Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ANGELS WATCHING OVER ME (don’t write about the song) (06/04/15)
TITLE: The Cemetery
By Leola Ogle
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A shiver coursed down Edward’s spine. He hated cemeteries. He blinked his eyes hoping the figure would disappear, but it didn’t. Edward promised his grandmother he would come here to place flowers on the grave of her sister, Evelyn, who died when she was three months old. It was the Great Depression and Evelyn’s family, including Edward’s grandmother, had no money for doctors or to bury a baby. Evelyn was laid to rest in this paupers’ cemetery.
In the warmth of his car, Edward surveyed the map of the cemetery. If he was reading it correctly, Evelyn was buried in the area where the ghostly figure was. When Edward looked up from the map, the figure was gone. Stepping out of his car, he looked around but didn’t see anyone. Had he really seen something? Warily, Edward made his way to the section where babies were buried.
A twig snapped under Edward’s foot. He jumped and then laughed at his paranoia. When he arrived at the baby graves, he saw that each had a small porcelain angel on it. Was that what the figure was doing – placing angels on each grave?
Edward found Evelyn’s crude marker. He intended to brush it clean, but someone already had. Edward placed the bouquet of crushed flowers his grandmother had picked from her garden on the tiny grave next to the angel figurine. He knelt and whispered, “Evelyn, these are from your older sister, Maggie. She says she was only five years old when you drew your last breath. Maggie is ninety now, but she remembers you.”
As Edward stood, his eyes caught movement in the surrounding trees. “Hey,” he hollered. No one responded and he saw no further movement. His curiosity was piqued. Who or what was the mysterious figure putting porcelain angels on the tiny graves?
The next two days Edward parked under the overhang of a willow tree in the cemetery. He wanted to talk to the person – to ask why he or she bothered to put angels on the graves. Why not all the graves? Had he really seen something? A ghost? Edward was determined to find out.
The third day, Edward decided this would be his last day. If no one appeared, he had to return to his home and job. He had only come to help his grandmother settle in a care facility.
Edward started to drive away when he saw a stooped figure in a trench coat make its way across the cemetery. The person reached into his coat and brought out a handheld broom. Edward watched as he made his way from grave to grave, tidying each as he went along.
Exiting his car, Edward quietly made his way across the cemetery. He stopped a few feet away, and decided it was just an old man – certainly nothing to be afraid of.
“Excuse me,” Edward said.
The man jerked around to face him. “I’m just cleaning. It’s for the babies.” The man’s voice trembled.
“It’s okay. I’m a writer. I saw you the other day and was just curious about why you’re doing this.”
“Do you believe in angels?” the old man asked.
Startled by the question, Edward responded, “Real angels? No, I don’t.”
“My wife, Jane, and baby son are buried together here.” Tears sprang to the old man’s eyes. “I was visiting them one day and an angel appeared. Told me to watch over the babies because some had no one who loved them.”
“You don’t believe me,” the man said. “Most people don’t. See, I never knew my real parents. Soon as I was born, I was put in a garbage can. A policeman walking his beat says he saw a figure like an angel motioning him to the garbage can. When he got there it disappeared, but he heard me crying. He and his wife adopted me.”
Edward smiled. For the old man’s sake, he wished the story was true.
“Jane died with our son in childbirth. I was poor, so they’re buried here.” The man’s gaze pierced Edward’s soul. “Angels are all around us, young man. I guess God gives some eyes to see them.”
Edward thanked the old man for sharing his story. As he walked to his car, he glanced back. Edward gasped. The old man was surrounded by a shimmering light.
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