The Graveyard Choreographer

She was a girl who danced on graves–of course bodily possession was going to be her karma. Yet at the outset of her days as the ringleader of some sort of new-fangled “Midnight Society,” one that performed tarot readings in graveyards as opposed to telling scary stories in the woods, it never occurred to her that her ability to showcase one of the greatest things about living to the dead would be deemed “disrespectful.” What was really the crime in doing a jig on what amounted to a cement slab? With the body underneath long disintegrated and the soul attached to it, too. Well, so-called soul. Elspeth wasn’t much of a believer in the notion that any human had a soul, especially not herself. If it were so, there wouldn’t be so much cruelty in the world. So much cruelty and so little beauty–basically, cruelty without beauty, as Soft Cell once phrased it. One had to make their own where they could, and for Elspeth, that was dancing whimsically atop a grave whenever she goddamn well felt like it.

Of course, as passive aggressive as people are thanks to the bizarre mores of “functioning in society,” it took her fellow tarot readers months to tell her that what she was doing made them uncomfortable. That they didn’t feel it was “right” or in the spirit of what tarot was about. What a pile of sodden pussies. Loving to toy with the dark forces at work between this dimension and the next but not too much. Only in that fat white suburban girl way that amount shopping from Hot Topic and that’s it. No summoning of spirits, no dabbling with the occult that involved actual bloodshed. Maybe she could only blame the vanilla clientele that Ashland tended to draw. All replete with skittishness and a concern for “reverence.” As though the version of Shakespeare plays the town put on every year was in any way reverent toward the bard’s original work. 

But she, like them, chose to remain passive aggressive. It was the West Coastian way. So rather than telling them all to fuck off and die, and that she was going to dance on graves until and if a bolt of lightning struck her, she instead nodded along in agreement. She would have to do all of her dancing in private now–that is to say, when no one else was lingering at the cemetery. It was too taboo for the mainstream. As though they were still living in the goddamn early twentieth century instead of the early twenty-first. As though anyone had respect for anything anymore other than themselves and the fake lives they curated. In fact, half the reason anyone was in this “little club” was to present some edge for their tarot reading credibility on Instagram. The séance element was the part they least enjoyed, wanting only to give a tame assessment of someone else’s life, and what it might hold. Elspeth was in it for so much more than that. She genuinely believed that we are all walking among the dead at any given moment. That the past is forever present, ready to pounce. Sometimes when we’re not even aware of it. 

So it was that, one night, after everyone had crawled back over the wall (for naturally cemetery “officials” were not privy to this little weekly gathering of the Midnight Society), Elspeth found ways to linger for longer until, finally, she was alone. Or, presumed she was. Though some part of her was cognizant of the fact of another “presence.” Unconcerned with engaging with what some might call “the chills,” she stepped on the grave of someone named Mary Konigsberg. It seemed a dichotomous moniker. The Christian with the Judaic. Maybe that’s what subliminally attracted her to it out of all the others in that row. That row filled with darkness save for the glint of Mary Konigsberg’s gold-plated lettering in memoriam. The moment she stepped on top of it, she could feel a surge of energy. An invigoration. As she danced, however, it began to feel like the invigoration was quickly turning to a draining of energy until, mere moments later, she was pausing to rest. Then knocked over by some unanticipated wind force. The blow caused her to hit her head against the headstone next to Mary’s. The next thing she remembered upon awakening was nothing. 

***

In my new body, I find only a few slight improvements. I think I was more attractive than Elspeth in my day. For she was my same age of twenty-three when I died. Maybe it’s her tackily bleached hair that’s cramping my style. I had the most wondrous curly brown locks that I wore in a center part bob. All the boys wanted to dance with me but no one could ever keep up. No one knew how to Jitterbug or Charleston. 

***

They were all beneath her, and she wasn’t attracted to Jewish men they way she knew she was “supposed” to be. And considering there were so few of them out here in Oregon, her parents found her especially responsible for fulfilling her duty to propagate their “race.” Yet all she wanted was a taste of that uncircumcised breed. The kind she found in errant Italians and Poles the further down she dipped into California when secretly hitching while she was supposed to be in school. 

It was her final ride, so to speak, that killed her. She miscalculated the situation. Trusted a Polak when she shouldn’t have. He was driving a truck down to Sacramento and she thought, sure, why not. As he ravaged her in the backseat, he started to punch her in the face, calling her a dirty kike when he caught sight of the Star of David she was wearing all of the sudden. His fist pummeling her into the next realm was the last sight she saw, until now. 

She had been buried without her own “kind,” her own family (who rested in the small Jewish cemetery nearby) because of the shame she had brought upon them with the manner in which she died. Forced to watch generations of gentiles lovingly place flowers on the graves of friends and family members lost while no one ever visited her. She began to take notice of Elspeth roughly a year ago. Could tell she was going to end up alienating all the others she came with long enough to be left alone. From what she could tell, Elspeth’s personality was easily imitable. There wasn’t much to it other than a faux “dark” persona. Nothing that Mata Hari wasn’t a better source for studying than someone like Lydia Deetz, Elspeth’s own idol from the looks of the posters in her room, adorned with candles in various melted states. Mary sighed. This body and persona would just have to do. She felt no remorse for pushing Elspeth out. Because, in any era, no matter how severe the breakdown of propriety in society, one had to be a fool to dance on a grave. To think that it wouldn’t result in a free-for-all of the spirits seeking to resolve that which they hadn’t finished handling in life. Mary felt no pity for Elspeth’s loss of her own remaining youth, and she wasn’t entirely sure she wouldn’t get her killed the same way Mary was the first time around. That’s the risk she was willing to take to find the perfect gentile dick. She knew there would be others like Elspeth in the future, disrespectful grave fetishists wanting to assert their “fearlessness.” And she would be able to come back again and again until she got the orgasm she wanted from a [insert white European ethnicity here] roughneck.

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