A final resting place can have a grand view or be tucked beneath a traffic overpass. The departed are connected to the living through place; a place shared over time no matter how it has evolved, grown or become abandoned. In the end, we all find a place to rest our weary bones.
This week, writers explored these places and what can be learned or discovered. Some stories speak beyond place, others connect to it. A few stories even redefine what is a resting place; perhaps it’s not entirely for the dead.
The following stories are based on the October 21, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a final resting place.
The Shadow of the Rock by Ann Edall-Robson
In the shadow of the big rock, the clearing is surrounded by the scent of pine trees that have grown tall and protective. The old trail to the entrance has become a rain rutted road that takes it leave from the well travelled route below.
There are several visible markers. Only two are of importance. Each, a subtle reminder of life’s fragility. One not living beyond his birth, and nearby his grandfather watches over him. Their lives etched in the heart. Passed to the next generation of family story tellers who will visit in the shadow of the rock.
Boneyard by Jules Paige
The old township survey map doesn’t have a date. But the
old house in the neighborhood is over two hundred years old.
The map could be from the 1800’s or the mid-late 1700’s.
There are marks for cemeteries. Some of which you can’t
find anymore. But there is one in the median behind the
grocery story just where the highway divides. And it is
surrounded by a black wrought iron fence and is well kept.
Not usually a fan of graveyards. Once I bought a
bouquet . Most names were illegible. I left the flowers for
all of them…
Annie’s Letter Home: January 1853 by Kate Spencer
We have landed in Fort Victoria, Vancouver Island. Last night we were huddled into a dirty store house. John made us beds from boards that were lying around. I kept my spirits up til everyone was asleep and then quietly gave way with a flood of tears.
This morning John was taken away to work at the Craigflower farm. I am living at the fort with a Mrs. Edwards and will help her sew for the ladies here.
Be comforted my dearest sister. Tonight I feel a renewed determination to work hard and help John earn our promised land.
Ruthless by Sarah Brentyn
I could never wear white. Washes me out. But you pull it off. Probably your dark hair. Olive, that’s my daughter, changed my burial dress to this white thing. Can you believe it? Jealous little witch. Delicious scandal and I couldn’t gossip to anyone! Well, she got the last laugh. I’m stuck forever being photographed in white!
Get on with it then. I usually like to perch on the pillar but, in autumn, the leaves are a bit scratchy. How about I stand next to the grave? Hello?!
Ooh! You’re one of those people! This should be fun…
Visitation by Sherri Matthews
Ethel threw the nightdress in the fire and glared at Fred.
“If them coppers find out you stole that old bag’s clothes you’ll get it!”
“Sod her, ‘er old man almost shot me!
“It’s your fault for pawing at Mave,” Ethel hissed, pushing the newspaper across the table. “It don’t look good.”
Fred scanned the headlines. Local woman missing, broken gravestones over at St John’s, a ‘ghostly white figure’ seen by a group of ‘harmless kids’.
“But we only went there to look at the moon, for a lark was all…”
Ethel sighed. “Oh Fred, what ‘ave you done now?”
EDstone by Larry LaForge
“This is totally creeping me out,” Ed muttered.
“Just a quick look,” Edna replied. She loved looking for historical Charleston figures in the old church cemetery.
Ed flinched at a crack of lightning as he wandered about. Suddenly he froze, face turning white as snow, and sweat pouring from his brow.
He stared at a simple headstone displaying only two large letters: ED.
With another crack of lightning, he bolted the scene.
Edna turned to see what spooked her husband. She chuckled as she read the small inscription at the very bottom of the stone:
Ervin Dowkins 1827 – 1883.
Bury Me by Irene Waters
The diagnosis hit like a sixty-pound sledge-hammer.
“We can’t tell you how long. The cancer’s very close to the artery. It’s a matter of when it erodes through. It could be a matter of days or a few months. Sorry but not long.”
Stanley made the phone calls. Friends rallied from near and far for a last weekend together.
“Bury me, don’t burn me.” Stanley said.
We headed to the cemetery and found a peaceful plot overlooking the sea. “I’ll be happy here. I always did feel comfortable underground.”
“Mining Engineer was a good career choice then.”
Lessons from the Dog by C. Jai Ferry
The dog sat, mimicking Nipper’s iconic RCA pose, albeit for something much more dog-worthy than a phonograph. His tail swished through freshly yellowed leaves.
The earth behind the shed was nicely softened. The shed’s faded red walls marked the edge of the withered field and the start of no man’s land. The blade of the shovel struck deep.
Three more shovel thrusts and the squirrel was laid to rest between last week’s opossum and the woodchuck family. The dog watched, patient as the hole disappeared.
He blinked twice, then raced out into the field. A new toy was waiting.
Mask: Passion that Rises From the Ashes by Dave Madden
When locked in a cage opposite your dreams, you can survive any fight-long after you’re laid to rest.
The documentary entitled Mask unearthed Charles “Mask” Lewis (1963-2009), immortalizing his message over the course of eighty-three minutes.
As the face behind MMA’s leading apparel at its founding (1997), “Mask,” along with “Punkass” (Dan Caldwell) and “Skyskrape” (Timothy Katz), brandished a logo synonymous with mixed martial arts. Deeper than any stitches embroidering the iconic symmetrical symbol, Lewis arduously pressed to credit his message rather than his pocketbooks: potential above performance.
Using MMA as a medium, Lewis’ passion infinitely integrates all lifeforms.
The Day of the Dead by Luccia Gray
“Eve, You’ve been chosen to read the Sacred Words this year on the Day of the Dead.”
“I don’t want to rest without you!”
“If we take turns and rest for a year, we’ll all live much longer.”
“There are fewer of us now. They’ve stopped returning.”
“Those who find their final resting place stay.”
“What if I find mine?”
“Then you will remain within the Words.”
“I can’t leave you, Adam!”
“If you refuse, you’ll be outcast with the Wordless Tribes, who roam throughout their short lives searching for a place to rest.”
“Come! Let’s join them now!”
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
I couldn’t ignore his calls forever, but I could have a damn good try. Friends said I should get over it, move on to the next. But until I heard him say those words, the dream lived on in my mind.
I understood his reasons: the spark had gone, every avenue pursued to a dead end. Gathering dust, redundant, we had to make space for the new. I poured myself a brandy and called him. It wouldn’t hurt so much if I took control. Just don’t send my unsold books to landfill, I pleaded. Grant me that, at least.
Birth and Death by Ruchira Khanna
“There! you see that patch near that big oak tree.” I pointed to a place at a distance surrounded by mountains.
“Yes, I see it.” came a confirmed response, “But what’s so special about it?” he inquired in a puzzled tone.
“Place me there once I am done with the worldly pleasures of life” I added solemnly.
Quickly a hand was placed on my shoulder followed by a warm hug, “Oh! I am sorry. Did not know you were dying.”
Taken aback I asked in a quizzed tone, “”Aren’t we all since the day we are born?”
At Last. At Rest. by Geoff Le Pard
Jerry stopped the cab. ‘Don’t be shocked.’
‘About Katherine. She’s different.’
Rupert gripped Mary’s hand, whether for his or her comfort she didn’t know.
‘She’s had a hard time. Fostered several times, adopted twice.’
Rupert sounded angry. ‘Why?’
Jerry pulled a face. ‘No one’s fault, she was born like it. It was long ago, across the sea.’ He shrugged.
Mary stared at the rain on the windscreen, her father’s words echoing down the years. ‘My perfect angel.’ Was that why they kept her, not Katherine?
‘She found a final resting place with my grandparents.’
Graveside by Norah Colvin
She wasn’t sure why she was here. Miss R., Annette, had suggested she come. So she did. What struck her most, as she read the grave markers, was their ages. She’d never thought of them as young but their life spans were short; both a mere 49 years, going within a year of each other. She worked it out. They were younger than she was now when she’d left home. Who’d have thought? She felt a strange sadness, a familiar hollowness, not for the loss of their lives but for the absence of love, love which had never been.
Monticello by Pete Fanning
I close my eyes and breathe. A musky scent of autumn and prestige. Swirling history that surrounds the great house on the little mountain. The neoclassical architecture, the great columns and breathtaking views. The mysteries under Mulberry row.
Intellectual. Architect. Governor. Master. His marker is a little ways down, past the gardens. A lineal descent to the obelisk that marks my sixth great grandfather. No mention of his presidency. Only his famous declaration. Religious freedoms. His university.
A woodpecker rattles overhead. Otherwise it’s just us, alone among the falling leaves. The whispers of pride and shame and shared DNA.
?? The Unspoken ?? by Roger Shipp
You call him racist, yet you never met the man.
You call him slaver, not taking into account the times.
You try to see a past world through the rose-colored glasses of the 21st century- instead of walking a mile in the shoes of the men and women in our household.
I hold you to account.
You have taken the time- and the monies- to study our lives…
Even our final resting places…
Yet you fail to grant us the respect you claim he lacked.
You leave our graves unmarked.
To you… we are a tourist attraction?
An American at Menin Gate by Paula Moyer
Jean had loved studying World War I since her teens.
Now 49. Finally in Ypres. Sundown, facing Menin Gate with the rest of the crowd. She had walked through the marble arch, glazed over at the names – over 54,000 soldiers whose final resting place was not known, men who had died in battles of Ypres.
Futile, Jean thought. Those poor men – they didn’t pick the battles or the cause.
The bugle corps filed in. Veterans snapped to attention. A bugler read from “For the Fallen.”
“We will remember them.”
Jean whispered along. Then she added her own postscript: “Yes.”
Lunch with Wilstach by Charli Mills
“Call me, Sarah, Mr. Wilsatch.” Her stomach rumbled at the sight of steaming soup served to their table.
“All right, Sarah.” Frank Wilstach dabbed his lips after each spoon of broth.
“A right fine lunch companion you are, Sir. A fair price for an interview.”
He smiled. “Sarah, did you know only you and Mr. Monroe McCanles are left ?”
“What of Mary?”
Wilstach shuffled notes. “Ah. She went to her final rest in 1907. Buried next to her husband.”
“At Rock Creek?”
Why did it matter they had moved Cobb? He was never one to rest.