The date is June 1976.
In the small-town of rural Vicksburg, Mississippi, a sixteen-year-old young lady named Mary Anderson was walking home from High School. Stopping for a moment to glimpse into a broken mirror that a neighbor threw in the trash, she fixed up her shoulder length brown hair. Her light blue eyes had no need for glasses or contacts, which made reading her textbooks more enjoyable. The sun warmed her fair skin in the reflection of the mirror, but she never liked the blanket of freckles under her eyes.
As she walked down, she felt a shoelace was untied. Leaning down over her light yellow dress that reached her knees, she retied her flat white shoes. Picking her brown school bag up, she grunted as she felt the weight of books weigh her down. But she didn’t mind reading so many books, she’s studying to become a schoolteacher once she graduates in her senior year but that’s two years away. She does fairly good in school, but doesn’t do well in science. Her favorite subject is History.
As Mary kept walking down the dirt road, she spotted horses grazing the farm pastures. She always liked horses as a child and loved to go horseback riding whenever she could since her family didn’t own a farm. When she felt tiny legs crawl on her toes, she looked down and screamed. A small black and silky spider was on her foot, but she quickly flicked her ankle and tossed the insect back into the sturdy, green grass. She has been petrified of spiders since she was six years old because she once was bitten by a black widow and nearly killed her. So she always screamed for her parents whenever she found one at home because she feared that all spiders were deadly.
Finally home, Mary stepped inside the two-story brick house. In the living room, Mr. Anderson was reading his newspaper as Mrs. Anderson was cooking dinner. Mary was an only child in her family so it was only herself and her parents. However, she did not know what religion she believed in since her parents are from two different beliefs. Religion wasn’t very important since her mother is Christian while her father is Buddhist, but Mary did every so often attend fuernals for her neighbors with her mother. Mary’s maternal Grandmother died of a heart-attack in the house when Mary was seven years old. She and Mary were very close, her Grandmother baked her cookies during each visit and shared memories about their family.
A few days after the funeral, Mary woke up in the middle of the night for a drink of water. While she walked back to her room, Mary’s Grandmother appeared near her door and smiled at her before disappearing. This incident scared her at first since it only occurred around Mary, she wanted to tell her parents about what she saw. But neither of them believed in ghosts so Mary couldn’t even talk about it.
Mary also had other things on her mind, Johnny Carmelo a student in her High School asked her to his Senior Prom which was only a few days away. Her parents don’t approve of her dating Johnny saying that he’s not good for her because he disobeys his parents, his atrocious grades because he flirts with girls and has his own car if they wanted to run off, but Mary tried to convince them that she trusted him since they had been friends for several months. They also don’t approve of Mary becoming a teacher because they feel she should be a housewife like her mother.
Mary greatly respected her parents, but she was torn between obeying them and letting go of her hard-earned dream or risk defying them to become independent and lose their respect. As she pondered on this, she saw her Grandmother while studying her books,
For a brief minute, she heard her Grandmother also tell her not to go to the Prom with Johnny. Mary did not understand since she knew Johnny wouldn’t let anything happen to her. But she kept hearing her Grandmother’s voice, her dreams were filled with her own screaming voice, the sounds of screeching tires and trees smashed into the windshield. This frightened Mary every night, but convinced herself that they were only nightmares brought on by stress from school.
On the night of the Prom, Mary told her parents that she was going to see after a movie with some friends. But in reality, she was going with Johnny Carmelo to attend the Prom. The two had a great time dancing and Johnny offered her a ride back to his place. As they drove down the road, the night was slightly foggy and the roads were slippery from the rainstorm overhead. Mary’s eyes widened in fear when she heard screeching tires and saw a car swerving out of control behind them. She screamed at Johnny, grabbing the steering wheel, they tried to avoid the car. A sudden jolt pushed her forward and heard crunch from the back of the car. The screeching tires were louder than Mary’s piercing screams. The last image she saw, a flash of a huge tree trunk smashed through the windshield.
The Sheriff delivered the news to Mr. And Mrs. Anderson that there was a car accident and Mary was killed on impact. Mrs. Anderson gasped and screamed into her hands, Mr. Anderson could only cradle his devstated wife as she collapsed to the floor. He cried with her as they listened to the Sheriff explained how the cars collided. The second car’s tires slipped the rainy road and hit Johnny’s car, Johnny made it with minor injuries as did the other driver. But knowing that Mary didn’t make it, made Mrs. Anderson question why it was her daughter that died and no one else in the accident. Mr. Anderson held the responsibilty of notifying the rest of family across the state, Mrs. Anderson could only stare at the photo of her daughter on her 16th birthday.
Mary’s furenal was filled with tears and sorrow, the priest said an eulogy for her in her mother’s Church. Mary’s gravestone was planted in a nearby cemetery, everyone gathered to say their goodbyes. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson forbid Johnny Carmelo from attending, blaming him for the cause of her death. He still came by her grave and begged for her forgiveness, but her parents did not accept his apologies despite his condolences. But Mary herself soon appeared in the graveyard. She has often been seen by grieving families holding funerals for their loved ones and offered her condolences then disappearing before they could thank her.
Upon hearing this news from their neighbors, the Andersons visited Mary’s grave. Mrs. Anderson told her late daughter that she loved her dearly and hoped she was happy whereever she was. Then as she turned alongside her husband, they saw Mary’s transparent figure walking beside the gravestones. She turned and smiled, her eyes were still the same bright blue as they remember. This assured them that she was happy and loved them, too. The Andersons believed in ghosts since they saw their daughter and later forgave Johnny, accepting that the accident was not his fault.
Mr. And Mrs. Anderson could finally move on from their daughter’s death since she was teaching others that death is a part of life just as she always wanted to do.