Ron Stagers sat solemnly in the cemetery on a gray overcast day. Minute drops of rain sprinkled his forehead. His eyes did not turn away from the name on the tombstone. Her name was Olivia Henson. Ron remembered, with fondness, the dance they shared so many years ago, the long nights of talking and laughing, and watching the sunrise on warm July mornings. This stone lament was all that remained of his lost love.
To Ron, a grave is the echo of a life. This grave was an echo of his past. It was a reminder of mortality, and how all things come to pass. He felt slow regret creep into his stomach.. A wasted life on a failed marriage. If only he had found commitment with Olivia. Were these slow final days to be filled with such sorrow?
A lady, clad in white, had entered the graveyard. She was approaching a grave several rows away. There was a familiarity about her that Ron could not quite place. She seemed illuminated despite the dreariness of the day. As the lady seated herself by a grave, Ron found himself yawning. It was getting late.
Ron rose, strolling towards the cemetery gate. Outside of the graveyard, life was bustling around him. Loud vehicles and busy-bodies running this way and that. He remembered his childhood when things were calmer. There were not as many automobiles and angry people. The world had grown around him, and apart from him.
Ron made his way down the busy sidewalks and filthy alleyways, trying to find his way home. Suddenly he came to the horrid realization that he did not know where he was. He did not know where his home was. He was lost in a dusty metropolis of unfamiliar faces. It was a society of crying vagrants and laughing drunkards.
As his confusion escalated, he cried out in frustration. Noone seemed to notice his plight. The formless faces passed, oblivious to the old man’s conflict. He walked, aimlessly and uncertain through the night, until he found himself in the subway. A bearded homeless man clothed in gray garb sat with his wine bottle. Ron approached and said, “I’m tryin’ to find Hoover Street.” The vagrant was silent. “Hoover Street,” Ron persisted. “which way do I go?”
The vagrant turned up his bottle, it’s contents splashed out of the corners of his mouth.”Aargh!” raged the man as he threw the bottle across the subway track.
”Hey, you’re littering!” exclaimed Ron.
The homeless man stared blankly into space and said, “Drink ah think, ah think ah drink….” Ron turned from the vagrant, leaving the subway. Outside, the first light of dawn decorated the horizon. He wandered through the sleepy city that, only hours ago, was pulsing with activity.
Eventually, Ron found himself back at the cemetery gate. This monument to memory was the only thing he could truly call home. It was the place he has spent his everyday for some time . He took his place of vigil at Olivia’s grave to spend his hours and ponder his thoughts.
After several breezy hours, Ron noticed the white-clad woman had come to visit the grave she had come to the day before. Ron decided that there was nothing to lose by introducing himself to her. He rose and made his way down the many rows of plots toward her.
As he approached he was shocked by a familiar face. “Olivia!” he cried with joy. It was her. The lost love he had mourned for daily. Her features were glass-like. Her empty eyes rested on the tombstone before her. Ron followed her eyes to the epitaph. It read: Here Lies Ron Stagers-Gone but not Forgotten-Rest in Peace. If only they had married. They would now lay side by side. They could have mourned together, for one another, for a lonely eternity.
Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe at a very young age, musician/composer Mike Smith has written Gothic Horror short stories throughout his life. After his short story, “The Malevolent”, was published by The Fine Arts Center in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Mike lives with his wife, Shan, he has decided to make his writing available to the public, with the intention to entertain, if not deeply disturb.