They talked to her because no one else could hear.
|Suki first heard the voice when she was twelve years old. She had always liked, for some morbid reason, to do her homework and drawing in the graveyard- it was easier to clear her head, quieter than her home. That day, it wasn't entirely silent. Wind flowed between the decaying headstones, long-forgotten names half-obscured with patches of lichen, stone angel with fading smiles and chipped wings.
She mistook it for the wind, at first.
It was still afternoon, but it was a cool fall day with a dim sky. She shivered in the breeze, regretting the tissue-thin material of her shirt.
"I've been waiting three hundred years," It said with a hoarse, faint whisper, full of what she thought might be longing. She looked around, startled. Dead leaves skittered across the ground behind her. The wind brought her the scent of rotting lilies from bouquets placed on headstones and left to decay. Cold, sharp fingers of dread raked the back of her neck.
"Three hundred years..." it echoed, flat and dead.
"Who are you?" she asked, trying and failing to keep a slight tremor from her voice. She turned again, straining her eyes to stare at the shadows of the graves. Her back was to a tall headstone now, a stone cross with writing too faded to read.
"There is so much death here," said the voice in its strange, empty tones. "Even the things that live are dead with sorrow and the fear of endings. No one living comes but to be reminded of the closure, and the things they leave wither and rot..."
She turned again, unable to see what was speaking. she fought the urge to run, edging away from the gravestone.
"We call," it said, "but sorrow and selfishness blind and deafen and we can't be heard..."
"Who are you?" Suki demanded again, fear making her snap.
"My name..." the voice faded away uncertainly. "My name was..."
"You're dead," she said with calm certainty.
"Everything here is dead," it replied. It was a definitive, flat sort of voice. An ending.
She didn't mean to come back to the graveyard, but she wandered there almost without her realizing where she was going. She brought things sometimes, a handful of forget-me-nots, a music box, shiny stones- they were a child's offerings to imagined creatures, but she couldn't think of what the dead would use. It made her sad that they all withered, or faded, or broke in the end. She tried to read them their names, sometimes, and she scraped back the lichen. Sometimes they were too faded to be recognizable.
They told her what the world was like before, and asked how it was now, and if any of their heirs were still alive. She didn't know, most of the time, but she could always came back.
They didn't always make sense, said things she didn't understand, sometimes just called, again and again, until she said that she was there, she could hear.
She had nightmares about it, sometimes.
They talked about death in school once, in health class, and she had said that it was rotting flowers.
She never talked about it again, after that. The world of the dead belonged to silence.