I grasped the rough edges of the tombstone and pulled it from the strands of thick, yellowed grass upon which it lay. I set it in an upright position. The words “Dear Love” were carved along the top of the stone. I had carved those words.
For a few seconds the stone stayed in place. This time she will accept my apology. Everything is going to be fine.
The stone wobbled and threw itself to the earth.
“What do I have to say?” I cried. “I’m sorry! You know I am!”
The tombstone lay silent on the dead grass.
“That girl meant nothing to me. She was nothing but a horrible mistake, a moment of weakness. It was just that one time! Didn’t I apologize? Didn’t I try to make it up to you? Why did you have to leave?”
My words bounced off the cold stone.
Tears ran down my face, following well-worn tracks as once again I relived that terrible day:
The first thing I saw was one of her white sneakers, lying sideways on the floor. I took another step down and saw her feet hanging in space, with the other sneaker still on her right foot. Her face was purple and bloated. Her eyes, though dull, damned me as I cut the rope. I tried to carry her up the stairs, but her body threw itself out of my arms. Finally I dragged her up by her feet. Her head bounced on each stair as her eyes watched me, accused me…
I sobbed, and couldn’t stop. The stone lay there, disdainful of my pain.
I brought myself under control. “Didn’t I then prove my love to you? Didn’t I show how much you meant to me by burying you here, all by myself? I broke the law by not reporting what happened. I couldn’t bear the thought of you lying in a cold morgue. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
The sun was setting behind me. My shadow crept up to the tombstone and caught the edge of it. It rasped against the grass as it skittered up several inches to escape the contact.
I wailed and threw myself to the earth where my love was buried. The ground heaved and threw me to the side. Rocks dislodged themselves from the soil and flew at me, driving me back.
I walked away, tattered and disconsolate. But tomorrow I’ll be back. Tomorrow I’ll once again reset the tombstone. And this time it will remain upright. My love will forgive me. I know she will.
Paul Magnan has been writing stories that veer from the straight and narrow for many years. He lives in New England. He has recently appeared in the 009 issue of Sanitarium Magazine.