“Shhh! Kunal, we have to be quiet out here! He he!”
Kunal slipped his arm around my neck, and I snuggled into his side.
“What? You scared a ghost is going to get you if I taunt them a little bit?”
“He he…Kunal, seriously! It is spooky out here!”
“Hey. You’re right. We should be quiet. We won’t be able to hear if anyone is in danger if we are being too noisy.”
“What do you mean??”
“You know, in the old days they’d have someone sit in the graveyard to listen for the bells.”
“I can’t believe you haven’t heard of this…”
“Tell me!”
“So, they would sometimes bury people alive. It was a real problem back in the day, so they’d tie a string around their finger and tie the other end to a bell up on the ground. That way, if they accidentally got buried alive, they would have a way to be saved.”
“Oh, is that where the saying comes from?”
“What saying?”
“Saved by the bell…”
“Ha ha, now you have taught me something new. Come here, you.”
Kunal pulled me in closer to him. Our chests were touching, and he was looking into my eyes.
“You’re really cute, you know that?”
Kunal placed his palms gently on each side of my face and pulled me in for a kiss. His lips were warm against mine and I melted in his arms. I felt safe, even though we were standing in the middle of a cemetery.
“Kunal…I…I think I’m falling in love with you.”
“Yeah? I think I’m falling in love with you too, Nysa.”
He picked me up and swung me around as I giggled in joy. How can fear and love go so well together? Suddenly, a loud bang pulled us from our ecstasy.
“Oh my gosh…Kunal – What was that?”
He set me down, and we looked across the cemetery. It was dark and foggy, too foggy to see anything other than the few tombstones in front of us. The bang continued three more times after that, and the silhouette of a person appeared in the distance of the fog. It looked like a man holding a lantern up in the air.
“Who is that, Kunal? I’m scared.”
“I don’t know, babe. He is probably the night keeper. I’m sure we are fine. He’s just making sure we aren’t vandals. Hey man! We are just visiting a loved one. No need to worry about us!”
The man stood there with the lantern in hand. He looked rugged and his skin looked old and worn; grey in color. His wrinkled lips were pierced together and one eye opened wider than the other. His arm was completely extended out straight, and the lantern hung at eye level with him. A single white candlestick stood in the middle of the lantern with an orange ember that casted a shadow on his face. He shouted out to us, again.
“Kunal, maybe we should just go. I feel creeped out.”
“No. We have every right to be here.”
“We aren’t visiting a loved one, though. I don’t want 10 years of bad luck with a lie like that.”
Kunal nudged my shoulder in a playful manner and began to tell me that there was no such thing as superstitions when the gatekeeper interrupted him. The flame in the lantern blew out as his breath left his mouth.
“Ok, man! We’re leaving…”
Kunal grabbed my hand and started to run. We weaved in and out of tombstones as our feet carried us through the rolling hills of the graveyard. Brown leaves sloshed beneath our feet as we ran farther into the cemetery.
“Kunal, why are we running in the opposite direction of the car?”
“Because, we aren’t leaving. I’m not going to let that whack job boss us around.”
“What if he was telling us to leave for a different reason. What if he knows that bad things happen here at night?”
“Nysa, please. Don’t be ridiculous. Besides, didn’t you say you had family buried out here?”
“Well, yeah. But…”
“No buts about it. That means we have every right to be here.”
I came to a halt and pulled his arm back. Kunal jerked back at the sudden stop in inertia and looked at me with a face contorted in confusion. I looked down to the ground at my hands. They were balled in nervous fists. I felt a finger run along the edge of my jaw and pull my head up. Kunal was looking down at me, he tucked the black strands of hair hanging in front of my face behind my ear.
“Hey…what’s wrong? You trust me, don’t you?”
“Of course…”
“Ok. Then wipe away the long face. We came here to be alone and look around; we are alone.”
I smiled up at Kunal and kissed him again. He held me tight and started to run his fingers through my hair. He had pushed me up against the trunk of a dead tree and started to run his fingers up my thigh.
“Wait. I don’t want to do anything like that.”
“Why not?”
“It just doesn’t feel right.”
“Well, you said you wanted to be alone. We are all alone, now you change your mind?”
“I thought we were going to just have fun here. You know, since it’s something scary to do.”
“I’m not here to be scared. I came here for alone time with you.”
Kunal grabbed the base of my hair tightly. He was holding my hair so tight that I couldn’t move my head. He started to vigorously kiss down my neck and with his free hand, tried to pull my pants down.
“Kunal, I said no!”
“You think it’s ok to tease me? You think it’s ok to drag me out here to play childish games with me?”
My heart started to race and beat against my sternum. My palms were sweating, and I wanted to run off in the opposite direction. He had ahold of me though, I couldn’t run anywhere. He had me by the hair.
Suddenly, we heard a whisper that was just loud enough to be heard, but soft enough to make us both hold still.
Although it only lasted for a couple of seconds, we were both so spooked out that we held still and listened. Again, the whisper grew louder. What was it saying? I wasn’t sure the first time, but after I heard it again, I knew it.
He let go of me and spun around.
“What the fuck was that?”
He looked at me as if I knew what was going on.
“What?! I have no idea who that is…we should go.”
“No. I’m not leaving yet.”
Kunal proceeded to walk around the tree looking for someone, anyone who would have been playing a trick on us.
“You have spies on us, Nysa? Did you tell your little friends where we were going?”
“No! I swear. I don’t know what’s going on!”
“Whatever. They better be long gone by now, because if I find them…”
Suddenly, a shadow danced across the back of the tombstones all around us. I was frozen in fear, and I could tell that Kunal was beginning to lose his cool.
Within seconds, a black skeletal hand began to claw up from the dirt beneath the tombstone. It was long and skinny with sharp pointy fingers, too long to be human. The hand scratched at the dirt and the fingers spread before our eyes. The shadow that the moonlight cast against the hand made it appear bigger when illuminating against the back of the tombstone.
Slowly, the bones of the skeletal hand started to twist and bend until the hand was pointing with one finger towards me. Another whisper filled the air around us.
I looked over to Kunal, and he looked like he was about to wet his pants.
“What the fuck is going on?! Why is it pointing at you?”
“I don’t know!!”
“I’m getting the fuck out of here!”
Kunal turned on his heels and I whipped my body around closely behind him to run out of there, except we were stopped dead in our tracks. Standing a few feet behind us was a woman. She had a white dress on and was pale. She had long black hair that flowed in the wind. She was beautiful. Her lips stayed shut but we heard the whisper again as she looked at us.
A smile spread across the woman’s face, but her lips remained shut.
“You can have me…K…u…n…a…l.”
She was speaking, but without words coming out of her mouth. I looked to Kunal, then back to the woman. She started to giggle, yet her mouth stayed tightly shut. What happened next still sends me to tears when I think about it. She brought her hand to her face, squeezed her cheeks, and popped her face off. A skull stared back at us in the night, black hair still flowing ever so gently in the wind.
A shrill scream left Kunal’s mouth, and I was scared nonetheless. The whispers began to grow louder and turned into a chant. The lady with the skull for a face stood still in front of us. We wanted to run, but we were scared. What would happen if we ran past her? Would she chase us? Would she hurt us? We were frozen in fear.
The skull of the woman slowly tilted back, as if she was looking up into the tree we were standing under. My eyes slowly followed hers, and Kunal’s followed.
Twenty different skeletons peered down at us from the branches of the tree, like they were panthers in the night, ready to pounce on their prey. We both screamed and turned to run away, but the whole mass of skeletons dove from the tree and landed on Kunal.
I ran as fast as my feet could carry me. I ran past the skeletal woman and looked behind me as I passed her. She slowly turned her skull to me. I could hear the clicks of each vertebrae as her skull spun around to look at me. Her black hair still gently flowing in the wind as she stood still in place, watching me.
I didn’t waste any time. I continued to run out of there at lightning speed, diving out of the way of tombstones and trying to catch my breath as I ran. Can you imagine running through a cemetery at night, all alone when you have seen the scariest thing of your life?
Not to mention, Kunal. Would he be able to get away? Did I want him to get away?
I made it to the car and looked behind me one last time. Nothing was following me, but I didn’t want to take the chance. I pulled the keys out, and they hit the dashboard three different times before I got it in the hole. I sped out of there in a panic and never looked back to see if anything was watching me leave.
A few days had gone by since this night, and I still hadn’t heard from Kunal. I assumed he wasn’t talking to me since I wouldn’t put out that night, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious as to if he ever make it out of that cemetery. Did I imagine all of those skeletons as a means of coping with the trauma that was about to be bestowed upon me?
I decided to go back to that graveyard during the day. Something was calling me there; I needed closure.
As I walked around the graveyard, I felt pulled to a certain location. A beautiful concrete angel lay over a tombstone in the ground. It looked to be old, as there were cracks and dents in it. I kneeled and read the name on the tomb.
Nysa Shah
2000 – 2034
It was the tombstone of my great grandmother. I stood to walk away when I swear I heard the ringing of a bell. I stopped, grinned and kept walking away.

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Desai Thoughts MEdia.

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