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The Deepest Slumber

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I sit and peer silently at the moon-bathed tombstones. They reflect the soft, blue light and appear to me as spectral obelisks, signifying a life that never quite reached its potential; one that never had a chance to realize a lifetime of hope. They weave for me a somber song, singing of all that once was and will never be again.

They are monuments to the dead, yes, but they are also monuments to the passing of time. With each sodden step the years take, we leave another piece of ourselves behind. In the single moment it takes for us to turn our heads and glance upon the past, it has already become unrecognizable. In the same motion of darting our eyes to look forward, the future has become terrifying. We live on ever changing lands, and the land does not welcome us. The fortunate ones leave a tombstone; the unfortunate fade into dust.

I gently slide my hands over the weathered granite. The smoothness communicates something deep within me, as if it were my own bones I feel beneath my fingertips. I run my palm over the eroded markings etched into this final page of someone's life. They tell me they were loved. They tell me they will always be remembered. I would feel assured if the names of each had not long ago been filed off by the sands of the earth.

With the tip of my finger I trace intricate patterns on the face of the stone. I whisper foreign incantations just light enough to hear over the ambient sounds of the night. The moon is bright above me, bright enough that I can see the stones beneath my feet begin to gently tremble. With growing desperation I raise my voice and repeat my mantra. The earth responds in kind. I raise my hands to the stars and begin to scream exotic words that I hardly understand. I hear the muffled sounds of wood coming apart, and the earth beneath me begins to shake violently. The moon darkens and the world around me becomes as black as void. With all of the confidence and fortitude I can summon, I bellow one final command to the skies.

The earth before me parts just as the Red Sea did before Moses, and from the depths a stranger rises to greet me. Ravaged by nature and the infernal passing of hours, the stranger I see now holds little resemblance to their original visage. As this abandoned soul stands upright before me, it looks into my eyes with deep dark sockets that once held their own light.

I stutter one simple question, “What is your name?”

In a hollow voice whose origin I can't quiet discern, the stranger replies, “The insects and the sunsets have taken my identity, and so shall they take yours.”

The stranger begins to shake and spasm. The incantation does not last long; the stranger is already falling back into the deepest slumber. As he descends back into the earth, I whisper one final question, “What will become of us?”

The earth begins to shift back into its natural form, and the stranger is being quickly reburied. Before the stranger is lost forever, I hear one last reply:

“We will be forgotten.”

With all said that needed to be said, the quiet night returns to its natural state. The sky brightens once more with the moon's soft, blue light. The earth before me once more is closed and sealed with the pact of centuries. I sit in front of the stranger's tombstone, and await the light of day to wash over the graveyard.

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