The Country Churchyard by Steve Goodlad

Where the bell tower casts a long shadow seems as good a place as any. A family mausoleum with its flat cold stone she can lie down on undisturbed. Walking here with Bill he’d joked, "I wouldn’t be seen dead in one of those things.”

“Don’t Bill” she’d asked.

But he’d gone on: “Besides…”

“Don’t Bill. Please”

But he’d just had to finish. “I hate tight spaces.

Her last memory of him was a quarrel and a silent standoff.

It is cold here in January, lonely too, but that feels right, she thinks.

She can’t gather the courage any more to enter through the porchway. To see the stained-glass windows of saints and martyrs. She feels let down. All the prayers, all the services she attended with the endless monotonous sermons. All her flower arrangements to make the interior something it wasn’t after all; a sanctuary, a place to temporarily forget. It was going to be a place for a wedding that she’ll now never have.

The Jackdaws circling above her seem to mock. Their grey hoods like witless spinsters conspire to ridicule a funeral too she can never have. There’s no one to bury in this place of stone edifices and faux angels. He’s still over there in some foreign field. The last she heard from him was through a redacted letter some months ago. Until the telegram last week: “Missing in action, presumed dead.”

She has the pills in her pocket. The note is already written but then she notices the bare stalks pushing through the grass, of forsythia, the dried seed heads of teasels getting a cursory inspection by a flock of goldfinches. Snowdrops are in bud and the daffodils she remembers from last year should come soon. She decides to wait, like them, for the spring.

Selected - Weekly Write - Week 11

Published in Issue #27

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