This is an image of a graveyard with a blue tint.

Hold Your Breath

Old Lady Dour was reputedly known as a poor, begging recluse who only appeared at nighttime, and even then only when the moon was out. Whenever she made her rare ingressions, she donned an outfit of tattered and torn black clothing. Her eyes were a cool, stone gray…an icy silver that flickered in the moonlight…

“…and I’m telling you,” Dougie bravely affronted as he and April approached the cemetery gate, “I bet I can sit on her grave for half an hour and not run away.”

“Just make sure you hold your breath when you do,” April meekly reminded him, “so you don’t take her with you.” She was alluding to the belief that if one breathes while nearby a freshly dug and recently occupied grave, one could accidentally inhale a restless spirit that hadn’t yet accepted death.

On this night, Dougie was there at the city graveyard to challenge that superstition as well as show April how brave he was; what better way for Dougie to prove himself to April than to fight off any evil spirits that would try to possess him.

Dougie took the first step inside the hallowed space, but April wouldn’t move. Dougie then reached back and offered her his hand. She hesitated for a brief moment, and then at last reciprocated his grip. To him, her hand was soft and warm, and he felt lucky enough to catch her eyes at the same time her eyes caught his. She then joined Dougie inside, and the couple set off into the night.

The cemetery looked sullen enough. Old and new headstones for the dead glistened in the moon’s pallid hue. Dougie felt a reverent fear as the two of them tepidly trod over granite and grass. Autumn’s leaves crunched underfoot as the two made their way through the nocturnal necropolis to find Old Lady Dour’s grave – wherever it was.

“Do you even know what her headstone looks like?” April asked.

“Not really,” Dougie honestly replied. “I’m surprised she even had enough money for a real headstone.”

They looked and looked, but they found nothing. Neither one of them thought to bring a flashlight, and even with the moon giving all the light it could, it was still hard reading the names on all the different grave markers.

After half an hour or so of bending over at the right angle only to find the wrong names, they agreed that they needed a break. Dougie found an old, smooth tree stump and laid his jacket on it for April to sit, and she gladly accepted his chivalrous gesture.

Dougie stepped back to give April her space, and it was then when he realized that the earth around the stump was really soft, as if it had been freshly dug. A tremor in his blood began to race through him. He slowly crept around to the other side of the stump and froze as he saw the name DOUR carved into the bark.

He couldn’t blink as he then saw the apparition of Old Lady Dour herself hovering over April, her lithium eyes piercing the black shrouds that fluttered around her. April then, too, realized that the stump on which she was sitting was the “headstone” they had been looking for.

“Hold your breath,” Dougie managed to mutter before following his own advice. The ghost remained over April and the tree stump as Dougie’s cheeks inflated with the expired breath that desperately needed to release and replenish itself. He felt a heaviness on his chest, and he began losing his focus on reality as he thought he saw the spirit get ever closer to April…

…then Dougie fainted to the ground.

He woke up a few minutes later, still a little dizzy from holding his breath for that long. Still on the ground, he quickly patted himself all around to make sure nothing about him had changed. Dougie then let out a sigh of relief; he hadn’t been possessed.

Wanting to leave, he got up and quickly grabbed April’s hand just as she grabbed his before, but he stopped walking and his heart sank when he felt that her hand was no longer soft and warm like it was before; it had turned cold and despondent – even lifeless. He lifted his head to look into April’s eyes only to find that they weren’t April’s eyes anymore; instead, they were a cool, stone gray…an icy silver that flickered in the moonlight…

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