There were stories, of course: ghoulish, horrible tales passed down for generations. Everyone in town had heard them, and everyone knew they weren’t true. He’d heard the stories all his life and ignored them for the tripe they were. He had better things to do than sit and watch birds and bugs in a cemetery. He was a man of the age. But then the dreams had come and wouldn’t leave.
Funny thing, dreams. When they come in sleep, we’re certain they’re passing fancies. When they’re part of waking thought, some view them the same as sleep’s imaginings and others view them as possible future fact. He pondered that, for a minute. Did it matter when they came, whether waking or sleeping? Bah! Of course it did! Mind tricks is all they were!
So he’d begun to visit this place because of the dreams – the dreams that wouldn’t leave – looking for the thing that would set his mind to rest. And because, if he was honest, he was curious. First, he’d paused as he walked past. A week later, he’d taken a few steps in, then walked away. A few days after that, he’d quickly walked through the grounds; the next day, slowly. Then he’d begun to stop by every day. He’d found the bench and breathed in nature’s sweet air. It was peaceful, actually.
He rested his hands on the concrete and pushed himself farther back onto the pocked bench. A whisper of a breeze touched his hair. He scratched his ear and let his gaze
wander over the stones that peppered the green grass and weeds. Gnarled trees, older than anyone living, dotted the place. A rocky stream meandered silently along the edge of a steep drop not three yards away, with only a stray burble here or there.
This was the first day since he’d begun coming here, though, that he’d stayed long enough for twilight to descend and cloak the small acreage in the gray that follows periwinkle. The dreams had told him to, hadn’t they? He shook his head. Funny the influence that fiction mixed with the subconscious had on a person.
Still, his eyes searched the ground and he saw what he must have missed the other times he’d come here. It lay just as it had in his dreams. Finally. In his dreams he hadn’t been able to make out the scrawl. At last he could. At last the silly visions would leave him and he would sleep undisturbed once again.
A stray breeze, strong for the evening’s quiet, rustled his shirt sleeve and he shivered. The stream trickled more loudly now. The weather must be changing. He looked up at the leaves, still in the evening air.
He leaned down, picked it up, and unfolded the yellowed page.
to be continued . . .
Image: old-stone-bench-1183074_960_720 pixabay CC0 Public Domain