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Echoes Short Story
Graham, Alice and Sam were running late. They had agreed to be at Jordan’s house about half an hour ago, but Alice and Sam had taken their time getting ready. The two had also decided it was a good idea to start drinking on the way to this house party. Graham had a bottle of beer in his hand too, he couldn’t deny – though he was worried that a police officer would see them with the alcohol in public and arrest them before they even got to Jordan’s. Sure enough, a police car was parked further up the street. With a shriek Alice pulled them through a nearby gateway so they wouldn’t be spotted. Graham stumbled, dropping his beer. He watched as it poured out all over the grass. Alice burst out laughing, pulling Sam further along the path, leaving Graham to mourn his lost alcohol.
Looking around him, he noticed that Alice had pulled them into a graveyard. She and Sam had also disappeared from view, which wasn’t that great as he didn’t know where Jordan lived. Sitting straight on the grass, he picked up his bottle to see if some beer remained. There was a dribble of liquid at the bottom, but not enough for a mouthful. He threw his bottle to one side.
“That’s littering, you know.” A soft voice called from behind him. Jumping, Graham stood and turned to look at its owner.
It was a girl around his age, sat balanced on top of the gravestone of the grave he himself had been sat on. She was pretty, with long brown curly hair that looked like it had been permed. She wore a turquoise jacket with padded shoulders, a bright t-shirt and some neon bracelets.
“Isn’t it disrespectful to sit on someone’s grave?” Graham spat out once he recovered.
The girl looked down at the gravestone beneath her, absentmindedly, as if she didn’t realise what she was doing.
“Edith won’t mind.” She grinned at him.
“How would you know?” She was quite pretty – she had big brown innocent eyes to match the colour of her hair, and her cheeks were lightly blushed thanks to the cold air.
“I just do.”
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Edith.” She replied, her soft smile lighting up her face.
“That’s not funny.” He turned to walk away in the direction Alice and Sam had headed.
“But that’s my name. Edith Bowman. And you are?” She hopped off the gravestone and followed him.
“Graham who?” She skipped next to him.
“Graham Yerbury.” He glanced at her, watching the way her body bounced. She was quite a small girl, her hair bouncing as she walked.
“Never heard of you.” She grinned. “Do you make a habit of littering in graveyards, Graham Yerbury?”
“No, I tend to avoid them.”
“Why?” She looked pleasantly confused.
“Because they’re depressing – who wants to hang around death?”
“What? What’s so funny? They are depressing…” Graham frowned at her.
“Nothing. You seem so serious. Do you never wander around a graveyard and its silence? Don’t you find it peaceful?”
This time Graham laughed. “No! They’re creepy!”
“You just don’t know how to have fun.”
“I do know how to have fun! I just don’t tend to in a place celebrating death.”
“Don’t you think they’re the opposite?” She skipped in front of him, making him stop.
“What? How?” Alice and Sam’s whereabouts had skipped his mind completely now. This strange girl was taking up all his attention. There was something about her that he couldn’t help but be intrigued by. Everything about her seemed soft. Her grin may have been flirtatious, but she seemed to radiate innocence.
“Don’t you think they celebrate people’s lives? Don’t you think it’s wonderful to be alive?” She spun around in a circle, head leaned back and staring at the stars. She giggled as she stumbled. Graham reached out and caught her, worried she might hurt herself. She carried on giggling. Graham started to laugh too – it was infectious. “See? Isn’t it wonderful to be so alive?” She looked up at him, her eyes wide.
On impulse, he kissed her. Her lips were cold. She kissed him back, twining her arms around his neck. She broke off, giggling. Her breath frosted on the night air as she returned to spinning around on the pathway. Fascinated, Graham watched her.
“There you are! We’ve been looking for you all over!” Alice’s voice called out from behind hm. He turned towards her, grinning. “You’ve cheered up a bit. The alcohol already going to your head?”
“No, I just met-” Graham turned to point at Edith, but she had gone. “Where’d she go?”
“Where’d who go?” Sam gave Alice a look.
“Edith – there was a girl around here and she started talking to me.” Graham spun around, but he couldn’t see her anywhere.
“I think Graham’s hallucinating.” Alice giggled.
“Come on, mate! We’re late enough already!” Sam turned to head back the way they had come, putting his arm around Alice. Deflated, Graham followed them. Where had she gone? Maybe she was hiding, waiting for his friends to go. As they neared the entrance to the graveyard, he made an excuse to find his discarded bottle. Alice and Sam left him to it, waiting next to a streetlight along the pavement. Graham fished the bottle out from under the hedge when Edith didn’t show. He hovered next to the grave they had met at until Sam shouted his irritation from the street. Reluctantly, he turned to leave. Something made him pause. He turned to look at the gravestone. The name was obscured with moss due to a lack of care. He approached the grave, putting his bottle down to clear the moss away. His hands started shaking as the name registered in his brain. He turned and ran towards the open street as Edith Bowman’s name stared back at him, his bottle forgotten.