Two Graveyards by Susan Tepper

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The two small graveyards lay side by side like the bodies they covered. One had fancier tombstones engraved upon that told names and dates, a floral motif, or perhaps a Grecian style urn in bas relief on its façade. Some had sweet poetic verse about the dead person. The other graveyard was the slave graveyard with its decrepit unmarked slabs, many about to fall over or already down in the unkempt grass. We went to the graveyards each time we visited the island. This place of the dead— it called to us. It took an hour to get there by public bus. The first time we went was shortly after my dad died and both our families were decomposing. We rode the bus in silence aware of each other in a way that was different. Already, too soon, we knew time was thin. That first visit I found a tombstone with my birth date, and the person had my first name. She died from yellow fever. I thought about dying from fever in a hot tropical place without air conditioning, and what that would be like. Then my husband wanted to go get ice cream cones. So we left.
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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Two Graveyards by Susan Tepper

  1. Randal Houle

    Love the ending. Great approach to (your) the theme. :)

  2. The comparison is so stark that it’s really quite sad, so much unsaid, yet clear. The ending brought me up short, hardly a detracting point, however. Nice work.

  3. The tone and everything was so stark until the ending. Nice way to show life goes on.

  4. You nailed the mood of wandering through cemetaeries, how they invoke this solemnity, and then the odd release of leaving. Peace…

  5. I tried to weave the black plague into my story, but couldn’t pull it off. It’s amazing to think how many people died in these fevers. Well done, I love the ending! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Nice and concisely said, Susan.

  7. The matter-of-fact delivery makes this story all the more powerful and sad.

  8. estelle bruno

    great holloween story. Did that stone really have your name? S or M?

  9. Oh, this reads like fact, not fiction. You are there! Good job.

  10. Pingback: Week #24 – Tombstones « 52|250 A Year of Flash

  11. Quenby Larsen

    The ending was so perfect and random, so fitting to the mood and the narrator’s perspective on what was going on. I like endings like that and think it works particularly well here.

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