Lillie, on exorcism detail, at a private graveyard on an abandoned farm about to be turned into a housing development:
With the sun in my eyes, at first I thought the old site was empty. It lacked that waiting, listening hush I'd come to expect from such places.
Not so. An old man leaned against the fence watching over the fields, shielding his eyes from the sun like me. I heard a woman calling.
So I tramped back through the tangle to the midpoint of the site, turned the four quarters slowly, and read out the names from my list of generations.
As I named them I mentally added the epitaphic designations of grief and loss: the beloved wife of, the only son of, dear daughter of. Ephraim Bryant, Ebenezer Bryant, Joshua Tilden, Mary Tilden, Annabel Bryant...
Three shades only, worn and thin, drifted toward me, like silver whispers in the quiet gold of the afternoon.
I dispatched them. Reluctantly. Regretfully. An easy task this time.
Then I went and climbed over the fence and sat on a rock in the sunshine, near where the old man had stood vigil, between a bilberry bush in white blossom and a rusted harrow netted in blackberry brambles.
Was what I was doing the right thing?
Godforsaken or not, the specters that had lingered here on this abandoned, lonely little hill would have harmed no one who came after. Had it been wrong to banish them, to use my Talent on such frail and harmless spirits?
Were the SOS right in their vociferous protests against the actions of my kind?
I sat there a long time, pulling at the dead grass at my feet, listening to the busy chirps of gossiping sparrows, looking over the unleavened fields beyond, the nearest covered with pale dry cornstalks beaten into the earth like bones. A red-winged blackbird swayed on a cattail along a tiny creek. A flight of swallows dipped and danced like souls released.
I could only hope what the bean sidhe said was true. That the dead are grateful for rest.