Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 82

er, it would only muddy the water. “I saw today where Missy is buried. She’s in a family plot.” He looked shocked, and though he looked like he had the flu, he agreed to help me replace the stone immediately. When he saw what I’d done to his stone, he got angry. Kneeling in front of it, he touched the scars I’d inflected. “Why’d you chip her name off?” “She’s not buried here.” I was drained by my labors, wondering if I wasn’t giving myself another cardiac, and impatient with Charles. “I understand that, but why’d you chip her name off?” He was stubborn that way, so I had to tell him the full story. He looked hurt, lied to. “You told me witchcraft doesn’t do bad stuff.” I had no answer. “So who is in this grave?” he asked, getting back to the original problem. I was angry and scared, picturing that young girl choking on her own blood. “I have no idea.” He looked at me like I was a bad parent. “Can we put the old stone back?” “I guess so,” he sulked. Neither of us were at our best that day, but somehow we managed to pull up the new stone and replace it with the old one. I was more tired after that than I can ever remember feeling. Went home, and thought to call Mary. “The name is off the stone, and the old one is back in place. How’s your little girl?” “Resting. So you took her name off the stone? Do you do that with a chisel?” “Yep. Not a very fancy process, but it works. I hope your daughter is better now.” My hand was trembling when I hung up the phone. I didn’t want to think about what seemed to have happened. I had a beer and fell asleep in my recliner, which is unusual; I usually can’t get to sleep outside my bed. After putting the old stone back, all was quiet. Mary called a week later to say that further X-rays couldn’t find the tumor. “Like it was never there.” I had to wonder how accurate the first X-ray was, but I’m no sawbones. After not seeing Charles for a week, I thought to check on him. I found him in his cottage, almost dead, eyes shut like he was asleep, sitting on his toilet and almost bled out. I helped him down to the floor and he roused. Though I tried to keep him warm with a blanket, he was cold and chalky with death when an ambulance finally navigated the path. About three weeks passed, and all was quiet. I drove by Mary Keaton’s house on a warm Saturday morning. I rolled by slow, and along the side of the house I saw Mary kneeling over a flower bed, straw sun hat on. Beside her, frowning with boredom, was Heather. She appeared healthy, her kinky hair tied up in a bow, and she looked as a child should when tasked with pulling weeds. I didn’t stop, I barely slowed down. I haven’t heard a word from Mary. As I said, headstones have a power. Untitled Artist: Daniel Holmes III