Over on a tiny LiveJornal writing community I belong to, the following prompt was posted:
“Depict a cemetery from the standpoint of a woman who, for the first time in ten years, visits her lover’s tombstone. Even if her emotions are strong, don’t express them in global terms “she was overcome with sorrow,” but show expressions of the emotion in what she sees, how she sees it—birds, plants, ants, other tombs, mourners.”
Here’s what I came up with. This snippet didn’t come very easily, I don’t know why. Still, I’m satisfied with how it turned out. Always room for improvement, but I like it okay. Thanks for the prompt/kick in the ass, schadenkatze.
It had taken four hours and several wrong turns but she’d finally found the cemetery. Lying down a rutted dirt road, Molly wondered what kind of shape the place would be in, secluded as it was. An iron arch stood sentinel at the entrance; as she pushed it creaked back on its hinges, screeching in protest as if the action was painful.
It had been in better shape ten years ago. The gate had opened in silent respect for the flag-draped coffin, the sky had rained warm tears onto the ceremony. Today the sun slanted through the trees, heading for bed in the western horizon, limning the stones and trees with a sullen orange glow.
“C’mon, Molly, move…” Still she stood by the gate, rooted to the spot. It was easy enough to see Adam’s monument from here. It stood out among the weathered marble and more mundane stones. It was a tacky black granite monstrosity his parents had insisted on buying, emblazoned with an American flag, a Marines emblem and a 1969 Oldsmobile 442. Smaller flags speared the dirt around the headstone, some so faded by the brutal Florida sun the stripes were gone, to one that could have been planted that day, its red white and blue fluttering in the light spring breeze. Molly glanced around; she seemed to be alone. At last, she found the will to make herself move.
Ten years later, that name engraved in the cold black marble still had the power to make her pause. ‘Garion Adam Belson, USMC’ stood in stark contrast to the shiny stone, reflecting the weed-choked gravel and ragged memorial flags. Apparently his parents felt their responsibility to his memory ended with paying for that enormous tombstone. Gravel crunched under her feet, muffled in comparison to the last time she’d stood here, long after the other mourners left, watching the box lower into the ground, watching his parents leave, the folded flag in his mother’s hands, not her own. Standing in the warm rain until the smell of rifle smoke was a mere memory, until night fell.
“Sorry it took me so long, babe.” She laid the white rose across the top of the stone and knelt before it, brushing the dirt that had splashed up from the last rain and dried to the shiny stone surface. Restless fingers tugged at the weeds poking from among the crushed gravel and tossed them aside.
“I know; I’m stalling. You could always tell. The bar is doing good. Fitz still comes by once in awhile; we talk about you for hours before I have to cut him off and call Ronnie to pick him up.” Molly could see her reflection in the granite. Tousled hair escaping from the confines of its braid, pale skin and dark-circled eyes from too many nights running the bar. “I look like shit, babe; I’m sorry. Probably not what you wanted to see on your birthday, huh?”
Her gaze dropped to the surface of the ground; a dandelion she’d missed in her cursory cleanup. Its sunny yellow head bobbed, nodding in agreement with her statement. She reached out to stop the motion and her knuckled brushed the headstone. Turned out it wasn’t cold after all, but warm, as warm as the hand she used to hold. Molly flattened her hand against the stone, just beside his name. It had never been her name, and Molly had never stopped regretting it.
Filed under: Prompt, Writing | Leave a comment »