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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Microstory 1849: Devastated

I was so excited when I finally got my driver’s license. Freedom is what it meant, and I was ready to drive off into the sunset alone. My older brothers drove me to the DMV, and when it became official after years of waiting, they performed a quick little ceremony in the parking lot. Then they returned home together, and charged me to go find myself. I just sat there for the next fifteen minutes, wondering where I could go, but I realized that there was nowhere. We lived right next to a strip mall that included a movie theatre. I mean, there just wasn’t any need for a car, except maybe to get to school on mornings with bad weather. Otherwise, I pretty much walked or biked everywhere, and I saw no reason for that to change. So I just went back home. My brothers were disappointed, but they had to agree. The cabin fever didn’t go away, though, and I continued to feel the urge to get out and go places. So that’s what I did, not worrying about wasting gas, or the money it cost to buy it. I just had to feel my independence, and maybe a little wind in my hair. I never worried much about getting lost either. I just kept exploring. It was much easier to make your way to the middle of nowhere back then, because the area was not as developed as it would quickly become. One day on one of my drives, I came across this tiny little cemetery. There were maybe a dozen gravestones, most of which were damaged, worn, and hard to read. But there was one that was clear as day. It was just as old as the others, but it didn’t feature a name. Son, 1923 – 1923. I was heartbroken just looking at that, and it haunted me for the rest of my life. It’s what makes me think that life is just God’s cruel joke on all of us.

I went back to my secret spot about once a year for over a decade. I found it simultaneously chilling and comforting to be there. It remained my special place to get away from it all for a long time. They’ve only now started to build a neighborhood there, and I hate it. I doubt they’ll pave over it, but I thought it was really cool how remote it was. I felt like it was something only I knew about. The latest grave was placed in 1947, so it was entirely possible that no one was left alive to remember anyone there. Those people might have only had me. I met my husband five years ago when he started working in the cubicle next to me. We started dating six months later, got engaged eighteen months after that, got married eighteen months after that, and had our child eighteen months after that. The math works out as it ought to. We made sure we knew each other well before we took the next step, and we made sure we were ready for kids before we did that. We also wanted it to be painfully clear that we didn’t get married because of any children. This way, there could be no confusion or whispers. Well, there was still confusion, and there were whispers. People started whispering around and at me all the time. My son managed to live and breathe for all of eleven days before God took him away from us. I don’t know why he did that, but I can never forgive him for it. My little boy was so beautiful, and perfect, and innocent, and he deserved the world. I just kept thinking that I couldn’t bury my child without a name, like that baby from almost a hundred years ago. So we named him posthumously, and I insisted we lay him to rest not too far from the unnamed boy. That way, they can be friends forever. Not once in my life did I ever consider killing myself, but I simply cannot bear this loss, so I’ve already picked out a plot right next to my Elijah, and I will be joining him soon.

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