I’m working on a project with a couple other writers. We’re each doing our own thing, but coordinating about the topics we choose.
Today one came up with a rare good-news gun-rights story and offered it around. “Nope,” the other replied (or words to that effect), “I write best when something pisses me off.”
Oh lordy, that is so true of so true. And it’s sooooo bad for the blood pressure. And for a person’s sanity and humanity.
We’ve been having this exuberant burst of spring — today, even summerlike! — weather. I went to the hardware store for paint chips. I want to paint the outside of the house extravagantly. Lilac! Purple! Green!
Tomorrow it rains again. All. Week. Long.
I remind myself: “Summer starts in July. Summer starts in July.” (I still laugh — although not in a cheery way, you understand at this too-true cartoon Dana once posted in comments.)
There’s an old cemetery in the hills near here. Many of its residents were born in the 1820s to 1840s — ancient history in this part of the world. (And they weren’t born here, of course; a number are veterans of the War Between the States.). A very few people still get buried there, but the death dates on the gravestones taper off in the early 20th century.
It’s a small place, no more than a circular clearing in the woods. The volunteer caretakers are always unconvering unknown graves on its edges, which are then reclaimed by the forest when one volunteer or another moves on or dies.
I wonder about the stories.
Once, two side-by-side graves intrigued me so much I ordered up the archives of the local paper to find out what happened. Two graves. Four people. All under 25. A mother and her month-old baby dying within a day of each other I could understand. Turns out the other two people, young men, the baby’s father and his cousin, died weeks later. Both fell off log booms in separate accidents. Both were experienced log-walkers and good swimmers. Both just fell off and died.
All four lived in the same household. Can you imagine?
Today, in the brush, I uncovered the headstone of a father and son. The father died in 1920 when the son was only three. The son’s dates were given as “1917 – Unknown.”
Well, I thought, maybe the son just hadn’t died yet when the stone was set. But there it was, not left blank but carefully engraved, “Unknown.” With the added notation, “Separated in life; together now in heaven.”
I have no intention of being stuck for eternity in a cemetery, however peaceful and woodsy. But I wouldn’t mind having a headstone somewhere that tells A Story.
Make it a good one. A really good one. And somebody tell it well.