“Gravedigger, come dig my grave for me,” I whispered as I held the razor blade over my wrist.
This wouldn’t be the first time cold metal would pierce my skin. The smell of copper would soon fill the room, and I would become light-headed. It was what I wanted. I wanted the escape – to journey closer to the edge. I wasn’t sure yet if I wanted to cross over. But each time I went closer, the better I felt when I came back. Such a strange thing life is. Here on the edge, I get just a taste of what else is out there.
I tried explaining it to my psychologist, but he just shook his head and sent me to a psychiatrist. The bevy of pills that man wanted to dose me with was ridiculous. As he was listing all the issues I have to my mother, I couldn’t help but sing it Greased Lighting style why this girl is automatic, systematic, hydromatic, why she’s Schizophrenic.
Right. I was the one who was schizophrenic. It wasn’t my fault he wasn’t able to see what I could. If a physicist proved that multiple dimensions surround us, I doubt he would be locked away and told he was crazy. But alas, I am no genius who can do insane math problems in my head, so I must be the crazy one. My last journey was enough to prove that I wasn’t crazy.
I met a man with a scar that ran from his left temple across his face to the right side of his chin. My mother would have run from him. I couldn’t help but approach him and wonder why he was staring at the wall so intently. His weak smile made my heart pause for a moment. He couldn’t grab hold of the flaking wall, and his spirit faded with each move he made. Help me, he mouthed, and I nodded.
“What’s your name?” My voice sounded almost musical in this dimension.
“Francis Grace.” It wasn’t hard to see that speaking caused such great pain to the man. “Can you bring it to my mother?”
“Where does she live?” I wasn’t going to ask him what it was. There was no need. Once I woke up, I knew that I had to escape from this prison and find that wall.
There was nothing worse than waking up to the bright lights of the emergency room. Maybe if the people on this side understood how confusing it is to find your way back home, they would keep it dark. Bright lights belong to the other side, while darkness belongs here. I’m not sure how often I have tried to explain it to the nurse, but they always just shook their heads and walked away. They didn’t understand that they were representing the darkness with their actions.
“Ms. Carry, please be still.” Nurse Janice had no patience today for me. She’s seen me dozen times since I was thirteen.
“No time for this nonsense. I have to go.” I yanked the IV from my hand. Janice knew better.
“Emily, don’t make me dope you.” Janice was already making her way to the call button.
This couldn’t happen today. I had to help Mr. Grace. He needed his soul to rest, and I knew where the wall was. I had seen it before, and it wasn’t too far from here. But before I could throw my limp legs over the edge of the bed, an orderly had me pinned down while Janice pumped me with a new cocktail to help me rest.
My foot itched from the blanket covering it. Instead of drifting off to a lovely catatonic state, my skin felt as if thousands of ants were slowly creeping across it. Whatever they filled me with wasn’t doing the trick. I knew if I struggled in my restraints, they would come back, but I really wanted to scratch my foot.
The halls of the hospital were quiet. It must have been late, but I couldn’t tell since I was kept in a windowless room. They seemed to think if I was to have a window, I would jump to my death. I’m not sure why they thought I was suicidal. I’m not suicidal, nor have I ever attempted suicide. What I was doing wasn’t to meet death. I was crossing over. Besides, I’ve met death several times while I was quite alive.
The room suddenly went cold. I looked around for what spirit had come to visit. I couldn’t see anyone, but I knew they had come for me when my wrist loosened and the locked door swung open. The spirit must have been Mr. Grace since I had promised to help him. It was nice that he was returning the favor. Then again, I wasn’t of much use to him strapped down to the bed.
Faster than I should have moved, I threw my hoodie on over my head and slipped into the jeans my mom had brought me. The room spun in a lopsided circle, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from finding that wall.
The wind whipped around my face. I didn’t have any money to call a cab, so my only option was to walk. The wall was ten miles north of the hospital. The one good thing about living in a small town is knowing where everything was without even thinking about it. The flaky white wall was in an abandoned churchyard that I used to play in as a child. I remember that on every Sunday, spirits would show up for the services. I would wonder if they knew that the building only had half a roof and a missing wall. The ghost pastor didn’t seem to notice one bit.
The sun broke through the fog as I entered the overgrown churchyard. A few birds chirped from the tree just outside the gate. The wildflowers were taking over the walkway, which shimmered in the morning dew. Each barefooted step I made was carefully placed not to step on a single one. The flowers looked as though they breathed a sigh of relief as I passed them unharmed. Francis Grace stood at the doorway waiting for me. The pain on his face was no longer there.
“Thank you,” I whispered as I passed him.
The wooden pews had been beaten by years of being exposed to rain and snow. There were still bibles scattered along the floor, and above the altar was a beautiful stained glass dove. It was so peaceful to look at. The morning sun made it glow so bright that it crept into my bones, washing away the cold that gripped me so tightly.
Mr. Grace paced along the west wall. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but he let me know this was the wall. A small crack in the plaster made it easy for my fingers to grip and pull it apart. For how damaged the wall looked, prying it apart proved to be more difficult than I thought. The sun reached high noon before I pulled enough plaster away. Dust from the wall covered my body and made it hard to see. Not to mention I was on my tiptoes peering into a dark hole in the wall. A rickety chair was nearby. I grabbed it and prayed it would support me. In two unsure steps, I was up peering into the dusty space. Off to the left, I saw something and twisted my arm in, ignoring the sharp pain tearing at my wrist, and there it was—a small blue box.
“You found it.” Francis’ eyes started to water. It was strange to watch a man with such a terrifying face, one that would send most people running, breaking down, sobbing. He was just as vulnerable as me. I wanted nothing more than to hug him, but I wasn’t on his side. I couldn’t touch him.
“Where does she live?” I asked, hoping it would be close enough for me to walk to. Francis grabbed hold of my hand, and we were no longer in the church.
An unexpected serenity came over as he held onto me tightly. I always thought I would be scared of one of the ghosts that finally touched me, but nothing was scary about this. Where Francis had taken us was hot. I felt like I wanted to melt. The only protection from the intense heat was the cool draft radiating from Francis. His hand felt cold wrapped around my fingers. There was a woman in her sixties who knelt in the garden pruning roses.
“Mrs. Grace?” I inquired.
She jumped and accidentally snipped one of her fingers. “Yes?”
I held out the blue box. “Your son wanted you to have this.”
Inside the box was a pearl necklace with a small emerald hanging from it. Her hands shook as she took it from me. “How did you get this?”
I didn’t expect her to sound angry. “Francis had me bring it to you. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you.” She breathed.
Something warm trickled down my hand. I didn’t want to look because I knew it was my blood. I must have ripped out my stitches when I was digging the wall apart. I reached out for Francis as I fell to the ground, but there was no loud thud or pain as I hit the cement patio.
I stood over my body. I guess it was finally my turn to make my way over. Francis’ hand was warm when he touched mine.
“What happens now?” I asked, but I knew I wasn’t leaving the other world this time.
“It’s time you start your new life, little one.”