The Thing About Being Alive Is

about_being_alive

It isn’t the first time I’ve ended up in a graveyard. Won’t be the last.

I meander around. There are a curious amount of joggers. A woman in bright green shoes glowers at my cigarette as she goes by. A man fiddles with his phone as his dog squats over the grave of Henry Wilkinson Esq.

I walk on.

I find a bench. It is wooden. It looks just like one my mother placed beside the fire-pit back at home, except this one is dedicated to Milo and Luna.

A woman in a neon yellow tank top slows as she passes.

“Seriously?” She asks my hand. I look at the hand. It is holding a cigarette, treacherously lit without my knowledge. I shrug. The woman gives me a disgusted look and jogs off. I take a drag from the cigarette and push my bangs back from where the wind had tossed them.

“Are you seriously fixing your hair in a graveyard?”

I look to my left. DEATH looks up at me. Her feet dangle over the end of the bench, inches from the soft earth. I frown at her.

“What are you doing here?” I ask.

She shrugs. “I like to watch people jog.”

She holds out her hand. I pass her the cigarette. She takes a drag and swings her feet back and forth.

“How’d you wind up here, then?” she asks.

I look around at all the stones caked in ivy. I haven’t a damn clue why I am here.

“It’s peaceful,” I decide.

“And you came to London for peace?” DEATH asks, passing back my cigarette. I take a drag and lean my head back over the bench, saying nothing.

“Want to walk?” DEATH asks.

I raise an eyebrow at her. “A walk with death in the graveyard? Somewhere a fourteen year old girl just wrote that poem.”

DEATH giggles, hopping off the bench. She turns, “well, you’re basically just a really hairy fourteen year old girl, so what’s the harm?”

I shrug, flick my cigarette onto the grave of Barnard Spaull and stand up.

DEATH watches it go, she stares at the grave, “people used to have some shit names, huh?” she muses. I shake my head and start walking. We weave our way deeper into the gnarly field of broken stones before saying anything. DEATH breaks the silence.

“It’s really a waste of meat.”

I look down at her.

“Huh?”

“All this.” She waves her hand about.

I shudder, “gross.”

She laughs. “Hunger is gross.”

I say nothing. I think. I walk. Finally, I ask, “Is all this worth a damn?”

“Walking?” DEATH asks. I give her an annoyed look. She holds up her hands. “I know what you mean,” she mutters, “It’s just, I don’t know. Look there.” She points off to a patch of graves some ways away.

An older woman in a shawl is standing over a grave playing the harmonica. I hadn’t noticed the music until I saw her. She looks over at us, through us. She stops and places a hand on the grave. She leans into it like you would a cane. She begins to cry. Big fat tears, I can see the light trapped in them from where we stand. She goes down to one knee. I look away. DEATH doesn’t.

“Let’s go.”

I start walking. DEATH catches up.

“I’d like to think that graveyards give people a place to do that. Having someone in an urn is convenient, but it just doesn’t seem right to cry over a dead loved one and the ending of a romantic comedy in the same room.”

I walk a bit faster. DEATH, even with her short legs, has no trouble keeping up. She grabs my hand and I stop. Her fingers are warm.

“Why do you ask things if you know the answers aren’t there?”

I jerk my hand away. She frowns up at me. I turn my head from her and stare at the grave of Hugh Arthur Rendall. Under it reads:

“There the tears of earth are dried

There the hidden things are clear

There the works of life are tried

By a juster judge than here”

DEATH kicks up dirt beside me.

“What utter nonsense!” she exclaims suddenly. I turn, she is looking up at the gravestone, her face twisted in revulsion. “You things are so damn stupid. You want to know, but you can’t. Or you think you know, but you don’t. Just exist, like the rest of us!” She looks about to growl. She doesn’t. She straightens her face, then her dress. She smiles up at me.

“Have fun,” she says, and is gone.

I stare at the spot where she was. I light a cigarette. I turn and begin walking to the exit. A nice car sits along the way; the type of car my friend who likes cars would point out to me.

An old man stands beside it, hands in his pea-coat pockets, dignified. He is kicking small stones into the wheel of this car, waiting for his wife to return from the grave.

She does, crying. He opens the door for her. She gets in. He adjusts his jacket, then climbs into the driver’s seat.

I walk past the car, still idling, out into the street.

13 comments

  1. I wanted to stop by and thank you for the follow, and I’m glad I stumbled on this piece. I find it intriguing Death is written as a girl instead of something more shadowy and menacing. It gives death a humble, innocent quality because its a part of life like everything else.
    Feel free to make yourself at home on my blog. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated.
    Happy reading and writing!
    -Author S

    Liked by 4 people

  2. ‘I raise an eyebrow at her. “A walk with death in the graveyard? Somewhere a fourteen year old girl just wrote that poem.””
    Okay, I laughed at this–so perfect! But maybe loved so much because a powerful contrast to the death-denying neon colors and judgmental joggers vs. the soothing, foggy images of the graveyard and Death’s answers to a question no one REALLY wants to understand.
    Outstanding!

    Liked by 1 person

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