Chapter 6

Written by: Anna Zhigareva

I found myself driving for the last time around the city’s streets. For a Sunday evening it was strangely quiet, but then again, there was a big gig playing just on the outskirts. Some new rock band with a suddenly huge following.

 

I stared at the windscreen, admiring for a lingering moment the city I had grown so close to, a city it was time to leave to protect my own life. Ralph would take care of things. He told me he’d organised for Tom to come downtown tomorrow. Tom… always one for intrigue.

 

Quiet Acres rested not 300 kilometers from my old town. Passing through, I fought the urge to stop at the old place, the house I’d shared with Emily for the short few months of our marriage before she had disappeared. I clutched the steering wheel. No, she was dead. The house no longer belonged to me. A light flickered in the kitchen window, probably some happy couple about to turn in for the night.

 

***

 

The two graves lay side by side, detailing the name, birth and death, and a small message on each tombstone. Emily’s read: “My beloved wife, who I will never forget.” The other one was even shorter, a simple: “Rest in peace”.

 

Rest in peace indeed, for she had fought so bravely, tried so hard to make things right for me. For what?

 

“Sorry, kiddo.” I crouched down, putting my right hand on “Angel’s” tombstone. “I missed your funeral. I was kind of busy.” An unnatural laugh escaped my parched lips. I felt choked.

 

The night air breezed past unnoticed as I sat by the two graves in silence. It was only at the crack of dawn that I knew it was time to leave. I wasn’t moving on, but it was time to bid farewell for another few years. How many this time, it was anyone’s guess.

 

Yet, as I rose to my feet, dusting off my dark jeans and hoodie, something pulled me back to look at the graves. The ground, uneven and damp, seemed oddly ruffled in the weak morning light. I blinked. No, true. Something was amiss.

 

I looked around, but the bleak cemetery offered nothing but acres of more graves and tombstones. I was alone as could be.

 

Feeling the soft ground, I suddenly found my fingers urging themselves further into the deep soil, extracting piles upon piles of loose land that seemed to have been displaced recently. Sure enough, ten minutes later, face red from the physical exertion and fingers muddy from the brown soil, I watched with disbelieving eyes as the last folds of soil were pushed away to reveal an open coffin.

 

Empty. It was empty. Emily’s grave was empty.

 

With more light, I was able to distinguish the difference I had not seen before under the moonlight. Both Emily and “Angel’s” graves had been, what appeared as, ransacked. I had no other words for it as anger and fear boiled simultaneously in my blood.

Comments

This is an outstanding chapter with a twist that takes the story almost into another genre. Great play with style and genre.