In the Graveyard

This is the story that I mentioned in my previous post, the one my mother used to tell me as I was growing up. She swears, to this day, that this is exactly what happened and the events written here are as I remember her telling it. It was requested by one of the tumblr folks, so I am posting it here now while it’s still on my mind.

My mother grew up in Chicago, Illinois, across the street from a cemetery. It’s a place well known for its supposed hauntings – no, not the one on Archer Avenue – and she had heard them all. After all, it’s hard not to when you grow up across the street from the place.

She told me many tales of her time spent playing in the graveyard, like how she, my aunt, and some friends of theirs would climb into the holes the apprentice gravediggers would make and use it as a hiding place to stay after dark. But my favorites were always the ghost stories, like the time she was sitting in the middle of the cemetery during the day and heard a horse and carriage walk by yet there was none to be seen. The best was always the one about the dogs, though.

It was a fall day and my mother, my aunt, and a friend of theirs were wandering through the cemetery in Chicago. They liked to read the epitaphs and look at the different tombstones, for this was an older cemetery and as such it had many a splendid statue adorning the final resting sites of local folk. This day, though, they came across another part of the cemetery, one a little further than they normally explored. It was here they came across a unique gravesite.

As my mother tells it, the tombstone was curved, in the shape of a bell, with two stone dogs guarding each end. Written all along the top of the stone was the epitaph of the deceased.

They entered the small site.

Being as it was rather large, it took a bit of time for them to read it all the way around, from one dog to the next. Once read, they left the site and headed down the road chatting. And that was when they heard it.

Something was following them. It sounded like a dog, my mother recalled, padding down the path behind them. Yet when they turned around, nothing was there. It was still light out, she says, so there was no missing whatever it was. Seeing nothing, though, the three of them went back on their way, their pace a little more quickened now. And the noise continued. Here, my mother claims to have heard the nails clicking against the ground behind them, as whatever it was followed them, its own pace sped up now that they had begun to walk faster. They glanced back but still nothing was there.

One of them turned to the others and shouted to run.

They cut across the grass, leaving the path behind and headed straight to the fence that encircled the cemetery. Behind them, they could still hear what sounded like a dog, though now that it was running they could even hear its collar dancing back and forth upon its neck. Though whenever they looked behind them, they could see nothing there.

Whatever it was chased them to the fence. The three of them climbed over it and the sounds ceased. No more padding paws. No more clicking nails. Even the sound of the dancing collar ceased.

This is the story as my mother told it to me growing up. Believe it, or don’t, it makes no real matter to me. The story never changed, always the same, every detail identical to the last time she told it. It was as if the memory was burned into her memory and she couldn’t tell it differently if she wanted to. I’ve no reason to believe she is lying, either, nor embellishing the story.

I have my own theories on what chased my mother, my aunt, and their friend out of the cemetery that day, though not all of the details mesh with my research. The fact that there was no “physical” appearance of the dog, or whatever it was, makes me hesitate to label it. But that’s the tale as it was told to me.

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