Below is an excerpt from a book I am writing called “Under the Granite Lies”.
God, I missed him so bad already! He should have listened and never followed me! He couldn’t have known what would happen and that he would have no way to defend himself against an enemy who was already dead. I blinked away tears as I pulled off the road near the gate of the cemetery.
After shutting the engine off, I rolled the window down and sat in the deafening silence until my eyes adjusted to the moonlight. I glanced down at the bouquet of roses lying across the passenger seat and ran my fingers along the smooth, silken red petals. Their delicate nature reminded me of my all too precarious position as a living, breathing human.
Cradling the paper wrapped bouquet in my arms like an infant; I got out of my car and slipped inside the iron gate, closing it behind me with a soft clink. The secluded cemetery was surrounded by dense forest, edging it on three sides in a protective gesture as if it were shielding it from the outside world. The street side was edged in a red brick wall, capped by cement finials interspersed with black iron fencing that matched the gate. It was nearly eleven o’clock, and the evening was cool and still with the soft perfume of a summer storm lingering in the air. Lightning flashed in the distance, the thunder rolling toward me in a low growl.
The rows of standing stones stared defiantly back at me like the pale faces of a crowded hospital ward, each eager for attention, but I was focused on only one patient in particular. I would find his stone in the last row, fifth from the side, according to the annoyingly chipper, cheerily dressed clerk I had spoken to earlier that afternoon.
I took a breath and stepped boldly into the eerie yet comforting stillness, taking the walking path that led down the left side. I glanced at the stones along the way, reading their names aloud to myself in quiet acknowledgment of the frailty of life. There were approximately thirty rows, each with about fifty stones across. Empty spots were scattered here and there, patiently awaiting their future occupants.
“Josephine Sue Barley. Beloved Mother and Sister.”
But, not a beloved wife? There was a story there.
“Michael John Davis. Forever Innocent.” A figure of a teddy bear was carved below the words. A yellow plastic dump truck sat beside the stone, and had obviously been there for awhile. The grass had grown through the joints of the tires, a sure sign that the caretakers had thought better of touching it and instead manicured the lawn carefully around it.
I cleared my throat lightly and wiped my moist eyes with my sleeve. Soon, the last row was upon me. I paused.
Not ten feet beyond the last row of stones was the forest’s edge, the trees standing tall like a row of stiff soldiers awaiting inspection. The moon lit the cemetery in a silver glow, but the forest remained a dense, black, foreboding curtain. I felt a trickle of fear run down my spine but bravely ignored it, turning right and trekking the remaining few steps to the fifth stone in from the side.
“Madeline E. Sturgis. Beloved Wife and Mother.”
No, that wasn’t correct, there had to be a mistake! No offense to Madeline, of course. I stared blankly at the stone, confused for a moment before recalling that I hadn’t asked which ‘side’ the clerk was referring to when she gave me directions. Perhaps she was referring to the other side? I squinted at the long row of stones stretched out in front of me and began to walk toward the opposite end, glancing at the names as I passed so I wouldn’t miss it.