Short story. This piece was inspired by the movie Brokeback Mountain. Although it is my story, I have written it for anyone who has ever been abused. It is as much for them as it is for you. You decide what the meaning is. Was Jack gay? Is the narrator a female? How did Jack die? It's all up to you.
Rain drizzled from a slate tinted sky, dark clouds blending with silver streaks creating an ominous feel to the drenched landscape. Two willow trees stood sentinel behind the dark wrought iron gate of Guaron Cemetery; the long vine-like limbs swaying in the moist breeze, beckoning me forward. I held onto the flowers with all of my willpower, all of my strength. The white petals drooped slightly with drops of clear water, the stems long, dark, and stiff. Lilies.
My breathing slowed, a lump rising in the back of my throat as I willed myself toward the newer graves, one foot after another down one side of the driving lane. A hump of green grass grew between the two parallel grooves, the red almost-mud molded itself to my loafers. I hadn’t dressed up; a jacket and tie are meant for funeral. Why doll myself up after I’d avoided the internment?
A thick opalescent fog wound its way through the oldest graves—the stone weathered with time to the point where the names and dates were no longer legible—settling near the center of the bone yard. Tombstones lined the field, decorating it as thoroughly as blooming flowers in the early spring. There was a great variety; some cracked others crumbled, marble or concrete, tall with carved figurines, or so close to the ground they seemed to grow through the short grass.
I cautiously picked my way through the sea of covered bodies, walking as far away from each individual grave as I could. I didn’t want to think about walking over someone who had once had a life, a career, a family, and a dog. They used to walk around, breathe the same air that I was breathing now. They didn’t deserve to be nailed in a box and covered with earth for the rest of eternity.
Raindrops streaked across my forehead and slid down my cheeks before cascading to the ground. The thick scent of flowers tainted the air. They were the only living things within the protection of the iron gates, and even they were dying, expiring before my eyes. Everything becomes obsolete at some point, even flowers.
I stopped at one tombstone, standing away from it, six feet back. Alive he had been five foot six. The stone still radiated a newness about it, just as a new car holds its fresh scent. The black marble gleamed through the running rain, as if smiling at the world. I could almost see his grin in that gleam. The name JACK L. DAWSON was slightly raised from the rock. Engraved beneath it were the dates BORN March 3, 1983 — DIED October 12, 2003. The epitaph below brought me to my knees, hands gripping the thick grass, sobs heaving from my chest, tears draining from my eyes, and a wordless scream from my throat.
“There are four questions of value in life. What is sacred?
Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what
is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same.
I was shaking with the intensity of my grief.. This was why I hadn’t attended the funeral. His death hadn’t seemed real at the time. It was a cruel joke that everyone was in on, everyone but me. It seemed to be an extremely well imagined lie; one that was so plausible it turned out to be true. Looking at his tombstone littered with withered carnations brought the reality of his death crashing down on me. His funeral would have broken me sooner. Funerals aren’t meant for the dead and shouldn’t be for the living.
They are staged to bring closure to th friends and family of the deceased. Nobody wants to lose someone close to them. No one wants to think about the body deteriorating in the earth. Time is supposed to heal all wounds, but really all it does is cover them. It is a bandage that ends the pain only because you believe it to be so. The healing of time also causes agony. It pokes and prods the wound every time you think about it, a ghost pain that only recedes, never leaving. Losing someone leaves a hole in your life, an empty space that is never filled. The passing of a loved one undermines the fiber of your being until you too pass on.
Love was not what attracted Jack and I. It was there alright, hidden beneath the surface, but it wasn’t the glue that held us together, kept us clinging to each other year after year.
At first there was a physical attraction: strong jaw, nice nose, smooth skin, pretty eyes, muscular, and great smelling. After that pieces of our separate personalities began to shine through; intelligent, humorous, charismatic, a great listener, a giver of advise. Our relationship grew and deepened through the first few years. We became more than just lovers. We had moved beyond being just friends. We loved each other more than we should have. We trusted each other.
Most people talk about finding the one or their soul mate. Well, Jack and I were soul mates. The Greeks used to believe that ever person shared the same soul. Then one day that one soul was split. Jack and I found each other. Together we were complete. His death seemed a betrayal forged not by man, but by God.
I was crying for much more than the physical loss of him. I was crying for more than my loss. I was crying for our loss. His death had brought about an end to all of the memories we shared, the love we had toward each other, the feeling of safety in his arms, and home in his smile. I sobbed over that empty space in my life, the loss of pure companionship.
When rationality returned, after breathing became normal again, after I could stand without wavering, I wiped the tears from my face. I walked across the site of his grave, sweeping the carnation corpses off to one side of the tombstone. My fingers trailed across the raised letters of his name, as if just by touching them I could caress his face, run my fingers through his hair again. I could see him smiling at me, his blue eyes shining with laughter.
I lay the lilies across the grass at the foot of the marble. They would protect him in death as I couldn’t in life.