Pippa was rudely awakened early in the morning by the television. Her father was awake and was just having breakfast before work.
She pulled a pillow over her head hoping to muffle the sounds that seemed amplified by tiredness.
"Mornin', love." Her father, Arnold, said when he noticed she was awake. "How'd you sleep last night?"
"Terrible," she replied groggily, "weird stuff happened. But mum reckons I was just tired."
"Aye. I don't suppose that James helped, with all of his nonsense about ghosts. Gave you nightmares, you poor lass."
Pippa blinked and screwed her face up in annoyance.
"I'm too old to be frightened by stories. Don't be saying things like that in front of the locals, they'll laugh at me, they will."
Sitting up and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Pippa looked outside to see what the weather was like.
"Bad day, dad. Looks like it's about to pour down, will you be able to drive alright?"
"Don't be silly, Pip. It's just a bit of cloud, nothing more."
Later that day, just after a heavy rain downpour, Pippa walked down the wet pavement to the graveyard beside the historic church. She had a morbid fascination with graveyards and liked to sit in them and read gravestones. It was very relaxing.
Whilst she was sitting on a bench, staring up at the spire of the church, she became aware of someone sitting down next to her. Turning her head she saw it was James and was suddenly awfully uncomfortable. Pippa really didn't have a great deal of social skills, so being alone with someone put pressure on her to talk to them. In her mind anyway.
He turned his head to her and smiled.
"Hello, Pippa. I hope you don't mind, I just saw you sitting on your own…"
Pippa shook her head vigorously.
"No, not at all, I don't mind…." She felt suddenly aware of how nervous she must have sounded and coughed slightly before saying the first thing that came into her head.
"Were those stories true, James?"
He laughed slightly, look off into the old part of the graveyard where many of the graves were from the sixteenth century.
"Yes, they're all true… I don't blame you for not believing me though. It's very hard to accept…But the locals around here have all learned to use the stories in their favour. I'm not sure I agree with that… I find it slightly disrespectful…"
James' expression turned serious.
"Before your house was built, that plot of land used to be a school. It burned down when a teacher accidentally knocked over an oil lamp. . . The graves of the children that died are over there."
He motioned to a quiet, sombre looking overgrown corner of the churchyard. There were about fifteen small gravestones lined up against a stone wall, but vines had long since covered the engravings. Pippa felt a wave of sadness come over her as she looked over at them. James hadn't told her that the night before. She supposed this was because it was a hard event for the villagers to talk about.
"I didn't know that. My house has quite a morbid history. It all seems so unbelievable, but I can tell by the look in your eyes that it all actually happened."
Swallowing her nerves she told him all about what had happened the previous night when she was trying to sleep. All about the shuffling and the cold chills. He stared at her intensely as she spoke, looking as though he took everything she said very seriously, which made her relax slightly. He didn't think she was just a silly teenager.
They spoke for hours longer about nothing in particular. He didn't say very much in answer to her story, seeming to change the subject very quickly to the gravestones and how old some of them were.