LIFE AS A CEMETERY CARETAKER
Life as a cemetery caretaker was a lonely one. It was the life of someone with no family or friends and didn’t mind living in solitude. It left no time for a social life, but luckily, I was an introvert. I was an only child who lost my parents at an early age. I grew up in foster care but never spent much time in a foster home. I much preferred the dead to the living. Each evening when the sun set, they would rise from their graves and go about their business within the cemetery. They never bothered me; a few would peek into my window, but they never went any further. It’s a shame the living weren’t the same as the dead, keeping to themselves and leaving someone like me be. If I am being honest, which is a rarity, I would have to admit that I almost feel sorry for them… rising from their graves evening after evening, confined to the cemetery and unable to leave it. Unable to visit their living loved ones or check on them. Their lives were even sadder than my own. I watched them through my window each evening before bed; they looked so depressed, moaning as if they were in some kind of pain.
I sighed, turned away from the window, and headed off to bed. The next day would be a busy one; there was a funeral for Juniper Nielsen. She was a breath of fresh air in this dead, dreary town called Widow’s Bridge. Tragically, her life was cut short when someone broke into her apartment and murdered her. They have yet to catch the killer. I vowed I would avenge her death in one form or another. I was deeply in love with her. She was the first soul I looked forward to seeing come back from the land of the dead, even if it was only an empty shell of what she used to be. It didn’t matter to me, as long as I had her in one form or another.
A HEAVENLY ANGEL’S FUNERAL
The funeral for Juniper Nielsen was a beautiful one. I watched behind closed doors, of course, giving her family and friends a private service... a time to mourn her death and celebrate her life. Juniper laid in her virginal white coffin in a beautiful floral sundress that reflected her sunny personality; her skin was smooth and white as snow, and her shoulder-length, dark brown hair framed her gorgeous face nicely. You would think she was sleeping, and in a sense, she was.
She smelled of lilacs in a field. I watched as her mother burst into tears as she said her final goodbyes to her daughter. Juniper’s father embraced her mother tightly, escorting her back to her seat in the front row as she sobbed hysterically, crying out for their daughter. The pallbearers prepared to carry her out to the cemetery for her burial. The crowd watched in silence as they walked down the aisle with her coffin towards the door where the hearse waited to carry her to her final resting place. I made way out the back to the hearse and waited for them to slide her coffin into the back. Closing the door softly, I walked up to the driver’s side and slid in behind the wheel.
I had chosen a spot in the cemetery not far from my cottage to be her burial site… the most beautiful location in the entire cemetery. The services were beautiful; I stood by my gate and watched from a distance. Thirty minutes after the service began, the guests dispersed to either go to the reception held at her parents’ home or go about their own business. Once they had left, I made my way to where she lay in the ground, waiting to be covered with dirt.
It would not be long until sunset, when she would rise again. It was already getting darker. I had to make haste and get the job done so that she was properly buried. She needed to be completely submerged into the ground for at least an hour for the curse to work. If it was done improperly, she would not return like all the others. Sometimes, they would not return at all if buried in too short of a time period. I finally finished burying her completely; all that was left was to wait and see if she would return to me.
The sun had gone down, and night had fallen all around me. I heard the soft moans of all the other dead rising from the ground. I sniffed the night air and nearly melted in my seat as her scent drifted up my nose. I could not help but feel excited, knowing that in a matter of moments, she would open up my door, and I would be the first thing she saw. I picked up the small bouquet of flowers, which lay on my small kitchen table. I heard soft footsteps approaching the door; the knob turned slowly as the door creaked open. I saw the tip of her shoe as she pushed the door open further. She struggled as her body adjusted to death. Her head slowly appeared, and she looked at me with soft, brown eyes that were now turning opaque with decay. Those bright eyes once full of such hope and happiness were now filled with fear and confusion.
I walked over to her and took her in my arms, escorting her over to the table. I sat her down gently and said, “Welcome back, Juniper.”
She looked at me again, more confused than ever.
“You are among the undead, as you have been buried on an ancient Indian Burial Ground that brings the dead back to life.”
She looked at me like she wanted to say something but was unable to.
I continued, “Your ability to talk will soon return to you as time goes on. Your body is still adjusting to the change, but I promise you will soon be able to communicate with me and others like you.”
That night, I explained her new life to her and revealed a little secret of my own. I, too, was one of the undead. I was not only a cemetery caretaker but also a necromancer. This was the life I was destined for from the moment I met death one thousand years ago. Now that Juniper had risen again, I was no longer alone, for I had her to keep me company.