TITLE: IN LIEU OF FLOWERS
GENRE: Adult Mystery
Jagged urgent streaks in my beloved shade of midnight blue materialize into dainty petals at the practiced stroke of my hand. Grim and perfect, the stone structure exposes centuries-old secrets.
Most people have family traditions such as apple picking, camping, or oyster roasts. Not me. My tradition roots from my mom’s peculiar hobby of gravestone rubbing at sunset. What started for her as a high school dare evolved into a historic collection for our rural county. She said she preserves their existence, and maybe a librarian or genealogist may want a copy.
To this day, we’ve never received a request.
“Norah, you done? I don’t wanna be late, again.” Lucy, my best friend, kneels at one of many crumbling gravestones two plots over.
She doesn’t mind the dark mud swallowing her jeans. If she sunk any deeper, I’d have to extract her with the dead tree limb dangling over the Todd family’s obelisk. The lingering after-effects of an afternoon thunderstorm almost spoiled our plan. Instead, we gathered our courage to sludge through the muck of the oldest cemetery in Copperville. We’re isolated from town, on a dirt road behind a big box store.
“Don’t you want to add an angel’s ass to your morbid collection?”
Her seedy pride twinkles through her green-framed glasses. She presents a giant sheet of paper and points to the naked angel cherub in purple crayon. Even on this thirteenth day of February, my mom’s murder anniversary, Lucy knows how to lighten a somber mood.