Thursday, March 13, 2014

Emily's Grave

As we were driving down the highway, he told me, “You're in the wrong gear.”  I put my foot on the clutch and shifted into 4th. I knew how to drive a stick as the car before my current one was a stick, but his was different. I wasn’t used to so much power. It was such a rush to speed down the road with such carelessness, that I had forgotten to listen to the car to know better. Still, I didn’t care.
I had only been out this way once in my life but knew I wanted to take him here more than anything. I knew he would appreciate it as much as I did. I squinted, trying to find my landmarks in the dark. The lights on his car weren’t very bright and the fact we were moving ahead faster than I could keep up with the little imagery I could see wasn’t helping any. I slowed down and dropped back into 3rd.
“It’s close,” I said. “It’ll be on your side.”
He looked around, with the same level of difficulty as I had.  
“Is that it?” he asked, pointing to some glimmers about 50 yards out.
“Yep,” I sped up slightly and made a right turn on the road and another turn onto the dirt, stopping the car. “Come on,” I said, as I took the keys out of the ignition and throwing them onto his lap.
I jumped out of the car and ran ahead purposefully and he followed my pursuit. I kept heading east, but he drifted away towards the south, wandered around, stopping occasionally to look at graves. I could tell he truly admired the historic beauty of the place. Every now and then he’d look back to see where I wandered off too, and go back to exploring.
I stopped.
He kept heading south, zig-zagging between the graves. He turned and saw me standing in the same spot he last saw me at minutes ago. “What’d you find?” he shouted as he walked over to me.
I stood looking down at a grave marker. I had still been staring at it by the time he made it to me.
“What is it?” he asked.
“This is Thomas,” I told him.
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I just know he is buried over here with his wife. His ex-wife, though, is over there.” I pointed up to the right a little.
“I don’t think she likes it,” I told him.
“The new wife,” I said. “I don’t think she likes that his old wife is buried in the same lot.”
“How do you know that?”
“She’s the other woman,” I told him. “Look at when his old wife died.”
We walked over to Emily’s grave and sure enough her death wasn’t too far away from the death of the new wife.
“People get divorced, it happens,” he said.
“Not so much back then.”
Neither of us said anything for a bit. We simply stared at the grave.
“Well, people are going to do what they want, regardless,” he said, very matter-of-factly.
“True,” I replied.
Neither of us said anything for a bit, again.
He glanced down at me from his peripheral. I was still staring at the grave, not sure of what to say and I got the feeling he could tell.
He started to walk on, turning to see if I’d follow, but I didn’t. I was stuck there, with her. He came back to me, “You can’t stay here, forever.”
“It's funny. It's almost like you can hear her saying, ‘Thomas, make it stop!’”
“OK,” he tried to lead me away from there. I stopped begrudgingly. “What?”
“She was upset,” I continued. “I know, people probably see them down here and read the graves and joke about her husband being some cheater and her being the other woman. That doesn't change the fact it's not upsetting to her.”
"But they're dead."
“She lived her life as the other woman, died the other woman, and even still after her death is being ridiculed as the other woman. She just wants it to stop.”
Again, silence. He looked down at the grave sympathetically.
“No one ever gets mad at the man,” I said. “The woman always gets the criticism. Even today, the other woman is always looked at like she is some sort of home wrecker or something.”
More silence.
“Is that what you’re worried about?” he asked.
“No,” I said.

And then, more silence. This time, it was different. 
“What about the other man?” he asked.
“What about him?”
“Do you think he had another woman?”
“I don’t know. What does it matter?”
“It matters! Why would he willingly take another man’s woman?” He took me over to the Emily’s grave. “He could have any woman,” he continued, “but he picked her.” He grasped my shoulders, as if he had meant to take me by surprise. I jumped, but quickly calmed my startled nerves.
“What does that say about his ex, then?”
“She will never understand him. No matter what he does, it will never be enough. He has finally come to terms with the fact that he can never live up to her standards. No matter how much he gives her, what he does for her, none of that will ever be enough. Even though he’s blamed himself for it all these years, he finally realized it’s not him, it’s her. And he’s done.”
“And so he picked 'Emily'?”
“He picked 'Emily'.”
“And the other woman?”
'Thomas' found her when he realized it was over. But no one will ever see it that way. She will always be known as the other woman. Even if it wasn’t her fault. That’s just what 'Emily' will have everyone will believe... and somehow it’ll make it alright in the end.”
"Just like that?"

"Just like that."

When we left, he drove us back. Neither of us said anything, but left what had happened between ourselves and the graves around us. We never went back and we probably never will.

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