Monday, September 12, 2011

No. 27: Hickory Point

Caleb Sullivan, 1994-2011

Had Caleb known his younger sister would come home early from school, he wouldn’t have tried to kill himself. Sarah had come home to a quiet house but heard music coming from her brother’s bedroom. She knocked on the door and got no reply. She slowly opened the door and saw Caleb, laying on his bed, his right wrist gashed open, trickling blood into a large pool of it already on the floor.

When their parents arrived home, a police officer had called them because Sarah was in too much of a shock, Sarah was wrapped in a blanket and shivering despite the nearly ninety degree weather. Ellen, their mom, ran over and hugged her child.

“Oh, Sarah! Are you all right?”

“C…Caleb’s dead,” Sarah said, like a whisper.

“Officer? Is that true? Is my son…dead?” Henry, their father, asked.

The officer lowered his head and brought Henry inside the house. “He is, Mr. Sullivan. Suicide. He slit his wrists. The paramedics attempted to revive him but it was already too late. He’s still in his room if you want to see him.”

Henry nodded. The officer took him back and opened the door. Caleb was still laying in bed but was covered up. The blood that was on the floor was cleaned up. The officer left Henry alone.

“Damn it, Caleb,” Henry sighed.

Ellen came into the room. She started bawling as soon as she saw Caleb’s lifeless body. Henry took her in his arms and held her tightly as she cried into his shoulder.




The funeral was a week later in a rural cemetery called Hickory Point. The cemetery was at the end of a dead-end road and was the oldest cemetery in the area. It was surrounded by trees on the north and west sides and by a corn field on the south. It had a quaint stone entryway in honor of its hundredth anniversary. Hickory Point also had a small wooden church—The Hickory Point Lutheran Church—that held its last sermon in 1905. It was a simple rectangular wood church with tall windows to let a lot of light in. The shed of the church was used for cemetery maintenance.

Caleb watched everybody leave and then looked down at the pile of dirt that covered his coffin. “It’s weird knowing your body’s down there while you remain up here,” someone said behind him.

Caleb turned around and saw four glowing, translucent people. There were two men and two women. The men and one of the women were older looking but the other woman looked just slightly older than Caleb.

“Welcome to Hickory Point Cemetery,” one of the men said. The man was wearing an old Army uniform but Caleb couldn’t place the period. “I’m Amos Healey, 1897 to 1936.” Caleb then realized it was probably a World War I uniform.

“Hello, young ‘un,” the old woman said. “I’m Dorcas Branson, 1804 to 1896. We’re kind of the welcome wagon here. This here is Jacob Ice, 1858 to 1923, and Selma Bay, 1963 to 1985.”

“Nice to meet all of you. I’m Caleb Sullivan, 1994 to 2011,” Caleb introduced. “So this is what happens when you die. You become a ghost in the cemetery you are buried in?”

“At first,” Jacob began. “Sooner or later ghosts learn to leave the confines of the cemetery and go wherever they want. Most choose to remain in the cemeteries but others want to see their families or the world in general,” Jacob explained.

“What if you’re not buried in a cemetery?” Caleb asked.

“Depends. Ol’ Daniel Dow, 1837 to 1862, was buried on his father’s farm five miles west of here. The borders of the Dow family cemetery were not defined so Daniel is free to move about and he adopted this cemetery as his home. If the borders are defined then that cemetery is your home.”

“What if you are buried at sea?”

“Same principle, you are free to go anywhere.”

“Being a ghost sounds complicated,” Caleb chuckled.

“You get used to it pretty quickly,” Selma said. “Come on, I’ll show you around.”




Selma explained that most ghosts, once they learn to leave the confines of the cemetery, they are seen very rarely. Selma took Caleb around, showing him the older gravestones, the oldest being a Dorothy Snelling, 1801-1854. The oldest people, Cyril M. Washington, 1797-1903 and the more historic people.

“And that’s pretty much our world here at Hickory Point,” Selma said to Caleb as they sat on the roof of the church. “So, not to get too personal but it’s a pretty standard question around here. How’d you die?”
Caleb looked down at his feet. He now felt ashamed. He was now surrounded by people who fought for their country, lived through various diseases, the Depression, one person had even died in Pennsylvania on September 11th (Michael Clinton, 1967-2001). “I killed myself,” he reluctantly said, not looking at her.

Selma noticed his embarrassment and put an arm around him. “It happens. Abraham Wintermantel, 1834 to 1872, purposefully drank himself to death. Anna Zylberberg, 1890 to 1946, killed herself when she learned her only other relative, her younger sister Naomi, didn’t make it through the Holocaust. It doesn’t matter how you died because everyone is equal in death,” Selma smiled.

Caleb cheered up a little. “So when can I leave the cemetery?”

Selma chuckled. “Probably not for awhile. You’re still too grounded to Earth. Don’t worry, it’ll happen but you can’t force it.”

“Selma?” Caleb asked.

“Yes, Caleb?”

“How did you die?”

“I had a very jealous boyfriend and one night, while drunk, he didn’t like me talking to one of my friends so he bludgeoned me with a baseball bat.”

Caleb sat with his mouth agape. Barely audible, he said “I’m sorry.”

Selma shrugged her shoulders. “It happens.”




Gen. Charles Amos Wilder, 1811-1860

In the eight months Caleb had been at Hickory Point, he had gotten to know most of the residents. His favorite person to listen to was General Charles Wilder. The General had a short military career and Caleb was sure he had heard all of the General’s stories before and was pretty sure the General was exaggerating most of his tales, if not outright lying.

“…Our only cover was the trees and after seven hours, no one was closer to victory. So I got an idea in my head and I jumped on my horse. I rode through the trees to where they had tied their horses and I shot ‘em. Every one of them. I then rode back to my men and shouted so the guerillas could hear me that all of their horses were dead. They had no way to retreat so they surrendered soon after,” there was a proud lilt in his voice as he finished his story. Caleb believed this was the General’s only story that was completely truthful.

“Still the best, General,” Caleb said. “You never told me your last story. The one about your raid on the federal armory. The one that got you killed.”

The General’s demeanor toned down as he looked at the ground. “Not…Not my best moment. A lot was lost,” he said softly.

“I still want to hear it,” Caleb said.

“It was early summer of 1860 and me and my men were heading toward Washington County, Maryland. I was no longer in charge of troops because my methods were deemed by the government too radical but I had my son, sixteen other men and several black recruits who were former slaves. I had to attract more black recruits but was told constantly that my plan was a suicide mission,” the General began. “My plan was to start an armed slave revolt and for it to be armed, I needed to get guns and I was going to get those guns from the federal armory.”

“Federal? So you were attacking the United States? Not the South?” Caleb asked.

“I had requested the guns to give to rebellious slaves to take to the South to use against the slaveholders but my request was turned down. I needed those guns. Had I gotten those guns, I would’ve had hundreds of volunteers, both white and black, join me and help oppose the slaveholders.”

Caleb sat rapt in attention. The General’s voice was becoming excited and booming, causing the other ghosts to look up and listen.

“In the late night of June 9, we rode to the armory. Everything was going great for us. We had hostages, we cut the telegraph wire and we had stopped a train. All we needed to do was get what we came for and escape before Washington could be notified,” the General continued. “I agreed to let the train continue on…”

The General’s voice became low and he lowered his head, hiding his eyes.

“The conductor alerted authorities,” the General sighed. “I had expected the local slaves to uprise and join us but that did not happen. The townspeople had begun to fight back. We had captured the armory but when the sun rose the next morning, the armory was surrounded by local militia, farmers and other townspeople. By the afternoon, President Buchanan ordered the U.S. military to attack us.”

Caleb gasped slightly. The General closed his eyes tight and squeezed the upper bridge of his nose. “Wh…” Caleb paused but he needed to ask. “Why did you let the train go?”

General Wilder looked at Caleb and noticed he had more of an audience than when he started. “The Army gave us the choice to surrender. Not doing so would lead to the Army storming the engine room we were holed up in. I refused. The men attacked, we braced for it, but me, my men were all taken prisoner in under five minutes.”

“Well, with the Army, you barely had a chance,” Caleb said.

“I was taken to a nearby town for trial. Newspapers, attorneys, other military officers called me insane and my plan misguided. I was found guilty of treason and hung three months later,” the General finished. “I was buried on my farm in New York state but, for some God damned reason, I was moved here. I had helped found the town of Hickory Point in 1833 but I didn’t stay here longer than a week. The town is gone now, buried under 45 feet of water. As they dug up my body, I screamed as loud as I could ‘Let my bones be!’ but, of course, they could not hear me.”

Caleb reached over and placed his hand on General Wilder’s. “Thank you, General.”

“I’ve never told that story to anyone,” he said. “I think I want to be alone for awhile.”

Caleb got up and the small crowd of ghosts went back to their business. Selma walked up next to Caleb. “You really like General Wilder,” she said. “You sit down with him just about every night.”

“He’s pretty cool. Seems rather lonely and obviously is if he’s been moved away from his own family plot. He never answered my question about the train and why he let it go,” Caleb noted.

“The loss of that raid clearly hurt him a lot. I wonder what would’ve happen if it had been successful,” Selma wondered.

“Who knows. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a Civil War,” Caleb said.




Adele Rochester, 1889-1948

Every weekend, Adele Rochester left the cemetery and was gone the rest of the night until a sliver of sunlight could be seen on the horizon. Caleb watched her leave one night as he was standing with Selma.

“Where does she go every weekend?” Caleb asked.

“She goes to visit her son,” Selma answered. “Been doing it as a ghost every weekend since 1948.”

“1948? When did her son die?”

“1918. Same year as her husband. And she said she visited his grave every weekend when she was alive, too,” Selma said.

“Wow. My family hasn’t even visited me once and I’ve been here over a year,” Caleb said. “Where’s her son buried?”

“A little known cemetery miles from here.”

“And her husband?”

Selma shrugged. “He died in World War I. He’s never visited this cemetery and she never talks about him.”




Adele was a quiet girl, raised in a religious household. She had graduated from school and was preparing to enter St. Columbkille Academy, a college for girl. In July, Gus Rochester began attending the church Adele and her family attended. She had tried to keep the relationship secret but her father soon found out.

Threatened with being disowned, Adele stopped seeing Gus and started school until Gus arrived on campus one day. Adele dropped out of college and eloped with Gus. They married on September 15, 1907 and on August 18, 1908, Henry Bartholomew Rochester was born.

The years seemed to fly by for Adele who doted on Henry every day as he was growing up. Henry was a happy baby and a happy, smart and inquisitive young boy. One night in March of 1915, the dynamic changed. Adele brought dinner to Gus and Henry at the dining room table and sat down herself. She watched her family eat and took a couple bites herself.

“I’m sorry I didn’t ask,” Gus began. “How was your day, dear?”

“It was very good. I went to the doctor today,” Adele revealed.

“Are you all right? Anything serious?” Gus asked.

“Not really,” her smile grew. “I’m going to have a baby.”

Gus put down his silverware. He smiled almost as much as his wife. “That’s wonderful, Adele. Did you hear that Henry? You’re going to have a little brother or sister.”

Henry looked from his dad to his mom and resumed eating.

Later that night, Adele was getting Henry ready for bed. After she had read him a story, Henry snuggled into bed. “I don’t want a brother or sister. I don’t want you to have another baby,” he said.

“Why not? If you’re worried about Daddy and me possibly not loving you, that’s not going to happen. Our love will just grow,” Adele smiled.

“It’s not that. I’m just afraid I’ll hurt it.”

Adele looked at her son oddly. “What are you talking about? You’re not going to hurt the baby. Don’t be silly,” she fixed the covers on Henry’s bed and leaned over to kiss his forehead. “I’ll see you in the morning. I love you. Good night.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

Adele joined Gus in the master bedroom. “Henry said something odd about the baby. He said that he’s afraid that he’ll hurt the baby.”

“What did he mean by that? He’s the kindest boy I’ve ever known.”

“I don’t know. I told him he was being silly.”

“I’ll have to talk to him tomorrow,” Gus said as he got into bed. Adele got in next to him. “He should be excited about getting a new brother or sister.”

The next day Gus spoke to Henry before school. “Your mom told me what you said yesterday at bedtime. You said that you didn’t want to hurt the baby? What are you talking about?”

Henry looked down at his feet. “I don’t want to hurt the baby when he comes but I’m afraid I will.”

Gus smiled uneasily. “The baby isn’t made of glass. Your mom and I will be there to show you how to hold the baby so you don’t hurt it. We’ll be right there to watch you.”

“But you can’t watch me all the time,” Henry said.

Gus raised an eyebrow at Henry. “Henry, you are not going to hurt the baby. Now quit talking like that. Now head on to school. I’ll see you this evening.”

Henry left the house and Gus went into the kitchen where Adele was cleaning up after breakfast. “How’d it go?” she asked.

“Something’s wrong with him. He is positive that he will hurt the baby. I told him to quit talking like that but I don’t think he’s doing it on purpose,” Gus said. “I think we should keep an eye on him over the next few months.”

“I don’t think we need to do that. Henry is just nervous,” Adele said.




At seven months, Adele was ready to have the baby and Gus was worrying more about Henry. Henry had been caught several times listening in on conversations and moving objects in front of Adele while she was carrying things. “We need to do something about him,” Gus told Adele. He spoke quietly. They were in the bedroom with the door shut to keep Henry from listening.

“He’s just jealous, dear.”

“Jealous? He’s been eavesdropping. He’s been trying to injure you. He’s beyond jealous now,” Gus said, trying to keep his voice low.

“They were just coincidences. Henry would never hurt me.”

“Still. Maybe we could send him to my sister’s until the baby is born,” Gus suggested.

“What? We’re not doing that,” Adele said. “We are a family, Gus. A family that stays together.” She left the bedroom. Henry was standing next to the staircase. She halted but just for a second and continued. Gus stopped at the doorway and glared at Henry.

As she started down the stairs, Henry extended his leg and softly kicked the back of Adele’s left knee causing it to buckle. Adele tumbled down the flight of stairs.

Gus rushed to the stairs and saw his wife laying at the bottom of them. Blood was gathering underneath her on the floor. Gus grabbed Henry. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Gus pushed his son away and ran downstairs to his wife.

Adele woke up in the hospital. She saw Gus sitting next to her and whispered his name. “Adele! You’re awake! Thank God,” Gus cried.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Henry kicked your leg and you fell down the stairs.”

“No,” Adele shook her head. “I must have tripped.”

“I saw him. I saw Henry do it. You just have a couple broken ribs and a lot of bruises but you’ve had a miscarriage,” Gus revealed. “I saw him do it.”

Adele continued shaking her head. “No. Henry would never hurt me.”

“But he did. He said he would hurt the baby and he did. He killed our baby. I’m sending him away.”

“No!”

“Yes! I’m sending him to that boy’s school. Maybe that will teach him some discipline and hopefully keep him from hurting someone else,” Gus said.

“No! Don’t take my baby away! I won’t let you!”

Gus stood up. “I have to because he’s already taken our baby.” Gus left his wife’s hospital room, leaving her crying and screaming.




Gus was drafted in August of 1917 and sent overseas. Adele spent most of her days sitting around the house and doing nothing. On weekends she visited Henry at the school but all they could do was talk. About two months into Gus’ consignment, Adele received a phone call. She had been dreading getting any phone calls and feared the worst. She slowly answered. “H—Hello?” she answered.

“Is this the…Rochester residence?”

“Yes.”

“This is Dr. Jerome from the boy’s school. You have a son there, correct? Henry B. Rochester?” the man asked.

“Yes.”

“Ma’am, I am sorry to inform you that the school has been involved in a fire. Everything was done to put out the fire and protect the boys but…” the doctor paused. “Your son didn’t make it out. I’m sorry, Mrs. Rochester.”

Adele began crying and dropped the phone as she sank to her knees. The boys were buried in a parcel of land specifically set aside by the school for cemetery. Though the boys were buried in a mass grave, thirty white crosses were placed in the cemetery in three rows of ten with the boys’ names on them. The burned remains of the school was torn down and within a couple months it was as if the school never existed.

A few months later, after coming home from visiting Henry’s grave, Adele had barely been home for half an hour when there was a knock at the door. She answered the door and saw a man standing on the porch. “Mrs. Gus Rochester?”

“Yes…”

He handed her a letter and bowed his head. “I’m sorry,” he said and turned to walk away.

Adele tore open the envelope and read the letter. Gus had been killed in battle. His body had been unable to be identified. President Wilson thanks him for his service and is sorry for Adele’s loss.




Anna Jessie, 1873-1878

“Five years ago, a little girls headstone was found buried in a field. It was given to the historical society until a proper home could be found. And now, that home is Hickory Point Cemetery, only five miles from where the stone was found,” a woman from the historical society said as four other people looked on. “Anna Jessie’s memory will be placed next to freed slave Nickerson Cowen.” She said a short prayer and the five people dispersed and left the cemetery.

When night fell, Selma, Caleb and Dorcas approached the headstone. “I ain’t seen no sign of Miss Jessie,” Nickerson, 1819-1891, said.

“She’s gotta come here sooner or later,” Selma said.

“Why?” Caleb asked.

“Souls are tied to the headstone,” Dorcas began. “They know where it goes and they always go to find it when it’s moved.”

“Looking for me?” a tiny voice said. Caleb, Selma and Dorcas turned to see a little girl with pigtails in a floral sundress.

“Are you Anna Jessie?” Selma kneeled down in front of the girl. Anna nodded shyly. “I’m Selma Bay, 1963 to 1985 and this is Dorcas Branson, 1804 to 1896, Caleb Sullivan, 1994 to 2011 and Nickerson Cowen, 1819 to 1891.”

“Hi,” she said softly.

“Welcome to Hickory Point Cemetery,” Dorcas said. “You’ll really like it here. Where were you before your headstone was moved here?”

“I was where my parents buried me. But I’ve just went where the stone goes. What else was I supposed to do?” Anna said.

Dorcas looked back at Selma and Caleb. She explained the nature of ghosts as best she could to the young girl. “You understand, sweetheart?”

Anna nodded. “Where’s my mom and dad?”

“Why doesn’t she know where her parents are?” Caleb whispered to Selma.

“Ghosts know where the body is buried but if it is moved or if the ghost moves with the stone, other ghosts can’t find it. Anna must’ve never went to her parent’s cemetery to know where it was or they were buried with her and their stones haven’t been uncovered,” Selma explained.

“We can help find your parents. Selma, Caleb, why don’t you take Anna and show her around?” Dorcas said.

Anna walked up to Caleb and Selma with a look of shyness, fear and sadness. Selma kneeled down and smiled big at Anna. “What do you like to play?” she asked.

Anna shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Well, what did you and your mom and dad play?” Selma asked.

“We would play this game with pegs or I would play tag with my brother or sisters. I also played with my dolls a lot,” Anna said in a soft voice.

“We could play tag or I could find a ball and we could play catch,” Selma suggested. “We don’t have any peg games or dolls.” Selma looked behind her at Caleb.

“Don’t look at me,” he shrugged. “I don’t know what they played back in the 1870s.”

“I’m going to go get a ball. Caleb, you watch her and I’ll be back soon,” and with a flash, Selma was gone and out of the cemetery.

Caleb sat down on the ground. He patted the ground in front of him. “Come and sit down with me. You said that you had a brother and sisters. How many do you have?”

Anna sat down. “Five. Four sisters and one brother. There’s Agatha, Edna, Elizabeth, Rebekah and Nicolai. I was the youngest. Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“I have a younger sister, Sarah, but she’s still alive. I haven’t seen her since I died. I miss her,” Caleb said.

“I miss my brother and sisters, too. They moved away so I don’t know where they are,” Anna said. “How did you die.”

Caleb thought for a moment. “I had an accident,” he said. “What about you?”

“I got real sick. Mommy tried to help me but she couldn’t.”

Selma returned with an actual ball she had found lying in a schoolyard. They began playing catch but Caleb saw that Anna was getting bored. “Hey, Anna. How high can you throw the ball into the air?” he tossed the ball back to Anna. She grasped the ball in both hands, squatted and then jumped up, launching the ball into the air. The ball landed and bounced. Caleb grabbed it on the second bounce. “That was really good! Let’s see how high I can toss it,” Caleb mimicked Anna by grabbing the ball with the flats of his hands and squatting. He jumped but instead of jumping normally, he floated into the air then threw the ball up.

As Caleb landed, Anna giggled. “No fair! You didn’t say we could fly!”

“You didn’t ask,” Caleb smiled as he picked up Anna and floated into the air with her. Anna caught the ball as it came down. “Great catch!”

They floated back down to the cemetery where Dorcas was waiting with Selma. “We found her parents,” Dorcas said.

“That was fast,” Caleb said.

“They weren’t that far away. They were so happy we found her as they lost her when her stone was moved.”

“Can she come back and visit?” Caleb asked.

“If she wants but she’ll be living in the same cemetery as her parents so she wouldn’t have a reason to come back,” Dorcas said. “Come along, dear. I’ll take you home.”

Caleb and Selma watched as Dorcas and Anna left. “Why’d you want her to stay?” Selma asked.

“She reminded me of Sarah, my sister, at that age. I was only nine at the time but I loved playing with her. I’ve been here over three years and no one from my family has visited,” Caleb said.

“I don’t have anyone visit me either,” Selma said.

“You’ve been dead longer. I thought at least my mom would visit but…” Caleb sighed. “I should’ve known they didn’t care when they hid me away in this forgotten cemetery,” Caleb walked away, headed to his gravestone.

“Caleb! Caleb! I don’t believe they’ve forgotten you!” Selma shouted to him but he acted like he didn’t hear her.




Sarah Sullivan, 1997-

Sarah pulled into the cemetery. She parked her car next to the maintenance shed. She got out and looked at the map of the cemetery. Her brother wasn’t listed and the map noted 2005 was the last update. She sighed and began walking toward the area where she thought she remembered Caleb was buried.

When she found his gravestone, she looked at it for a second then began talking. “Hey, bro. Sorry I haven’t been by sooner but I didn’t have a car and mom and dad refused to drive out here. I’m graduating high school and the car was a gift. Things at home haven’t been the same since you died. Dad is…angrier and Mom…” Sarah sniffled. “Mom’s been sick since then. She’s gotten weaker and thinner and it’s hard to look at her and know that she was a once-vibrant and gorgeous woman.

“After you were gone for awhile, I started to hate you. I felt like you chickened out or killed yourself just to leave me alone with Mom and Dad. I felt like you were punishing me but as I grew up, I realized that you not being there made me stronger and made me want to accomplish things for you. I’ve forgiven you for killing yourself, I hope you can forgive me for hating you.”

Sarah stood silently for awhile and watch the clouds move and the sounds of nature echo around the cemetery. She looked back at the gravestone and sighed again. “This will probably be my only visit out here. I’m leaving for college in two weeks. Going to a school across the country. I feel bad leaving Mom in the state that she is in but I need to get away from Dad. I know you’d understand that,” she chuckled. “I am going to go ahead and get out of here. I’m always thinking of you. I love you, Caleb.”

Sarah wiped her eyes and walked back to her car. She got in and started it up. Caleb, asleep in his grave, woke up then emerged from the ground. He saw the car pass by and caught a glimpse of the person driving.

“What in the…?” Caleb asked in surprise.

“That’s your sister,” one cemetery citizen said.

“It is? Why didn’t anyone wake me?” Caleb yelled.

The car left the cemetery and Caleb raced after it, following the car along the edge of the cemetery. Caleb hit the edge of the cemetery and was stopped. He watched in frustration as the car drove on then turned around the bend.

“Damn it!” Caleb screamed. Selma came up behind him. “I didn’t even get a chance to see her. The one time I take a nap…Why didn’t anyone wake me?”

“I’m sorry, Caleb. I wish you could go after her.”

Caleb continued to look at where the car disappeared. “When did it get easy for you, Selma?” he asked.

“When did what get easier?” she replied.

“Death. Being a ghost. Everyone else here can leave the confines of the cemetery but I am still stuck here. When were you able to leave?”

“After about three years. It’s based on your Earthly ties. It varies for everybody.”

“So I can’t renounce my physically citizenship, it has to happen naturally?”

Selma nodded.

“It’s been five years though. What can be holding me back?”




Morte

The Hickory Point Lutheran Church had to be taken down. Half of the roof had caved in and all of the windows had been broken. The cemetery association had been disbanded and for the last three years the cemetery was neglected. Once the roof fell in, the county intervened and began taking care of the land.

Caleb and Selma watched as the church was taken apart leaving only a stone foundation. A week after Caleb’s sister visited four year ago, Caleb and Selma had their first kiss while in the church. Caleb called it a kiss but he wasn’t sure what it was and was too embarrassed to ask.

“That church was nearly 150 years old,” Selma sighed. “And after a couple hours work, it is gone. I loved that church. When I first came here, I used to go in and just sit in the pews. In the mid-nineties I watched a wedding there and it was so beautiful and I thought ‘if I was still alive, I’d want to get married there’ but then I thought if I hadn’t died, I’d never know that church existed,” she chuckled.

A truck backed up to the foundation and dumped a load of dirt into the cellar and after five loads had been dumped, the cellar was filled. Caleb and Selma walked over to the foundation. The stairs and cellar door remained but everything else was gone.




“The dead don’t need to sleep,” Isaac Davisson, 1772-1850, said to Caleb. “They can sleep but they don’t need to. But the dead do get tired so I’m afraid I’m not much help for you,” Isaac laughed.

Isaac passed away along the Oregon Trail which passed just to the north where the town of Hickory Point was established. He died four years before the territory was open for settlement and was buried in an unmarked grave along the Trail. The grave was now under the lake. Before the lake was built, Isaac would always show other ghosts where his grave was. Now, Isaac was unsure where it was because of the water.

“I haven’t slept in almost a year,” Caleb complained. “I want to know why I haven’t slept. I also want to know why I still can’t leave the cemetery. But I really want to know where Selma went,” Caleb said.

Isaac looked up at the stars. “Selma,” he chuckled. “She left right about the time you stopped sleeping. Right?” Isaac looked at Caleb, who was also staring up.

Caleb shrugged. “I guess.”

Isaac laughed loudly. “You guess? Caleb, I’ve been dead a very long time but I don’t have the answers. I’ve seen ghosts able to leave after the funeral but I’ve seen ghosts still in the cemetery four hundred years after their death,” Isaac revealed. “You liked Selma didn’t you?”

Caleb nodded. “I thought she liked me, too. But I guess she needs someone more…mobile.”

“If she likes you, she’ll be back. I’m sure she’s just looking for something.”




Lapeer, like Hickory Point, was once a small community. It was located about a hundred miles southwest of Hickory Point but unlike Hickory Point still had a small population and no cemetery. Selma landed in the middle of the county road that skirted the east side of the hamlet.

She walked a mile and a half south of town and found what she had been looking for. The Lapeer Church of Christ was illuminated by the moonlight giving it a haunting glow. It looked similar to the Lutheran Church that was once in her cemetery.

Selma approached the church and entered it, slowly walking down the center aisle, allowing her hands to brush through the pews on either side. When she got to the front pews she sat down on the one on the left side and laid down, using her arms and hands as pillows. And after a few minutes, she slept.

“That church was nearly 150 years old,” Selma sighed. “And after a couple hours work, it is gone. I loved that church. When I first came here, I used to go in and just sit in the pews. In the mid-nineties I watched a wedding there and it was so beautiful and I thought ‘if I was still alive, I’d want to get married there’ but then I thought if I hadn’t died, I’d never know that church existed,” she chuckled.

Selma and Caleb watched as dump trucks filled in the church cellar. “I’m sorry, Selma.”

“It’s fine. Maybe it’s a sign that I need to move on. I’ve hardly left the cemetery and there’s so much in this world I want to see,” Selma said.

“I don’t want you to leave,” Caleb said.

“I’m not going now,” she laughed.

“I don’t want you to leave because I think I love you,” Caleb said.

Selma went silent. “I’m too old for you,” she said off-handedly.

“We are only six years apart and you said that we are all equal in death.”

Selma sputtered a chuckle. “Yeah, but…” she looked at Caleb. She touched his cheek and smiled. “I just remembered, I was going to do something with Dorcas today. I’ll see you later, Caleb.”

Selma vanished and hadn’t returned. It took Caleb a couple days to work up the courage to ask someone about her. No one knew anything. Selma awoke suddenly, still in the pew. She looked around the church and ran her hand through her hair, then, in a flash, she was gone.




“Can ghosts fall in love?” Caleb asked Isaac.

“Why are you asking me all these questions?”

“I want to know and, no offense, you’ve been dead longer than anyone else I know here.”

Isaac laughed. “Yep. Well. Can ghosts fall in love? I suppose it’s possible because ghosts were once human. I’m sure it’s happened but I am not the best authority on that.”

“They can,” said a female voice behind them.

Isaac and Caleb turned and saw Selma. “Selma,” Caleb’s mouth hung open.

“Miss Bay,” Isaac stood. “You’ve been missed.”

“I know,” she smiled and looked directly into Caleb’s eyes. “Caleb, can we talk?”

Caleb and Selma walked around the periphery of the cemetery. Both were quiet for a long time. “Where did you go?” he finally asked.

“A lot of places. Every time I thought about coming back, I chickened out. I didn’t want to face what I left behind,” Selma explained.

“’Left behind’?”

“You,” she stopped and looked at Caleb. “You asked Isaac is ghost could fall in love. They can but it is rare. I’m sorry for leaving you but I was scared. I’ve never cared about someone like this before. I was afraid of hurting you and I was afraid of getting hurt.”

“I would never hurt you,” Caleb said, taking Selma’s hand.

“I know,” Selma nodded. “I found a new church,” she smiled. “It looks almost identical to the one that used to be here.”

“Cool. Wish I could go see it but I’m still stuck here,” Caleb sighed.

Selma looked at the road. “Try it with me,” she said.

“What?”

“Try to leave the cemetery with me,” Selma explained.

Caleb shrugged. “What have I got to lose?” They took hands and began running toward the road. They reached the end of the cemetery and both leapt up and began floating in the air. “I did it!” Caleb shouted with excitement. He looked down and saw that he was out of the cemetery and floating above the road.

“You did it,” Selma smiled.

Caleb came close to Selma. “I just needed you,” he said and kissed Selma who put her arms around him. Their lips parted and Caleb smiled bigger. “Show me that church.”

And in a flash, they were gone.

No comments: