Melinda buried Ray in the churchyard. That was one of the handy things about living next door to a church , an historic church, there were a lot of graves, a lot of disused graves; and therefore a lot of places to dispose of a body.
Not that Melinda made it a habit to dispose of bodies, but if you had to do it a heritage listed graveyard was probably the best place.
It sucked to be a gravedigger. Melinda had come to that conclusion after digging Ray’s grave. Even digging into an existing grave was hard work. Backbreaking. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like starting from scratch. Her arms and shoulders ached for over a week afterwards.
The other thing that sucked about gravedigging was that it took so long it made you focus on what you had done, why you were digging in the first place.
Melinda had killed Ray. She couldn’t deny it. Put arsenic in his tea. She had found the arsenic in her Dad’s garden shed – maybe he had it for killing rats, which was appropriate considering Ray was the biggest human rat that ever lived.
She was lucky Ray drank his tea black and strong because he didn’t notice the poison. He actually said it was the best cup of tea he’d ever had before he kicked the bucket. Funny how you slipped into euphemisms where death was involved but Melinda supposed it was better to say Ray had kicked the bucket than that she had watched him writhing in agony, limbs flailed as spittle and bile and foamy blood spilled out of his mouth. She couldn’t really say that. It made her feel like a murderer.
Were you really a murderer if the person you murdered had tried to murder you?
Ray had pushed her down the stairs. She’d been unable to stop herself, her fingernails scrambling at the wainscotting. She was in a panic by the time she hit the bottom, three months pregnant and bleeding. Her pants were full of blood, hot and cold. She felt something moving amongst the pool of blood and she knew the baby was in there – a tiny helpless thing flung out of its safe cocoon. She knew the baby was dying.
In the months afterwards when Melinda couldn’t bear to get out of bed, Ray acted as if nothing had happened. The fury Melinda felt at his nonchalance was the only thing that kept her alive.
When she began to feel like she could face the world again she decided she was going to kill him. And she did.
She buried him in the churchyard on Hallowe’en.
It had been five years. Melinda visited the grave every Hallowe’en morning, not to pay her respects, but to make sure the bastard was still dead. There had been a woman telling fortunes on the street only days after Melinda had killed him who had called her over, her teeth crooked and stained; the woman had looked at her, looked right at her as if she knew, saying: The dead will rise, the dead will rise.
Melinda ran all the way home.
Every Hallowe’en Melinda sat by the window watching the churchyard. All day. All day. The fortune teller’s words had made her fearful, superstitious.
She sat by the window all day; walking in the churchyard to check the grave four, five, ten times. The churchyard was still, quiet. The shadows were soft and black.
Each time Melinda checked the grave there was nothing, just a hush; bulky, opaque.
At midnight she began to relax. It was over. All Hallow’s Eve had ended. Ray was still in the ground, dead, unthreatening. Right where he belonged.
As she walked back to the house the fig trees rustled as if possums or fruit bats were nestling there. A wind ran along the ground, pulling along balls of dust and grime.
Melinda locked up the house, exhausted, climbing into bed half asleep. She didn’t notice the fig trees, leaves shaking in agitation, in a warning, nor the wind, sharp as a knife, rattling the locks.
As she drifted off to sleep she didn’t notice the earth around Ray’s grave, five years old, undisturbed, shift. Melinda was in such a deep sleep she didn’t notice the hand, grey, mostly bone, plunge upward through the earth out into the cold night air and flex. She didn’t notice anything at all.
HAPPY HALLOWE’EN, EVERYONE!!!!