Prologue/Epilogue by Susan Wardlaw
The sun feels warm on her skin, and the only sounds she can hear are birds and distant
traffic. The short, dry grass does not provide much of a cushion as she drops down to sit in
front of the familiar grave. She opens her rucksack and removes the water bottle and cloth
she has packed. The headstone is only four years old and in considerably better condition
than many of its surrounding companions, but it has become a ritual for her to wipe it and
clean off any dirt or leaves whenever she stops by. After a general swipe over, she pays
special attention to the engraving and makes sure the gold letters stand out against the shiny black background.
Next, she removes the little bunch of artificial flowers from her bag that she purchased the
day before. She normally lays fresh flowers, but these ones will have to last. The bright pinks
and purples look nice in the sunlight so she is happy with her choice.
The final things she removes from her bag are a little burgundy ring box and a large spoon.
The decision to do this had been so last-minute that she hadn’t had time to go and find an
actual trowel or spade, so the soup spoon will have to suffice. She has a quick glance around to make sure she is still in relative solitude, then starts to dig a small hole between the gravestone and the planter. The spoon makes the task take longer than it should, but
eventually she has a deep enough cavity that the box will comfortably fit in and be covered
with enough dirt to offer protection.
There is a note in the box along with the ring, folded so many times in order to fit that even
if someone did discover it, they would likely be unable to read it. Still, she feels the need to
explain out loud what is going on.
She tells Jane about the new job in the new country, and explains that she is leaving her
wedding ring with her for safe-keeping. She confesses that she is happy again, and though the time spent being her wife will always be the thing she is most proud of, it is time for a fresh start.
When she finishes speaking, she sits there for a few more moments, taking in the sunshine
and the sense that she is experiencing both a beginning and ending at the same time. It is an odd sensation, but also overdue.
A couple appears in her line of sight and breaks her out of her reverie. She stands slowly and gathers everything back into her bag, laughing at the sight of the dirty, bent spoon.
“You were always the practical one, darling.” She smiles and pats the top of the headstone,
before heading back along the old familiar path and into the future.
Susan Wardlaw has only recently found the courage to begin submitting her work, but continues to scribble away regardless, in her little corner of Scotland. She can be found on Twitter under the handle @suze_wardlaw