When you call, she doesn’t pick up immediately. She doesn’t pick up the second time either. When you call for the third time, it works like a charm. Her voice is cracked and she sounds like a ghost on the radio, which she is…only from your past.
She doesn’t express her annoyance at your call. Neither does she tell you that she has missed you. She only inquires if something is wrong. You say no, then you tell her that you need to meet. The sadness in your voice must have been pathetically evident because she agrees and asks you to come to the cemetery.
The cemetery was the only place where you could meet her without having the eyes of the living on you. The dead at least didn’t care if you held hands with a girl or kissed her or told her that you loved her. The cemetery, where you had dreamed of many lovely things, was also the place where you buried your love when it was time.
When you see her, you fail miserably at lying to yourself about how you really feel. You know this goodbye will not be easy.
Every time you meet, there’s a hug, a smile and the courtesy of asking each other about one another’s well-being; then the ease sets in and you talk about how familiar this feels. The familiarity haunts you, the ruins of your love linger on the tree branches of the cemetery, making you come back to this place over and over again until your breath runs out.
“You grew out your hair,” she notices everything that has changed since you last met, you hope she doesn’t notice the scar on your palm. You hesitate to speak because you don’t understand what it is you want to say to her. Is it an elegy to the love you once shared, or a declaration of what still remains?
At the cemetery, the air is stale and smells rather inviting, but you push death away from your thoughts. You can’t help yourself though. The tombstones creak as you read the inscriptions on them. Some say they were a loving mother, sister, son; some are empty as if their memory was nothing but stone. You wonder what will be written on yours.
You don’t understand why you chose to meet her on your last day. There have been many lovers in between—but none who left you clutching your heart, writing poems at odd hours. They did help you not think of her every waking second, convince yourself that it is over, that you can only love once and you already had your chance. A chance that now lay buried under the cemetery dirt.
The tombstones creak louder; a wisp of smoke appears at the edges of each grave, which you then discern to be looking like fingers. You wonder if she can see it too, or if it is a symptom of approaching death.
“I am leaving the city, I wanted to meet you one last time.” You tell her a story of how this place has nothing left to offer, how it suffocates you and how you are afraid. You tell her of a new possibility, where time might cease to exist finally and you might stop worrying all the time.
When she looks at you, you want to hide inside your ribcage lest she tears you open and reads you. She doesn’t say what she thinks this time; she only holds your hand, wraps her finger around your scar and tells you that a change might be good for you. Like a ritual, you follow her through the cemetery, hand held in the mystery of what you mean to each other. You have been friends, lovers, strangers, and everything in between.
The wisps escape from the graves and they wander around like lost souls. They take the shapes of the bodies they possessed and howl when they see you. They did this every time you visited the cemetery, except it is only now that you can see the souls annoyed by the presence of the living amidst their resting place. You wonder if this is what you are fated for, another ghost to haunt the streets, still lost, still angry.
She senses your panic and pulls you outside. You pant and fall to your knees, and before you know it, you tell her to keep remembering you, to keep loving you. You sit there, at the gates of the cemetery, away from the ghosts, with your head on her shoulder, and you tell her that this might be the last time you meet, ever. “I will remember you.” She promises you and you hope she means it. One thing that haunts you more than death is to be forgotten.
This time, you don’t wonder about the what-ifs. This time, when you kiss goodbye, it doesn’t remind you of the pain. You only think of the moments you spent together, walking around the city, discovering parts of yourself. You think of the joy you found in her embrace and the courage to not hide yourself from the world. When you kiss goodbye for the last time, you hope she continues to live for the both of you.