A Grave Conversation


I sat in the car with my wife and travelled up to the cemetery where I’d been buried not long before. She didn’t know I was there, of course, I was now the silent passenger; the observer, the helpless carer whose love for her continued on like an afterglow on the planet where we had both lived: my presence gradually fading as the last embers of my emotion vanished from this place.

She seemed to be disoriented and walking up the wrong path. At last she arrived at a grave. “Frank Sutherland, Father to Christopher and Cecelia. 1954-2011”. . . My name was Phillip. Pausing briefly she then knelt and laid the flowers on his grave. I had known him well; a local care free drunk and party man who had left a litter of children across the locality and died in a moment of reckless euphoria at the wheel of a borrowed car. On one famous occasion he had run for mayor.

I became aware of a presence and now here he was beside me, cheery as ever, and standing in death by his grave smiling down at my wife. “We first slept together twenty-three years ago.” he said by way of explanation “Sorry, but, bloody hell, she was a goer and half wasn’t she”. I would have raised my eyebrows if I still had any, but I could still feel surprise.

After the rare episodes of love-making with my wife, where our hands moved only as much as was necessary and without undue familiarity, there would be a pause. A feeling of shyness mixed with embarrassment and then it was always the same. I would roll off and she would say “Thank you”. Not in a cold way, but in a clear and deliberate voice, as though I’d just bought her a cup of tea. That was it, followed by slumber. The routine was unchanging. She was my one foray into intimacy: perhaps I had missed something.

I was a surveyor, on the neighbourhood watch committee, golf club member and local historian. I attended church regularly and made every effort to support my family. I’ve no idea what Frank did. He always seemed to get by on a wing and a prayer, somehow evading responsibility and defying the normal laws of economic gravity ,and the downside of reckless living, till he had one escapade too many.

Work frequently required my absence from home, but we always talked on the phone, and her reliable calmness was a constant source of pride to me during my journey through life. “She could dance”, continued Frank, “as if there was no space or time, you know: urgent, wild”. There is no anger in death, only love and regret so regret it was: waves of it. “Didn’t you feel any shame” I said,         ”Destroying the bonds of another family”. “Life’s too short for regrets. At least mine was” he said, visibly, or invisibly amused, depending on your circumstances

The object of our affections was now kneeling in an act of fruitless prayer for his soul as we stood beside the grave. I, feeling more and more like a guest in her life, rather than a part of it, turned to him in sorrow and said,” At least I have my child. She goes on”

“Have you ever studied your daughter’s eyes?” he said, “They are my colour” and as he spoke his frame rocked in silent laughter. He seemed to be finding death as amusing as life. I stared down at the woman I called my wife and said “Does the truth set you free?” but when I looked for him there was no one left to answer.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in Affair, character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to A Grave Conversation

  1. Sometimes there is no resting in peace.

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  2. Maybe the only time we can learn all of the secrets of life are when we are powerless to react.

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  3. mikesteeden says:

    Another gem of a tale…another sublime cocktail this time of a ghosts dilemma, sufficient humour to make me laugh at the predicament of the deceased and that all important ‘woe is me’ throughout. You nailed it Sir

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  4. gotham girl says:

    oh my…this give RIP a whole new meaning! Good one Peter!!

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  5. davidprosser says:

    A tale with a nasty sting in it. I didn’t think there would be disappointments in death but it seems I may be wrong.
    Hugs

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  6. lucciagray says:

    My name was Philip… sad and intense story. So much unsaid. So many questions unanswered.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Let go says:

    Real story. A man sued to get back all the money he spent on his three children when DNA proved someone else provided the swimmers. Judge ruled against him. This was in the US right after DNA was used in court.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You are so brilliant! I love this.

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  9. As always, your writing leaves me saying “wow, heavy stuff”.I wasn’t expecting that! great stuff!

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  10. joey says:

    That was chilling.

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  11. A fabulous twist deliered early which only added to the intrigue and intensity of this fine tale, Peter. It certainly begs the question ‘ how well do we really know people, even those we are closest too?’. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

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  12. So sad that he will not rest in peace. Perhaps a lesson in learning to move on, especially in life. Well written, Peter.

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  13. Al says:

    Poor Phillip, a cuckold in death, just as in life. Sorry, but I’m just being Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. araneus1 says:

    excellent —– the dead have an excellent view of things — this is not very far from the truth of things.

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  15. How the heck do you think of these things… ? Great stuff…

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  16. A very good reason for choosing not to believe in life after death.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ksbeth says:

    we all come and go, and things are never black and white.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Can’t wait to hear what happens when the old Mrs. meets her maker. An unexpected rumble of thunder, perhaps…or just some common drizzle?

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  19. Janni Styles says:

    Another beautiful work from a very beautiful mind. Your perspective is always so unique, I really enjoy every word you write 🙂

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  20. This gives some amazing perspective; gripping all the way to the end. I truly enjoy your writing!

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  21. Oh, just when you think you know someone! There’s someone’s eyes I need to have a closer look at….

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  22. Phillip is probably dying to get away from his wife now. But he’s too late. Again.

    Great stuff, keep it coming!

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