“You think everyone lives forever, Cal,” said a young woman’s voice out from underneath a plaid umbrella.
“No. And how did you get to that statement?” the man answered, shifting his hat across his brow and trying to keep the raindrops from his face.
“Because you were thinking it, that’s why. I know it. It was bound to come up in conversation in the next minute or so. Just you wait.”
The man eyed the young woman as they walked along the unpaved drive that winded through the glens of Forest Wake Cemetery. “I think you already mentioned it, Fea,” he said into a suddenly chilly breeze that blew into his face.
“I don’t really want to think about living or even dying, Cal.” Turning to face the young man, “I just want to be. I feel so numb that I can’t fathom anything else. So let’s not debate it. Dead is dead. Marion, Felix, Zachariah, Franz, and Becky are dead. Just let me mourn them.” She picked up her pace as the rain was starting to come down harder. The drops hurt almost as much as the loss of her friends hurt. She rushed ahead.
“You are the one who thinks that,” whispering to cold and wet headstones he passed by. A shiver ran up his back and pushed him forward.
“But you realize that you can’t turn it off, Felicity,” he called as he rushed to keep pace with her. Inhaling his breathed in the wool of his scarf and the rain, and they splattered across his nose and he wiped a hand across the bridge of his nose. It was almost like he was crying, but hiding the tears between the rain drops.
Felicity was watching him. She was sure he was trying not to cry, “You can’t turn off the emotion, Cal.”
“I know, but neither can you,” it was a jab and she felt it, as much as he did. “And I’ve never said that anyone lives forever, Fea. But, it’s been almost fifteen year since Mom died and you still think she is following you. That you can feel her in the house when you are alone, and sometimes things get moved. You are the one who thinks people ‘live forever’,” Cal made air quote while trying to sidestep puddles that were forming in the cemetery road. “Can you stop?” he called and reached for her arm, but she kept walking.
“You’re grieving, Fea. I can understand. That’s okay. I’m grieving too. They were my friends too, but you cannot ignore death like that.”
She stopped walking. He could see that her shoulders were now shaking and he knew she was crying. This was the hard part. Making she see the reason. When Felicity was so sad reason flew out the window. Cal rushed up to her. A hand rested on a nearby headstone and her plaid umbrella shook with her sobs.
His converse seemed to find every puddle and by the time he reached her his feet were soaking wet. It didn’t really matter. Life was too short to worry about wet shoes, even wet hundred and fifty dollar sneakers. He smiled for a moment as he reached out to Felicity, “Fea? I know this hurts, but we are here for each other. We will survive. It will get better.”
Laughing suddenly Felicity turned to face Cal, “Survive? Ha! You think I want to live in a world where my friends slowly die off before my eyes.”
“There’s your answer…”
“But, we would all die off eventually…” as soon as he said it, he regretted it. “Fea, I didn’t mean it quite like that.” He didn’t know what else to say as they stood in the rain, getting wetter as the minutes passed.
“I know, you meant that we could all lived to a ripe old age and died in our sleep, right?” her words were bitter and she turned away still holding onto the tombstone. “Yes I know no one lives forever. I am not stupid, but I do believe that sometimes are souls lingers…” she panned her eyes across the rolling glades of Wake Forest Cemetery. “It’s so peaceful here…” and she saw a crow sitting on a nearby headstone, ruffling its feathers. “At least I know Becky and Franz are at peace now. They will appreciate the spot we picked out.”
“Yeah, Franz was always fond of weeping willows. I’m glad we got the last plot under the willow. Hell, the whole gang is there, Fea.”
“Right,” Felicity watched as a second crow joined the first. It began to preen under the rain that was now falling. “Too bad there’s no room for us?” she sounded not sad, but resigned.
“Oh, don’t say that. Maybe there will be tow plot available when we go?” trying to sound cheerful despite the pervasive mood.
“Did you buy up the remaining plots, Cal?” she asked, looking at the crows. “I don’t think any of the currently occupied plots will be opening up anytime soon. That must mean you knew something…” Her words sounded bitter, as she watched a third and fourth crow land on the headstone. They were now watching Felicity and Cal. “Cal, you say there are no signs of the afterlife, but look at that,” and she pointed at the chorus of crow massing on the headstone.
“Heh, it’s a murder of crows,” laughing loudly he wiped away some of the tears hanging at the corners of his eyes.
Felicity was eying Cal, “Not funny, jerk!” and she shoved him away from the headstones.
“You could never take a joke, Fea. Even after all these years. You who are my sister who knows me best, you still can’t take a joke. Hey,” he says and points at the headstone, “It can’t be the gang. There are only four crows, there were five of them.” Just then a fifth crow landed on the headstone, each cocking their head in turn and staring silently at the sibling.
“You were saying, Cal? I don’t care what you think, but I think it’s time for a vacation.” And she removed her hand from the tombstone she was leaning on and started walking to the car.
Cal walking slowly past the crows and looked down at the headstone where the crows sat perched and saw the name etched into the marble. It was Calvin.