A Rose in the cemetery

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Story number 26 from my fiction short story book Tales Unleashed. (Amazon, B & Noble)
Bill Clawson loved roaming through cemeteries with his 35 mm camera...but on this brisk
winter day, he encountered much more than he ever expected.

A Rose in the Cemetery

There was nothing Bill Clawson loved more than to grab his 35mm camera on his time off and head outdoors. There was such a plethora of scenes, people and animals to frame in his old Konica, and today he thought would be no exception. 

Living in the Fingerlakes of New York, Bill’s favorite spots were old cemeteries. Walking among the weathered markers, he loved pausing to read the inscriptions, and photographing an occasional crow sitting on a headstone.  

It was just after eight a.m. when Bill pulled into his favorite spot. It was Hendricks Cemetery, a place that had been the final resting spot for scores of people who had passed on since the mid 1800’s and some since. Climbing out of his ’87 Jeep, Bill grabbed his camera and headed up the dirt road leading to the main entrance. There was no entrance sign or gate of any kind. Just a lonely hard-pack dirt road that beckoned those to come on in and rest a spell. The snow that had started to fall overnight had accumulated several inches, and was still coming down at a pretty good pace as Bill made his way up the road, pausing just a few moments to scan the entire scene in front of him.

Suddenly, Bill noticed that he was not alone. Ahead of him at about fifty yards was a young gal, looking to be in her early twenties. Long black hair descended to meet up with a fur-collared coat that was most appropriate for the snow which continued to fall. 

As Bill raised his right hand to give a wave and say hello, the girl turned suddenly and gingerly ran away from him, and within ten paces had dashed to the left, being swallowed up among the grave markers which stood guard. 

Bill thought it was odd he would see someone else at this hour, at this place, unless she might be a photographer herself. He had not noticed any other tracks leading into the cemetery and he proceeded up the road to where he had seen her disappear. When he reached the spot, he closely examined the ground, and finding no tracks continued on and to the left . . . the direction in which the girl had fled. 

At about twenty yards out Bill noticed a cemetery bench that itself was not unusual, but rather unique in its appearance in this snowfall. Examining the bench, Bill saw it mostly void of snow, looking like  someone had sat there and then departed a short time ago. Yet, there were no tracks to substantiate such an occurrence. 

Bill sat down and placed the camera next to him, pulling his collar up against the snow which had now increased in its intensity. Reaching down, Bill re-tied one of his boot laces which had come loose. As he sat up, his eyes scanned the marker directly in front of the bench where he sat. 

The stone read:

Rose Melinda Bellamy

9-5-65 – 2-14-85

Bill was always moved when he read a stone that contained the sad epitaph of a young person passing away at such an early age. The more he looked at the stone, the more he realized that today was indeed February the 14th, and this was the day that young Rose had passed away. Bill thought how ironic it was . . . Rose, passing away on Valentine’s day.

Bill picked up his Konica and snapped a picture of the stone and of the bench, then turned southward and  headed for his car. He thought about the girl he had seen just a short time ago. Could it have been Rose herself? Bill felt a shudder move up his back and the hair on his arms tingled as he thought about the brief encounter.  But it would soon become more puzzling for Bill.

As he returned to his car and approached the front bumper, he looked at his windshield which now had accumulated a new inch of snow. In the middle of the windshield, in the new snow, someone had drawn a most perfect heart. 

Well, it was Valentine’s Day.

Bill’s eyes welled up, as he considered all the possibilities.  As he got in his car, Bill looked out at the cemetery and said softly, “I will be back again soon Rose. You won’t be forgotten.”  Bill reached for the heater and turned it on full-high. It would take more than a few minutes to extinguish the chill which had now engulfed him fully.

Bill turned the car around and headed for home. Reaching up to adjust the rearview mirror, he decided against the action. Better not, he thought to himself. Would she be back in the road to see him leave? He pushed down on the accelerator. Bill knew that he would eventually return to Hendricks cemetery, but he would wait for warmer weather . . . a time that would bring about maybe a daffodil, and perhaps even a Rose.

Submitted: April 30, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Stanley Swan. All rights reserved.

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