Ghost Lesbians Elevated

ART+BY+MAY+CORT

ART BY MAY CORT

Kira Walker / Word Painter

The graveyard was a lonely place. This was to be expected, but Juno never got used to it. Normally it was nice, peaceful even, but in the dead of night with the wind howling and the faint light of the moon casting shadows on the graves, the solitude of the resting place seemed to be amplified.

Sometimes it wasn’t so bad. Sometimes other ghosts would come through and chat a little. But none ever stayed. She was the one left behind, the guardian of the lost souls who passed through. It didn’t matter how many fledglings said they would stay with her — after all, who else had been the one to help them get on their feet after their passing? — their gratitude soon wore thin. Their faces sagged and their spirit’s dimmed, and eventually they moved on to the world beyond, a place where they could forever rest.

Juno wasn’t bothered by these facts. At most, she was at peace with them. After a few millennia of the same cycle repeating, grudges became hard to hold. She had accepted her role and she lived with it. But that didn’t mean she didn’t get lonely in the depths of the night. The sun going down just increased the feeling she got in the daylight, that there truly was no one around and that she was all alone.

Then one day, it changed. One day, she arrived.

It had been a regular day, with Juno just wandering around and tending to the graves, when she heard a noise at the gate. It was a loud creak, signaling the gate had been opened, which was regular for new ghosts that appeared right next to said gate. She heard some rustling of the leaves before a voice called out.

“Hello? Anybody here?”

Juno turned around to see an opaque apparition of a girl standing by the gate. Her hair was dark with light curls, the front parts clipped in the back to create a pulled-back look, and her skin was tan. She was wearing what appeared to be a red dress with a black belt, the skirt reaching past her knees. Approaching the girl, Juno looked more closely at her face. It held delicate features that were now looking around in confusion.

“Over here,” Juno replied.

As the girl walked toward her, the wind picked up, causing her skirt to swirl around and her hair to flow. She went slowly, letting her hand trace the tops of the gravestones, her steps light but constant until they reached her target.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“The guardian of this place. Mentor of lost souls. The one who guides passersby to the other world. But you can call me Juno. Who are you?” Juno replied.

“Sofia.” She gave a small smile.

“Well, nice to meet you, Sofia. Let me show you how this entire ghost thing works.”

“Sounds great.”

And with that, Juno started her program. It wasn’t much, just some basic lessons in things that are different than in the living world, some customs in the other world, and other nifty facts, all of it spread out over a week or so. Usually, the ‘course’ passed quickly, a blur of information she already knew and was just repeating to someone else. But this time, it was somehow different. She found time passing slower, the moments staying longer. Sofia would crack jokes here and there, and she found herself chuckling at them. Juno would use stories from her own life as examples and dramatize them just to get to see the other girl’s smile. They would take time to just hang out, instead of whatever lesson was supposed to be next. And oddly enough, Juno wasn’t lonely.

The routine was normal to her, but she still felt her usual loneliness underneath her gentle facade because she knew that whoever was here was just passing through. However, Sofia had a different presence. She was more lively and engaged than was normal, and always seemed fully interested in what Juno had to say. She seemed…genuinely happy to be with Juno and having her teach her things. It was odd, to say the least, but not unwelcome.

* * *

One night, a week after the original meeting, the two had been talking and the topic of their past lives came up.

Sophia began, “I was a seamstress in my home country, you know? Not very popular, but I made a good living. It was decent work and well-appreciated. I was sad when I could only do waitressing work after I came here. Times were rough, sure, but there’s never a shortage of clothes needing to be made or repaired, especially among the poor. But I suppose not everyone can afford it. I honestly miss making dresses the most. They turned out the best. What did you do?”

“I was born in Greece, early 1900s, came here when I was 15. I didn’t have any real talents, so I did housework for a living. Then I moved to New Orleans and did fortune-telling for a few years until I died. Not quite as poetic as your answer, but it was interesting work. What brought it up?” asked Juno.

Sofia shrugged. “I wanted to get to know you. You’re special, staying here and helping lost souls to find their footing. It’s admirable. Doesn’t hurt that you’re not bad to look at. Plain and simple, I like you. I like you in a way that I’ve only experienced once before, but that was years ago. Now my turn to ask a question. Why’d you play along with all my questions? We both know this isn’t the first off-topic question I’ve asked.”

This made Juno think for a moment before answering. “I guess I like you too, in that sense. I find you interesting, and somewhat attractive, and you seem interested in what I have to say. Most people just take the information and go. You? You stay, for whatever reason. I don’t suppose you’re going to take your time heading to the other side?”
“You got me. But then again, I’m not sure if I really want to go. I mean, what kind of a desirable place would it be if it didn’t have someone as beautiful as you there with me? Not one at all. So, I’d rather stay here,” Sofia replied, chuckling.

The flirting made Juno blush and look away. They sat in silence for a while after that. Not an awkward silence, but a silence nonetheless. Finally, Juno spoke up.
“So, would you like to see my favorite spots in the graveyard?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”

* * *

The next few days passed in relative peace. They walked around the graveyard, Juno telling stories of each stone they saw. Sofia would respond with a comment or two and then they’d move on to the next one. Sometimes they’d go out the gates, but as Juno knew, there wasn’t much but forests, the surrounding areas long since abandoned of human life.

While they rested, Sofia would talk. Usually about her life, but one or two times she spoke of a specific person from her past, a man she called ‘the only other person I’ve ever loved’. Her stories about him always seemed bittersweet, like they had been cherished in the past, but now had soured. It was understandable, her being dead and all.
His name was Nico, she said. An Italian immigrant who had been a regular at the cafe where she worked. They had been friends, but she always wished to be more. She also had her suspicions that he felt the same, but neither got to make a move before she died.

“But now it’s of little importance. It’s the past. Nothing special. I’d much rather be in the present with you. The only other person I’ve loved,” Sofia said with a small smile.
She mentioned love a lot. How she had loved and now loved again. Juno supposed she felt the same way, but wouldn’t vocalize it. She didn’t really need to. It was understood. They were comfortable just how they were.

That comfort didn’t last long though. Soon enough, another soul came and Juno had a job to do. But still, Sofia stayed. She stayed for months, watching the ritual of guiding souls to their destination. Eventually, she began to help with the lessons. Small things, but she helped nonetheless.

Then one day, a dilemma appeared. A dilemma known as Nico.

* * *

Nico arrived on a quiet day. The last soul had passed through a month ago and the pair were enjoying their leisure time. Idle chatter was flowing between the two when they heard a shout from the gate. This would usually indicate a new traveler so they went to check it out. As they approached, they heard another shout.

“Sofia?” a man in a collared shirt and slacks asked.

Sofia froze, seemingly stuck in place.

“Nico? What are you doing here?” she said quietly.

“I’m dead, like you. Why else would I appear in a graveyard?” Nico responded.

“I, I guess that makes sense. Well, Juno over there will help you. I’m going to watch from the sides.”

Nico looked puzzled.

“Can you not help me?”

“No,” she answered, walking over to the small bench at the side of the graveyard, a mess of emotions on her face.

Juno looked at her with a concerned expression, but all she got was a dismissive wave, a sign to leave her alone. So with Juno’s mind preoccupied with the other girl, she started her lessons once again.

* * *

Nico took to being a ghost well. He was easy to teach and charming to talk to. He would usually have a followup question to most things, and he was engaged, but just like everyone else, he was excited to move on. Juno grew to like him, despite her earlier hesitation. Her one worry during that week had been about Sofia. The girl had been distant, not to her specifically, but in general. She didn’t talk as much and avoided conversations with Nico.

It was his last day there before he had to leave for the other world. He had spent the entire day trying to talk to Sofia and sometimes she’d respond in turn. As the day went on, they talked more and more until he had to go.

When a soul leaves the mortal world and goes to the other world, they do it through a sort of portal, a one-way door between realms. Souls can go in but they can’t come back. Nico was walking towards the portal when he stopped and turned around, confused.

“Sofia? Aren’t you coming with me? Your time is sure to be up and the next step is through here, no?” he asked.
Sofia sighed, “No, I’m not. I already decided to stay a while ago.”

“But I thought that you were just waiting for me. That you didn’t talk to me at first because you were nervous. You were always flirting when we were alive.”

“People change, Nico, just as ghosts do. Yes, I liked you then and I might still like you now. But I’ve found someone else. As much as it pains me to say this, go without me.”
A sour look passed over Nico’s face, and without another word, he turned and walked through the door, which disappeared quickly behind him. Sofia turned to Juno and gave a small smile.

“Now I believe that I’m here to stay forever, so why don’t you show me around again? Give me a sense of where we’re living. Or dying. Who knows.”

“We?” Juno asked.

“We’re here together, aren’t we? Training new ghosts and haunting a graveyard with each other sounds wonderful. Don’t you think?”

“Yeah. Yeah, it does.”

–WP–

(Published February 2020)