The weeds in the road mounded, rambling over the cracked pavement strewn with bits of roadside flotsam and into the unkempt cemetery plot of Orange Mann. Nobody planned it really, things just unravel as they will, if one is not attentive.

The graves had been there since the Civil War. Many times she thought of unearthing the coffins, simply to crack a capsule to those bygone days. But a friend mentioned viruses that live indeterminate lives; TB among them. She dared not broach that invisible line, though her conscience was clear in the event she changed her mind. All spirits move on at some point, or so she thought.

The grass splintered into fractals in the early morning light. Oak and maple leaves cast dappled silhouettes, and it was easy to lose oneself in patterns impressed upon mulch underfoot. Blue skies and puffy clouds were visible only from the road. A few steps into the woods and the crowns of giant deciduous trees obscured all but snatches of the heavens. She could be forgiven, then, for the misstep that precipitated the fall.

Memories filter through in broken mirror fragments, and she still can’t be sure if the devil himself grabbed her feet that day, toppling her clumsily onto the headstone that took her speech away. Silence has conferred an unexpected boon, for where she travels in her mind, no other may follow. And each time she strolls past the cemetery, a knowing smile creeps over her face like the tattooed shadow cast upon the decomposed remains of Orange Mann.



(Note: In the spirit of the season, I wrote this spooky tale. It is a work of fiction, though I’ve actually been to Orange Mann’s grave in Maine. It was located close to where I lived for many years.)


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