The Arcadian Press

Forgotten Gift

A painting of a dark path in the woods.

Forgotten Gift

By Annabelle Thomas

She inhaled a long, drawn-out breath and released it slowly through her mouth, enjoying the smoke it created in the frigid air. Condensation from puddles turned into vapor, lining the edges of the trail. The light from nearby lamp posts helped to illuminate the fog as she continued on her way. The sun had long since gone down, leaving the shining moon in its place, highlighting the stone path below. The silver fence reflected the moon as she walked past its gate into the dim yard beyond.

Her work shoes gently clicked along the ground the further into the graveyard she walked, the eerie whispers of the wind in her ears sending a chill down her spine. Dusty groups of headstones began to peek through the fog, the engravings serving as the dead’s description for the rest of eternity. Their timeline of birth-to-death and mentions of family, written in a font so tilted you could barely read it. Some with vague phrases like “a loving mother” or “May they rest easy.” A few had crosses carved on top to symbolize the hope to be led to heaven with Jesus by their side. Others were simple blocks of concrete on the ground.

The smell of lilacs led her to turn right at the crossing in the path. Here the bodies were visited by loved ones often, with flowers and candles littered across the tops of the well-maintained gravestones. There were white envelopes that the recipient could never read, or food that they could never eat laid in front of the graves, forever teasing passersby to reach for a bite or a glimpse.

The strip of well-worn path began to fade into grass and shrub, making the journey a bit more precarious. Here were the dead that were left alone, never visited. There were no letters to steal or food to eat so even the homeless did not bother coming to ask the grave for help. With no candles to brighten the place, the dark began to close in, making the fog look like something from a nightmare. The absence of flowers left the area smelling of rot and decay.

As she tip-toed along the trail, goosebumps on her arm, she saw something of a deep purple poke out from the white smoke.

“What is that?” she whispered to herself. Pausing, she looked around to see if someone was there, only to find everything the same as it was. Curiosity winning over common sense, she walked slowly toward it. The purple-wrapped present was not what she expected to find.

“Hello?” she said. “Is there anyone there? You forgot your present!” With a shrug she stepped closer, moving the white ribbon to reach the lid underneath. As she began to open it, she wondered what could be inside.

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