Back home, in John Irving style small town New Hampshire, there are exactly three things to do after nine o’clock at night.
The first is to hang out at Wal-Mart, which is not very exciting, and has become the past time of far too many of the high school kids. The employees have become too keen-eyed for mischievous teenagers. No time for the shenanigans found in irresponsibly published Buzzfeed articles. The overworked, blue-vested associates are looking to snuff out people trying to toilet paper aisle of the store or doing other reckless and annoying things.
The second is to enjoy the dining experiences of one of the seven Chinese food restaurants, which gets expensive and old quickly.
And finally, one could explore one of the several hidden cemeteries in the woods along Blake Road. The third choice is what my best friend I have done since we were old enough to be out after dark. We used to ride our bikes down the long windy road to the west side of town where the oldest graves are and hang out, hoping to see a ghost or two.
As we grew up, this activity seemed more and more juvenile. Strapped with homework or working to expand our college applications with extracurricular activities, we stopped playing hide and seek in old graveyards. Maybe that’s just how teenagers are, to stress and worried about getting out to focus on the simple things we did when were little.
That is until reached college and everything that was awesome when we were kids became awesome again. We could get lost talking about “the old days” before we were too caught up in the internet and video blogs to be out in the beauty of nature. So, Tessa and I decided to go back to where our friendship had grown up, the first cemetery of Epping.
The newest grave is from 1892, and some have dates so old they have been removed by time. We believed as children that some of the Epping Governors are buried there, but if they were, I believe, the town would have taken way better care of it. There were better maintained cemeteries in town if there were people of note buried in Epping they wouldn’t be buried in a forgotten place in complete disrepair.
We trekked the overgrown quarter-mile path through the pine trees to our forgotten playground. In the years since we’ve last set foot there, several of the granite and slate graves have been toppled. No one had raked the leaves since we did it last our freshman year of high school. We had never imagined that we were the primary caretakers of this beloved place. The spot where I wrote my first serious piece of writing, where Tessa had decided her opening credits of first film would take place.
To us the cemetery was our childhood, and that rainy September Saturday, it lay before us in shambles. Harold and Margret’s headstone, our favorite, because Margret had died less than a week after Harold, after being married for over fifty years, which was forever in any context but amazing in the 1880’s, had been one of the victims. There’s was the first story I ever wrote that wasn’t for a class assignment. It’s somewhere in an old notebook, plagued with misspellings and poor punctuation that most fourth graders write in. A poorly constructed love story that has a spark of something, maybe I should try my hand at it again, Harold and Margret deserve someone to remember them.
The two of us stood at the base of the old stone monument looking down at the weather-worn names now carved forever perfect heart. The way the stone had fallen the sides had broken in a nearly improbable way, yet there it sat in front of us: as if the couple wanted the world to know that they still and always would, love each other.
With a quick glance into each other’s eyes, Tessa and I decided that we would have to bring our cemetery back to life. We drove back to my house and gathered the lawn care tools needed to complete our task. At the cemetery, we cleaned, put back the stones weren’t broken enough to long no longer stand. We cut the grass, cleared the leaves, brought a little bit of life back into the long-forgotten place that it seemed only the two of us cared about.
Going back to that place lost at the end of the overgrown path in the middle of the woods off a backroad. Supposed to be simply nostalgic and homey feeling, but it in its way the old cemetery was telling us never to leave it again.
Tessa and I were always to be the keepers of this place. The relatives who remembered those buried there had long ago died themselves or moved far away from Epping. It is up to Tessa and me to keep the memories, albeit the imaginary ones that ten-year-olds think up, alive in someone’s heart. Harold and Margret will always live on, if Tessa and I keep their ghost inside us.
Thank you for reading. This is a piece that I wrote a while back that I found when I updated to a new computer this week. I think I wrote when I was a junior in college. I edited it a little and shared posted it here. I think next week I’m going to post a part of the novel I’m working on but I’m not quite sure yet. We’ll see. I found a lot of weird little short stories in an old file of school work.
Until next time Internet,