118. An unmarked grave
© Bruce Goodman 5 February 2014

Doreen’s grandmother had died at an early age of tuberculosis, years before Doreen was born. Nonetheless, Doreen, at eighty-seven years, decided to visit her grandmother’s grave for the first time. It wasn’t because it was Halloween; it was because the feast of All Souls was coming up on November the 2nd, and that was the day to especially pray for the dead.

She asked at the cemetery office. The grave was up a hill, hidden amongst a glade of old gum trees. It was unmarked. Doreen climbed the hill with difficulty and found the spot where her grandmother was buried.

She sat on an old rotten log that was strewn across the site of the grave. She said a prayer. She was there for several hours.

Suddenly a loud, gasping wail echoed across the valley from the glade of gums trees. They heard it at a distance, at the cemetery office. The staff looked at each other. Halloween?

Tentatively, they approached the glade of gum trees.

There was Doreen, wheezing, breathless, wiping tears from her eyes. The staff moved nearer to offer some consolation.

“I’m laughing, not weeping,” panted Doreen. “I got up the hill on my own. But I’m stuck. I’m eighty-seven, and I can’t get back down the bloody hill.”

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