This is a serialized story in chapters. To see Chapter One, go here: The Soul Mate
The Soul Mate
By Kathleen Mortensen © 2008
It all started back in October of ’28. I took the shortcut home from school. The fog was so thick I could hardly see two feet in front of me. The sky was spitting rain and the salty smell of the sea was in the air. I cut through the blueberry field, as usual, picking my way along the old path, swinging my satchel full of schoolbooks. I know that field like the back of my hand. On the other side is St. Anne’s graveyard.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when the big, iron cemetery gates rose up through the mist, but they still gave me the willies. Nanny says you must always hold your breath when you pass a graveyard or else you’ll breathe in the spirit of someone who has just died. I knew Old Man MacLean was buried just the week before and I didn’t want to be taking in his spirit, so I sucked in my breath right quick.
Inside the cemetery the pebbly, dirt path wound its way through aisles of tombstones. Little granite markers carved with family names lined up in long rows. I could just make out the big headstones in the filmy mist. My mother’s tombstone is twenty rows in from the gate and sixteen rows up on the right hand side. Every year, on Mama’s birthday, Daddy and I visit and leave a bouquet of red roses next to the flat stone. We like to come on that day instead of the day she died. She would appreciate that.
I hurried past the gate, my shoes scuffing the pavement, my satchel hanging off one shoulder. The wind was blowing cold, so I pulled my cardigan close around my wool dress when a strange sound stopped me in my tracks. An eerie, high-pitched noise seemed to be coming from inside the spiked, iron railings of the cemetery. I thought at first that it must have been the wind, but as I listened, the noise began to sound like the voice of a little girl who was very upset.
I started to walk away, slowly. I wanted to run, but my curiosity got the better of me. I stopped and strained to hear; I could just make out the tiniest voice: “Please, don’t leave me! Don’t leave me alone! Please, come back!” she cried.
My arms were covered in goose bumps and I felt a shiver travel down my neck that made me tremble. Now my feet felt like they were glued to the cracked, tar road.
The voice came again, “Please don’t leave me, Alice! Please, come back!” I looked around carefully and quickly, but there was no one there. I inched my way back towards the cemetery gate. I was scared, but I had to find out who was calling my name.
I wandered slowly around the cemetery. The voice was still calling out in the distance as if it knew I was looking for it. “I’m over here!” it cried. I tried to follow the sound, but it hung in the air like a whiff of perfume, and then disappeared.
I came to some of the larger, shiny stones, the ones with words and dates on them. I stopped to read what was written on them. There were pink speckled headstones and flat white ones shaped like church windows and black ones like lumps of coal.
The voice grew louder and louder as I read the names on each stone aloud: DONALD MACDONALD, 1844 to 1907, gone home, ANGELA FRASER, 1879 to 1902, beloved wife. It seemed the voice was at my ear now, “I’m right here beside you,” it said quietly, “You’re almost there.”
I stopped beside a grey, flecked tablet. Moist leaves squished under my feet and somewhere in the distance, a dove cooed mournfully. The stone was smaller than the rest, about three feet high. The writing was covered up with long blades of grass. Dropping my satchel, I knelt down on the wet lawn and parted the tufts with my hand. The inscription was done in fancy letters. It read:
A Special Daughter:
ELEANOR JEAN MCMILLAN
Age 12 yrs, 3 mos, 5 days
May 15, 1816 – August 20, 1828
Eternal rest, grant unto her,
I stared at the headstone, astonished. Her birthday was the same day as mine! She had died when she was the same age as me only it was 100 years ago.
I stood up and felt a chill run through me. My knees were wet and streaked with green above the tops of my brown socks and water was seeping through the soles of my Buster Browns. My hair had all curled up with the mist and my cheeks were burning with the wind.
Then, I felt a trickle of water running down my neck. It felt like someone, or something, touching me and pushing my hair back behind my shoulder.
“Was that you?” I whispered hoarsely. “Did you just do that?” I put up a hand to flick the sensation away. Water seemed to stream down my cheek. I shuddered and pulled away from the unseen hand.