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There’s a little cemetery just a bus ride away from this dreary place. Sometimes, when it gets too crowded or I’m feeling a little bit lonely, I’ll grab a book from off my bedside shelf and sneak out to the bus stop just down the road so I can catch an afternoon ride to that lovely place. Although it’s small, there are a lot of headstones, and there are lots of flowers. But lately, especially with the weird weather, there aren’t that many, so I take a sunflower or two with me, and I’ll just place it on top of a random grave, which is my little way of saying thank you to the spirits for letting me use their sacred grounds.

Of course, I never worry if I’ll get caught or if this is even legal by the orphanage’s standards, since I’m so invisible, the nuns don’t even remember my name half the time.

So that’s why I’m sneaking out now. I’m feeling a little bit run down, since Jessica Avery called me a you-know-what, just because I accidentally bumped into her on the stairwell this morning. I’m not taking a book with me today, because I don’t feel like reading. But I am taking my old carry-case umbrella and a handful of dried sunflowers I picked from the green house out back last week. I think the Potter couple’s headstone has been looking a bit bland lately, especially with this icky weather.

I’ve known the Potters for a while now, posthumously of course, since theirs was the first headstone I ever read. On it, in small curled writing, it says:

Lily and James Potter

But beneath this is a single word, carved into the stone in big, blockish lettering:

SACRIFICE
I think that’s a bit of an odd thing to put on a headstone, but, it’s not mine, so I guess I’m okay with it. Maybe it’s something they asked for before they died...

I stand under the bus shelter as I wait, and I keep getting goose-flesh every time the mist beads up and runs down my back. I reach into my jacket pocket and pull out a dried sunflower head, and I begin to pick away the petals.

I will be adopted…

I won’t be adopted…

I will…

I won’t…

It’s a sort of game I’ll play with myself when I’m extremely bored, or don’t know what to do with myself, and most of the times, I’ll pick the last petal and it will turn out that I will never be adopted. Halfway around the flower, the bus pulls up, and when the doors open, I see it is a new face that is behind the steering wheel of the vehicle. The name plate pinned to his chest reads “Ernie”, and it makes me happy, because he looks like an “Ernie” to me.

“Hello Ernie,” I say.

The man smiles and the corners of his mouth lift, which means he just gave me a genuine smile. “Where we off to today miss?” he asks me as I take a seat behind him. I realize I’m the only one on the bus today.

“Oh, the little cemetery near Hollow Street or something I think,” I reply.

“You mean Godric’s?” he asks, his eyebrows rising as he glances at me in the rearview mirror above his head.

“Yes please.”

I spend the next ten minutes humming to myself, fingering the half-plucked flower. Just by counting the remaining ones, I can calculate it will be another futile attempt at trying to give myself false hope.

When Ernie pulls up next to the gates of the cemetery, I thank him. “Anytime,” he says before he shuts the bus doors. He puts a pair of spectacles he had tucked into his shirt pocket onto his face, and then drives off.

I head into the cemetery, and take my usual seat under the old oak tree near the Potters. I set the sunflowers on top of their head stone, and then lean back against the wet bark of the tree as the mist is beginning to show signs of thickening into a fog.

That’s when I realize I’m not alone.

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