I was truly breathless the first time I saw her. She was the most radiant, delicate thing I had ever seen. Even standing there alone, on the side of the street, with nothing but my headlights shining on her, she looked lovely. She wore her fair hair in an intricate braid high on the back of her head; her white dress gleamed in the light. Though her face was visibly upset, I was still caught off guard by how beautiful she truly was. I could have sworn that she looked up at me as I drove by and that we locked eyes for just a moment. But it's hard to say in that sort of light. Alas, I drove off with just a passing memory of a delightful looking wanderer on Archer Road.
I'll admit that I drove that way a few more times just with the hope that I'd see her again. I even went out of my way to take that path, when I could have gotten where I needed to go much quicker with different routes. I wanted to believe that I wasn't just imagining the look she gave me as I drove by that night. I wanted to believe that I'd see her again and that she would remember me. I went during the day the first few times, but had no luck. I soon forgot about it; forgot about her.
A few months later, I found myself going down Archer once again sometime during the night. Part of me seemed drawn to go that way one final time in hopes that I'd see that pretty girl again. Whatever it was that convinced me this time had my best interest at heart. Because I did, in fact, see her again. Walking slowly down that same stretch of road that I saw her the first time. I pulled to a slow crawl beside her and rolled down my window. I didn't want to frighten her, since it was dark and I was some stranger to her. So I made sure to call out in a polite manner.
“Excuse me, miss? Are you okay?” I said to her, sounding as genuine as I possibly could.
She stopped walking and turned to look at me. The moon was full and I could see that she had the same upset look on her face that she had the first time I saw her. She was also wearing a similar looking dress, if I recalled correctly. But what I hadn't noticed before was how incredibly blue her eyes were. She stood there for a moment with that look and those eyes burning their way into my mind.
“No, I'm not okay.” she finally said after the unusually long pause.
“Do you need a ride? I'm not really going anywhere in a hurry.” I replied to her. Her voice quivered just a bit when she spoke and it was clear that something had ruined her evening up to this point.
“Yes, that would be wonderful. Thank you.” she said, once again after a bit of a pause.
She walked around the front of my car, casting a meager shadow through my high-beams. She opened the door and took a seat inside, crossing her legs and placing her hands together in her lap. I noticed that she smelled of flowers.
“It's not far. Just up the road.” she said before I had a chance to ask her where she was headed.
I nodded my head with a smile, and began to drive forward. I wanted to strike up a conversation with her, but I wasn't sure what subject to broach. She was visibly agitated, but who was I to try and involve myself in her personal problems?
“You know, I only left because he was being rude.” she said as it seemed as though she knew what I was going to consider asking her. “I couldn't stand to be at the Henry any longer.”
“The Henry? You mean the Willowbrook? Was there a dance tonight?” I asked her, using her admission as a way to strike up a conversation before we arrived at her destination.
Naturally, she didn't respond to me when I asked. I assumed she just wanted to be left alone after a rough night. We rode along in silence for about another five minutes before she spoke again.
“This will do. I'll get out here.” broke the silence.
“Are you sure?” I said as I looked around. There were houses on the opposite side of the road, but she didn't seem to be specific about which one I should be stopping at.
“Yes.” she said.
I pulled the car to the side of the road and turned my flashers on. There wasn't much traffic coming or going at this hour, but I still wanted to be sure it was safe for her to cross the road to where the houses were. She didn't immediately leave the car though. She just sat there with the same look of distraught on her face and what seemed like tears forming at the corner of those icy eyes. She kept looking forward off into the night before finally speaking again after a deep, wavering breath.
“I'm so tired of this, you know?” she said, on the verge of crying.
“Tired of what?” was all I could manage to say.
She finally turned to look at me, tears now cascading down her beautify tragic face. That's when she vanished before my eyes. It startled me immediately, yet I didn't jump or yell out. My first instinct was to try and find her; to help her. Yet, it quickly dawned on me that she was gone. I just sat there in near silence, with the only sound being the clicks of the signals. I couldn't wrap my mind around what had just happened. Had I imagined the entire encounter? Had I fallen asleep in my car and not realized it? No answer that I could readily give seemed to make any sort of logical sense.
I'm not sure how long I sat there before finally being able to move again. I turned the car off and got out into the darkness of the night. I could see well considering the moon and the soft glow of dim streetlights. I looked down the road ahead of my car and back towards the way I had come from and yet, there was no sign of that blonde girl anywhere. She truly disappeared from my car without any possible reason of how or why.
That's the moment when I thought I caught a glimpse of her to my right. I darted my head as my eyes tried to follow the white that I saw, but she wasn't there. In fact, I was now looking at the simple black metal fence of the old Resurrection Cemetery on Archer. There wasn't anyone, let alone a pretty girl in white, on the cemetery grounds that late at night. I took a few steps towards the fence and peered into the darkness. I could make out various headstones and monuments, but could not see anyone or anything out of place.
Having more questions than answers, I got back into my car and drove home. I had trouble sleeping that night, as anyone would. I couldn't fathom what I had experienced. I wasn't a religious person and I didn't believe in the unexplained. I believed in the reality of the Earth and science. And yet, somehow a girl magically faded from my car directly in front of me. I had to have answers and I figured that the only way I would get them is by going back down Archer and seeing if I could find her again. And find out what she meant by being “tired” of whatever was happening to her.
The next morning, I drove back down Archer the opposite direction looking for any sort of clue as to what might have happened. I probably annoyed every car behind me as I went, since I was driving well under the posted speed limit. Of course, I didn't see anything out of place. There were groundskeepers working in the cemetery and there seemed to be people heading to the various churches in the area. Since I had no luck, I decided to head back home and wait for night. That's when I drove back down the same route that I had taken the night before in hopes of seeing her again.
Sadly, she failed to make another appearance. I must have drove up and down Archer a dozen times in the span of a couple hours looking for any sign of her. But there was nothing; she wasn't there. I had given up and made my way down the road towards where I'd turn off to go back home. I hadn't realized how late it had gotten and thought that I might have better luck some other night, since it had been weeks between the first two times I saw her. I was leaving defeated, but I was still determined. That's when I heard her voice.
“Why do you care so much? You don't even know me.”
Had I been going any faster, I may have veered off the road and flipped. The blood rushed from my face and my hands gripped the wheel in shock at the surprise of her sudden appearance in the back seat of my car. I slowly turned my head to look in the rear mirror. There wasn't much light, but I could easily make out her soft features and light hair. She just sat there, looking back at me in the mirror. She seemed content to wait for me to answer. I pulled my car over to the side of road and slammed it into park.
“Who are you?” is what I was able to croak out.
“See, you don't know me. And yet, here you are. Looking for me again.” she said as she lowered her head, yet kept her eyes locked on mine in the mirror. “Can you help me?”
“Help you how?” I said.
Her head went even lower when she finally broke off eye contact with me. It was if she had hoped I'd have a way to help her with whatever problem it was she had.
“I see.” she said in a voice so low that I could barely make it out over the sound of the car's engine. “I'm sorry I frightened you. I'll go now.”
“Wait! No!” I yelled out, turning to face her in the back as she once again faded away in front of me.
Now I was the one who must have had a look of sorrow on my face. Yes, I was afraid by her sudden appearance, but it wasn't because I didn't want to see her. I was simply startled. And yes, I couldn't help her, but I wanted to find out if there was a way that I could. I pounded a fist on the steering wheel, which hurt more than I cared to admit at the time. I was upset with myself for what had just happened more than I was scared about a person suddenly showing up in my car. I felt like I had wasted the one good chance I had at ever finding out more about who she really was.
About that point is when I noticed that I had stopped at roughly the same spot as I had the night before. I got out once again to take a look around. I needed to see if I could somehow find out more about what was going on and why. It was just part of my nature and I needed to know. But there was nothing to be found, once more. So I got back in my car and drove the rest of the way home.
I came back the next night and drove up and down Archer for hours, but she never showed up. In fact, I had gone out there for another five days or so and was never even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of white out of the corner of my eye. Those five days quickly turned to ten days, and still nothing. But I knew I couldn't just give up and let it rest. I had to find her again. I had to talk to her more. So on the eleventh night, I once again drove out there and began my routine of slowly going up and down the road.
It was time to give up for the night when I pulled back off the road at the spot that she first requested me to stop at. I got out of my car and stood at the front of it. It was a lot darker out now, and I couldn't make out much around me that wasn't directly under the streetlights.
And that's when I saw her again. Standing on the opposite side of the black metal fence that surrounded the cemetery. She was a few feet back from the fence, next to a tree and a headstone. I wasn't going to let my chance slip away again, so instead of just standing there like a fool until she left, I decided to just walk up to the fence and say hello. But it was the girl who spoke first.
“You know, they say I have blonde hair.” she said, in a less depressed sounding voice than the first two times we met. “I don't know why they'd say that.”
“It's a good look for you, I think. It matches your dress almost.”
Instead of the smile that I was hoping for, her face returned to the sad form I had gotten used to.
“Do you know what else they say?” she asked, in a dejected voice this time.
“No, what's that?” I asked in reply.
The wind had picked up when I had first gotten out of the car, but I hadn't noticed until the droplets of rain began to come down as I spoke. She just stood there, staring into my eyes with a fury of both sadness and something else...hope. I also noticed that she didn't seem to mind the rain; in fact, she didn't seem to be getting wet at all, as if the raindrops were going right through as they crashed down around everything else. She finally gathered enough voice to speak again.
“They say my name is Mary.”
“And it's not, right?” I said almost immediately, as if I already knew the answer.
That's when I finally got the smile I had hoped for before from her. An alluring, yet melancholy smile I had never seen on a person before. I would have reached out and given her a hug if not for the fence between us.
“No. No, it's not.”
Her words cut into my heart like nothing I had ever heard before. And I couldn't even explain why. But I would have done anything to help her in that moment, but there was nothing I could do. I gripped two bars of the fence and watched in the rain as she once again faded away into the darkness before me.