7 09 2010

Tendrils of fog curled around the damp, old headstones in the lonely cemetery, the moisture condensed on the cold stones, grass and leaves, leaving a slight sheen to everything. Dawn wasn’t far off, but it was still dark, just that slight grayness in the east through the trees signaled that the sun would be rising in awhile. There was a deep silence, something almost palpable – that and the sense of waiting.

Standing alone there, shivering from the chill and damp. Watching the horizon lighten slowly as dawn crept closer. There was the slightest stirring of the air, fog moving, dancing around the headstones and tree trunks. Then a bird, far off, singing as the sky brightened. The candle had long guttered out, leaving only the fog and darkness. Once it was full light the vigil would be done and then the long walk home.

It would be good to feel the warmth of the fire, have dry clothes and shoes for the rest of the day – a very long day. No sleep till after dinner, no food till then either, but the dead had been honored, as was required.

Hours later the day’s work done, feeling as tho moving in a dream. Heading home for a meal and sleep, both long overdue. Feet heavy, arms tired and back sore, the door finally came to sight. Then it came crashing down, there would be no supper waiting this night or any other from today on. The house was empty now, only one to live there alone. If food was wanted it would have to be prepared, no one else was there to do so. There was no one to warm the bed, sing while doing chores, bake bread. All those things would be no more. The fire had gone out, the house cold. There was no wood chopped or kindling found. How would it be possible to go on?

There was some bread and cheese in the cupboard which needed no fire or preparation. Washing was done in cold water, then the long, quiet, cold night alone to get through. It felt as tho the cemetery was still where one was standing instead of laying in the bed, so lately shared. The tears finally came, wrenching, wracking sobs, till finally nothing was left but exhausted sleep.

Another dawn, waking to the sudden realization that there was no one else in the bed. The numbness after the scorching grief, facing the day, going to work the fields after tending the chickens, taking the remnants of the bread and cheese for lunch.

Sundown and the trudge home, except it wasn’t really home any longer. The house empty and quiet, the dog gone, but no one was going to search for it. The fire built, eggs and bacon with some gruel for dinner. The washing up done and again the empty bed. This night, there were no tears, the hours crept by, but sleep was elusive. Waiting to hear the soft breathing or movements that would not be there again.

Arising hours earlier than usual, deciding to forgo the day’s work and try to decide what to do. Walking away from the house, not even paying attention to the direction, the movement of the body sufficient in itself until the destination was revealed. The mound of earth, still high and loose, the stone not yet carved or set, remains of a candle on the mound of the grave. Coming upon it, realizing there was something laying at the foot of the soft mound. Seeing the dog, dead, curled and at peace, as it had been at the feet of the one dead and buried. Taking the time to dig, with hands alone, gently placing the dog in the grave with the one it so loved, then filling the hole. Shaping the mound again and wondering why the dog should be granted that peace and boon.

Finally sitting near the mound, talking softly as before when together in the bed at night. Wanting to hold and touch, but the other beyond reach. It had been so long, the years together, happy years mostly, there for each other. Children born, children dead, raising those who lived and seeing them marry and leave, glad to escape the hardscrabble existence of the parents. Suddenly there was no denying the tiredness, sleep overtook and quieted the grieving one.

Several days later someone passing the old cemetery found the one dead laying on the still fresh grave and notified the gravekeeper. That evening there was another grave, fresh and mounded the stone laying at the head, waiting for carving and setting. The children did not come to keep vigil as they had not before, but there was no one else and there was no honor done this death. The house was empty, the fields left, there would be no more loneliness, they were together again.



2 responses

21 12 2011

cool story bro


14 05 2011
Robert Finch

I quite agree with you. By doing nothing we learn to do ill


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