She had the distinct impression that something was in the offing. What it was she couldn't say but there was something, of that she was certain. Perhaps it was simply the anxious knot in her stomach, the one that always seemed to twist tightly when she went there, or perhaps it was the expectant eeriness of the place. It was difficult to tell. But there was something in that graveyard that evening - menacing, invisible, nameless perhaps, but it was there. She could taste it in the air, that sickly stale smell of cut-grass and flowers mingled with - with something
The Church was small in comparison to larger, grander churches in the towns and cities but it was more than enough to accommodate those in the village. It wasn't extravagantly designed nor imposing in nature but, instead, held a modest, regal quality. Likewise, the graveyard was neat, orderly, very much like the village and the people that were buried there, despite the decay that had begun to set in now that there seemed to be no end to the War.
Joan kneeled in front of her husband's grave, studying the inscription carved onto the stone that marked it, even if it wasn't his final resting place. He'd been buried in the trenches on the battlefield so very long ago and that was where he remained, lost by now in rubble and earth. But she still went there to pray in the hope that Oliver might visit the site of his false grave, that he might hear her.
"It's very impolite not to answer," she told him as she arranged the fresh bokay of flowers she'd brought with her. "What would your mother say?" She imagined him rolling his eyes at the mention of his mother and cringing at the thought of her swinging her hefty handbag at his head as she used to whenever he said or did something she didn't approve of. Joan knew exactly what she would have said, "Oliver James Redfern! Where are your manners?" in her high, piercing voice, followed by the thwap of alligator skin meeting his skull, the trinkets inside clanging noisily. The very image made her smile.
She hated being there, though. The thought of the dead buried at her feet - it sent a shiver of disgust rattling down her spine. Especially this particular graveyard (not that she visited very many) with its' many statues watching as she passed, staring blankly at her, following her movements. She noticed the chill air then, whipping at her skirts and stealing the warmth from her skin.
Standing, she glanced around the graveyard, seeing no one but the silhouette of the angels against the orange of the setting sun, black, harsh and cold as twilight set in. There it was again, the horrid feeling of something being there. She didn't believe in ghosts, not since she was a child and loving the thrill and adrenaline of a frightening story, but at that moment she had her doubts. The tightness in her shoulders ached faintly as she watched, half-hoping she wouldn't see whatever it was. With one glance back at Oliver's grave she began to walk towards the old, creaking gate, trying to keep her gait steady and unhurried.
She looked behind her as she closed her coat tighter and wrapped her arms around herself. Had that - no, it was her eyes playing tricks on her, but she could have sworn that statue had - no, it was ridiuclous. Her steps grew quicker nonetheless. She strode uneasily to the gate and rushed through it and across the street as composed as she could manage, unsure if she was simply being silly about the whole situation.
She didn't see the angel standing at the gate as she left.