By Darragh Ginley
I am in love with a girl who is dead.
No, she did not die during our sweet romance. The death had actually occurred around 8 years ago, and what exactly the cause was, I am not certain. What I am certain of, however, is that I now believe in love at first sight: upon looking at her tombstone for the very first time 3 months ago, I was stricken by the words carved on it.
DECEMBER 1982 – JANUARY 2012
I THINK THE SUN IS A FLOWER
THAT BLOOMS FOR JUST ONE HOUR
I’m sure you’d agree that these words are particularly moving. I’ve spent hours considering it,trying to dissect some sort of meaning. To me, it speaks particularly about the fragility and fleeting nature of life, trickling through our fingers and into the grave with each passing minute, hour, day, week, month and year, and decade. Days end like all else, and so has she. But that doesn’t matter to me. Below this is a rather charming portrait of my love, framed into the stone itself so as she may be remembered as she was – a generous expression akin to the Virgin Mary, with large, innocent eyes and small, generous lips, with a humble button nose. How beautiful!
Now, before I do continue, I feel I must address the presumptuous elephant in the room:
You believe me to be a necrophile.
That I get my rocks off digging up corpses! But, I assure you, that’s not the case. Sex is a thing that would only complicate a love that I find so pure. It is savage, and primal, and entirely without intellect. My love is beyond something so horrendously physical. I find much more satisfaction in visiting the grave of my beloved and reading enthralling novels, stories, poems, such as James Joyce’s Ulysseys, The Infinite Jest, Shakespeare, and perhaps the poetry of our dear Edgar Allan Poe. All very entertaining and enlightening works, I’ll think you agree. Besides, relationships in the past have involved sex and they have only messed me up for good.
Today I’ve decided to pay my love a visit. It is a grey, cool Tuesday afternoon, and the looming clouds threaten rain. This assures me that nobody will be visiting the cemetery, as everybody these days seems to believe anything the weatherman says. However, I think you’ll find they’re wrong practically all of the time. There will be no rain today, I assure you. How do I know? Well, statistically, rain will not fall mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. I’ve observed it myself. Haven’t you?
I’ve brought my own, brand new copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I intend to read it for
around an hour at my partner’s grave, and maybe eat a few of the blueberries I’ve also brought along. The best fruit, not at all fattening like bananas and apples are. And yes, they are fattening, they are very heavy in carbohydrates, which turns to fat.
As I arrive at my lover’s grave, however, I find myself feeling somewhat unsettled. At first I think it could be a chill in the air, but no. Distantly, I see a man in a flat cap filling a grave. I couldn’t possibly read with that irritating sound of dirt being shovelled. What a selfish man. Couldn’t he have done such a thing in the early morning when nobody would visit? After a while he seems to finish. He stands there for a few moments, lights a cigarette, and paces off while I watch. He does not see, thankfully. I sit at the grave, not minding the dew on the grass, and I begin to read, aloud, the ever-gratifying work of Sun Tzu. A truly masterful work of storytelling, the Art of War. My favourite quote is –
“Y’ere, what’re ye’ doin’ at that there?”
Startled, I turn to find myself looking up at the stumpy figure of the man in the flat-cap. I’m shocked! His face is gaunt, and one eye stares off into the distance while his right eye stares at me. I swallow heavily, and splutter, “I’m reading.” My voice cracks. He grins, showing off 4 or so teeth. I vomit in my mouth a little.
“Y’er readin’? Oh! I love a g’ud read! What ye’ readin’?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Irish.”
The man’s expression crumbles from joyous, to stolid. He squints a bit. “Ye’ve been about ‘ere a lot, ‘aven’t ye?”
“I suppose so. This is my girlfriend’s grave.” I blink. There’s a pause.
“Nope.” He spits off to the side. “Ye’ ain’t. Miss Vance’s boyfren’ died right along with ‘er.
‘Course, he ‘ated her guts, son, so he’s buried on up the r’ud.”
“That is a lie!” I snap, and quickly rise up. What an awful lie! I could hit him right now, but I won’t, because that would be rude. “I’ve-”
“Known ‘er? Nah, son, ye’ don’t!” He grinned, and giggled like a witch. I shuddered with rage! But also disgust, because I hate the rotten hole he calls a mouth. “She wouldn’t cheat on me, you absolute buffoon. You ape!”
The man seems taken aback by this for a moment. Then he lets out that shrill giggle again. “Been called lotsa’ ‘hings, but ne’er a monkey, son.”
“Erm, actually I called you an ape, there’s a difference.” I retorted wittily as I packed up my things. I’ll have to come back another time, when this idiot isn’t around.
Before I could get up, however, he began to speak.
“What ye’ like about ‘er?”
“She’s very pretty, and there’s a wonderfully short poem on her gravestone. But you wouldn’t understand!”
“D’ye think she wrote it?
I paused. “…Yes. She did.”
“How’d ye’ know?”
“…I do. I just do. Why else would it be there?”
“Maybe she liked it?”
“If it were somebody else’s, she’d credit them.”
“She di’n’t write that, son! That’s from a fella’ called Ray Bradbury.”
“Erm, who? Sorry, but you really must make up better names for imaginary authors! Next you’ll tell me he wrote science fiction, the worst genre!”
The man paused, obviously outwitted. And then the fool shook his head!
“I’ll tell ye’ somethin’, this girl weren’t well-liked. 2 people at ‘er funeral, ‘er brother and ‘er
lawyer. Fellas in suits, lookin’ annoyed more’n sad. And I’ll tell ye’ another, why ye’ love’er -because ye’ never knew ‘er.” I blinked, but listened.
“Ye’ want a girl without much t’say, who’ll listen n’ be whatever ye’ want’em to be. ‘Course, ye’ can’t get that from a girl who’s alive, ‘cause she’ll talk n’have opinions n’probably debate ye’ when y’er wrong. Lotta’ hassle for a lad so interesting as yourself, aye?”
I laughed. Laughed at him! How wrong he was. Choosing not to utterly annihilate his point with my own argument, which would take too long to say, and would simply be a waste of time, I retorted with something much more simple and effective:
“Ha, shut up!”
The effectiveness of my comment was confirmed by the man’s response, which was to chase me from the graveyard with a shovel, probably intent on killing me. As I ran, I couldn’t help but consider his statement. As I thought about Imogen having a boyfriend and possibly plagiarising somebody for that wonderful poem, I felt the love I’d felt for her slowly drain from me, and soon enough I felt nothing for my once dearly departed. Time to move on, it seemed, and entirely on my own terms.
The man had chased me right to the gates before giving up, cursing and turning to go back and fill more graves. I caught my breath, and as I made my way home once again, it began to rain.