Short Story Preview: Emelia’s Heaven – Gabriela Harding
I emigrated to Canada on the 17th of December 2004, two days after my mother’s birthday.
The morning before my flight I strode down the stony path in the Orthodox graveyard. I like graveyards. They’re quiet and peaceful. In winter, when the tree branches are bare and the ground is too hard for any plants to come to light, you wonder if the dead aren’t lonely. Just imagine, being locked in a cold grave with no one but the grounds’ caretaker for company. The man’s half mad and he curses the dead, but there’s one good thing about him: he forgets your face the minute you’re out of sight.
The graveyard was locked, but I slipped a crumpled note into Izidor’s hand and listened as he grumbled something through his teeth. He shuffled his bad leg across the driveway. A moment later, he was rattling a set of rusty keys.
I walked in, breathing the still air, which in the gentler months is fragrant with the scent of lilac and roses. The tombs were all frozen, silenced by the blizzard.
I won’t be here to see them come back to life, I thought, scraping snow from a stone where Mother’s yellow photograph smiled at me from the folds of time. The roses, or the dead.
As a child I used to lie down on my mother’s tomb and try to catch the beating of her heart from inside the mushroom flavoured earth.
“The soul never dies!” I told the guard who grabbed my arm and threw me outside the gate.
“Bugger off,” he yelled. “You sick little brat!”
I lie down between the twin gravestones, Mother’s and Daddy’s.