53 Forever

-- by Denise

The taxi pulled up sharply to the wrought iron gate, and a woman popped out of the back seat as she called over her shoulder, “Please wait for me, Sam. I’ll be not even 15 minutes.”

As she was one of his best customers, he agreed, but not happily. He wished she had picked out just about any other destination besides the small church cemetery at the outskirts of town, especially since it was 11:35 at night.

Clutching the bouquet of yellow roses, she pushed the gate aside and strode purposely into the small country burial ground. She checked the luminescent dial on her
wristwatch - fortunately she was on time. She was a stickler for remembering important anniversaries, and the fifteenth anniversary of her husband’s death was one she wanted to mark.

Luckily the waning moon offered enough light to illuminate her way, but she still took a small flashlight from her purse as extra insurance against a fall. If only it hadn’t been for that delay at the publishers, then having to take a later plane which was delayed for almost two hours on the tarmac due to rain at LaGuardia Airport. She had originally planned to be home no later than noon, and was going to take a leisurely ride to the cemetery with flowers and gardening tools in her bicycle’s front basket to spruce up her
husband’s grave. Though volunteers took good care of the burial grounds, she still wanted to put her own special touch on his grave, to make it look nice.

With her increased fame since the publication of her first book just over fourteen years prior, an exercise she had only taken up to get her mind from the pain of her then fresh loss, she regrettably found less and less time for these memorial visits. She knew that Frank would have been her biggest fan in her endeavors since his death (the writing, not the way she managed to find herself at the center of so many murder investigations), but she was mad at herself for not taking the time in her life to attend to visiting his gravesite. With the passing years, her visits had slackened to once every few months. Of course, it had been made more difficult since she had taken the apartment in Manhattan, but excuses like that just served to frustrate her.

Having seen so much death, the walk through the cemetery did not spook her out too much, but she still walked quickly to her destination. She didn’t want to take advantage of Sam’s kindness in waiting for her, not to mention the fact that she had another busy day tomorrow, preparing for yet another publicity tour on her latest book. Finally, she arrived at the small marble headstone, and knelt down beside it, heedless of the chance she would get grass stains on her coat.

“Oh, Frank,” she murmured, “I almost missed this one. But I did make it, by
the skin of my teeth.”

She arranged the bouquet in a little vase off to the side of the headstone,
then took a couple of tissues and wiped the dew from the gray marble. Ordinarily, she would have taken more care to clean out the carvings in the stone, but she couldn’t see well enough in the dusk to ascertain if there was dirt in the crevices. It’ll have to do - I need to make the time to get here the next time I get a few days at home, she planned, then sighed heavily when she realized she had no idea when that would be - not in the
foreseeable future, that was for sure.

As she reached up to brush her hair back from her face, she was surprised when her hand came away moist. Touching her cheek carefully, she felt that tears had fallen from her eyes and she hadn’t even realized it. She swiped them aside with the back of her hand as she stood up. She surveyed the grave briefly, bent to pick up a couple of leaves that had escaped her notice before and absentmindedly put them in her pocket as she whispered in a voice that she hoped he would hear up in heaven, “Sorry, Frank, I can’t
stay any longer, Sam was nice enough to wait for me as it is. I miss you so much, my darling, and I love you. Remember how we used to say ‘I love you forever’? Well, it’s true, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I love you forever.” A small, trying-to-be-brave sort of smile tugged at her lips as she turned and made her way back to the waiting taxi.