Amelia Radcliffe was one of those gorgeous girls who had the world made tailored for her. She seemingly lived on a cloud somewhere in the stratosphere, smiling religiously and waving at the Neanderthal jocks. When her smile turned in your direction, electricity hit your heart like ecstasy on a loud night. When I heard she was interested in me, I flew higher than Superman, shined brighter than a lighthouse, and nervously twittered my body like a convict walking down death row. Sounds pleasant, right? I thought so too.
For those of you who have blacked out what high school dating was like, it’s like getting shot 20 times, then being revived by a cute nurse, only to have her pull a knife on you. However, when you are a member of the overlooked crowd and your dream girl is interested in you, you feel like Butch Cassidy with a pair of loaded six shooters. The world falls at your feet and unravels like a majestic red carpet.
Early into the fall of my senior year, we began to flirt with each other more effectively. One day we passed in the hallway and she slipped a folded piece of paper into my hand. When it hit my fingers, my blood pressure increased a hundred fold and I entered a state of complete and utter euphoria. I twirled it in between my fingers for a few seconds before unraveling it and staring at the treasures inside. Written across it in the most ornate scrawl is: 202-555-0108, inscribed besides a: <3ar.
That night I began my first real conversation with Amelia. Honestly, I thought she was just one of those pretty girls whose head was full of air. But when she started talking intelligently about music, movies, art, and history, I couldn’t believe the words were coming out of that pretty mouth. The most important thing I heard, for the sake of this story, is the fact that she is a huge horror and scary movie fan.
Also being a huge fan of this kind of stuff, I was so excited to hear her talk about it, and we gushed our way through it for almost two hours. Before she hung up, she politely said that she enjoyed the conversation and wanted to talk more another day. Starting on that night, I began to think about her in a brand new way. Instead of the typical teenage fantasies of her, I began to imagine snuggling up with her in bed or having her cuddle next to me on the couch. That night I had the first dream about her that was completely non-sexual. I guess you could say that I was beginning to fall for her.
For the next two weeks we kept in touch more and more, and finally came the time when I asked her if she wanted to go out. So on a chilly October night we went out to dinner at the pizza place in town and then to see the newest scary movie in the theatre. She looked gorgeous in a black and white striped turtleneck that hugged onto her torso the same way I wanted to. Throughout the movie she got much closer to me, and by the end her body was practically entangled around mine.
Seeing as our town is fairly small and we both live near downtown, after the movie I walked her home. The walk back, which really took no more than twenty minutes, was consumed with the two of us trading off funny stories and at one point I was very animatedly discussing one from my childhood. As profanities spewed out of my mouth a disgusted look came across her face and I waited as she interrupted me. “What are you doing?” She asked incredulously. “You know you’re not supposed to ever swear in front of a graveyard.”
I would have laughed if I weren’t so head over heels for her. Her dark eyes pierced the moonlight and found mine, cutting with an intensity only nice girls who’ve turned bad have. I nodded as if consenting to her, before shaking my head and going, “That’s a bunch of bullshit. I hate urban legends like that.”
To this she laughed, “You can hate them all you want, but you have to play by the rules.”
“Actually no you don’t. I’ve been paying no mind to urban legends and doing stuff that’s going to get me cursed for my whole life. And honestly, who the fuck,” (She shuttered) “is going to care if I say fuck, or shit, or bitch, or ass” (More shuddering) “in front a graveyard. It’s not like…”
Finally she cut me off. “Wait a second,” her eyes narrowed down on my face and she turned against me. “Are you about to tell me that you don’t believe in ghosts?”
To this I finally cracked and began to laugh. “Wait, you do?”
Her face screwed itself into a scowl for a quick second before evening out and turning into a sly smile. Her piercing eyes relaxed for a moment, and in the strangest way I was much more terrified of that than I was of the look of anger that lain there before.
She turned to face through the large wrought iron gate, and my eyes followed her into the black expanse that was otherworldly silent. I don’t even remember what was going through my head when she made the suggestion. Of course, I was terrified, but I couldn’t let that expression come near my face. Ghosts can live in a space of reality and imagination, but there is no deterring from the fact that a graveyard is nothing more than a piece of land holding several dead bodies underneath. And that enough, is creepy as fuck. But, I had to, begrudgingly, play the game that I just entered myself into.
“That doesn’t sound like an issue at all,” I stammered out in a voice that may have sounded confident to someone else but echoed with fear inside my head.
She smiled softly and grabbed my hand again. As we continued to walk she held it a little tighter, finally giving it a firm, but decisive, squeeze as we stopped in front of her house. At this point there was no light other than that of the giant moon shining above and a series of little streetlights acting as nothing more than copycats to the original. There on the sidewalk in front of her dimly lit home, she wrapped her arms around me, dodged an attempt at a kiss, and told me that I had to “show off before we did any of that.” And right there, I began to sink.
The sinking feeling persisted for the next week, traveling almost in a wavelike pattern that was overwhelmingly dependent on whether or not she decided to talk about it. Finally, the days bled together until they bled out, and the following Friday night, we were standing, once again, outside the graveyard gates.
I stared anxiously through the bars of the wrought iron fence as she instructed me to send her a photo every hour on the hour so she could know that I stayed there. We agreed that Snapchat would suffice, and after making sure I got service in the graveyard, she handed me a flashlight from inside her car. Then, before I strode into the graveyard, she gave me a little incentive to keep going.
Flirtatiously, she brushed her body against mine, backing me against the graveyard gate, and we began to get entangled in a lengthy make out session. When we finally pulled apart, she smiled and said she’d come up with “something” to snap back to me “in order to keep my spirits up.” And with that, I was left in semi-darkness of the street at night. As soon as her taillights drifted off and that comfort was completely devoid, the graveyard seemed to come alive all around me.
The graveyard in my town is very curious in its own right. It is incredibly long, diving far back into the woods where the old settlement town used to sit. Only a small kiss of the area can be seen from the street. Right beyond the gate are the newest stones and the areas that are the best manicured. Here are the ornate rows of polished stones that clearly display the names and epigraphs of the people rotting beneath them. This section of the graveyard is comforting in a way; the ground is so smooth and flowers bloom in the summer, completely hiding the fact that just feet below people are buried.
However, this is not the case for the rest of the graveyard. After the first 40 yards of pristine space, the graveyard begins to slide into the wilderness. At this point, there are old dirt paths that crisscross through the woods taking you to several different plots of graves designated for certain wars, famines, diseases, and important families. The ground is ominously uneven back there and you begin to feel as though with every step you are standing on someone’s body, that’s been shallowly covered over with dirt.
As it approached 10 PM, I began to think about what she would send back to my snap. Also, I wondered what the hell I was supposed to take a picture of to make her realize I hadn’t bailed. I spent the next few minutes staring at the clear sky and wondering if a picture of the moon would be enough. Finally, when the time came I sent her a snap of it, and immediately got a disgruntled response back.
Her caption: “wtf, that could be anywhere.”
So I turned the camera towards the ground, randomly picked a stone and flashed off another snap to her.
Her reply was a glowing image of her wearing a skintight black dress, captioned with: “just got, u like? Or rather c it off?”
I smiled immediately knowing her game, and began to stroll around the graveyard, waiting for the next hour to be up, and for another racy photo to be presented back to me. While the thought of seeing her gorgeous nude pictures was a great distraction, eventually the weight of being in a graveyard began to take its toll. Every sound began to seem magnified within the grounds, and the simplest of sounds emanated with a dangerous resonance. A dog barking from a few houses away sent shivers down my spine, as I imagined a pack of wolves roaming through the graves, looking for fresh meat to sink into. After a while, the lights of the houses nearby shut off, and I would leave in the great shadows of streetlights not strategically placed close to graveyard entrance.
Finally after clouds began to take hold of the sky, and the light of the moon was stifled, I had to start using the flashlight she gave me. Since, I didn’t think to charge my phone beforehand and my power was dwindling, I knew that this would be my only source of light. Finally after forty-five minutes of mindlessly walking around the front part of the yard, staring at the names that I thought seemed vaguely familiar, but overwhelming disinteresting, I decided to put my backpack down and sit. I leaned back against one sturdy gravestone, and looked off in the direction of the woods. In the weirdest way, I thought I saw something move as a heavy breeze came through; as if there was a quick flash of white or black against the trees, only appearing for a second, before fading back into obscurity again. I stared that way intently for quite some time, waiting for another quick flash, so that I could investigate and shock myself out of boredom, but was only interrupted by the need to take another photo at 11.
I sent her a photo of a stone that I believed to belong to the grandmother of a girl in our social studies class.
In response, I got a picture of her carpet, where something scrunched up and black was laying. Attached to the photo were two short words: “go deeper.” After beginning to respond back, asking what it was, I realized that it was the same tiny black dress, only this time it had been dissected away from her body. This, of course, sent me for another trip on the distraction train. However, I returned back to earth from my teenage daydreams far too soon, and was ripped away from reverie by the hooting of an owl deep in the woods.
Deciding that I needed something more fun to do and might as well accept her challenge, I strode off across the perfect lawn and made my way up to the entrance to the wood paths. For the next hour I moved through the forest, lead by the steady beam of my flashlight, looking at the groupings of graves for soldiers who died in the world wars. As it got closer to midnight, I had successful made my way out towards a little clearing where the turn of the century graves were. According to my daytime knowledge of the graveyard, I knew this was about halfway through. I decided to sit in the center of the clearing and I would send her a video of all the graves in the beautiful circle, right from the center of it. At the stroke of midnight I sent the video to her and within minutes received a picture of her in lacy underwear. Having never gotten this far with her, or any girl for that matter, my heart was racing with anticipation, and the thrill made the terror completely worth it.
I kept moving back, deeper into the graveyard, and at the point, it begins to climb up a steep hill towards the mountain at the edge of town. When the founders of the town began their settlement, it was located halfway up the mountain, instead of in the valley where it lies today. The further that I went back, and the higher up the hill I walked, the more sad the stones began to look and the older they appeared to be. They were all in a state of severe disrepair and most of them had the names weathered off completely. While some were ominously in tact, others had snapped in half and only jagged pieces of what lay there before pushed up from the ground.
20 minutes after midnight, the flashlight began to flicker, and finally went out. Freaking the fuck out, I pulled the batteries out and rolled them around in my hands, hoping that some electrical connection in them could spark the batteries back to life. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, and I was left back in the darkness. I screamed out a pair of swear words, completely confident that no one awake would hear the words echo out of the trees. I kicked the air angrily and began to fumble around in my backpack, hoping that by some miracle, I had a spare pack of batteries of flashlight inside. After rolling my hand around the larger two pockets, I began to really get disenchanted with the whole adventure. I stopped searching for a second, and took a pair of deep breaths, remembering the passionate kiss against the gate and hyping myself up from what prizes still seemed to be coming from this night.
I began to reach around in my backpack again and pulled out a pocketknife. I unsheathed it and held it in my hand, quietly waiting to see where the footsteps would come from next. However, as quickly as they came, they had disappeared, leaving me once again, uncomforted by the eerie silence of the night. In a weird way I think it was worse when that adrenaline stopped; as if the footsteps were some kind of friend that made the journey better.
And then I remembered something.
I had touched a small cardboard rectangle when fishing through the smallest pocket for my knife. And when I moved it from side to side, there was the slight flurry of things inside jingling. But not a normal musical jingling, it was the wooden jingling of matches. I hurriedly took them out, opened up the book, and counted them. In total I had six. I smiled religiously and thanked the higher powers for the time that I was into smoking cigars. That nasty little habit had saved my ass.
I lit the first match and held it right at the bottom, allowing it to burn down for as long as it possibly could before I had to throw it away. With this first match, I managed to find my way back onto the trail and walked as quickly as possible, covering a solid distance before stomping it out and returning to darkness, that seemed somehow blacker. I walked blindly forward until I was slapped in the face with branches again and decided to light another one. I cupped a hand around it and began to run, trying to make the most out of the match. Match number 3, refused to light and was instantly snuffed out. With matches four and five, I continued on the same path, feeling as though I had to come to something sooner or later. Not wanting to use the last match, unless I desperately had to, I walked for what seemed like forever, through the blackness, allowing my adjusted eyes to work it out a little for me. After maybe twenty minutes of walking blindly, it had almost turned one and I was in desperate need of finding a gravestone to take a picture of.
So, I lit the last match and made a break for the silhouette of a clearing a good ways ahead. As the flames lapped at my fingers and burns were beginning to set in, I crashed through the opening and found myself at the back of the graveyard. I was face to face with the most legendary stone in the graveyard, and possibly in the whole state. Locally, the urban legend that surrounds this stone transcends anything supernatural; to fuck with this stone you have to be both dumb and desperate.
In all honesty, it isn’t a stone as much as at is a statue and a sepulcher. A raised marble platform extends out of the hillside, indicating where the body was laid to rest, and right behind it sits a gorgeous bronze statue. The statue, which has been dubbed “Black Agnes”, is of a woman sitting down with her arms outstretched as if she is inviting you to sit down and be cradled. While no one is really sure what the symbolism is with her or why she is at this particular grave, over the years she has become one of the most infamous works of urban legend in the town. Depending on whom you ask, different things happen if you sit yourself in her lap.
When I saw the clock on my phone saw 12:59, I knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted to shock Amelia. I wanted to show her that I was in no way terrified of a stupid graveyard or any make believe ghosts. I wasn’t even going to be bothered by urban legends. Whether it was this headstrong mentality, my dangerous hope that the next snap would be of her naked body, or just my own human desire to watch myself be destroyed, when the clock struck one, I climbed into Black Agnes’ lap, turned the camera around, and smiled proudly for my selfie.
After the flash went off, I instantly felt sleepy. I lay my head back and drunkenly sent the photo to Amelia. I stared up at the sky above, which had suddenly become clear and starry, with a full moon shining down pallidly on the statue I lay entangled in. I fought strongly to avoid rest, but finally my will was not enough, and blackness completely covered my vision. The last thing I remember is feeling my phone vibrate and then there was nothingness.
I woke up in the morning on the grass in the middle of the woods. I dusted myself off, and found that I had been moved twenty feet away from the statue and had collapsed in the center of the dirt path. The early morning sun peaked through the barren trees, collecting some of the tint from the remaining leaves, but ultimately hitting me straight. I rubbed my eyes tiredly, stretched out my tired back, and reached for my phone, which had fallen yards away from me. I instinctively clicked it on and found that I had 8 new snapchats, 14 texts, and 9 missed calls.
Panic fled over my whole body as I opened them one at time. I started with the texts which all clung along the lines of “answer me”, “r u okay”, and “I’m so sorry I made you do this.” Horrified by what I was reading, I changed over to the snapchats. The first of which was what I was waiting for, her beautifully naked body splayed scrumptiously on the bed. However, in the current state of affairs I had no patience for that and flipped right past it. The next one was the shocking one, where at 3:54am she was staring nervously into the camera, clearly in her room, asking who was there with me. Then there was a bunch more asking if I was alone, if I was safe, if I was okay, etc.
I had seen enough. I pocketed the phone, and began to make my way towards the gate. She said she would meet me at 6:30 and it was almost then. I ran down the trail, finding it much shorter than I had the night before. When I reached the entranceway I found her crying in her car, taking no notice that I had emerged alive. When I knocked on the window, she screamed happily, hopped out, and began to kiss me frantically. When I pulled her off and asked what the huge deal was, she said that she had gotten a fourth snap from me that night. After the one at Black Agnes’ grave, she received one last one at half past three. This one, was a far way shot of me fast asleep in Agnes’ lap.
I wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t taken a screen-shot of it. When I saw it, all the color drained from my face, all of my hairs stood on end, and goose bumps covered my whole body. Sure enough, there I was, just feet away from the camera, lying peacefully in Agnes’ lap, her arms outstretched happily, pretending she was feeling nothing.
So now, every time I walk by that graveyard, I stop for a second, and remember that photo. We deleted it that morning, deciding we would never speak about it ever again. To this day, I have no idea how it got taken or who took it. I’m sure it wasn’t Amelia; there just wasn’t time in between when I sent it and when she sent me a response from her room. As much as I don’t want to say it or give validity to anything abnormal, I have to be honest, something fucked up happened that night. I just wish I knew what.