When I was little a picture was taken of me and my father, we were sitting in a partially dug grave with our arms around each other's shoulders. It would've been a heartwarming photo if it weren't for the figure behind us.
My dad has worked as a part-time grave digger for years, sometimes I would go to watch him work and I found it enjoyable. Sometimes I would try to jump into the hole and help him, though I wasn't much help at all he tells me he enjoyed it.
On free time he would tell me stories about finding human bones and ghost stories about the graves he's dug. It wasn't until I was about 7 or 8 that I experienced some of those ghost stories myself.
It was a typical grave in the usual place in the middle of Summer. One of my dad's friends was there to help him since it was so hot. It wasn't until the sun was starting to set and the grave was almost done that we found it.
Just like in his stories my dad's shovel made a low clink, it had hit something in the ground. It wasn't unusual to find rocks and small objects in the ground, but what the shovel DID hit was unusual. He reached down to pull whatever it was out of the ground and out of the way until he saw the white sticking out of the ground.
"Awh fuck Jimmy I think there's a bone in here." he says, calling his friend over "ya see?". His friend (Jimmy) took a look but was indecisive, "yea looks like a bone fer sure but I dunno what kind" he pauses, "why not just shovel it out and put it back in when we fill it?". My dad seemed to agree as he shoveled the bone out and hid it behind a stump beside the graveyard.
When he comes back him and Jimmy finish the digging as the sun finally sets. As him and Jimmy pack up the sheets and shovels my dad asks Jimmy to take a picture of me and him sitting in the grave. Without looking at the picture closely, we all finish the packing, not seeing the figure.
The next day my dad went back to the graveyard to fill in the grave, since filling the grave in was a lot easier he didn't need help. I tagged along like I always did and watched my dad work, but as a kid with a short attention span, I forgot about the bone and it seemed like my dad did too. And as usual we finished up and went home without a second thought, everything seemed fine.
It wasn't until we developed that picture that things got strange.
When I say strange I don't mean strange in a bad way, I felt as if someone was watching over me. When playing alone I would feel like I WASN'T alone. Not an evil presence but a presence that felt, warm. But I would only feel the presence when in my room. Where the picture was. Even though I was young I wasn't stupid, I thought maybe the presence was tied into the picture, with the grave.
It wasn't until about 3 years later that I actually did something about the picture. Since the picture showed up the presence would always be there. Not that it was a bother but I felt like something was wrong with it, like the spirit was troubled. It would never harm me or scare me, it was friendly in that sort of way, if it was around because of that bone I thought I might as well help it.
As an experiment I would take the picture with me somewhere and see if I could still sense the ghost around me. And it did. I wasn't certain but that's what I determined, feeling it around for years I had known what the ghost felt like, its warmth.
After that I was bent on taking the picture to the grave. To see what would happen. It wasn't for a few weeks after that that I had a chance to take the picture to the grave. I wanted to keep it a secret from my parents, I probably would've looked and sounded crazy if I had to explain it.
When I entered the graveyard it felt like the spirit was excited, like it was home. I felt the spirit more prominently than usual as I made my way to the grave. When I had finally made it to the grave I took the picture out of my pocket and held it over the grave. The warmth almost enveloped me as I felt something pulling me towards the forest that outlined the graveyard. As I walked towards the brush I started to remember, the bone.
The closer I got to the brush the more worked up the spirit would seem to get. As I slowly moved through the bush I see an old tree stump, almost removed from the rest of the world. It looked exactly like it did those years ago. I approached the stump and looked behind it, lo and behold the bone was still there, sitting upright against the stump. I reached for the bone, somewhat expecting something to jump out at me but nothing did. I held the bone in my hand, a human bone, something I would never have thought that I'd do. Surprisingly enough the spirit had calmed down, I barely even sensed it.
I decided to bury the bone where it was along with the picture to somehow ease the fading spirit. As I placed the two objects in the poorly hand-dug hole, I felt the spirit in what would've been the last time. I then pushed the dug-up dirt back into the hole, covering the objects inside the ground. I heard a faded "thank you" flow through the wind and off into the sky.
After about 10 years I visited the graveyard again, yesterday morning. When I approached the grave I felt a warm presence greet me and the sun hit the grave, it was him. The man was standing there, both hands in his pockets, he reached up and tipped his old-timey business hat at me as another, smaller figure sat beside him.
I never saw what stood beside the man, I blinked and they both left, the picture of me and my dad lay right where he was standing. This time the figure was clearer, which showed a dog sitting over me and my dad.