FlashFic: The Graveyard

I met him in the graveyard. My life was never the same.

An elegant vase of lilies sat to the side, waiting while I cleared the area of leaves. Not many gathered since I visited a few days ago. When the grass was pristine, I put the lilies in front of the stone, slightly to one side. I wanted to be able to see her name.

Photo by thskyt

My Bethy. A year gone today. Pain echoed through me, a searing in my lungs as I choked back the tears which constantly threatened. I dreamed of her every night. The dreams of pushing her on her swing, of teaching her to bat, of watching her help her mother make dinner, those nights of sweetness gave way to the dismay of life without her. The terrifying ones of the accident, of identifying her mangled body, of her funeral, those nights of horror gave way to the shaky relief of emergence. My Bethy. It was a long year.

Her mother and I continued to act out our lives. We went to work. We ate our meals. We slept. We did it again, making days pass. Making a year pass. I made myself stop visiting Bethy every day. My therapist insisted. A few times a week now. It didn’t help.

I barely noticed the man walk past me. When he huddled at a stone, brushing his fingertips over the words, I registered I was not alone. Staring at someone else’s grief, I was mesmerized. The man held his battered hat, his dirty jacket unbuttoned and hanging open. Plucking a lily from the vase, I approached the man. Wordlessly, I handed it to him. In a guttural voice, he mumbled gratitude and placed it by the gravestone. I could smell alcohol and filth rising from him. A horrendous thought occurred to me. I spoke with him, suggesting and coaxing.

I went back to work after spending a little more time with Bethy. I would return this evening with her mother. It was the anniversary. It was only right her mother finally visit.

I picked her up at work as always. Murmuring things in the car such as, “this is so hard,” “I think about her every day,” and even, “I’m sorry,” she tore apart tissues in her lap. She sniffled and kept her head turned away. She thought I couldn’t smell the vodka on her breath.

The vase of lilies was tilted when we got to Bethy. I straightened them and stepped back. Her mother stood back until I gestured her forward. She stumbled a bit, looked over her shoulder at me, and went down to her knees. As though making it real, she reached out to touch the gravestone. The stone with her daughter’s name on it. She pulled it back as though scorched. As she sobbed, I walked away. The evening darkened and I walked the path between graves.

Nearing the crypt, I smelled the man even before he stepped out of the shadows. I held out the fifty. Fifty dollars would buy a lot of booze. “Remember,” I told him. “Lock her in the crypt. Got it?” He nodded, shoving the money into his pocket.

An alcoholic dealing with the drunk driver who killed my Bethy. Taking a different path out of the graveyard, I heard a strangled scream. It seemed a sort of justice.

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18 thoughts on “FlashFic: The Graveyard

  1. Deanna Schrayer July 14, 2012 at 8:05 am Reply

    Jess! My mouth is hanging open, that was such a POW of a punch-in-the-gut ending! Not only that but the voice, the imagery, all of it – fantastic! This is definitely one of your best.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 16, 2012 at 9:57 am Reply

      You’re a doll, Deanna, thanks so much! You know I love those POWs. I’m really glad this one worked. I’m touched by your comment, I really am. Thank you again, both for this one and your consistent encouragement.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  2. flyingscribbler July 14, 2012 at 9:57 am Reply

    For some reason I thought the down and out was the father gone to pieces. So my surprise was doubled by your shocking ending. True horror.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 16, 2012 at 10:01 am Reply

      Thank you very much! It was brought to my attention recently many of my stories fall into an aspect of the horror genre. I was surprised. I don’t particularly care for horror. It took me a bit to understand how varied the genre actually is. Your comment particularly tickles me now that I do.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  3. Aidan Fritz (@AidanFritz) July 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm Reply

    Nice twist with a strong sense of reciprocity in the closure.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 16, 2012 at 10:04 am Reply

      It may be a horror to deal with grief that way, but there is a certain balance to what he does. “… a sort of justice” and all that. Thank you for mentioning it. It’s good to know it came through.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  4. Icy Sedgwick July 16, 2012 at 7:21 am Reply

    Whoa, that was some powerful stuff there, Jess.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 16, 2012 at 10:05 am Reply

      High praise coming from such a talented horror writer, Icy. Thanks very much.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  5. johannaharness July 16, 2012 at 10:02 am Reply

    Chilling, Jess. I didn’t see that coming.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 16, 2012 at 10:06 am Reply

      Chilling is good, I like to chill. Of course, you already knew that. Thank you, Johanna. Welcome home from your writing retreat! You were missed.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  6. lv2bnsb (@DanielleMonroy) July 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm Reply

    That was heart wrenching. But clever and rites in some twisted way.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm Reply

      Thanks, Danielle. It’s great to see you here! I’m glad the story worked for you. Sometimes I post one I feel is complete and has a *bam* at the end, but I’m nervous what others will think. Just between us? This was one of those. The positive feedback has been so gratifying. I appreciate your comment.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  7. John Ross Barnes July 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm Reply

    Oh, weird – I was sure I had commented on this…hmmm. Obviously needed more coffee –

    I Loved this. Made me feel. Dark, sad, with a creepy twist and with what seems here to be an entirely appropriate degree of retribution. (Although I also feel sad for the drunk driver/wife who’s had to live with herself for the last year – sweet relief at last…)

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm Reply

      Wait. There are times when more coffee is not needed? I must google.

      I’m so glad this story worked for you on all the different levels. The poor drunk driver/wife, going through that year as though being punished every day on top of what she already felt. Yes, perhaps it was a sweet relief for both of them.

      Thank you, John. I always welcome your feedback. You make me think about the stories, about what worked and what could be improved. The best kind of feedback.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  8. ElizabethM July 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm Reply

    Wow that was unexpected and fantastic! This was an evocative read with a great punch of an ending.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, Elizabeth. It’s a thrill when the pictures and people in my head come together and tell me a story which works for others. I appreciate you letting me know it did. Love to give those punch endings, too!

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  9. Susan Moffat July 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm Reply

    Love it! Love it! Love it! Excellent writing and clever twist!

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm Reply

      Thank you thank you thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It’s gratifying to find out the story works for a reader. Lovely to see you here – hope to get to know you better.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

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