Chapter 9: Graveyard Meeting
I left the hospital at eight that morning, using the excuse that I had to go to work. Trev had called earlier and excused himself from work. And I think he knew I wasn’t going to work, I needed my space. I was going to Elise’s grave. I had used the money she left me to give her a proper burial.
I hadn’t visited her grave for a couple months. I was trying to move on and forget about her but maybe I didn’t need to do that.
I carried some red roses to her headstone. They were her favorite flower. She used to fill vases around the house with them. Their petals would litter the floor until they all died and were swept up only to be replaced by new ones.
“Dean, you’ve haven’t visited me in a while,” she whispered.
She wasn’t mad or sad. And I wasn’t crazy. I hoped she didn’t mind being a ghost in my mind.
“I’m sorry. I told my parents. Luke’s in love and my mother’s actually okay with who I am. I just wish I could say the same about my father,” I whisper.
“Maybe I can help you with that,” she answers.
“You’re in my head, how can you help? My father has spoken. He has an opinion on things just like me,” I inquire.
“I’m a ghost, Dean. You may be the only one who can hear me in the waking world but I can talk to everyone in the dream world. I want you to be happy and have your father there for you but I won’t guarantee anything cause I don’t want to disappoint you,” she replies.
“My father will probably only think that he is crazy and losing his mind cause his dreams are telling him things that go against his beliefs,” I reply.
“His beliefs need to change. He can believe in whatever he wants but he shouldn’t believe that what you are is wrong, he should love you. You are his child. He needs to grow up and realize he has two sons and that it’s okay that one is gay and one used to be a girl,” I flinch as she whispers the last word.
“Good luck with that, Elise,” I joke.
I feel her squeeze my shoulder. I place my hand on the same shoulder. I don’t look cause I know I won’t see her. I can only hear and feel her. But I’m glad I can at least do that. I feel her presence disappear and place the roses beneath her name.
The name she had never had to change or question.
I hear laughing in the background and turn to see what it is cause it’s an unusual sound to hear in a graveyard.
I see three young male teens kick a vase of tiger lilies over. The water spills staining the bottom of a headstone brown.
“Hey!” I yell. “Stop that!”
“Why? Huh, old man? Who cares about the dead person in this grave? Nobody that’s who,” curses one of the teens.
“What if that was one of your friend’s graves would you like somebody vandalizing it?” I ask.
“Whatever. Let’s get out of here,” the same teen complains and they storm off.
I pick up the flowers and set them back in the chipped vase.
I look at the grave name: Samuel Oliver.
“Thanks,” called a female voice.
I turned to see who it was.
It was a woman about my age, burnett with blue eyes. She was beautiful in my opinion.
“Don’t mention it. The people in these graves deserve as much respect as the living,” I assure.
“The only reason they do it was because Samuel used to be a girl. He was transgender. Everyone started teasing him after he went to school dressed as a boy. He couldn’t take it and he committed suicide fifteen years ago,” she whispers. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Rebecca Oliver, Sam’s twin sister.”
“My name’s Dean Page. It used to be Haley Campbell until moved here where I changed it because I am transgender, I have a gay brother and my father doesn’t accept us for who we are,” I reply quietly looking at the ground.
“Well, Dean, it was nice meeting you. Who were you here visiting?” she inquires smiling at how much we have in common probably.
“An old friend, she died a couple of years ago. She was the first person to accept me after moving here,” I answer.
“I wish Sam could have met you. You guys probably would have been good friends. Nobody accepted him. Except for his family. Everyone saw him as an alien, half boy...half girl weirdo,” she sniffled and a tear slipped out.
“Rebecca, I’m sorry,” I whisper quietly gently placing a hand on her back trying to calm her.
“It’s not your fault. We should have had him move schools or introduced him to people who would have accepted him,” she whispers.
I lead her to a nearby bench and sit her down.
“I’m sorry, I’m not usually a mess like this,” she says wiping her tears away.
“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it, ” I reply quietly letting out a nervous breath.
“You’re a nice guy, Dean,” she whispers.
“I’ll take that as a compliment since I don’t get many,” I answer quietly.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she laughs. ” You’re handsome though.”
“Your past can affect how people see you and sometimes that makes people see your appearance another way, too,” I reply. “It’s nice to have somebody who can look pass all that, though.”
I smile and she does, too.
“Surround yourself with people who love you and accept you for who you are and treasure them cause they are hard to find,” Elise’s voice echoes.
“Would you like to...go out sometime?” I ask nervously.
My flirting skills were rusty considering I hadn’t used them in five years.
“That would be nice,” she replies with a smile again.
We enter each other’s number into our phones and she leaves a lot happier than when she arrived.
“I found her, Elise. Or at least I think I have,” I whisper.
“Good for you, I’m proud. Don’t ruin it, Dean,” her voice whistles.
“I’ll try not to but I won’t promise anything,” I whisper in return.
I began the long drive back to Florence’s city limits cause that’s where the graveyard resided. Where it could be forgotten, invisible. It was like it was a disgrace. In Bristol, the graveyards had been right next to everyday convenience stores but then again Bristol was smaller and had a smaller population and maybe that was why this graveyard was on the city limits.
I was quite happy with how the day was going. But of course, it couldn’t last. Maybe I’m just unlucky.
I arrived at the hospital building. It was unusually quiet.
My father appeared out of nowhere.
“I don’t know who you are. But you’re not Haley. Haley was my daughter. I bet you killed her and this is your idea of a sick joke. Where is she? Where is Haley? Tell me where she is!” he yelled pushing me.
I didn’t push back, I didn’t want to hurt him.
Could he really not see any part of Haley in me? I know I didn’t fit the ideal picture but who does?
“I told you before, I am Haley. I just cut my hair and got surgery is it really so hard to believe?” I ask defensively holding my hands up.
“Liar! You’re a liar and a murderer. You’ve poisoned my son and wife’s minds but I will not allow you to poison mine,” he yells and pushes me to the pavement. My hands scrap against the gravel as they try to break my fall. I hiss in discomfort.
My father backs off and stalks away.
I wonder if any part of him felt that any of that was wrong.
I slowly rose and calmly walked inside and straight to the nearest washroom before any of the nurses could question me about my bloody hands.
I washed the blood off and tried to disinfect the wounds with soap. I applied pressure until the bleeding stopped and I was just left with scratches.
I went back up to Luke’s room, our mother must have gone out to get food or gone to do something but Trev was still at Luke’s side.
I joined him.
“What happened to you?” Trev inquired noting my scratched hands.
“My father jumped me in the parking lot and pushed me around,” I reply.
Luke is sleeping or at least seems to be.
“You can’t be serious?” he questioned. “You tell him the truth and this is how he repays you?”
“Well, I guess you can’t change some people,” I answer.
I was beginning to doubt Elise could do anything.