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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something in the YOUNG ADULT or TEEN genre (06/07/07)

TITLE: Graveyard Waltz
By Steve Uppendahl
06/13/07


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We all have a first love. Its truly a beautiful thing, all those new feelings crashing around inside like an ocean. But, eventually seas calm. People move on.

But, what if your first love dies before you move on to your second? What if he comes back and wants you to join him? Think about it. Eternally young, together with your first love; forever. What if you were seventeen? What would you do?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Im dreaming; yet, something feels different, wrong. Its late July, but Im freezing. My flesh breaks into goose bumps. Im walking. The coolness of damp grass is beneath my feet. My long white nightgown billows with a gentle breeze. Blackness surrounds me, with occasional clouds of white fog slithering across my vision.

The sounds of footsteps from behind force me to stop. I should be afraid, but Im not. A familiar scent wisps through my nostrils, Old Spice and red roses. A smile pulls at my lips. Turning, I notice the fog is blowing towards me, as if something is coming my direction. I hear music, our song. I inhale sharply.

Incredibly, I see his eyes first. Those beautiful grey-green eyes, contrasting with his jet-black hair still stun me. Hes wearing a black t-shirt and khakis. I barely notice the bouquet of red roses. He stops inches from me and smiles; my heart flutters.

Ive missed you, Beth.

His voice is lower than I remember, and throaty, as if hes had a cold.

I miss you too, Evan.

I want to hold him, but Im afraid hell disappear. I dont want this to end. He smiles again, as if hes reading my mind.

This is real, babe. As real as what
is allowed, anyway.

Allowed by who?

Evan just smiles warmly. Im about to speak, but he puts a finger against my lips, shaking his head. His finger is cold. An uncomfortable coolness begins to spread across my jaw. Again, as if reading my thoughts, Evan removes his finger.

His tone is more urgent, I dont have much time. I want you to be with me. Here in the afterworld. Dont ask me what its like, because I cant tell. What I can say is that well be together. Well never get old, never get sick. We can talk, dance, anything you want. Just you and me, Beth, forever.

Im speechless. Evan nods and begins to fade.

Panicked, I yell, Wait!

Its okay. Ill be back tomorrow night. You have to decide by then, Beth.

The fog thickens quickly and he fades away. Within seconds, hes gone, and Im back in bed, still in the dead of night.

Unable to sleep, I wander the house. I check in on my sisters and parents, all sleeping heavily. Again and again, I walk by photo after photo, remembering, agonizing, praying, deciding.

Before I realize Ive slept, I awaken on the couch, photo albums spread around me. Sunlight streams in through the windows. Pinching the bridge of my nose, I close my eyes tightly until I see spots. Even before I open them, I can hear her.

What is it, Lizzy?

As always, my youngest sister giggles before she speaks, Youre so smart, Beth. I love you.

Before I can ask about her strange response, she kisses my forehead and runs toward the kitchen, then stops suddenly.

Beth, where are you going to college?

I dont know, Liz. Why?

If its somewhere close, you can come back and watch my soccer games. Right?

I smile, Absolutely, Lizzy. But, thats a year away.

I know. Just making sure.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I hold my breath as I see him approach, same clothes, same eyes. Same Evan. We stare at each other for seconds, maybe years. His eyes widen.

Youre not coming.

Not trusting my voice, I shake my head. I drop to my knees and sob. Hes there, wrapping his cold arms around me. I talk to the ground.

I cant, Evan. You were too young. So am I. I want to go to college, see my sisters graduate, see-

I get it, Beth. Its okay. I dont blame you. I shouldnt have made you choose. But, Ill be waiting. True love always waits.

I look up with tears streaming down my face, But, what if-

Evan smiles, What if were not true love? Dont worry. Youve got time to figure it out, and Ill be here either way.

Hours later, I walk with a heavy heart towards a brightening horizon.

***

We danced so close, we were teenage ghosts, we were doing that graveyard waltzAfter all was said and done, we were just too young, to be doing that graveyard waltz...
--The Hooters



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This article has been read 758 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 06/15/07
This story touches on a topic that teens sometimes romanticize. The reality of choosing to die young, when life seems hopeless, reaches into more than just the teen's future but into the future of all those who know and love them. Good message.
Kaylee Blake 06/15/07
Powerful. Loved this piece! You took a topic so many teen flicks have tried to lighten and cheapen and you made it real. Great job!
Joanne Sher 06/18/07
Wow - deep and extremely visual. Great descriptions.
Joy Faire Stewart06/18/07
The title caught my eye...had to read the story! I think it will appeal to teens as well as adults. The story is interesting and easy to follow. Great example that you don't always have to use teen jargon in a teen story, (which can sometimes be distracting)and still have a excellent story for teens!
Victoria Weathers06/18/07
I like how Beth chooses to go on with life and not miss major experiences for what may or may not be her true love.
Betty Castleberry06/19/07
This is a hauntingly beautfiul piece. (Pun unintended.) The descriptions were very vivid in the first couple of paragraphs, and I had no trouble visualizing the scene. This is a great piece for serious-minded teens, or those in a serious frame of mind, if even for a brief while. ;0)
Marilee Alvey06/19/07
I must admit that I've read this story before. I was just speechless. I didn't know what to say. I wondered where the guy's location was in the afterlife. Some of it didn't sound promising: his touch was very cold and he wouldn't, or couldn't say where he was. Also, God wouldn't allow Lazarus to go back to this world and warn his brothers, so what's this guy doing here? Could he be from Heaven? The signs were ominous. I was caught, offguard, and couldn't suspend my puzzlement enough to focus on the other message here: the drive to go forward, which is always toward the unknown. However, this gal was between two unknowns. Strangely, her past and her future both loomed out there, a mystery. (Usually we know about the past, but I guess this was a past with a future!) This was a deep story, a dance with the lure of death: to be done with the struggle that is life. At some times in our life it is tempting. Thanks for such a thought provoking read!
Ed VanDeMark06/19/07
Well written but disturbing. I'm not sure I truly understood it.
Jacquelyn Horne06/20/07
Good article. Wonderful, picturesque writing.
Sara Harricharan 06/20/07
Wow. I think I like this. There are a few things I wish could be explained more, like where their story started and how it ended and why and all of that. ^_^ I thought it was pretty good, but kind of sad at the same time. The title fits when you read the last bit at the bottom, just a thought-would it have worked better somewhere on the top? Anyhow, good job.
Catrina Bradley 06/21/07
I too read this and was speechless. I usually don't read the other comments before I leave mine, but I did on yours. I agree completely with Marilee's comment, so I'll just say "ditto", and great writing!. :)