The following morning
When we finished speaking with Mary, we left to go find Nick and Aaron only to emerge from the bedroom and finding them filming the whole thing. Zak, angry at what they had done, made them delete the entire footage right there on the spot saying that they had no right to share something like that. That what had just happened would stay between us four. Although the men had been disappointed at the stunning piece of evidence they had collected, they understood what Zak was saying.
Aaron reported not much happened in the basement except there were a couple times he heard a girl sobbing in the corner, but was unable to catch it on the EVP. Nick’s report was much the same on the dining room. He had seen nor heard anything to raise suspicions. To my surprise, Zak hadn’t seemed too disappointed over the lack of actual evidence. He had just shrugged and said they would come back and investigate the house another time when things weren’t as hectic. Which I translated that into when I wasn’t around to cause anymore spirits to go nuts and lock me inside a room with a five minute time limit on solving a riddle of their own death. Although I had to admit Mary was a sweet girl who had had a rough life while she had been alive.
As the owner unlocked us, we stepped out into the bright sunlight carrying our equipment. I tilted my face up towards the sun and reveled in the warmth of its rays.
“C’mon, let’s pack up the equipment and set out to do what we promised,” Zak said bringing me out of the momentary daydream I had slipped into while basking in the sun.
I nodded and flashed him a giant smile. The instructions had been simple. Surely I could help Mary move on. I followed Zak to the van with some of the equipment and packed it away in the truck with all of the other cameras and whatnot. Zak slammed the door to the trunk closed.
“Alright, to the funeral home,” he announced.
“Is this it?” Nick asked as the four of us stood looking down at the small gravestone that was covered by moss and foliage. I knelt down and pulled away as much off the foliage and moss as possible so that we could read the words engraved on the stone. They read:
Mary Elizabeth Arthur
March 3, 1975 – May 11, 1987
I nodded my head to answer Nick’s question. “Yeah, this is it.”
Aaron stepped forward and lifted the sledgehammer we had borrowed from Luke over his head. Boy, had THAT been an interesting conversation between Luke, the guys, and I. Nick backed up while Zak grabbed the upper part of my arm and pulled me away from the old, weathered gravestone.
I watched as the sledgehammer came down on the grave with a loud crack. The stone crumbled to pieces leaving only a small portion sticking out of the ground. Nick glanced my way and I nodded my consent. Cautiously, he approached the shattered grave and pushed some of the pieces of stone away before placing a new glistening, black marble headstone against the old one. He piled some of the crumbled pieces of stone around the base of the new grave so that it would stay in place. Zak reached his arm around me and held the bouquet of flowers in my face. We had gotten a variety of flowers each with a different meaning. In the bouquet were lilacs symbolizing youthful innocence and confidence; daffodils symbolizing rebirth, new beginnings, and eternal life; and last, but not least, the bouquet held alstroemeria symbolizing friendship.
Although the only instructions she had given us were the directions to her grave so that we might pay respects to her, our newfound friend, Zak and I had both decided that visiting her grave just wasn’t enough. So we had gone to the funeral to see about getting a new headstone made for her since we figured her old one would most likely be fading away. Then we stopped by a flower shop where the florist helped us pick out each flower that held the meaning we were looking for. We made sure to get a flower that symbolized friendship. The only problem was the florist didn’t actually have that flower since it didn’t grow anywhere near these parts, so instead she crafted us an imitation to take with us free of charge. In my opinion, that was even better because then that meant our new friendship would never die and would live on eternally.
I took the bouquet out of Zak’s hand and gently sat them on top of the grave.
“I hope this will allow you to rest in peace…friend,” I whispered with a smile. I kissed the tips of my fingers and then touched my fingers to the new headstone where we had engraved:
The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.
~John F. Kennedy
Mary Elizabeth Arthur
Brave until the end
March 3, 1975 – May 11, 1987
I stepped back and smiled down at the words we had chosen to mark on her grave. Zak wrapped his arms around me from behind gently resting his chin on the top of my head. I reached up and grabbed his arms that were wrapped around my shoulders.
I looked around as I heard my name whispered in the gentle breeze that caressed my skin. That’s when I saw her. Mary.
She was standing a few feet behind her grave smiling at me. She no longer seemed to be as dark and subdued as she had appeared in the house. She now shone with the brightness of the sun and her face sparkled from the tears that flowed down her cheeks.
Thank you, she mouthed letting her eyes flutter closed and lifting her head up to the sun. She disappeared within a single moment as a bright light washed over her.
When she disappeared, I could feel myself become lighter like I had been carrying the weight of her death on my shoulders. And now that she had left the darkness, I no longer had to worry about the troubles she may face if she was left all alone in that house. Something inside me had shifted and I felt like a newer, happier person.
“She’s gone. She’s no longer being consumed by that awful hate and pain,” I quietly informed the boys with a sad smile on my face.
Zak moved his head to look at me from the side. “You don’t seem happy about that,” he commented.
I shook my head. “No, I am happy,” I laughed in order to reassure him that I truly was happy. He nodded and released me from his embrace.
“Alright, guys, it’s time to head back to the motel and get some much needed rest,” Zak called out to Nick and Aaron as he walked back to the van.
I turned and watched as Nick and Aaron dutifully followed behind Zak. Even though I had helped Mary finally crossover, there was still a large, gaping hole inside me. I had thought that maybe after saving Mary that hole might begin to fill with the self-satisfaction of helping a spirit crossover. That was apparently not the case.
Zak turned around when he reached the driver’s side door and met my gaze. Even from here I could see the happiness shining in his bluish-hazel eyes. His lips curled upward into a happy, goofy grin.
“C’mon, Aerolynn!” He called over to me before climbing inside the car where Nick and Aaron sat waiting.
I rubbed my chest over my heart. Why was it aching so much? Why would this empty feeling not go away?
And why did it only grow stronger when Zak wasn’t around?