Posted in Fiction, Short Stories

G(r)eeks & the Cemetery Block, a short story by Jean M. Hodges

Whoever thought it was a good idea to put a cemetery so close to a high school?

Even from her place high up in the computer lab, Aphrodite could still make out the spiky gates surrounding the graveyard, as well as the tombstones that jutted out of the dry, weedy grass like broken teeth .

The whole place took up at least a couple city blocks, and even sandwiched in between a church and the apartment building right next to the school, you can still sense that it was there.

And it freaked Aphrodite the fuck out.

For once she was happy that her laptop had been broken. As much as Aphrodite hated having to do her online work at school, she would avoid walking home past that place any day.

But this was winter, and the afternoon would soon fade away into a cool, crisp night, and she would have preferred not running into anybody shady if she could help it.

So, to get her mind off of the cemetery, she focused on her essay for AP Lit. “The Greek Gods” is said in dull, academic font, and Aphrodite smiled at its familiarity.

She soon found her fingers gliding across the keyboard, flipping through her notes every as she filled her computer screen with dates and numbers and legends still relevant enough to reach out and bestow Aphrodite with a name that she still felt silly saying out loud .

In her industrious haze, Aphrodite didn’t even notice another girl come into the empty computer room to take her seat beside her as if she’d been there all along.

**

Sybil was the kind of girl with a reputation but what this reputation entailed was as hazy as cigarette smoke.

All Aphrodite knew was that when Sybil walked down the halls, a few of the older boys would cat call her as much as they could while the teachers would usher them away, telling them to get to class before the bell.

Sybil mostly kept to herself, which was easy enough for a girl with a reputation, whatever that meant. She’d sit in the back in class, reading some book or another, doodling a picture in her notebooks as the school hours ticked away.

She wore fishnets long enough for the eyes of the teachers and students to get caught on her legs, and more than once Sybil was sent to in front of the class as an example of being improper and being out of uniform, citing the fishnets and lose bra straps peeking out of her own approximation of the school shirt, a loose red crop top she’d cut and sewn herself, giving her the appearance of a patched up ragdoll as she rolled her eyes at her instructor’s latest lecture on self-respect .

She more a longer red shirt and pants to stop the teachers from yapping for a while, but she’d be out of it by last period, back in her red crop top, black shorts and black fishnets as soon as she got to Remedial French.

She was wearing that outfit now in library seat next to Aphrodite, and the only reason Aphrodite even noticed at first was because when she leaned back in her chair to stretch and watch the time, she was the trail of long, leggy diamonds from the corner of her eye.

Glancing to her side, Aphrodite said, “Sybil?”

Sybil, who was deep into reading her book, had looked up and smiled, her eyebrows going up with amusement and surprise.

“Hey!”

“Hey…”

“Um…?”

“Aphrodite.”

“Oh yeah, like the Greek goddess! Nice to see you! What’s up?”

“N-not much. Working.”

“Cool, cool.”

“You?”

“Doing a book report, so I thought I’d turn to the classics.”

“Icarus Johnson is a classic?”

“Hell yeah, it is! I’d loved this book series since middle school! Man, I love it when demigods kick ass…” Sybil said, flipping through her book fondly.

Aphrodite quirked an eyebrow, “You’ve read the Greek myths?”

“Does Captain Kirk recite Shakespeare on the fly?” Sybil said with  a playful smirk.

Aphrodite looked down, doing her best to hide her blush behind her long, purple braids.

Rolling her chair closer to Aphrodite, Sybil whispered, “I’m just teasing,” before rolling back in front of her own book and computer.

“So! What are you doing here so late?”

Aphrodite shrugged. “Erm, got a project to do. My laptop broke. You?”

Sybil pointed out of the window. “My apartment’s next to the right next to the cemetery. But I got bored after detention so I came up here to read alone. But I guess you beat me to it.” Sybil said, elbowing Aphrodite with a playful grin, which only made the other girl give a nervous chuckle.

“Heh. Yeah, I guess. “ Aphrodite said, looking at her work on the computer screen. “Well, I’m about done, I gotta get home before dark.”

Sybil nodded. “That’s fine, I finished this chapter anyway. I’ll just walk with you!” Sybil said, packing her book into her skull-patterned backpack.

“Oh!” Aphrodite cried, rushing to save her work said that. You don’t have to do that! I’ll be fine!

Sybil scoffed. “I ain’t doing anything. No one’s expecting me at home. Besides, it’s not safe for a young girl to walk home alone during the nighttime! Especially in this neighborhood! Buddy system!”

“So, you’re my buddy now, Sybil?” Aphrodite teased, packing her flash drive into her backpack.

Sybil looked back at her with serious, brown eyes. “Well, I hope to be, Miss Aphrodite. Wanna start now?”

Aphrodite looked between the door and Sybil’s hand, considering for a moment. Well, it was getting dark out. And she doubted her mother would mind her walking home with a classmate.

Aphrodite sighed, sliding her hand into Sybil’s. “OK.”

Sybil smiled. “OK.”

Letting go of Sybil’s hand to slip her own backpack on, Aphrodite heard Sybil say, “I hope you like talking! Cuz I’m going to be doing a lot of that during this walk, how about you?”

Aphrodite shrugged. “I don’t mind talking.”

Sybil nodded. “Good! Let’s get started! Hi, I’m Sybil! I’m in your Chemistry class.”

Aphrodite smiled, “Aphrodite. Nice to meet you, Sybil.” Sybil laughed.

“Likewise, my dear lady! Now let’s get you home so I don’t have to shank some shady dudes, mmkay?”

**

Ten steps to the graveyard…

“What ice-cream do you like?” Sybil asked, reaching into her backpack with one hand to pull out a few licorice sticks.

“Caramel…” Aphrodite murmured, seeing them pass the spiky gates from the corner of her eye.

Aphrodite still felt Sybil’s hand in hers, her red-hot manicure nails rooting her to the here and now and we’re almost passed it, we’re almost ‘Dite, just a little further…

“We should go out to IceRock sometime! They’re right downtown, they make the best ice-cream!”

The cemetery was a little ways behind them now and Aphrodite let go of Sybil’s hand to stretch out  her arms.

“You don’t have to,” Aphrodite said, putting her hands in the pockets of her shabby, grey hoodie. “I really don’t wanna  bother you”

Sybil smiled, before leaning to kiss Aphrodite on the cheek.

“You don’t bother me. That’s why I’m walking you home, silly!” Sybil said, lacing her arm through Aphrodite’s as they both walked down the sidewalk in the dying sunlight with the shyest of smiles.

“Now let’s get out of here! This block always creeps me out at night!” Sybil whispered, breaking them out of their dreamy trance to hurry them along.

Aphrodite laughed, letting Sybil drag them down the crosswalk, feeling the wind flow through the gaps of her old, ripped jeans.

“Yeah, me too!”

THE END

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Author:

Writer, poet, storyteller, and professional time waster

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