by Vera Armstead
I’m tired of watching those old movies with teenagers drinking in a cemetery at midnight before Halloween. It’s not interesting for zombies to pop out of graves or spirits to fill the air, silencing the squeals of the cheerleaders. How am I supposed to feel empathy for jocks that bully nerds during school then go home to their mansions, as they get slain one by one, wide eyed in the night?
We get the message: don’t be a mean idiot in high school or you will die.
I had never been to a cemetery until I went to St. Mary’s College. People glide across the resting grounds of people hundreds of years old like it’s nothing. College kids dance around drunkenly at night between the tombstones. I always felt uncomfortable walking through. There is no direct path around the gravesites to get to the sandy area that’s common for watching sunsets during the warm weeks. I felt that my footsteps were a sign of disrespect, that my presence inspired the bodies buried deep to rattle their enclosures.
My anxieties didn’t lessen until I went in pitch-black conditions in the summer, roaming through Historic St. Mary’s City to look for firewood. In a place where black slaves and Native Americans stood during Colonial times, the old me would of been terrified of being haunted. The new me followed the five other souls in my presence tightly, witnessing the ghastly skeletons of structures that replicate the buildings that once stood, and realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. I faced the history that filled the space where we stood instead of fearing it. This was a shared space. Respect given was respect received.
Walking past the graveyard, we hauled our borrowed firewood to the tip of Church Point and held a bonfire under the white cross. Two men played indie music as we roasted S’mores and sent our laughs across the river. It felt like a movie, but instead of the cheesy horror ones, it was an uplifting story of acceptance.
Vera Armstead is a writer aspiring to be a mental health counselor. Vera is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology with a minor in English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She is the Managing Editor of The Point News and has publications in Teen Belle Magazine, along with Her Stry and Avatar literary magazine.