A Grave is a Lonely Place

Isaac knew where the grave was because his father had shown him the clearing past the family creek 22 years before and he’d been there twice a year since. It wasn’t a proper cemetery and there was no marker other than a man-sized cradle of sunken earth, so Isaac knew if he didn’t bring his daughter with him it would be forgotten. He wasn’t sure why that forgetting would be a bad thing, but he felt that it somehow would be. Evie was 18, the same age Isaac had been when his own father brought him for the first time; father and daughter stood together looking down into the oval bed padded with grasses.

It’s the body giving way does that, Isaac said, makes the earth sink.

Who is it? Evie asked.

Michael, he said, your uncle–third great uncle I guess he’d be.

Never heard of him, she said.

No. Neither had I until I’s brought out here.

Why’s he here, she said, instead of the family place?

This is where he did it, and so they figured it’s where he wanted to be. At’s what your grandpa said, anyway, so I guess it’s true.

Did what?

Killed hisself. Today’s the day, too. I come out here on his birthday and deathday–just to say hi I guess.

Evie was quiet for a while as they both looked down. Isaac didn’t tell her she needed to come out every year, twice a year, as he had or that she needed to tell her sons or daughters to do the same. He just needed her to see.

Why’d he do it? she asked.

Don’t know, he said. They just found him, heard the shot–thought someone was hunting on the land, found him here.

Couldn’t it have been a accident? she asked.

No, he said, he was by hisself and the shot was too sure.

They were both quiet then for a moment.

Guess he just got tired of things, he finally said.

I don’t get it, she said, I think a grave must be a lonely place.

Isaac thought on that for a moment and then said, Everyplace can be a lonely place, I suppose. Sometimes a person can feel like wherever he’s at is a lonely place–surrounded by folks, friends and family even, and just lonely as hell. And a person can just get tired of that. Maybe too tired.

I don’t know, she said. I can’t imagine it.

I don’t think we should try too hard to imagine it, he said. But I come out here, I guess, to make it a little less lonely–one less lonely place.

Isaac and Evie were quiet then and stood without placing a flower or any other token of remembrance–he never had in the past and no one ever would. Isaac placed his hand on the small of Evie’s back. Let’s get going, he said, and they left the clearing, crossed the creek.


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