Français douairière

french gravestone

I pick my way around the stones, careful to not trip over broken pieces of marble. My mother’s voice cautioning me to not step directly on the graves plays in my head. As a child exploring old cemeteries, I once imagined a gnarled hand reaching up toward me from the buried crypt, snaring me in a death grip then dragging me down into the earth before I could be rescued. My trepidation now the only proof I am alive.

Wandering through this boneyard comes with a mixed ethos of peace and dread. My face is a false mask of apathy.

Upon entering through the wrought iron gates, all sound is muted. Even the birds still their singing, giving reverence to the dearly departed. The wind, trapped between the mausoleums, softly moans, sending shivers up my spine.

The pathway is familiar. The names on the gravestones, recited from memory, fall from my lips like a litany of sins.

Kneeling at the foot of her plot, I pull dead leaves and vines away from her stone. Tracing the letters etched there so long ago, my fingertips tingle with anticipation. Far off storms boo their displeasure at my intrusion.

The sun hides behind the rolling clouds, chilling the air and my hands. Rising, my clothes tangle in a tree root, and I nearly fall. Reaching down to free my skirt from the snarl, my childhood nightmare becomes real.

Pawing at the ground, I try to gain purchase while the wraith pulls me backward. I scrape at the buried stone, begging for an anchor in this world. Her desiccated fingers close tighter around my ankle. Darkening shadows and cracks of thunder swallow my screams for help.

The rich, black earth envelops me, wrapping me tightly in woody tendrils to thwart my escape. Above, the only sign of my passing is a torn fragment of cloth. The wind quickly sweeps it away, along with any memory of my existence.

The Trifecta challenge this week is: Boo [ verb \boō\] 3: to show dislike or disapproval of someone or something by shouting “Boo” slowly
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Week 44: Inspired “to write a story to send a tingle down our collective spines.”
This week’s Studio30 Plus prompt is “Mask,” and/or “Red.”
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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

15 thoughts on “Français douairière

  1. This is why you do not mess around in graveyards!! Great story, Tara. I especially loved the ‘litany of sins’. Indeed. It feels like the perfect time of year for their recital. Thanks for linking up.

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  2. Tomorrow’s the day everyone pays their respects at graveyards. Will be skipping it, again. lol
    Terrific ambience and build up to that creepy, creepy end.
    Love, adore, covet storms that boo their displeasure.

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  3. I love the creepiness of this too! It’s definitely the season for it!

    Just this morning both my dogs ran upstairs and refused to come back down. I have to admit I had the chills for a few minutes, imagining the ghosts and other terrors that sent them into hiding! I love that about this time of year-that and leftover Halloween candy:)

    Great story, Tara!

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  4. My heart is beating faster, after having read this. You’ve conjured up a bunch of childhood fears, masterfully. I can see the scene in black and white, in my minds eye, of course. My mother(like your character’s) always told me not to walk on graves.😱

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