Endless Cycle by K.B. Woods

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Endless Cycle by K.B. Woods
Illustration by Sue Babcock

Her slush-white dress matches her pale, lifeless, skin. She clutches a bouquet of yellow roses in her hands. Her bare feet tread through the soft earth of a small, freshly dug grave. All around her are stones that glow in the pale light of the full moon. She drops to her knees on the dirt, staining her dress. A light breeze whistles through her ears, filling her with uneasiness. A shiver spreads up her spine and throughout her body, chilling her to the depths of her soul. That is, what’s left of it. A single tear escapes her eye, tickling her skin and leaving a path across her dirt-stained face. She lays the flowers next to two other clusters that she brought nights before. The grave she is at has no headstone, just a wooden cross marking where the body lay. She closes her eyes as if in silent prayer and waits.

Observing her from the middle of the cemetery, the groundskeeper is perplexed. This is the third time he’s seen her come at such an odd hour. A time when no one else, other than him, should be here. She appears to do no harm, but if his boss came to check on how things are going he could lose his job. She’s probably only a year or two younger than him.

“I must confront her tonight,” he mutters to himself, shaking his head as he hears the oddly formal tone he’s used. He walks towards her, letting his foot bump a couple of headstones, so she can hear him coming.

“Excuse me miss,” he says. She doesn’t react, staying in a prayer-like position.

“Hello,” he says, but she still does not move. It’s as if she cannot hear him. Her lips are moving, but all he can hear is an indistinguishable whisper. Carefully, he puts his hand on her shoulder trying to get her attention. She does not respond, so he kneels down next to her to try to hear what she’s saying. She’s singing.

A muted thump sounds behind, causing him to turn from the kneeling girl and look behind him. Another girl has joined them. She appears to be quite young and is dressed the same as the girl kneeling on the grave. Coldness spreads through his chest as his muscles lock-up. The kneeling girl stops singing as the little one picks up the tune.

He gets to his feet, stumbling backward. The kneeling girl’s hand strikes out as quick as a snake, grabbing his ankle and sending him falling. He slams into a tombstone, which causes his world to spin before his eyes. When his vision clears, he sees what he thinks to be impossible. The little girl is holding a tombstone above her head. He screams in fear as he covers his head. The tombstone slams into his arm. Pain races through his shoulder as he hears the crack of his arm breaking.

“No, no, no,” he gasps, scrambling backward after the older girl lets go of him.

“Hello, want to play ball?” the little girl asks. A white ball appears in her hand, and she bounces it off his head.

“I…I…” he stutters.

“Ssh, it’s okay,” the older girl says with an innocent smile lighting up her face. She reaches her hand down to touch his face as she starts to fade. He feels her hand against his cheek as she’s blown away by the wind.

“See you soon,” the little girl says, laughing as she fades away. He looks down at his arm and realizes the pain is fading. So is his arm.

“What?” His breaths come in quick gasps as he scrambles on the ground, trying to feel anything around him until his lack of legs and arms leaves him stranded in the dirt of the grave. As the last bits of his body fade away, he finally remembers his death. He finally remembers that he–

The groundskeeper watches the events unfold as a smile spreads across his face. He knows that the girls do this to hurt the man who led them all to their untimely death years ago. Shaking his head, he turns and observes a girl in a white dress entering the cemetery. This is the third time he’s seen her come at such an odd hour.

“I must confront her tonight,” he mutters to himself, shaking his head as he hears the oddly formal tone he’s used.

 

BIO: K.B. Woods lives and works in Indiana. Their work has been published in Inwood Indiana, WOLVES, and The Flash Fiction Press.