There are 200,000 bodies beneath my feet each slogging step I take on these grounds every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and more are being buried still. Nothing moves except for me, nothing sweats except for me, and everything remains exactly as it was. I love it here. I've made a friend, too.
Always, she stands quietly on the lawn by the entrance, looming over it, guarding the graves from her great height. Moss covers her face, and unlike the wrinkles chiseled into her gown, her stone skin has no wrinkles to be found. She's been here on the grounds, ageless, since the grounds came to be, and since she had no name that I could find, I gave her one: Lady Gray.
On the first day one year ago, I began running just as I passed her, and with great heaves I ran, thighs chafing under raggedy shorts, marshmallow skin roasting under the sun. I wanted to look skinny, healthy, tan. These things happened eventually, but I wanted more friends, too, and friends are hard to come by in a place like this, a place like this where everything remains exactly as it was.
So one day, I came, and there were two of her-two Lady Grays, of course, sentinels guarding the graves along the road. Soon there were four. Then yesterday there were eight identical twins of hers, moss covered, situated throughout the grounds, and they were all new friends of mine, as well.
I had not once seen a groundskeeper until yesterday, along the trail with a pair of rusty shears, standing under the shade of an oak tree. A long sleeved flannel shirt draped over his brittle bones, and his thick, wire-rimmed glasses suggested his sight was not as good as it used to be. I wondered if he had a grave in this place of his own.
"So how long have you been out here," I asked him, "and what's up with all these new statues?"
He chucked, and his skeletal shoulders bounced up and down. "I've been out here longer than you've been alive, son," he said. "And if there's one thing I know for sure, there's always been eight statues. Here, everything remains exactly as it was."