Ann walked through the cemetery gates in a somnambulant state. The barred metal gates swung open slowly, as if wary of the secrets held within. Nothing felt real. This couldn’t really be happening. The car accident replayed in her mind. The shattered glass, the dented metal, the broken bodies, the screams… Ann shivered. She couldn’t believe she came out alive.
Ann knew the name of the grave she was looking for as well as her own. Maybe if she could see it, everything would make sense. Maybe she could really begin to move on. She was sure she would cry, but no tears came. Real emotions felt too far away. All Ann could feel was lost.
Memories came swirling through her mind. Summers spent camping, cold winter nights huddled by the fire, late nights dancing… All that was gone. The emptiness hit her like an arrow. There was nothing left for her in this world.
The gray sky began to let down a drizzle of rain, thunder rumbled mournfully somewhere in the distance. Ann barely noticed the storm beginning to brew. The rain didn’t matter anymore. She didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered. The accident had wiped it all away.
Ann recognized some of the names on the graves she passed. Her grandmother, her friend, her cousin… They were all cold and rotten under the ground. Maybe they were resting in peace under the lifeless, muddy earth. Ann wondered when she would join them. The thought filled her with dread. The end was inevitable. It would come when it willed. It would only take a moment to become one of these graves. Just a name and two dates. Nothing to be remembered by. People would forget her, slowly at first, until all trace of her was wiped away.
She felt the world growing distant from her- or her from it. Alone, she had never been this alone. What happened? Who was she? What had the accident really taken?
Then Ann saw the grave she was looking for, the one she had desperately hoped she wouldn’t find. The ground around it was freshly dug. The dreary gray of the tombstone was untouched by the moss and lichen that had taken to growing on some of the older graves.
The grave was surrounded by fresh footprints. Mourners had come here recently to pay their respects. Ann recognized the wide prints of her brother’s boots on the soft ground.
Flowers covered the front of it. Lilies. Her favorite flower.
Frantic now, Ann rushed to the grave. Maybe once she saw it, she could figure out what happened. Maybe everything would make sense.
Ann knelt down and trembling, pushed aside the flowers.
“No, no, no!”
Ann stayed there for a moment, staring in terrified disbelief at her own grave.