I hope you like my story
| I have an essay to write for school. I am supposed to walk through a cemetery and then write a one page essay about how it felt to be there. Iím kind of looking forward to walking around alone. I donít take enough time for myself anymore. If I keep pushing myself this hard, Iíll be spending more than an hour in a cemetery.
I roll my window down as I turn the corner and slow down. The gate is on my left and for some reason I feel that speed would be disrespectful. Almost as if Iím afraid to disturb the residents, I slow to a crawl. There are so many stones, so many shapes, where do I start? I turn the engine off and silently coast to a stop under a tall oak tree. Youíve got to love a manual transmission.
Silence blankets the scene. Man, itís so quiet; I just sit for a minute and daydream. Maybe thereís no such thing as noise, maybe I made it all up. The sound of my engine cooling breaks the illusion. Jeez, Iíve been working to hard. I reach for the door handle and pull. The pop of the latch startles me even though I know itís going to happen. The door creaks as I push it open. I pull myself out of the car and embrace the cool air. Surveying my private domain, I look around.
My first thought is that itís too cold for fog. Dismissing my observation, I examine my surroundings. The steel gray attempts to be remembered; rise from the foggy snow covered ground. Failing their goal of permanence, stone idols lean to one side. The older monuments, chipped or crumbling, reveal mansí inability to fend off the passage of time. I stand in front of the towering failures, feeling pity for the short-sighted, grief-stricken loved-ones. I donít feel pity for the loss they suffered. I feel sorry for their inability to accept the inevitable. Most of the older headstones were placed here by people that now rest beneath their own crumbling memorials.
Briefly, rays of sun filter through the overcast sky. For a moment a hill is bathed in sunlight. I see two large stones with a line of smaller stones in front of them. They represent the decaying family entombed below. Sadness creeps into my heart as I see how close the dates are on one of the stones. A child, too young to comprehend death, was laid to rest beside aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The motherís mournful sobbing fills my head, as the past materializes in my mind. I see her being restrained by her husband, as the child sized casket is lowered into the ground. Her cries intensify as she realizes that she will never hold her child again. The picture fades as the sobbing is carried away on the wind.
Under a shade tree; two matching stones bring a vision of a woman being laid to rest. Her children place her beside her husband of ten years, as her current husband looks on with a heavy heart. He feels very alone now. She is not only gone from his life, but she is reunited with her lost love. She cannot comfort him and tell him that he is still loved. He knows that he is the interloper. He knows that he doesnít belong here. He feels a little sick as he silently walks back to his car and drives to the home they shared. He feels robbed as he questions the validity of their relationship. She is with her former love now and someday he will rest alone in his own earthen tomb. As his car drives away the vision fades. I am standing in a field of broken dreams and shattered lives. Iím going home now; this is a place of sadness.
I walk to my car. As my hand touches the cold metal of the door handle, I shiver. I hear the clacking of the tree limbs, as they are being blown around by the wind. I look over my right shoulder at the tall oak tree towering over my car. I shiver again. I look around; all of the trees are silent. There isnít any wind.
The ground is cold. I can feel the rough surface of the dirt and rocks pressing into the side of my face. There is a warm hand on my back and I can hear a womanís voice. "Are you ok?" she says in a soft, concerned voice. "Are you ok?" She says again. I lift my head slightly; pain shoots through the side of my face. I sit up, brushing away pieces of bark from my swollen eye. A piece of broken limb lies across the roof of my car, bark and twigs litter the ground. I feel the hand on my shoulder again. Soft alluring words wrap themselves around me as she asks again. "Are you ok?" "Ye, Yeah", I stutter, not remembering how I got here or even where here is.
I try to stand. Wobbly legs and swimming vision bring a sickness to my stomach. I feel cold steel through my blue jeans as I lean back onto the car for support. A warm hand grasps mine, bringing my attention back. "Better?" she said, as her melodious voice undulates into my ears. I turn my head to see the source of this peaceful, calming sound. All of my pain, both physical and spiritual is gone.
A vision, beauty beyond words, stands before me. She is bathed in a silky, lilac dress that momentarily shows traces of her gentle curves. "Letís walk a while; I have to check on the children". Unable to resist and not really wanting to, I follow. I would have done anything for her. Iím not sure why but I had to be close to her. To not touch her was to not exist. Every part of my being wanted to be touched by her. I could feel her caressing every molecule in my body at the same time with just the touch of her hand. As we walk, she hums enchantingly. I can see the magical sound as it flows from her soft and gentle lips, winding itís melody into the trees. We walk over the top of a small hill and around a bend in the road. I occasionally hear childrenís laughter in the wind.
A field opens ahead of us, and there are children everywhere. One by one the children stop to look up at me, no not at me, at the lady in the lilac dress. Their laughter echoes through me as if we are in a tunnel. Wisps of fog hide the children at times. In the twilight, faint glimpses of headstones slip in and out of the fog. Fear starts to creep up my spine as I realize Iím in a field of dead children. The angelic face turns toward me as a beautiful peace floats out of her mouth and fills me with warmth. "Fear not"í she says, "For this is a happy time."
I turn my attention back to the children. They laugh and play without a care in the world. Their laughter floats through the air, swirls around me and drifts off into time. I try to hear what they are saying. Mumbling whispers fade in and out like ocean waves. The voices dance, sometimes in my right ear and sometimes in my left. I turn to the lady and say, "theyíre so happy". She turns to look at me. Her eyes tell me that the children are unable to understand sadness. I look at her in disbelief. She looks deeper into my eyes, all question is gone. As long as I look into her eyes, sadness doesnít exist. I understand completely. Time hasnít passed, but it has. Iím not sure what Iím saying but its true. Deadlines donít exist here. A barely audible church bell rings in the distance.
Turning to me she says, "come, we have to get you back." "I donít want to go"; I plead, "I want to stay with you". Showing no emotion, she says, "Itís not your time". Her hand in mine, we turn and leave the children.
"We must hurry. You have to be back before the final bell". "I donít understand", I say, as sadness again creeps into my heart. "Why canít I stay with you?" "Itís not your time. We will meet again, I promise you"; she says as we arrive at my car.
I wake up with two paramedics kneeling over me. "Whereís the lady"; I mumble as I try to set up. The paramedic gently pushes me back down and tells me everything is going to be ok. "Youíre a lucky man. If that branch would have hit you any harder you never would have woke up."
The paramedics lift me into the ambulance. As they are closing the door, I catch a glimpse of a quiet little girl with long brown hair. A faint echo of childrenís laughter makes me smile. The little girl smiles too, as she waves good-bye.
Douglas c. Face
An assignment for Jackson Community College,
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