Noah always criticized the way people living in the huge houses surrounding the cemetery used Silent Hill as their own private backyard. According to him, it was distasteful how these other people used the many winding roads that formed a maze inside the cemetery’s property, to walk their dogs or as their own personal running track, or as a way for mothers pushing their babies’ strollers to desperately shed off those extra pounds they had put on while pregnant.
“Why would a woman want to lose weight while running around a bunch of dead people?”
Noah had complained one time, when they’d come to visit Olivia’s grandmother, the woman who had left her the house she currently lived in. The only response Olivia had come up with at the time had been.
“Noah, I don’t think they mind the lively company.”
Making a silent promise to come to visit her grammy before the holidays caught up with her, Olivia parked her car at one of the clearings designated as temporary parking space, after having driven through the open black iron gates of the cemetery’s entrance. As she was getting down, the cold wind outside picked up strength, the heavy clouds above erasing any trace of the sun that had woken her up today. Olivia zipped up her jacket crossed the small paved road and began walking among the pale white tombstones, stopping long enough to read a few of the marked names and years.
The last of autumn had made every tree around shed away the last of their leaves, making the wind pass more easily through the bare and gray branches. Its sound a loud and eerie like echo, pointing out that not only was she the only living being around, but also the only living fool who would venture on an outdoor walk in such bad weather conditions.
Like an invisible hand tugging at her arm, Olivia felt the pull urging her to walk east until she reached a small slope that, if such things could be said of a place such as this, had an excellent view of the rest of the cemetery below and of the hills far beyond. A few yards ahead, on the downslope, she saw the familiar sight of Emilia’s hunched body at the very bottom.
With her feet barely audible as they walked on the thick green natural carpeting of the ground, Olivia made her way down, unnoticed. She felt the tears of sympathy for her friend well up in her eyes, as Emilia looked even more frail and ghost-like than she’d done since she’d known her. She was seated on a tombstone next to hers with her eyes focused faraway and her long brown hair billowing around her face. If her body shivered, Olivia was positive it wasn’t because the woman wearing nothing but a black knit sweater, black leggings and ballet flats could feel the harsh cold. The quiet sobs that were audible from where she was now standing told Olivia that she hadn’t been the only one doing some serious crying throughout the night.
Before she had a chance to make her presence known, Emilia’s head swiveled around, her eyes locking with Olivia’s. At first, they widened in surprise and then they watered up again as they saw Olivia come close.
For a few minutes neither woman spoke a word. It was Emilia who broke the silence when she looked up to the sky and said.
“I didn’t think you’d figure out where I was.”
“I am a teacher, I’m supposed to be smart.”
“That and that I assume you read the paper on your table. Don’t have to be smart to read Emilia Barton was going to be buried at Silent Hill Saturday at five.”
Emilia couldn’t hold back the sudden wave of resentment washing over her. Mentally slapping herself for taking out her own frustration from yesterday’s events with the only person she could talk to, she offered.
“Sorry, kind of having a bad day here.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Olivia shrugged her shoulders.
Silently apologizing to Mr. Norris, beloved husband, father and grandfather, for sitting down on the patch of grass right above him, Olivia crossed her legs and motioned for Emilia to come sit down next to her.
Reluctantly, the ghost sat down, not before closing her eyes as part of her realized that the person she was sitting on was herself. Like she’d done since arriving here yesterday afternoon, she let her gaze read once more the engraved inscription on her own white stone:
Emilia Barton, 1981-2009. Beloved daughter, and friend.
“You could’ve said something.”
“What for? Like you would’ve preferred coming down here to missing Tracy’s wedding.”
“I could’ve worked something out.”
Because her ass was starting to freeze off from sitting down on the chilled ground, Olivia got up and began rubbing her hands together while she tried very hard not to lose her patience with Emilia. Today was certainly not a good day to get into a fight with a ghost. She had enough problems of her own as it was. Although now they seemed insignificant compared to having to had witnessed your own funeral.
“As incredible as this sounds, even to me, you’re now my friend. I’m always there when my friends need me.”
This confession had more tears gathering in Emilia’s gray blue eyes. She blinked them away.
“And you really would’ve come with me?” Emilia asked, her voice almost breaking.
They stared at each other silently for a moment. Emilia knew Olivia would’ve done just that.
“Thanks. I thought the worst day of my life was when Gilmore Girls ended, but I guess I was wrong.”
“At least we now have that in common.”
The only way Olivia was going to make Emilia forget all about the funeral was by telling her about Michael. Already, she knew she was going to regret it.
“Why? Don’t tell me you couldn’t have fun without moi at the wedding?”
“That’s the problem. I ended having the time of my life……with Michael.”
That had Emilia pulling out of her misery state. It was then that she noticed the poorly concealed black baggies under Olivia’s eyes, as well as the tension coming out from her, too palpable she was surprised she’d missed it before.
“Michael? Is he a friend of Tracy’s?”
“Not exactly. He is now. He sort of appeared outside my house claiming he was going to be my date for the night.”
“And you said yes?”
“Not at first………but, he said it would be just as friends, so…”
“You said yes and then he surprised you by taking you to the coatroom for a quick round of closet sex?”
“What’s up with you people and taking Michael to the coatroom. He is a big man, he’d certainly wouldn’t fit into such a tiny space.”
“Well, he wouldn’t have to be completely standing up to…”
With a wave of her hands, Olivia made Emilia stop before she finished her sentence.
“That’s not the point. Anyway, I really think we should get back home.”
“Okay, you can’t possibly mention Michael and having the time of your life in the same sentence and then decide not to tell me about it.”
“I am going to tell you all about it. But I think I just lost one of my toes. You might have forgotten already but the sound of teeth chattering means it’s freezing out here. And because of you, I left a perfectly hot and much needed cup of coffee abandoned on my living room table.”
Despite her last comment, Olivia’s unexpected arrival made her feel less burdened by having seen Sam and her parents again, so Emilia rolled her eyes up to the sky and muttered.
“Excuse me for dying.”
“Never mind. Let’s just go.”
With a final glance to her engraved name, Emilia followed Olivia back to her car. Already anticipating the million I told you so’s, she was sure she’d say to her once she told her what the hell had happened with Michael.