August day, exactly 23 years after, and identical weather. Struck Lewis as the world saying, “Oh, we remember.”
Nadine’s mother remembered too. “I didn’t expect to see you.” He wondered if she knew, if that’d be something she’d even care about now.
“Too early,” Lewis mumbled. “Barely 40.”
He’d never spent many daylight hours in the cemetery, but after dusk it was where a young man with no car and a girlfriend within walking distance could find some space.
They joked about the dead, about hallowed grounds, about concepts like souls, until only a week of summer remained. So they committed, there on the grass. She laughed; her blush glowing through the dark. They’d been afraid all summer – of what? – of pain, consequences, getting caught, and probably somewhat legitimately, damnation. Why test it in a graveyard?
But they pledged to repeat every night for their last week.
He walked her out, keeping the pastor’s house distant. But they spotted someone on the back porch. The priest’s housekeeper, smoking a cigarette. She saw them, and Lewis knew her face was stern, turning love to shame.
So they never went back there. Never made love again. Lewis told Nadine at a reunion how silly that seemed, what they lost from fear. He had a few drinks in him. “6 amazing nights, gone.”
The funeral party left the cemetery, and he saw the housekeeper smoking again. Could she still be alive? She still looked stern, but smug, as if thinking, “we got you.”