Bravery Moth Cemetery

A speed-write written in twenty minutes. Nouns generated via this site: [link]

Across the way, someone planted a cemetery to bury the dead and dying. It was a very small cemetery, for the town was very small with very few people in it.

But as the people came, drawn to the picturesque streets and the quaint cottages and the boutique on fifth, the one that crafted hats from between times here and there and knit scarves from the empty spaces between breathes taken and words spoken, so did the cemetery begin to widen and lengthen, each stone step planted with spring bouquets even in the middle of winter when there were no leaves on the trees.

Leah had grown up with the cemetery, watching it expand as she grew taller. If she could only just stop growing, she had thought as a child as she peered through the window on her tiptoes when a funeral procession marched by, then the people would stop burying their friends and friendships, and the cemetery would remain barren, its ground fallow and unturned. It’s not your fault, her mother had said as she refilled her cup of coffee. Ain’t no one’s fault that things come to an end. All things do, in due course.

But Leah did not stop growing and people kept burying their broken trusts, and the cemetery grew lot by lot, stone by stone, until one day Leah found herself marching there, bearing what remained of what she had left with her mother, to lay it all to rest beneath a resilient earth, hardened by frost.

When Leah returned home, she closed the blinds facing the cemetery and she put on her headphones and forgot to turn on the radio as she stared at the white blank spaces of wall enclosed around her.

Hours later, she had to eat something because she was hungry. Then she had to drink something because she was thirsty. She didn’t brush her teeth before she went to bed and there was no one to ask her if she had done so.

There was no smell of brewing coffee when Leah woke and the floor was cold to her bare feet as she went to the corner where she had flung off her slippers. She curled her toes hard against their thin soles as she leaned against the wall, fists clenched as she felt the gaze of the cemetery behind her, through the shuttered blinds and beyond the way.

She forced herself to peek outside. Morning fog wreathed the headstones. Moths flitted and fluttered from grave to grave like the pale ghosts of butterflies in the predawn light.

Leah flicked the blinds shut once more, climbed back into bed, and did not rise again even when the sun shimmied up the sky and fell back down into the glooming evening shadows. She did not get up the next morning either until hunger forced her and she ate the last bowl of serial without milk since it had soured in the fridge. She stood in front of the coffee maker, fingers fumbling with the bag of beans until she dropped it and the beans spilled all over the floor, all over her feet and between her toes, skittering under the cabinets and the refrigerator, and she stared at them with her mouth gaped open.

She had been strong enough to go to the cemetery, but she was not strong enough to make coffee in the morning or to stay up out of bed or to go outside and buy something from the grocery store, not even something useless like those pints of ice cream or a bad habit pack of cigarettes or the dollar séances to say hey one last time or goodbye for good.

Her phone rang and she forwarded it to voicemail. It was her mother saying she was sorry. She was always so sorry. C’mon, Leah, forgive me just one more time. I love you—don’t you love me too?

Leah, still on the ground surrounded by spilled coffee beans, phone buzzing in her lap as her mother called again, put her fingers in her ears, closed her eyes, and wept.

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