Thursday, April 18, 2013


By F.J. Wilson

Violet lived in the cemetery.  Not a little house outside the fence, not a small cottage inside the fence, but on and around her family vault.  Before she died and as she died, her papa hired workmen to refurbish, rework and polish the old marble of the vault, and commissioned a statue of a beautiful angel with large open wings to stand and keep watch at the door… the very angel on which her papa leaned to cry too many tears for too many nights after she was laid to rest inside.   The vault was very pretty and many of the souls still loitering in the old burial grounds were envious as theirs were not nearly so nice.  Some of these souls had gathered around as her papa came to visit each night… some had gone to the other side of the cemetery to give him privacy, and some approached Violet offering comfort as she grieved for her papa in his sadness.  All remembered their own family’s grief at their passing and became saddened themselves.  In time her papa stopped coming and she wondered where he was. 
Violet watched through the years as families came to bury loved ones or clean the graves and decorate tombstones and crypts for All Saints Day.  Since her death in 1917, styles changed, people changed and a person grieving a death one year would return a few years later to be buried, adding a new soul to anxiously filter into the society of souls waiting to go into a light that frightened rather than comforted them.  Many souls did go into the light, and were never seen or heard from again, but the ones who chose not to enter the blinding force were full of questions and begged the older souls for answers none had to give. Once she thought she saw her papa enter the big gate and go straight to the light without looking for her, but she couldn’t be sure it was him.  Violet was shy around the floating people in her world, they were either kind and clinging, or sad and weepy and neither was to her liking so she spent the months, years and decades around the big angel on her crypt watching as the living came and went not knowing they were surrounded by souls.  Large houses were going up outside the cemetery and things were changing.  Crypts were being torn down or moved and bones were being collected by descendants and taken out of the little cemetery.  Some graves were left intact but their tombstones removed and hauled off in trucks.  Souls were powerless to stop their stones from being taken, and this gave them more reason to be whiney and confused. 
The one soul Violet befriended was a young soldier killed in France in 1944, but his body wasn’t shipped home for decades, so he was new to her world and buried in the crypt next to hers, making them ‘kindred souls’ as he liked to joke.  His name was Jedediah and he asked her to call him Jed.  He was funny… light hearted, full of mischief and played pranks on the older souls cranky from years of being ignored by the Universe.
 “They’d cry in their beer if they could drink”, Jed liked to say about these cranky old once-living-now-dead ‘people’. He was not well liked by the sad souls lingering and mourning their own passing and the destruction of their final resting places, but he was a favorite among the young frightened entities looking for something to make death worth living. 
Violet had never been brave… even as a human she was a follower, not a leader and would not have made a pioneer of any kind; had it been up to her the country would end at the Mississippi River and the rest could be Mars for all she cared.  Her death had not given her courage, or peaked her interest in the unknown, so she was content to watch other people go into the giant orb as she stood to the side frightened by the bright entity she didn’t understand.  She was taught in Sunday School God would be at gates made of pearl when she died, but there had been no gates and no God, so she waited.  She waited for God and she waited for her papa to tell her what to do, but neither had been forthcoming.  
Jed said she had to find her own way; it was her destiny to finish her life and make it to the next one and she should have faith.  The very thought was so frightening she would change the subject when he started his ‘stuff and nonsense’ about going into the big light.  Over the next few weeks he convinced many of the old souls to go into the brightness, but some like Violet hung back and found other things to occupy their time.  Of late, Violet was counting the stars to see if their numbers increased as souls left her world.  It was a hopeless cause and she knew it, but she wouldn’t let Jed know it.  She did wonder though why he didn’t go into the light he professed was so wonderful.  She was working her courage into asking him.  Lately, souls had been released into the cemetery and went directly into the light, holding Jed’s hand and smiling, recognizing him as an old friend as they went.  He seemed to be the shepherd and they the  sheep, but were they going to be slaughtered or moving to a better pasture?  Besides, he wasn’t a shepherd; he was a soldier, a man soul like all the other man souls in the cemetery.  How could he know so much about the light? Finally Violet and Jed were the last two souls in the cemetery and it was time to go into the light or stay alone in the dark.  Jed walked toward the light and reached his hand back to her.  She shook her head, ‘no’ and shyly hung back close to her crypt.  He waved and smiled as he went into the light, but he left a message in her heart as he left.  “It is only the first step and the fear of being happy that will keep you from entering.” 
The world of the cemetery turned dark, the men came to take her
angel away in a big van, the bright light was gone and she knew she had made a terrible mistake.  Suddenly she had a great desire to be with Jed and her papa and as she stepped to where the light had been, she saw a spot of light in the distance becoming larger; she had a second chance, thank you dear God, another chance, maybe even a last chance to show her bravery and find her papa… this time she would be brave, she knew it… maybe.  

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