This is the story of me.
I reside at Helowe Churchyard, in a melancholic pagan England.
I am gregarious, outgoing.
I have taken my chances, avoided plagues, infestations.
My body is fibrous as I live off scraps and fend away the rats.
For decades, I have walked amid the lush grass, where death vibrates daily in tandem with the church bell.
On many midnight rituals, I listen, curling into protective huddles at the screams.
During daylight, I lap up the salty drops of people’s tears as they bury their loved ones.
Carelessly I tiptoe around open graves, gazing at the deceased in their winding sheet.
My life is transient: all life is transient.
The midnight rituals suggest this.
With one of the hessian-skinned, scabrous women that perform them, I have made a pact.
To run history, anew.
Frosty-eyed, she adorns herself in a mantle from neck to ankle and hears my cries as I slide upon the smears of goat’s innards.
She looks deep into my eyes; recognises unnatural desires.
I could not speak; but reading thoughts was her skill.
‘Come here on the night of First Moon, for a rekindling.’
Tonight was that First Moon.
I pad out of the shadows of a flourishing oak tree, received
She and her followers stand alongside the mound of a recently covered grave.
They utter an indecipherable lamentation.
I am distracted; do not see the woman turn away from my rickety body.
One swift twist lifts me up to run a blade across my throat.
Blood vents into the mercury chill.
She casts aside my limp body. I see but do not feel as I ghost out of my skin the last of my nine lives spent.
The lamentation peaks.
The mound begins to break, crumble.
A scalp ruptures forth, then a face, a neck, and shoulders, more mannered in their escape from the ground.
A young woman emerges.
In the moon glow, her skin is yeasty, her hair woven into a mat by grass roots and worms.
Eight strands sprout firmly from her cheeks, four on each. She stretches, dirt trails from her. She wears a mud-splattered shroud tied at the waist and neck.
Thoughtfully, she lets her tongue lick herself clean.
She is guided forward, grins, her nose short, black at its tip, teeth sharp.
A long, soft, fury tail, brushing over the moon-silhouetted grass.
From under the hedgerows, the rats appear, skipping, their snouts twirling up towards the sky in joyful splendour.
Over my dead body, they scurry.