The wind gave voice to the dead.
I found myself in a cemetery that stretched for as far as I could see. No matter how high the hill I climbed, the graves continued into the distance.
Manicured grounds and winding roads, deep lakes and shallow pools. All of it beautiful, and none of it for the living.
I was a trespasser, and I felt it deeply with every step I took.
I’d been walking for the better part of an hour when the wind picked up. As it coursed among the stones, I heard them.
Mine and those I had no claim to.
I could pick out voices, individual words. At times, I heard my name.
It was cursed and praised, damned and longed for.
None of it was easy to hear.
What was worse, however, was they didn’t know I was there.
I heard Adelaide’s voice, and her sweet words hooked into my heart and pulled. It was an effort to keep my feet on the path and not go looking for her grave.
A short time later, I heard my sister and my brother, the pair of them laughing and singing as we were wont to do on Sundays when the rest of the town was at meeting.
I did not hear my father’s voice, and for that, I am thankful.
It meant – I hoped – that he was alive still, in the Hollow, despite our centuries apart.
A short while before nightfall, I realized I’d not make it out of the cemetery before dark, which meant I’d need to find a good place to hunker down for the night.
It came a short time later and in the form of a crypt with the name ‘Lee’ carved in bas relief upon the lintel. The door, fashioned from hardwood and bound with iron, was secured with a padlock and one which looked sturdy enough to keep back the dead.
I settled down, put my back to the wood, and took out my pipe.
In the growing darkness, I smoked and listened for the familiar amongst the strange.
This time, it came from the crypt behind me. A soft, sweet voice singing an Irish lay I’d heard during the Great War.
It brought up memories both painful and joyous and carried me back to years gone by.
I remembered my soldiers and our dogs and the brotherhood we shared.