StoryFest is a weekend when the stories take over StoryADay.org.
Jun 27-28, 2020, the front page of StoryADay.org will be full of links to short stories. Please go ahead and check them out! All of them were written in StoryADay May, by writers crazy enough to commit to writing one complete story every day. Here is mine:
Love Among the Tombstones
Here in the cemetery she was Alexandra, a name taken from a resident who no longer needed it. Here she cartwheeled in grassy aisles then painted her nails, today night-black with diamante stars. Here she brushed her hair out with a hairbrush kept in the crook of a branch. She was fourteen.
The cemetery closed to new graves some forty years ago. Trees had grown tall in that time. Grass and flowers grew tall and wild, too, since they mowed just twice a year. Only Alexandra knew that Eileen’s mom buried her child’s ashes among the roots of the yew tree after a horde of drunk, white men beat her to death a year ago. She buried the ashes without a tombstone and without permission, wanting a safe place for her son-daughter. There would be no defacing of her grave site after death.
Eileen had been eighteen and she’d taught Alexandra how to wax her legs, arms and face. She’d tutored her in a beauty regimen involving lemon juice and aloe to stop her breaking out.
“Also,” she’d said with a raised index finger. “Drink eight glasses of water a day and never consume sugar.” Eileen had given her a chiffon scarf, which was when Alexandra learned what chiffon even was. Eileen had modeled ‘out and proud’.
A light-skinned guy in a plaid shirt pushed his bike up the steep overgrown road and Alexandra backed up to sit against the lichened, stone wall behind the yew, which was more of a bush than a tree. Its reddish trunk leaned some, and the branches fell almost to the ground in a protective screen. Eileen used to say that it was a spirit tree.
Alexandra had felt safe because this wasn’t the town’s main cemetery and no one came here. And yet here he was. She could see his dark-wash jeans as he lifted the gate open and came in, leaving his bike outside. He walked directly toward her and Alexandra stiffened.
But he didn’t see her and took a seat on a fallen stone angel next to Eileen’s spot. He pulled out a harmonica and started to play, first a slow, mournful song and then a lively tune. She knew it. “Come on Eileen” by the Dexys Midnight Runners. She knew it because she and Eileen would sing it sometimes.
Alexandra stood and glided over to him.
“You knew Eileen?” she said. She held herself tall and tipped her chin down. A stage entrance. He jumped and stood up.
“How long have you been here?” he said, checking her out. He was older than her, tall and thin with his cap turned backwards.
“I like that song a lot,” Alexandra said. “I had a friend called Eileen.”
His shoulders dropped.
“Yeah, me too,” he said and his glance fell to the same place as Alexandra’s, where short dry needles lay scattered over the roots of the yew.
“You want to play it again?” Alexandra said.