The night was black as pitch and the only thing illuminating the way was the full moon light. Mary walked the long familiar stone covered path, past the wrought iron gates, over the hill, and beyond the dead maple trees, to a singular grave stone. It was in the shape of a heart, made of rough granite, and bore the name Nathan upon it. This was the grave of Mary’s husband who passed into the deep beyond well over five years ago. This was her ritual, her way of feeling, anything but numb. Every year she would lay a large arrangement of lilies and baby’s breath at the foot of his grave. Then she would lay beside him, her love. The grass would be their bed, and she would lay there, looking up at the pale October sky under the full moon light.  As she lied there she would taking in all of the sights and sounds the night had on offer. The sweet music made by nocturnal creatures, and the millions of tiny insects, filling the air with a beautiful symphony that enraptured her senses. To her this was pure serenity, peaceful bliss.

Occasionally she would turn her head to look upon whatever curious creature would approach her. This night it was a mother coyote, and her timid young pups. The coyote groomed her little ones lovingly, but eventually left Mary to be in peace with her Nathan. It was as if they could sense her loss, and had given their respects before departing. All manner of creatures would visit the grieving wife. One year Mary had even spied a black widow spider giving birth to hundreds of tiny spider babies mere inches from her face. She wouldn’t move, even when the fresh hatchlings crawled all over her face, and down her side, exploring her as if she was part of the landscape. Their tiny little legs tickled her skin, but she would not budge. She knew they meant her no harm, and she would never harm them.  She would have been a wonderful mother, if only she could.

Mary and Nathan had tried many times to have children of their own. It never took. The doctors had told them many times that it was impossible, and there, in the moonlight, she laid in regret. Regret that she had no part of Nathan to keep. Nothing in this world to remind her of him. No child to make her, happy. When Nathan was alive they were inseparable. Two peas in a pod that would play in the rain, throw eggs at the neighbors houses while dressed as ghoulish fiends, then scamper off when front yards were illuminated. They would spend endless hours simply gazing at one another, caressing each other’s hands, deeply in love.

Now her only comfort came from the cool grass and the chirping of crickets. Laying their, on the earth, it felt like laying on his chest. It kept her close to him. Oh how she longed for his scent, his warm skin, and delicate caress. Most of all she longed to have a child to remind her of him. A little baby with the same vibrant exuberance for life that he had embodied.  A child of her own made of his own flesh. After a while Mary’s eyes became heavy. She longed for many things, but rest now bore the strongest pull upon her semi conscious mind. Before she knew it, she had fallen into a very deep, and peaceful sleep.

As Mary laid on the cool grass, eyes a flutter, she heard a low strange sound. First it came from inside her mind, but then the sound grew louder, and louder, until it took a more distinct shape, strange, yet familiar. The sound, of a baby’s cry. Not from her dreams, but instead ringing loudly within her ears. This roused her from her slumber. As she rose the cool night air brushed against her skin and her watering eyes. The first thing she beheld when her vision came back into focus was the gorgeous full moon in the clear night sky, then she shifter her gaze toward her husband’s grave, then, to a distant tree where something was peeked at her from behind it. The crying had only ceased for a moment, but then resumed as the thing behind the tree began to move, then to hover over the gravestones. Mary clasped her hands over her mouth and her eyes went wide at the site of a skeletal infant crying, and wailing, as it floated high above the graveyard.

Mary’s fear slowly subsided and she un-cupped her mouth as she took in the site of the ghostly infant descending slowly to the ground, and appearing to crawl about while cooing instead of crying. The skeletal ghost baby locked it’s gaze upon Mary once more, and for reasons she could not explain, she was unafraid. Mary sat back down beside Nathan’s tombstone and awaited the curious specter, which she assumed would approach her much like other creatures of the night. When it arrived by her side it looked up at her with tiny green lights faintly glowing within it’s ocular cavities. Thought it had no flesh upon it’s face it seemed to smile. This warmed Mary’s longing heart, and as if by instinct she placed her arms around the unearthly form and rose, cradling it in her arms. Thought she could not touch it, the baby remained floating within her grasp and she rocked it to and fro singing a made up lullaby she used to sing to herself on nights when she was the furthest thing from her mind, and her heart ached for a child of her own.

The tune went something like this, “Oh my love, oh my everything, the stars in your eyes, they shine like little stones, a glow from within, a love unscathed, oh my little one, how I wish you were mine.” A single tear fell from Mary’s cheek as her song came to an end, and the baby appeared to be peacefully sleeping within her arms.

Oh how she longed for Nathan to be here, to share this moment. As she stared lovingly at the spectral infant she felt the presence of something upon her shoulder, a hand, not a solid one mind you but the warmth was still very distinct. Mary’s heart beat quickened, she was too freighted to look, but then a voice rang out in the night deep, and familiar, “MARY!” Her heart felt like it would leap out of her throat. She felt ill, and once again, afraid. She slowly turned around and what she saw was not what she had wished for. It was Nathan, she recognized him from his suit, and his voice, but his face was half rotten, and one of his eyes drooped down to his chin. Mary screamed so loud, and with such freight, that her heart, stopped.

Nathan screamed as well, only his jaw dislodged from its socket causing it to droop from a few strands of rotting flesh. Mary’s body fell to the ground lifeless, and so did Nathan’s. The sound was deafening. To her surprise, Mary’s eyes opened, but she was not lying on the ground as she expected, she was still standing, and cradling the very surprised ghost baby that was crying loudly from the freight she and Nathan had giving the poor shivering thing. There was something different this time though. She could actually feel, the baby, shivering in her arms which hand a strange glow about them.

A hand touched her shoulder once more, but this time she could feel it bore more weight upon her body. She looked up and there was Nathan, smiling, his flesh was somehow restored, though it has the same faint glow as hers. Their eyes met and her heart raced. His eyes moved from hers to the child in her arms. Mary’s looked as well, and to her surprise the child was no longer a collection of bones, but a real child, a glowing little boy. A beautiful baby boy that smiled and cooed at both of them. A beautiful little family, glowing in the moonlight, forever.

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