Any evening you’ll find me walking round my village, a brisk half hour’s walk. It’s much later tonight, gone eleven. I got waylaid sorting out books in my library, sifting through collections of Daphne Du Maurer and Victor Canning first editions. I pass occasional houses, farms and cottages. Is anyone awake? Alive even?! The sporadic street light casts its orange glow but windows are dark, silent, secretive.
The moon is bright. The full silver disk shines down, belittling my torch so that I replace it in my jacket pocket. Few stars are visible but a bright yellow ‘star’ shines just under the moon. Jupiter or Saturn? I realise I don’t really care. I approach the church along a little lane, overhung by trees, that loops off the main village road. To my left is a gate in the hedge. I stand there and gaze out over the moonlit gravestones. Sides facing away from the bright moon are in deep shadow, emphasising how most stones are tilted over. After hundreds of years of imperceptible toppling, some gravestones lean at 45 degrees.
I pass through the gate. Ahead of me are several gigantic yew trees. Pitch black, they remind me of rooks (or ‘castles’) in chess, almost square with small ‘turrets’ on top. I hear geese honking in the distance, then silence, air still as a quiet pond.
I look behind me, to neat rows of more modern gravestones. They resemble card, not stone, two-dimensional in the unearthly light. Suddenly right by me, a bird flies out of a bare tree, squawking loudly. I jump.
“Hello Stan.” A voice comes from my side, soft, recognisable – it’s Gary from the village.
I look around. “Hello stranger, you’re out late!”
“It’s peaceful. No-one’s about, not even ghosts!” he laughs. Then, “my brother’s buried here.” He gestures to his right.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” I say. “When did he die?”
“Exactly five years ago today. His motorbike went under a truck.”
“That’s awful, I hadn’t heard…”
“It’s still hard Stan, but at least I can visit him…”
“Yes, my dad’s here too,” I say.
I gaze around the churchyard, so very different by moonlight. So many gravestones I’d never noticed before. There’s even one under my feet. In the half-light, tall, round-headed gravestones look exactly like the heads and shoulders of half-buried giants. I glance round and notice Gary has gone.
I pass the church and leave the graveyard to continue my walk. A little further on is the village pub. Lights burn brightly still. “B & B’ers” drinking and talking late, no doubt. On impulse I go in. Sure enough, I don’t recognise the small gathering, but there’s Bill, the landlord and at the bar, Gary.
“Hi Gaz, you must be thirsty!” I say, seeing his glass almost empty.
He laughs. “What?”
“Well, you drank that quickly!”
“What are you on about?” he says.
“You came back from the church quickly.”
“I’ve not been to the church. I’ve been in here.”
“He has,” says Bill.
“You were telling me about your brother.”
“My brother’s dead and buried, over there in the graveyard.”
“I just saw you…”
Gary puts down his beer, hand shaking. “Jez was my twin. We were identical twins.”
“I could never tell them apart,” says Bill.
Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories
- To purchase the stories on To Cut a Short Story Short up to December 2021 in paperback, Kindle, eBook, and audio-book form, and for news on new titles, please see Shop.
- If you are interested in joining Write Away, a fortnightly story group (giving a choice of 250, 500 or 750 word assignments) please contact me and I’ll be pleased to send details.
- Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on this blog. There are over 350!
30 thoughts on “Moonlit Gravestones”
Just re-read this… I had forgotten the ending…so good!!!
Hi Margaret, lovely to hear from you again. I just re-read it myself, though of course i knew the ending 😅 As mentioned in the comments, it was based on a graveyard and pub in the village I lived in at the time, good to take a trip down memory lane. x
Loved every bit of the story. The imagery was wonderful. The ending was very unexpected.
A new blogger here, it’d mean the world to me if you checked out my blog since you’re such an amazing writer.
Hi, thanks for reading, and glad you enjoyed the story! Could you post links to a couple of your ‘faves’ here please and I’ll be happy to have a look. BTW thanks for the complement, not sure if I deserve such an accolade TBH *blushes* 😉
I have just 3 blog posts, don’t think it should be so much of a trouble.
OK, no problem, will be happy to look in very soon 🙂 BTW I love your blog title, it’s great!
Very well executed tale. 😉 I find graveyards very peaceful, but not enough to take a late night ramble.
Hi, Christine, that graveyard is very peaceful I find and I’ve often gone there at night, although I feel a little self-conscious in case anyone else comes along (no-one ever has) although they’d feel the same no doubt! I haven’t seen any real ghosts there and it doesn’t seem ‘spooky’. So far anyway!
I wrote another story about that graveyard, completely autobiographical in this case (no ‘what if?’ element!)
Great read! The ending was unexpected!
Thank you. I usually aim for an unexpected twist at the end!
Interesting, I didn’t know what to expect. Well put together and an enjoyable read!
Thanks for reading and very pleased you liked it!
Enjoyable read that got the hairs on the back of my neck going at the end.
Great! I suppose it was kind of spooky!
Kept me glued till the end. The plot was perfectly put. Your wordings and the flow of it. I could totally visualize it. Instead of saying it was a great read, I shall tell it you that it was a great experience
That’s a lovely comment and much appreciated!
Really great short story. enjoyed reading it very much 🙂
So pleased to hear that, thanks for looking in!
It was interesting! Very good work.
Many thanks for reading!
You are welcome!
Great imagery! I felt the nonchalant coolness of the conversation, while wrapped in the scenery.
Thanks very much, I tried to portray the eeriness of the scene, although it feels peaceful there.
Yes the scenery felt like a dream-state or another dimension, while fully awake and aware.
Yes, it was just like that actually. I was always a big fan of Tom’s Midnight Garden, one of my childhood ‘faves.’ That had a lot of wandering around in the moonlight 🙂
Ooo I will have to look that one up!
I always love a good ghost story! Really like how you set up the story. Great stuff!
Thank you very much!
I like this kind of stuff. Keeping a story short but keeping it engaging and the plot moving.
Thank you – much appreciated!