For the first time on this new site – in fact, based on a glance at the archive, the first time in over six months – it’s time for a Friday story. No preamble, I’ll just get down to it.
You can see more stories by other writers on the Friday Flash website, or join in yourself. Any comments on the below always welcome.
My name is Sam and I hang around in the local graveyard.
And after a while, you memorise a few stones, not the bigger ones. I avoid them, they get enough attention.
Besides, the huge monuments are obviously someone rich, and we all know what it’s like to be rich. They cast a shadow over the smaller ones and I lie in the grass, not letting the shadow catch me. Sometimes I move to be sure. I’ve never met them, but I hate them.
The little ones, though – they’re more interesting. Why bother asking why Mr Richard Parker (1901-1966) wanted an angel over his dead body, yet Mrs Louisa Parker (1897-1988) chose flowers? I don’t even care if they were married.
But why choose a thin stone, like Miss Karen Stone (1930-1967), or a fat one like Mr John Cale (1944-1990)? Green and long, like Mr Henry Armstrong (1940-2003)? Does that mean they were tall or thin or fat or green themselves?
Obvious is boring, or just miserable, like Maisie Wilson (2004). I don’t want to imagine that. I want a world of people to think about, all rising and falling with their stones. Not talking to them, I don’t talk to gravestones, that would be silly, they wouldn’t reply. I get enough of that at school.
I come here because it’s interesting and you can get under their skin. It’s like people-watching, only they can’t see you. I tried to explain this to Anna once, but she just said it was boring. Not stupid or crazy or anything, just boring. I’d have preferred crazy.
After a while, I realised why huge wartime graveyards with hundreds of identical crosses (1894-1914) are so depressing – it’s because they’re so the same. All individuality sucked out, reducing all these people to nothing but the way they died. If I ever joined the army, I’d start a will before I went, just to stop that happening to me.
I’ve thought about my own gravestone a lot since I started coming here. I think it would be small, I’d want it to be small. It would appear ordinary at first glance, but unfold amazing details if you took a proper look at it.
I have this dream, but I don’t know what the details would be yet. If I died tomorrow, I’m not sure what would happen.