"Where is it, Captain?" she asked softly. "Jonathan's been asking and I'm not sure what I should tell him."
They strode briskly into the headwind blowing frigid air from the north. To their right, sea smoke capped the choppy gray water of the bay. "It's like a shroud," Carolyn thought as she linked her arm in his, then shivered at her choice of images. Jonathan's question had unsettled her. Had she truly ever wondered about the Captain's burial site before Jonathan raised the issue? Not really. She was a woman headily in love, or at least that's how she justified her lack of curiosity on the matter. They rounded the curve in the beach and disappeared altogether. Jonathan spun the telescope and sighed.
"Maybe he doesn't have a grave," the boy wondered aloud. "Otherwise, my Dad would be with her 'cause he would never let another ghost date her." Could some men live forever anyways? And have special powers? He trusted the Captain almost more than he did his Mom. But his duty was to protect her, or so his Granddad said. Protecting his Mom meant figuring it all out for the family.
At Sunday school, the boundaries of life and death were clear, although cloaked in mystery. Fortunately, Jonathan didn't like his Sunday school teacher or the hour of church that followed it.
That left "the veil" Martha's old lady friends were so fond of discussing. The veil could thin when somebody was ready to die or someone from heaven wanted to greet somebody from earth. Was the Captain stuck there? If the Captain was really dead, maybe his grave kind of floated around in the gray veil. His body had to stay there forever while he got to come back to earth and take care of Gull Cottage and be nice to him, Mom, Candy and even grouchy old Martha.
Only dutiful Candy, who intuitively understood Captain Gregg's body didn't matter anymore, refused to waste time worrying about burial sites. Logically, she only fretted about the graves of vampires on Dark Shadows. Her biggest fear was vampires might really be real since Captain Gregg was a ghost and he existed. She studied every episode carefully, acquainting herself with the etiquette of the living dead and the way they slept semi-shrouded in coffins during the day. Every now and then, it occurred to her that the Captain's body probably looked like Barnabas Collins', hands folded piously on his chest as he lay in his coffin. But that didn't jive with her experience of him, his hearty laughs, healthy appetite and ability to reassuringly materialize when she needed him.
"What makes you think I have a grave?" the Captain stopped Carolyn, holding her shoulders squarely so she was forced to face him. He studied her assiduously and brushed a loose strand of hair from her forehead. Tempting, that headband. He would love to have pulled it from her hair and her towards him to reassure her with the steady beat of his ghostly heart. "Does it matter?"
"What matters is Jonathan. He wants to know and I don't know what to tell him."
"Perhaps, the lesson to be learned is that the soul, or spirit is more important than what remains when we die," the ghost advised softly. "And the transient grave is the proof in that equation."
"The transient grave is exactly what he's looking for, proof that you really are a ghost. He's seen Bobby's grave. He had a very hard time understanding his father was dead. He's never forgotten the burial service, with jets flying over and everything. Now there's you – dead, yet alive – and no grave for you. He can't figure it out, but he desperately needs reassurance you won't die - again."
The ghost pulled her towards him, finally, and embraced her tightly. "As does his mother," he whispered sorrowfully.
Back at Gull Cottage, Martha placed a cherry pie on the porch chair. With any luck, it would be cool enough to eat when Ed arrived at 4:30. She pulled her sweater tightly around her waist and watched the little Monkey Puzzle tree bobble stubbornly in the cold Canadian air.