A Touch of Graveyard Dirt

📅 Published on March 10, 2021

“A Touch of Graveyard Dirt”

Written by William Dalphin
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 11 minutes

Rating: 9.33/10. From 3 votes.
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I made a terrible mistake.

You see, it started when I was seven years old, and my father tried to reshingle the roof all by himself.  I don’t think he really had any idea what he was doing, but I heard him tell my mother that morning, “How hard can it be?”

He should have asked the same question in regards to the driveway.

I remember I was playing in the front yard, a good distance from the house to avoid being struck by falling shingles as per my father’s instructions, when I heard him use some of the words that made my mother frown, followed by what can only be described as the sound of him sliding bump-bump-bump down the side and over the gutter.

When I rounded the corner of the house, it looked like he was flying.  He had his arms out like a pair of wings, and his legs stretched out behind him.  It was only a second of the image, then he hit the pavement with a sharp crunch, his neck bending at an almost 90-degree angle and his head splitting open like a watermelon as the rest of his body went immediately limp and collapsed into a pile on top of him.

No, I didn’t scream at the sight; I still had the image of him flying in my head.  Instead, I just sat there on my Big Wheel, my mouth hanging slightly open while my brain tried to process what I had just seen.  Then, as my mother retells it, I went inside and casually informed her that Daddy had fallen off the roof and was dead with all of the emotion befit witnessing the same events on an afternoon cartoon.

Dubious at first, she leaned over the sink to look out the kitchen window to verify my claim.  Then she did all the screaming for me.

We had him interred at Hillside Cemetery, just down the road from where we lived.  He got a large tombstone with his name on it, along with “Husband and father” and the two most significant dates of his life.  It’s probably a good thing they didn’t have his last words etched in it as an epitaph.

The weekend after his funeral, my mother and I walked down the road to Hillside and visited his grave.  While she wept and talked to the tombstone as if it were him, I crouched down at the other end, took a handful of fresh dirt and hid it in my pocket.  In my mind, I was keeping him close to me.  Later, at home, I put the dirt in a little glass jar with a snap-on lid.

That night, I dreamed that my father came into my room and petted my hair.  In my dream, I sat up and hugged him and told him that I had missed him and was glad he was back.  He kissed me on my forehead and promised he would always be with me.  It was such a vivid dream that when I woke up later, I wasn’t sure if I hadn’t actually been awake.  I could still feel his cold lips on my skin.

Days later, I broke out in a rash that started on my face.  The doctor suspected it was poison oak, but typical remedies didn’t seem to help.  I didn’t tell him or my mother what I suspected, that my father had visited me after he was dead and that it was his kiss that had caused the rash.  When I had a chance, I threw the dirt away.  The rash eventually subsided, but I ended up with a scar over my eyebrow as a reminder.

That may seem bad, but I honestly didn’t think it was.  My father reached out to me from beyond the grave and left a mark on me to remind me he’d always be there.  No, that was not the mistake, but in a way, it led to it.

You see, years later, when my best friend Leslie’s father passed away, she sank into this terrible gloom.  She had always been close with her dad, so I thought the greatest gift I could give her was one more moment together, to say goodbye to him.  I made it my mission to give her just that, and I knew exactly how to do it.

The day after his funeral, I returned once again to Hillside Cemetery, this time with a trowel and little flower pot, located his grave, and filled the pot with it.  Then at school, I gave Leslie the pot of dirt and told her I had planted a forget-me-not in it for her.  It was a lie, of course; I wasn’t about to touch the dirt myself just to plant a seed.  The idea was to put it in her possession, thereby giving her the chance to have a dream of her father just as I had.

It didn’t work.  I mean it did, but–

Instead of joy, Leslie seemed to fall deeper into her depression.  She stopped eating at lunchtime, stopped socializing after school, stopped attending track meets with me.  I’d ask her if everything was okay, and she’d clam up and excuse herself, running away from me.  I could only figure that she hadn’t actually touched the dirt yet, so I decided to ease the process along.

“Hey, how’s the flower?” I asked her one day.

She wouldn’t even look at me anymore.  “Nothing yet.”

“Have you been watering it?”

“Sure.”

Well, okay, so if she touched it, what went wrong?  I thought.  It didn’t even really occur to me that maybe it had nothing to do with the dirt, you know?  Maybe my father had visited me for some other reason.  Or maybe my dream had really just been a dream, and the rash and scar were indeed just a case of poison oak.  I had wanted so badly to believe in my own father’s visit that I never once considered that my own sadness had led to an imaginary return from beyond the grave.

Days later, Leslie didn’t show up for school.  After several more days passed with her absence, I stopped by her house with homework.  Her mother answered the door, looking much the same as Leslie had.  She took Leslie’s homework from me, but wouldn’t let me come inside.

“Is Leslie alright?” I asked.

Her mother shook her head, “Leslie’s got a dermatological condition.”

Holy shit.  I knew what that meant, but I asked anyway.  “A what?”

“She’s got a…rash.”

“Can I see her?”

She sighed.  “Okay, but don’t touch her; according to the doctor it might be contagious.”

Not as contagious as you think, I thought.  “I won’t.”

Leslie’s mother escorted me up to her room, knocked on the door and let her know I was there.

“Come in,” Leslie’s voice was almost a whisper.

I found her propped up in bed with the covers up to her armpits.  She was watching TV on an old set her mother had placed on the nightstand, next to an assortment of ointments and skin creams in bottles with prescription information on the sides.  That dour look was still on her face.  More importantly, that dour look was the only thing on her face.  I didn’t see a rash anywhere.

She must be on the mend, I thought.

“I heard you caught something.”  I walked around to the other side of her bed, examining the seemingly flawless texture of her cheeks and forehead.  I spied the little pot of dirt over on the windowsill and smiled to myself, but then frowned, realizing that Leslie seemed just as unhappy now as before.  Maybe seeing her father again reminded her of the loss…maybe it hadn’t been the gift I thought it had been.

“It’s…yeah, I’ve got…” she couldn’t finish the words.  Instead, she started crying.  She tried to hold the tears back for a moment, then surrendered to them, covering her face with her hands and collapsing into a fit of wracking sobs.

Her mother had said not to touch her, but I knew she didn’t have anything contagious.  I put my arm around her shoulder and let her cry against my chest, petting her hair and telling her it was okay.

“It’s not as bad as you think.”

“You have no idea,” she managed to squeak out.  “It’s not just the rash…I’ve been having such awful dreams.  I don’t want to sleep anymore!”

“What?” That was not what I expected to hear.

“Ever since my dad died, these nightmares–”

“Nightmares?”

“I think he’s haunting me!” she was hysterical, and I hugged her tighter, hoping to calm her lest her mother came in and interrupted us.  “And I think he did this to me.”

“Your father gave you the rash?”  Though I thought I already knew the answer to my question, the surprise in my voice at the moment was genuine.

Leslie shook her head and wiped her eyes.  “No!  No, the man in my nightmares.”

That’s when it felt like my heart stopped in my chest. “I thought you said your father was haunting you.”

“No, it’s this old man.  He’s…he’s frightening looking!”

It didn’t make any sense.  What old man was she talking about?  Why would he be showing up in Leslie’s dreams instead of her father?  My brain felt like it was swimming in jelly.  I couldn’t think straight.

“Well, the rash doesn’t look that bad,” I offered dumbly, changing the subject.  “It seems to be mostly cleared up already.”

“Are you kidding me?” Leslie almost shrieked.  She tore the covers from her bed, revealing the extent of what I had done.

Her legs were red like she’d been scalded with hot water.  Yellow splotches covered them, bubbling up in places with numerous oozing sores.  Further up the inside of her thighs, cracked, bleeding flesh disappeared out of sight under her gown.  But worst of all, on each leg, the rash had spread fiercest and most viciously over unmistakable bruises in the shape of an angry grip from a pair of hands with almost unnaturally long fingers.

I covered my mouth, unable to conceal my horror.

Leslie looked at me through tear-filled eyes, struggling not to break down again.  “He did this to me.”

I didn’t ask her how she knew; I already had the answer firsthand, and what I realized when I saw her legs repulsed me to the core.  He had done this.  He had touched her there, and Lord knows where else, and I was to blame for it.

My disgust at the sight was replaced with disgust at myself.  I started crying, shaking my head, trying to expel some form of an apology, but a shameful fear gripped my tongue and strangled my vocal cords, refusing to let me tell Leslie the truth.  If she knew I had caused this, that I had cursed her, not only our friendship would end, but so much more.  Who knew what her parents would do, what my mother would do…what the town would do to me?  Maybe they’d bring back witch burning.

So I said nothing; I just stood there, shaking my head and crying with her.  She covered up again and held onto me, and we wept together.  I could feel her trembling in my arms, and I knew it was partially in fear of going back to sleep and being visited again by whatever ghoul I had set upon her.

“It’s going to get better,” I promised her with a whisper.

After a minute, I couldn’t take it anymore; I needed to get out of there and throw up.  I told Leslie I needed to get home.  We hugged again, and as I walked around her bed back to the door, I snatched the flower pot off her window sill and stuffed it in the pocket of my jacket.  It was just small enough to fit and not make much of a noticeable bulge.  I grabbed my backpack and sprinted out of the house without another word.

I walked straight past my house, continuing on down the road to Hillside Cemetery, where I took the pot out of my pocket and dumped it out on Leslie’s father’s grave where it belonged.  No, I hadn’t taken the dirt from the wrong spot; I knew that much. Something else was wrong.  I realized then that I had no real understanding of the forces I had meddled with, and the only solution was to not toy with them again.

Within a week, Leslie returned to school.  As I had foreseen, with the removal of the graveyard dirt from her room, the nightmares ended, and the rash eventually went away.  Unfortunately, it had gone on so long and progressed to such an extent that both her legs remained horribly scarred.  She underwent numerous treatments to try to alleviate some of the worst of it, but she never fully recovered.

Make no mistake, I paid for my crime.

It came after a track meet several towns over and three months later.  The coach loaded us all up onto the bus and I sat in the back, resting my head on the window to watch heavy clouds roll in as if to guide us home.  Rain started coming down, gentle and relaxing.  It was so peaceful.  The sound of numerous conversations around me seemed to fade away, and all I heard was the rain on the window.

The bus rolled to a stop.

I had closed my eyes, listening to the pitter-patter of the rain, but when I felt the bus stop I looked up, wondering what was going on.  To my surprise, everyone else was gone; every seat was empty.  The bus was dead silent except for the intensifying sound of the precipitation outside.  The rain was coming down harder with each passing second.  It started pounding at the roof like a barrage of fists.

“Hello?”  Nobody was going to answer me.

Outside, everything seemed to be awash in a thick, gray wall of rain.  It came down so heavily I couldn’t see more than a few feet away.  It was as if the world itself had vanished along with the coach and all my teammates.

I didn’t know what to do; it didn’t make any sense to me.  Where could they have gone?  I sat there, feeling my panic grow as my heartbeat quickened.  It felt like I was breathing through a straw.

The door at the front of the bus squeaked open all by itself, and from out of the shroud of rain outside stepped a man.  He was tall, having to lean forward to keep from dragging his head along the roof. Despite having just stepped out of the rain, he looked completely dry.  His hair was pure white and meticulously combed, but so thin that it barely concealed his scalp.  He wore a black suit, black pants, a white shirt and a black tie, all clean and proper.

But his face.  Oh God, I’ll never forget his face.  His skin was paper-thin and yellowing, stretched over his skull like plastic.  I couldn’t even tell you what color his eyes were because his pupils were so dilated that his irises looked completely black, two dark orbs set into the white backdrop of his face.  His flesh was peeled back away from his gums, giving him a permanent sneer, and as I stared in escalating horror at him, he chattered his teeth at me like a wind-up toy.

Slowly, he stalked toward me down the aisle of the bus, grinning with malevolent purpose.  His hands, equally see-through against tendon and bone, liver-spotted and covered with fine white hair, dragged along the tops of the seats.  Each finger ended in flaking, chalk-white skin and a gritty, yellow nail.

As he lumbered ever closer, eight seats…seven seats…he opened his mouth and ran a thick, dry tongue across his teeth.  A hiss of sinister eagerness escaped like a swarm of flies from his throat.  His eyes bulged in their sockets, staring directly into mine hypnotically.

“I’m asleep,” I whispered, feeling a wave of revulsion at his hideous form.

As if in response, he shook his head and raised both arms toward me.  We both knew that even if I was, it meant nothing.  Even if this fiend was only in my head, it still had the potential to harm me.

His long, spidery fingers reached out, seeking me, and I recoiled.  They missed my face by millimeters, only managing to grab a lock of hair, but it was enough for him to pull with furious intensity, jerking my head toward him.  In a panic, I snapped my head back to escape.  He lurched into the seat at me, and in the same instant, I struck my head sharply against the window behind me with a screech.

I awoke immediately, my head rebounding off the glass and sending whiplash pain through my neck.  Everyone around me leaped to their feet, startled by my scream.  Even as I tumbled to the floor, I felt only half awake, like the man in the black suit was right behind me, reaching for me with his gnarled fingers, and I continued to scream and make a scene, causing the bus driver to slam on the brakes, and everyone on the bus got thrown forward.

It didn’t matter to me that a few jokes were made at my expense after everything settled down.  The whole scene seemed amusing to everyone who witnessed it, but I had more pressing concerns.  I was lost in thought, trying to understand where the man had come from, how he had gotten to me.  His presence still lingered in the air, a slight smell of rot that I couldn’t clear out of my nostrils.  My head throbbed in the back and stung in the front, where he had grabbed me by the hair.

No, no, it couldn’t be the same man, I had never touched the dirt, and that was months ago!  The only time I had come anywhere near was–

I reached into my jacket pocket, the same jacket I had worn to Leslie’s that day…the jacket I had stuffed the pot of dirt in as I left.  There, in the bottom of the pocket, I found the slightest pinch of dirt.  Just enough to hold between two fingers. Jesus, that was all it took.  I turned both pockets inside out and brushed them clean, still trembling from the experience.  Even then, I would never fall asleep wearing that jacket again.

When I got home, I found that the lock of hair the man had snagged had gone shock white.  Afraid that it would somehow spread, much like the rash, I cut it off.  It still grows out white as snow, another scar to remind me of what happens when you play games with the dead.

Who was that man, you may be wondering?  I wish I had an answer for you.  I’ve hunted and searched all the microfiche in the town library, every obituary from every recorded year, and there’s nothing to explain who he is or why his presence was mingled in the dirt from Leslie’s father’s grave.

The best I can figure, he’s someone that did something terrible, and the town or, more likely, a few angry citizens dealt with him outside of the law.  He was unceremoniously interred in a place nobody would think to look; a plot at the cemetery that just happened to be purchased later for the remains of another.  That’s all I know, and it’s enough for me.

Some things are best left buried.

Rating: 9.33/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by William Dalphin
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: William Dalphin


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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