I was nine when I saw my first ghost.
Nestled against the side of a hill and protected by the outstretched arms of the live oaks, it was shady and beautiful, the most serene place I could imagine.
Sometimes as I wandered alone—and often lonely—through the lush fern beds and long curtains of silvery moss, I pretended the crumbling angels were wood nymphs and fairies and I their ruler, queen of my very own graveyard kingdom.
I’d spent most of my life in cemeteries—my graveyard kingdoms. Each a calm, sheltered, self-contained world where the chaos of the city seemed anathema. Tonight, reality had stormed the gates, wreaking havoc.
I turned away, letting my gaze wander through the shadowy necropolis, lingering here and there over broken statuary and vandalized crypts. If most cemeteries offered solace and evoked hours of deep meditation and self-reflection, Oak Grove stirred dark thoughts.
There were no ghosts in Oak Grove Cemetery. Even the dead didn’t want to be here.
My house on Rutledge Avenue was pure Charleston. More important to me, there were no ghosts in this house. It was a sanctuary, a safe haven, the ground beneath hallowed, but I had no idea why.
An old live oak guarded the darkest corner of the garden, and a swing hung like a childhood memory from one of the gnarled branches.
And then I saw it. A nebulous, dream-like form hovering just beyond the fall of pale moonlight.
The veil of wispy clouds covering the moon gradually peeled away to reveal the luster of a white garden.
My chest tightened as he gazed down at me and my legs began to tremble. He took my hand and pulled me gently to him. I didn’t resist even for a moment, and when his hand lifted to my hair, I closed my eyes and tilted my face toward his.