Cover Design by Brian Cecil: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 25, 2010
It is late autumn. A tall, slender man in his thirties stands at a modest gravesite overlooking the cold Saginaw Bay. An old oak looms overhead, fighting with the wind to hold onto the last of its brown leaves. Waves crash against the other side of a weedy bluff, breaking the bucolic peace and sending a mist spraying up and over. A small, somber group moves towards their cars, navigating around a few headstones, rectangular slabs of pink granite, placed in the ground, carved with names, dates and epitaphs. They walk away from a young man who remains, slouching, looking down as if memorizing the one new marker, alone, silent and still. The fingers of his right hand slowly trace the edges of the triangularly tucked fabric he holds tight to his chest. The gentle breeze coming off the cold water forces him to steady himself. The brand new stone right in front of him at the head of a freshly filled site reads:
JOSHUA “Trey” DAVID RYDER, III
MAY HE FINALLY REST IN PEACE
September 21, 1931 – November 22, 2010
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
from Invictus by William Ernest Henley
An older man, having moved with the departing crowd, reaches for his car door, stops and then glances back at the younger man still standing by the fresh dirt mound. The timeworn mourner slowly makes his way back to the gravesite where he firmly places his hand on the younger man’s shoulder and softly asks, “Why don’t you ride with us Josh?”
“No thank you, Uncle Cale,” Josh barley manages to say, “I just want to be alone.”
Cale smiles kindly and gives Josh a reassuring pat while saying, “You’re not alone.”
Josh doesn’t look up when he says, “Yes I am,” in a flat, monotone voice. “Now I am. And, if you're here to tell me I'm not, go fuck off.” Cale nods, accepting his nephew’s words and returns to his car, leaving the young man behind without so much as a glance back.
E M Parmelee