Displaced Ghosts

The storms cleared away and the residents emerged to view the damages left behind. Trees had been uprooted, branches flung everywhere, shingles and anything that hadn’t been tied down (and a few things that had) all blown about the town. Though no single building had been destroyed, all of them had some kind of damage.

The worst of the damage, though, was at the south end cemetery. Unlike the other one in town, the one that stood on high ground, the south end one bordered the creek. The creek that even now was still well outside its normal boundaries.

“I told the council they shouldn’t have cut down the banks,” a woman wearing a long white nightgown said. “Look at this mess!”
 “What are we going to do?” Jimmy Montgomery asked. He lounged on the wings of an overturned granite angel.

The resident ghosts gathered at the central mausoleum while the living stood on the hill overlooking the flooded area. Caskets and bones were tumbled through the mud. Tombstones lay on their sides or at a tilt, sunk where the rushing waters had undermined their foundations.

“It’s a sight worse than the flood of ’04,” Lucinda Mayes said. Her charge, Caleb, squirmed against her shoulder.

“There wasn’t a flood in ’04,” Charlie Cameron said.

She glared at him. “Humpf. You gots to argue ‘gainst everything, don’t you? Not 2004. 1904.”

Charlie snorted and floated over to a newer stone. “Here’s my stone, but this isn’t my grave. I’m back there, near the trees.”

“They’s a lot of ‘em mixed up,” Lucinda said. Several little children toddled around, crying. Lucinda corralled them and herded them into the mausoleum.

A middle-aged woman in an outfit that looked like it was straight off a “Rosie the Riveter” poster sat atop a wide stone swinging her feet back and forth and making sounds like snapping gum. “Of course they’re mixed up. Flood like that is enough to mix up anything.”

“So what do we do?” Jimmy asked.

When no one said anything, “Rosie” jumped down from her perch. “Lucinda, you got those young ‘uns?”


“Good. Keep them here at the crypt. Get someone to help you if you need. The rest of you, start sorting bones. If you haven’t figured out how to move things yet, get a corporeal to help you. Just remember, not all of the living can see you. Find one who can. If you can’t talk to the living, talk to me. I’ll be the go-between.”

“Who are you?” Jimmy asked.

“Name’s Martha. Martha Camp.”

A young woman in a flapper dress spoke up, “Martha, what if we can’t, um, find all of us?”

“You won’t,” an elderly man in an 1800’s suit said. “This is worse than the ’04 flood. There’s more of us now.”

Martha nodded. “I wasn’t around for that one, but it stands to reason. We’ll find what we can. You might find all of you, you might not. You’re going to be attuned to your own bones. Anything else, leave be. Not all the bones have a ghost. Corporeals will have to take care of those. Go find your bones. Let’s get to work, people. We’ve got a lot of sorting to do.”

Martha floated to the group on the hill. She recognized some of them, but had never interacted with any of them and wasn’t sure of their names. “Can any of you hear me?”
Several women and one man stepped forward.

“My name’s Martha Camp, died in 1952. As you can see, we have a problem. We need help getting our bones back to where they belong. Several of the non-corporeals are already sorting, but not all of them can move things. For that, we need you.”

A young girl stepped forward. She wore tight jeans, a tee-shirt and an old army jacket. “I’m Caitlin. I can help.”

Image by Melanie Hill

“Seen you around a lot. Nice to meet you, Caitlin. You and me…I mean, you and I, we’re going to be the go-betweens. Roll up your sleeves, girl. We got us a lot of work to do.”
With Caitlin at her side and the other livings following, Martha led the way to the crypt. “Any of you got any pull with the town council, we sure could use some help in getting them to move us to higher ground, or putting up a wall so the creek don’t do this to us again.”

“Don’t know that we can do that, Martha,” an older man said.

Martha smiled. “Guess we’ll just have to haunt them then. And for those of us whose graves got washed away, I’d say that’s going to be more than an empty threat. Some of the living might forget about us once we’re gone, but they’ll find we aren’t so easy to get rid of. Specially when we got no place else to go.” She climbed up on a stone that had an old plane carved into the face. “Shall we get to work?”

Author: Vicky Burkholder

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