Sunday, March 23, 2014

A New Student at Writers Circle, Gene Vickers

Mt Zion
By Gene Vickers

The pastor was late and his tardiness allowed time for a sobering walk up the hillside. I didn’t need a
compass to determine which direction was East; all of the headstones and markers faced that way. Hope is ever present, even in cemeteries. A recent burial was indicated by fresh flowers and fresh turned earth; a new neighbor moving into what appeared to be a very old neighborhood. Graves dating from the early 1800s were everywhere. Markers were so old some names and dates were obliterated. Time, the very commodity each one residing here ran out of, is now so brazen as to take away their identities.

As I read names and dates I tried to imagine the era in which they lived and died. What, according to my memory of history, was happening in 1803. Eighteen thirty-five, eighteen fifty-six, and all of the other by-gone years.

As I stood in front of Ezekial Brown’s final resting place, my cell phone rang, breaking the silence of
my contemplation of eternity. I was somewhere between his birth in 1807 and his death in 1886. Why
did I answer my cell phone? Habit, I guess. It was someone doing marketing for a surveillance equipment company. After several no’s, they finally hung up. But Ezekial had closed the door and would not allow me back inside. I couldn’t blame him. Rude is rude no matter the century. I moved on.
Ezekial had a neighbor, a small neighbor, and I decided to read her poetry cut deep into the headstone: “Only five years with us she spent, till God for her His angels sent.” No doubt Elizabeth had brought lots of joy and happiness into her family that sixth day of January, 1929. The Stock Market would crash later that year. It was not the best of years to be born. But the crash of the market paled in comparison to January 25, 1934, when Elizabeth moved here permanently.

“Who wept for this child?” I thought.
“I did and still do,” came a voice into my mind.
I looked next door and there was her mother’s place. Both mother and daughter, side by side, separated only by a few feet of earth and eternity. The hillside seemed alive.
“Come here.”
“No, over here. Come over here and read my name.”
“Please say my name. I haven’t heard it in so long.”

I went to as many as I could, saying each one aloud and reading the birth dates. I purposely did not read the date of their death. Many of the stones were so old and worn I could not read their names. I felt their pain, the pain of being nameless and forgotten. I heard the pastor as he arrived in the parking lot. I could feel the disappointment of those whose names I had not read.

“I will come back,” I told them in my mind. “I will come and visit you again.”


Maren O. Mitchell said...

Gene, I find your piece very smooth reading and your angle of attack unusual. You should be proud of it. I have to admit I'd like to see further development, but it stands well as is.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Hello Glenda, Gene Vickers wrote a powerful piece, I enjoyed it very much:)

DJan said...

I enjoyed reading this, too. It reminded me of cemeteries I have visited and pondered over the names and dates. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Anonymous said...

This story is really nice. I think it is very good. I do think the first paragraph needs to be expanded about the pastor. The transition to the first person narrative is a little abrupt as it is. I hope you continue to write and to publish.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the poor formatting of Gene's piece. Somehow in the copy and paste procedure, the format went screwy on me. It looked fine in preview.
Thank you all for your comments. Gene is working on a manuscript for a book we hope to get ready for publication. He has written many, many short stories and I hope to share more of his work online.

Ellen Schofield said...

Gene, I appreciated the quality of your writing. Most writers will tell you that you should write for a few minutes every day- in other words, practice makes perfect. That and continuing your instruction until you have the confidence you need, will be very helpful. I look forward to reading more of your work.

Anonymous said...

It's been many, many years since I've wandered through a cemetery, reading headstones and wondering about lives lived and lost. I always felt a little sadness for those who died young, before they had a chance to really live.

Thanks for sharing this story with us, Gene. I enjoyed it very much.