8.25.2013 Journal Prompt

Image from The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Image from The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

August 25, 2013: He liked it there.

3 Replies to “8.25.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. 1) A small box. Made from a light wood, maybe pine. Painted white and given a high gloss finish that caught the sunlight and made it burn like polished gold. Brass fittings and an ornate brass plate with the name and the date engraved in a sans serif script. The name on the box was Joseph, his Sunday name and not Joe as the boy was commonly called. He was six years and fifty four days old and not ever after a day older.

    Joseph’s father did not attend the funeral. He was under lock and key in the county jail. He was asleep at the precise hour, a grey woolen blanket pulled over his head as protection against the flies that were a torment otherwise. There was blood on the father’s hands, but he did not feel remorse, nor ever would. Ten days after the burial of Joseph, aged six, the father would face a quick trial and receive a sentence of life. The law is rarely just.

    2) A little later, on the same day as the boy Joseph’s funeral, a second burial took place. Where there had been crowds at the boy’s funeral and great ceremony and much grieving, a man was buried without any fuss and with only one witness, his wife. The man had been a school teacher in the town for almost thirty years. He had touched the lives of every family for miles and once there had been only good things said about him.

    His wife was there out of a sense of duty. She did not shed tears or offer up prayers or look for his soul ascending. She spat on his coffin in the ground and she cursed him for what he had done and for the way that the town looked at her thinking she must have known, surely she must.

    3) Finally, the boy’s mother, and they say her heart broke and she gave up on life the moment she knew. And she said to the boy’s father that if he were any sort of a man he would make it right and so he had tried and the rest of his days in prison for what he did. But such a loss could never be made good, and so she was found the morning after, asleep in a bath that was colder than the grave – only it was something more final than sleep.

    And she was buried so close to her boy they could reach out and touch hands, if ever the dead were to do such things. Her coffin was white like the boy’s and all brassy glint the same and the one stone for them both, mother and son and nothing to tell history how they died. Just ‘loving’ and ‘mother’ and ‘son’, was all it said.

    There’s a seat in Carter’s bar, just near the window, and the Sheriff sits there sometimes, alone, a cold bottled beer against the heat of the day; and he looks towards the graveyard and the stone there to tell where a mother lies with her boy, and no stone to tell where the teacher lies. There are always flowers next to the stone and it is the Sheriff who has laid them there, in keeping with a promise he made to the father of the boy.

  2. Oh, my. And they accuse *me* of being dark–your piece is dark done right. Powerful. I like it very much.

  3. Judith… thank you. You say such good things about my pieces. I hoped this was powerful and I am glad you liked it. Thanks.

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