This is the third story. You might like to start at the beginning.
Mum's body sat up, and Mum was inside it. She didn't look right. She
was Mum, but also not Mum, not the way I remembered her. I thought I had
gotten used to the peculiar look of dead people inside dead bodies, but
it turns out that it's different if you knew someone in life before you
saw them in death. A thousand subtle differences collude to remind you
that this person in front of you is, in fact, no longer the living
person you remembered. A fact that's obvious, in hindsight.
She had been looking around her while my breath was caught in my
throat. Then she tilted her head while looking at me and frowned a
little, the crease between her eyes getting deeper in that oh so
familiar way, and just like that the horror inside me melted away. Mum,
only Mum, her body moving in the way that only Mum moved.
"Mum! I missed you so much!"
"Yes Mum, it's me."
"Sally." She looked around again. "Sally, I appear to be in a crypt."
My heart sank. "Yes, Mum."
"Sally, why am I in a crypt?"
"Um. Um, you died, Mum."
"Well of course I'm dead. That's obvious. Now, why am I undead in a crypt instead of buried or cremated?"
I said nothing. She said nothing. I shifted my feet. She kept staring at me, waiting, and I broke, just like always.
"Ok, but you died! And I wasn't prepared! And you're my mum, and I
couldn't deal, and I wanted to tell you something and I was scared and I
didn't tell you for ages and I was waiting for a good time but then you
died and now Richard proposed and I don't know what to do and I needed
to talk to you and I'm sorry but I need you and please don't be mad but I
love you and I just couldn't let you go and ...and say something,
She raised an eyebrow. "I will, now there's space to get a word in
edgewise. Who's this Richard fellow? You haven't mentioned him before."
"Oh, Richard. I met him six months ago. We get along great, and he
brings me flowers and cooks me dinner, and I like the way his eyes light
up when he sees me. He's wonderful and he loves me, but now he's
proposed and I just don't know why I haven't said yes yet."
"Well, wait until your studies are done, Sally dear. You're pretty
close graduating anyway, so no sense rushing. You can take time to
properly consider things after."
"Oh. Um, I kind of graduated two and a half years ago."
She tilted her head again. "Kind of?"
"Well, I mean actually did. I did graduate two and a half years ago."
"I see." She pursed her lips for a moment, thinking. "So I've been dead two and a half years then?"
"And you didn't think to mention this sooner?"
"No, Mum. Sorry, Mum. I should have thought better."
"Alright. Ok. So, you've graduated. That means you're working as a counseller now, I guess. How are you finding that?"
"Um." I scuffed my foot against the ground, being careful to avoid
the summoning circle salt. I looked back up into her waiting eyes. "Um. I
didn't exactly graduate as a counsellor."
She blinked. "What do you mean, Sally dear?"
The words caught in my throat and I stared at her. She looked at my
face, then frowned, looked around the masoleum again, then back at me.
She took note of my guilty expression.
"Sally, we appear to be alone in here."
"Sally, just exactly who raised me from the dead?"
"I did, Mum."
She raised an eyebrow, and said nothing. I rushed to fill the gap, as usual.
"Ok, so I graduated as a necromancer, Mum, not a counsellor. I did do
the counselling classes I told you about, but they were to support the
necromancing. I was going to tell you! I just wanted to graduate first
and then tell you! You've always been against necromancy, Mum, and I
don't know why, you never said why. I asked why, and you wouldn't say.
She sighed. "Sally, it just isn't right."
I got angry. "You always say that. You always say 'it just isn't right' but you never say why it isn't right. You left me to find out why for myself, and I did, and you are wrong,
Mum! Necromancers do such good in the world! I've seen it, and I've
done it too. Families are happier after seeing their loved ones one more
time, proper goodbyes, a chance to say things they left unsaid while
alive, messy situations cleared up. Why isn't it right?! You can't just
say that without telling me why, you never said why! Tell me!"
Mum looked taken aback. Then she sighed again and patted the ground
next to her. "Come sit next to me, Sally, and give me a hug."
I didn't want to. I was still angry. But then I looked at her sad
eyes, and the anger drained away and left behind the ache I felt at
missing her since she died. I stepped over the salt carefully and sat
down next to her, giving her a sideways hug. We sat there for a while
like that, both staring at the wall. Eventually, she cleared her throat
and spoke again.
"It was Uncle Jim. Do you remember your great uncle Jim?"
"Not much. I was very young when he died, wasn't I? Brown hair, brown eyes, nothing else."
"Yes, that's right. He had Alzheimer's for a long time before he
passed on, and by the end he barely remembered who anyone was when they
visited. My cousin Gilly took advantage of his confused state and got
him to sign a new will leaving everything to just her. No one found out
until after Uncle Jim died and his will was being read out. There was
such an uproar! Everyone was upset at Gilly, and Gilly just sat there
looking smug. Then someone suggested a necromancer to help sort out the
Mum paused for a moment, still staring at the wall. Another sigh. "We
raised Uncle Jim. It was awful. At first, he seemed just as confused as
when he died, but then his mind cleared. It had been so long since his
mind had been clear! At first we were happy just to have him like he
used to be, but then Cousin Robert mentioned the will. We all held our
breath, and Uncle Jim looked at Gilly. Gilly looked right back at him.
She said, 'I know I took advantage of you when you were muddled, but
you're not muddled now, are you. You're going to tell the whole family
that you're going to leave the will just like it is, now, ain'tcha, and
you know why!' We were all shocked by her brazeness, but we were even
more shocked when Uncle Jim couldn't meet our eyes and just nodded. They
all asked him why and he wouldn't answer. He asked the necromancer to
send him back and ignored us. Just before he left his body again, he
looked over at me. He said, 'she knows why too,' and then he was gone.
Everyone was silent for a moment, then they all started yelling at Gilly
again and asking me what he meant. I coudn't hear them."
Mum paused again. She looked over at me and smiled sadly. "I had
thought it was all just dreams. I'd spent all that time thinking it was
dreams, and everything was ok, and then he came back from the dead and
ripped that away from me. Uncle Jim had abused Gilly, and he had abused
me too. I just thought I must have been dreaming, so I didn't tell
anyone. And Gilly, she didn't know she wasn't the only one."
I squeezed Mum tight in the hug, lost for words.
"So you see," she eventually continued, "that it just isn't right!
The past should stay buried with the dead. We didn't have to bring Uncle
Jim back. I didn't have to remember what happened. Our family didn't
have to know Uncle Jim was a bastard. We could have all just been happy
as we were!"
Mum was shaking. I squeezed her tight again. We sat like that for a while, just quietly, holding each other. Eventually I spoke.
"Mum. You weren't happy as you were."
"You all weren't happy as you were. Gilly was hurting and feeling
alone. The family was tearing itself apart over the will. And you might
have thought you were dreaming, but it would still have affected you
your whole life."
Mum frowned, but said nothing.
"Maybe it sucked to know Uncle Jim was a bastard, that it wasn't all
peaches & cream in the family. But how much less alone do you think
Gilly felt? How much do you think our family understood your quirks
better after they knew? And will disputes can destroy families! Wasn't
it better that Uncle Jim confirmed the will as is, and the family could
Mum frowned again, then sighed. "Well. You raise some interesting
points, Sally dear. I still don't know that I think it's right, but
maybe I need to spend some time re-thinking what happened."
She pulled my head against her shoulder, her hand stroking my hair,
time passing quietly again. Eventually she stopped stroking my hair,
took me by the shoulders, and gently pushed me away so she could look at
"You raised me for a reason."
I bit my lip. "Yes."
"I think you better tell me about this Richard fellow then, Sally dear."
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yes. Right. Richard."
I paused. Mum said nothing, but just stared at me, waiting for me to fill the gap like I always ended up doing.
I'll write more. Probably. Eventually.