muttered plain replies, overcome by her beatified beauty, and her earthly friendliness. Once more my lack of discourse seemingly troubled her nought and as I glimpsed her eyes, her lips, her face, her soul, my heart craved to speak apposite phrases of affection.
By happenstance we found ourselves returned to the graveyard, and the monument.
She faced me.
‘Maybe we can do this again. Soon?’
‘Yes. That would be…nice.’
‘So, maybe tomorrow. The same time, the same place?’
The girl turned and wandered away towards the tall tremulous trees at the far extreme of the graveyard. I watched her slight shape disappearing, my aching heart wishing to wander beside hers.
We met again. And a multitude of agains. Each walk longer, each conversation an embryonic dialogue. I became settled in her company, comfortable in her presence. And each time, as I sank back into my resting place, I wished death did not have to be so lonely.
One frosty morning the girl did not appear.
I was distraught. I searched around the graveyard, retraced my steps countless times, yet no sign was there of the black dressed vision.
As dusk descended I trudged towards my grave. A figure moved out from behind Moore’s headstone. My heart leapt alive.
‘Sorry,’ she said. ‘I had a choice to make.’
‘I’ve made it now. Would you like to come and visit my home?’
Her reappearance had created me lightheaded and giddy. Yet now, should I go with her? Uncomfortable situations would arise; her parents inquisitive, my answers inadequate.
‘Yes, of course,’ I said.
So we walked along the path, towards the trees where I heartbreakingly lost her each day. On we went, nearly to the gates at the end of the cemetery where my world must surely come tumbling down.
I found I was walking by myself. I stopped and turned. The girl was stood motionless, looking at me.
‘I know about you,’ she said.
I didn’t know what to say. What could I say?
‘Eternity is a lonely place, don’t you think?’ she said.
She raised her right hand and offered it to me.
Our hands held, the girl stepped back onto a grave, gazing at my questioning eyes.
‘Be with me.’
Her legs faded into the earth.
And we lay back, growing fainter, smiling together.
Together for eternity.