Authors: Leen Elle
This Novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
I really loved this cemetery. There was a calm in this place, an all-embracing peace that existed singular to anywhere else. A sense of solemnity embedded itself in my mind when I stood here, presupposing an idea that this was a revered site. Even nature demonstrated fervent consideration for its sanctity; and each season showed its respect for the human significance of ritual burial. Leaves fell softly to the earth, and trees shrouded the graves with their delicate shadow. Rains cleansed grime from the epitaphs, and snow blanketed the ground in unobstructed purity.
The cemetery gave me a strange sort of thrill. Not a demented sick thrill, but a curious one in which I could imagine the lives that were lived before me. These monuments were dedicated to those who existed fifty, a hundred - even beyond two hundred years ago. Ever shifting societies, continuously changing technologies, and an inumerable diversity of lives all carried out in this one small corner of the world.
Most lives were probably not very dramatic, but every single body had a heart and mind of it's own. Everyone had himself to look after, and to care for. They had loves, they had hobbies and careers, they influenced others and were effected by them in turn. Some died young and others died old. Parents were laid to rest beside the children who went before them; and all too many had the standard issue markers of those who had lingered and outlived anyone who could mourn their passing. The styles and varying conditions of the tombstones, some massive and gothic-like while others non-descript and unadorned, denoted the long-standing generations of the town.
The vessels that contained their spirits in life were laid to rest and honored here, and that concept of eternal silence could almost be understood by those of us still living. This landscape was the embodiment of melancholy, but it was also a conviction of hope for the ethereal. It's as if the Earth kept quiet watch, guarding her sleeping children.
That's why, when I heard the crush of leaves underfoot, the break in solitude startled me to such an obvious degree. Someone was approaching from behind me. That, together with the fact that I felt awkward about the reason I was here in the first place, frightened the wits out of me and knocked me out of my reverie.
Years ago, an old therapist of mine had recommended that I come to this grave for closure; but, since a troubled past kept me from coming back to my hometown, it had taken nearly seven years to make this attempt for self-resolution . . . and it wasn't working. It just brought back memories and renewed old feelings of guilt. So, instead, I turned my observations to my surroundings. Thinking of life and mortality as a whole was simpler than focusing on a death that I felt responsible for.
But at the noise I turned, a startled breath streaming into my lungs. I dreaded to imagine the shaken look my face probably took on at my alarm. I couldn't believe that I could let myself be caught off guard like that; and after I'd spent so long telling myself that I would never let such a thing happen to me again.
The approaching figure was a man, young but not younger than I, and, somehow, vaguely familiar. He noticed my fright, because his expression – at first inquisitive – became apologetic.
"Excuse me," he said, "I wasn't trying to scare you. I was just coming to the same spot. I've hardly ever seen anyone in this cemetery, at all, let alone at the same grave." His curiosity returned. "A-Are we visiting the same grave?"
I couldn't believe this. I felt like a child who got caught with my hand in my mother's purse. My reasons for being here were personal. No one but my old therapist even knew about them. It took me by surprise, and required nearly a minute for me to realize that my motives were still my own.
"Just paying my respects." That's all I needed to say.
"Then, you knew Corry?" The man looked pleased at the possibility.
"We were classmates." Just say as little as possible, I thought.
"Well," the man smiled, "it's great to know that there are people who still remember him."
I smiled back, a little disconcerted. If he only knew how well I still remembered.
We stood in silence, side by side, with a yard of green earth between us, staring at the gravestone. The name
began to burn into my eyes until they stung. How could I bow out of this awkward moment?
I guess the man felt as uncomfortable as I did, because he broke the silence first. "I'm Kain Murphy," he said, and stuck out his hand to offer a greeting. "What's yours?"
Kain Murphy. Murphy. Oh, God. He was related to the young man that lay beneath my feet. "Murphy." I said it out loud before I realized. How clumsy of me.
"Yeah. I came here to visit my little brother. I'm back in town for Thanksgiving, and just thought I'd stop by and say hello."
Brother – he was Corry's brother. I looked at him. That's why he looked slightly familiar. The man resembled Corry.
He appeared as though he expected me to speak next. "Ah, I'm Claire. I stopped by to say hello, too." Saying those words felt odd. I wasn't here to say hello. I was here to say goodbye, to find closure.
More awkward silence prevailed, before Kain decided to breach it yet again. "I don't remember seeing you at the funeral."
Was that his idea of small talk? "I sat in the back."
"Well," Kain responded, "there were hundreds of people there. And it
twelve years ago. Doubt I'd really remember anyway." He laughed uneasily.
Twelve years. That's a long time to feel guilty. Not that I thought about it every day. Weeks have gone by in which my mind never turned towards Corry. But he was always there, in the back of my head, like he haunted my subconscious.
The therapist said it wasn't my fault. He tried to convince me, persuade me that Corry's death must have related to so much more than just me. The man even told me that I was selfish and egotistical to think that I could have brought about Corry's demise. I told myself the same thing long before he ever did. It didn't change anything. I knew that I still helped Corry towards his end.