Friday, September 14, 2012

Ante Mortem by Ellie Anderson

Chapter Seventeen


The air was crisp with the promise of autumn and the setting sun cast a purple-orange hue across the headstones.  Della closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. 

“Ashes to ashes.  Dust to dust,” she whispered to herself, remembering the words of the minister as he dedicated the grave on that dim and rainy day.

Her friends had been supportive, but she could tell there was confusion, and possibly some resentment, over why she hadn’t shared her secret relationship with them.  She still hadn’t told them much.  To talk about it felt like she was betraying him.   Of course, there was no hiding it once the details of the event had become public. 

Della looked down and wondered, was he was facing east?  Or west?  Was the marker actually placed at his head or over the center of his body?  Could it be at his feet? 

On the day of the funeral, while she stood amongst the crowd of people who had gathered to honor Steve, she was busy making mental notes to herself to remember which side the head of the casket was on.   He would have wanted to know.  She completely missed some of the comforting murmurs because she was busy familiarizing herself with the cemetery landmarks in relation to the position of the casket.  She wasn’t there when they finally placed his marker and when she went to see it, she found that the details that she had so desperately tried to carve into her memory had become fuzzy and she couldn’t tell where his head was.  The details that had been so important had been replaced with fuzzy flashbacks of shock and pain. 

She could see the older portion of the cemetery in the distance and recognized the little lamb on the top of Ivy’s grave marker.  Della remembered standing at the Anders’ family plot with Steve. The fullness of that memory made her emptiness all the deeper.

Della kissed her fingertips and pressed them gently against the top of Steve’s headstone.  “I’ll be back next week,” she told him.  She paused and felt an uncomfortable tingle in her jaw as she fought back her tears.  “I’ve been waiting…don’t forget your promise.”

She walked towards her car and was momentarily distracted by her shoes sinking into the drying lawn with each step.  She knew there would be dirt and blades of grass stuck in the gap of the heel protector and she hoped the leather would not be ruined.  Cleaning them could wait until she got home.  Della sunk into the driver’s seat and swung her legs in.  This would’ve made him crazy, she thought. 

A shadow passed to her right.  Della looked up momentarily and quickly brushed it off as dancing leaves in the dying light. 

She turned the keys in the ignition.  Wisps of blue exhaust ballooned into the air as the muted figure of a man with a suit coat carefully folded back and draped over his arm, stepped from behind a nearby tree.  He smiled wistfully as the car disappeared into the purple haze of evening. 

1 comment:

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

Waaahhhhh! I can't believe it's over...