Monday, October 15, 2012

CELBRATING HALLOWEEN MONTH with Guest Dorothy Davies' story "When Our Graves Are Cold"

When Our Graves Are Cold

Dorothy Davies
When our graves are cold what do we do? 
What should we do? 
Lie still and shiver, causing the rotting flesh to fall even faster from our chilled bones or should we get up and dance around, get some friction going?
Ah, but then the rotting flesh would fall even faster, tangle around our bony feet and trip us up. What a sight that would be!  Part skeletons a-dancing around the graveyard, dropping gobbets of flesh everywhere, falling cranium over tibia and landing with an undignified thump on the newly turned earth.  Well, you know that the earth takes a long time to settle itself after someone kicks it out of the earth’s crust to make room for the coffin, then throws it all back in again in the hope it will level itself out after a few months. About the length of time it takes to install a lying gravestone, that is.  Grass cutting is an ever-present need in a graveyard and graves that do not settle are liable to be skirted, leaving the swaying grass to nod toward the headstone and draw attention to the recent passing. Recent, that is, compared with the rest of them, the old ones, illegible through lichen and years of rain, snow, frost and neglect, through the slightly newer ones, not so much lichen, a little less rain, snow, frost but the same neglect ...
The thoughts are bitter this night. As bitter as the frost which cuts deep into the fleshless bones and chills the satin of the coffin.  As bitter as the tears which fell when the coffin was interred, and as bitter as the words which were uttered across the coffin from those who sought only that which was left behind.  Inheritance.  Death and inheritance.  Linked forever in the minds of those who remain, those whose beds are not as cold as the graves in which we lie, face up, staring at the lid, wondering what to do with the idle hours.
We have gone.  We have relinquished all control over tax matters, bank problems, fuel prices and everything else that plagues the world.  And yes, those ancient gravestones indicate people who feel the same.  Tax matters, bank problems and fuel prices have dogged the country for centuries.  Fuel? Animal feed, the animals themselves, the cost of transport, the cost of stagecoaches, you name it we have endured it, now no more.  It is as much a relief as the ability to dance with bony clattering over the cold graves, no need for clothes, no need for food or drink or medication.  Freedom!  Of a kind. 
We have gone but we remain.  A memory, a leaf on the family tree, a line on the order of service, a tear when a favourite hymn or song is sung if we are fortunate.  A fading figure in an old photograph.  We have gone but, as with everything, a part remains.  Even as the leaves fall and rot into the ground to provide sustenance for plants and the trees themselves, so we fell and our flesh rotted and went into the ground which enriches the growth in the graveyard, feeding the worms and burrowing things. They do not attack the bones.  The bones are intact, left unattacked, to dance around the stones which lie tip tumbled and faceless and wordless and sometimes lying and we would wish the truth had been told about us.  That we were bold and adventurous, that we were lovers and procreators, that we were movers and shakers – instead of husband, father, grandfather, whatever.  We know that. We know what we were, the world knows what we were, the world doesn’t know what we did whilst becoming husband, father, grandfather and all the other words inscribed at cost by the chiselling whistling stonemason at his bench, tap tapping away at the stone which would, in time, be defaced by lichens, rain, frost, snow and indifference.

When the flesh is gone, when the rotting is through and the bones are clean and sharp as new blades, ah, then we can rise up and dance.

We ask the most common question of all when we dance, bones clacking and resonating across the cold stone, what do living people think we do when we are in our coffins?  Do they think we sleep, rest, think, feel, sorrow?
 The answer we give is that they do not think, because they do not want to think what we might be doing. Do not want to think that they might open their door one night after the sound of castanets is heard on the doorstep and find our grinning skeleton there, demanding entrance, do not want to think we have come to wreak vengeance for inheritances stolen, destroyed, unshared, do not want to think.  We are dead. We are in our graves. There we are expected to stay, to be good corpses and allow the world to carry on its business without us.
  But we get bored, us fleshless wind clad people.  We get bored and restless and even if you had donated us a book or a paper, how long would that last in eternity?
And so we rise up with a clatter and shout of jubilation and dance the freedom dance across the unsettled graves, leaving footprints that are never seen, terrifying the wildlife that would otherwise venture into this memory laden cold portion of land, until those creatures run and the unsettled graves become more settled.
And when the dawn reaches out to tug away the curtain of darkness, we return to our narrow homes and stare once more at the coffin lids so that we do not upset those who might, just might, come visiting with flowers and tears.
And who go home to warm beds and warm homes and do not wonder what we do when our graves are cold.
One day they just might find out...

Dorothy Davies is a writer, medium and editor who lives on the haunted Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England. She is proud to say she has been accepted into a goodly number of Static Movement anthologies and has the honour of editing quite a few as well.  Her stories tend to be a bit warped round the edges... as people will find if they purchase her anthology I Bid You Welcome... available from Createspace.

Click on the link below to read my interview with her last June on this blog:

Click on the links benath Dorothy's other books below for more information.



  1. Wonderfully written. I loved it.

    1. Dorothy is a wonderful writer. If you check my blog archives she is fascinating to meet through my interviews as well.