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Death gazed out the window. Fog clouded the bottom half, the kiss of a ghost, where the glass bulged flowing over the bronze frame and onto the stone sill. Like melted clear wax, the window had nearly drained free of the top leaving a tiny gap within the frame. On quiet evenings, one could hear the dead whispering their secrets carried on the dusty breath escaping through slender opening in the glass.
As a child, Nine Thyme had spent many evenings peering through the old window at the dark shapes held within. Who would install a window on a sepulcher? Much like when she was very young, the window still captured her imagination. Her grandfather, Augustus, had often teased Nine telling her stories about the woman and child climbing out of their sarcophagi at night to gaze out the window. On several occasions she had waited for the sun to set over the cemetery to see if anyone actually came to the window. Only the ghostly kiss on the glass ever arrived at night.
The graveyard on the hillside was home to several of Nine’s childhood friends. Beatrix, an adolescent taken by influenza during the Great Depression, enjoyed talking about boys and playing chess. Beatrix had a simple stone marker, and Nine had on many occasions set the chessboard on the marker and learned about chess while discussing boys. Sometimes Douglass would sit nearby. He had been a hunter, accidentally shot by his brother. Douglass could explain everything about animals, and much about human behavior, too, but he never understood chess. He’d sometimes quietly watch Nine and Beatrix play until boredom carried him to sleep. Nine hadn’t spoken to Beatrix, Douglass, or any of her other childhood companions since her early teens. The ghosts had abandoned her years ago.
Looking into the window, through her reflection before the orange sky over the trees behind her, Nine searched the darkness within. She imagined a grieving man standing on the very same spot solemnly gazing in at his wife and young daughter. Instead of a door, the man had set a window into the tomb so he could watch his loved ones without disturbing their rest. Nine could make out the plaque on each sarcophagus, but she couldn’t read the inscriptions. The two women remained nameless, but not forgotten. According to Augustus Thyme, the girl inside was his father’s older sister, the graveyard’s very first resident.
In all her many visits, Nine’s ancestors had never spoken to her. She wished, just once, the ghosts within would come to the window and look out at her.
Nine pressed her finger against the clouded glass meeting her reflection’s cool touch. Slowly, she wrote her name backward so the sepulcher’s inhabitants could read it. Looking up, she met the gaze of her reflection appearing like a ghost looking back at her. As light faded in the sky, darkness consumed the tomb’s inhabitants leaving Nine looking at her shadowy reflection. Down at the bottom of the window, before her name written backward in the fog, she found a response echoing her message.