A 440 word story written for October 2019's No Dialogue contest.
| The Cemetery, Seen.
It's always a quiet place, this cemetery. Those that visit, and they are rare, are subdued as they make their way along the paths. There have been no graves dug here for many a year so the grievers, the mourners, those paying their respects, know just where they are heading.
This is a place of contrasts. A lot of the graves are marked with no more than a wooden cross, or a slab of stone. The engravings are hard to make out after the ravages of time and weather.
Scattered among the frugal graves are the memorials for those that were rich and powerful in life. They might not have been able to take their status with them but their survivors have spared no thought to that. Stone angels, weeping angels, praying angels all pay homage to the importance of the remains buried beneath them.
The cemetery is kept neat. The grass is mowed regularly; flowers that have wilted and died themselves are discretely removed so as not to put on display the decay that lack of life brings. Come mid October the grass stops growing; the leaves shed from the trees blow in the breeze to gather in heaps on top of those both rich and poor.
Wet or dry, there is a greyness to the place, as though the sun has decided that it would be disrespectful for it to break the gloom and shine down. The wind whistles and whips, or whispers gently until today when it is entirely absent.
A stillness born of expectation hangs over the cemetery. The longest night hangs heavy and no living being will set foot here tonight. The dead though, watch and wait if you dare.
Not much more than a stirring at first. An increase in haze and a decrease in temperature marks the beginning of their arrival. Mist twists and twines, thickening into an ephemeral fog that contorts and coalesces until they stand there, fragile but formed, those figures from the past.
No quickstep or foxtrot, but a sedate waltz as the dead rise up to dance on the shortest of days. Pauper will whirl with lady; landlord will twirl with maid. It took them a lifetime and more to accept that all are the same, just flesh and bone. The crows watch from the leafless trees, ready to swoop and scare any who may threaten to trespass, for no mortal must witness this spectral celebration.
By dawn the cemetery will be once again deserted. The wind will whisper and the leaves will fly; the dead will lay in danceless slumber and the living will again arrive to mourn.