Loads of Time
I ducked beneath the bough of pines I’d hidden myself away in. I stood silently as the rain slipped from the needles and ran down my face and hair, soaking through my clothes.
I could see it from here.
Sometimes, when I was feeling particularly brave, I’d go a little closer. Edging my way through the tall trees and brush, until I could just see it. I knew exactly which one it was. And every time, I’d tell myself, this would be the day; this would be the day I’d gather my courage and stand right before it.
The white marble was already graying, the bleached stone mottled with dirt and sap, the smooth edges slightly weathered from the harsh winds and rain.
Why was there a cross?
There was no Christian god in his religion. Did he even have a religion? His beliefs had been intertwined with the legends and the history, not based on a book written by any man. So why did he have a cross? That puzzled me every time I came here. It was a bone to appreciatively gnaw on so the bigger ghosts and memories didn’t haunt me.
Sometimes this place could be peaceful, enchanting even. On the rare day when the sun was shining and the birds were singing, the quiet would lull over me, and I’d remember the good times. But that never lasted long; the good times were quick and fleeting, and before I knew it, I’d come back to where I was.
Where he was.
Then the rains would start, the birds would nestle silently into their nests, and the darkness would settle in, making this a place of secrets. Secrets I’d never, in all my eternity here, ever find the key to.
I looked up and read the stones closest to me.
The mother who went before her time.
The grandfather who out-lived all three of his children and died at 97. No one left to come visit him anymore. All those years on earth and no one to remember.
My eyes jumped to the rows ahead, to his again. No one but me to visit him anymore, either. That wasn’t right. He was a warrior, a protector, a hero.
His smile saved my life, once upon a time.
He deserved so much more.
I pushed myself to my feet, with every intention of moving forward, closer. But I couldn’t; they were frozen in place. I sighed, deciding to just stay here and wait.
I forced in a lungful of air, even though I didn’t need it anymore. The moist scent of the rain was familiar and clean, and I took a step forward. I placed a hand on the grandfather’s stone for support, to keep my mind, as well as my balance, steady, and then I took another step.
I closed my eyes and breathed slowly. It wasn’t even odd to me that I had to think about it. In. Out. In. Out. I couldn’t tell anymore if the spaces between the breaths were too long or too short.
Did you know you’re sort of beautiful?
You hit your head pretty hard, didn’t you?
I gasped as I roused myself from my thoughts. I had to keep my guard up here, or he’d sneak up on me from behind. Sometimes it felt like a taunt or a slap in the face. And other times, it was like slipping into an old familiar down jacket; keeping me warm and reminding me what it was like to feel safe when the world around us was going crazy.
Before I could analyze it or talk myself out of it, I took two more steps forward. This was the most progress I’d made in years. In the beginning, I couldn’t even come beyond the front gates, with the innocent-looking stone pathway leading back here to…
Don’t get mad at me for hanging around, okay? Because I’m not giving up. I’ve got loads of time.
Loads of time.
Loads of time.
I heard a cry ring out and echo through the stones and statues, and a bird screeched and flew from the trees behind me. I stumbled forward, blindly, before I caught myself and stopped abruptly. I quickly turned and looked behind me, half expecting to see him, laughing, and nudging me onward.
But there was nothing.
How had it all gone so wrong?
I should have been at her gravesite. But she’d been here so briefly, I’d scarcely had time to bond with her; I hardly knew her. I felt like a horrible monster, admitting that his life had affected me more than hers. That I’d let her go a long time ago.
There were no legal records confirming her, so we’d buried her in a plot behind the property. A secret grave that I wasn’t afraid to visit. That didn’t torture my soul like this one did. After all, I’d done everything I could to keep her alive. I’d risked my own life – I’d given my own life for hers.
Who would have guessed that the miracle of her conception and her rapid growth would continue at a rate that would kill her within five years' time? We thought she would reach full adulthood within five to seven years. But something went wrong. She reached approximately 20 human years old by three, and instead of stopping, like some Benjamin Button nightmare, she kept going at warp speed. By five and half, she was like a withered old woman. Her heart gave out before she’d reached the age of six.
He had stayed with her through the whole thing, being whatever it was she needed throughout those grueling, confusing years. A brother, a mentor, a friend and a caretaker.
Then, he’d left. Quietly slipping away without telling anyone. He’d gotten so adept at keeping his thoughts a secret, even Edward never saw it coming.
They said he stopped phasing, and left the supernatural world behind.
But he was home now.
Alice told me he was here. No longer transforming meant Alice could keep updates on him, and on the rare occasion she’d get a glimpse of him in her visions, she’d pull me aside and tell me in secret.
And so this is where I’ve been coming for the past fifteen years. Never quite mustering up enough courage to face him head-on.
I stared at the marble cross until the edges wavered and raindrops weighed my lashes down.
Until my heart stops beating.
Maybe even then.
I shook my head. I had to stop doing this.
But I couldn’t.
I took a few more steps until I was only two rows away. I could see the writing on the cold slab and turned my head away quickly. I wasn’t ready for that. If I saw it, it would make it real.
I looked at the stone alongside of him.
The name was not familiar. Neither was the one on the other side of him. He was with strangers. That wasn’t right. He should at least have had his father or his friends nearby.
I smiled humorlessly. Why? It didn’t matter now.
Before I could stop myself, I took another step. And another. If I leaned forward as far as I could, I would have been able to reach out and touch it. Without thinking, my body reenacted the thought. Feeling the damp chill surrounding the headstone, my hand drew back at the last second, as if the granite were hot coals. As if his own heat were seeping through the cold marble.
I forced my eyes to look at the writing.
Jacob Bl –
It’s as far as I got. My body turned and ran, a dizzying blur to the human eye. I flew soundlessly and deftly through the woods, ducking among the cedar and the pine. I leaped across the creek, putting distance between myself and him.
I reached the driveway and paused, gathering myself together as I approached the house. They knew where I went, but as long as I kept the ghosts in the graveyard and didn’t bring them home with me, no one questioned my almost daily jaunts.
It’s all right, I told myself. Maybe next time.
I would go back the next day and the day after that. I knew this as surely as I knew I would live forever. And some day, I would face my friend and let him go.
But not this day.
I had loads of time.
Loads of time.
Loads of time.